Sunday, 12 February 2017

Dimitrov form continues in Sofia

After a week's break due to the first round of the Davis Cup, the ATP Tour was back in action on three fronts: Montpellier - France, Sofia - Bulgaria, and Quito - Ecuador.

South America drew very much a second string field, with top seed Ivo Karlovic the only top twenty player in the field, currently ranked 18.
However, he lasted just the one match, losing in the second round after a first round bye.  His victor was Victor Estrella Burgos, aged 36 from the Dominican Republic (a year younger than Ivo), currently ranked 156 but with a career high of 43 only eighteen months ago..  No breaks of serve for the match, in fact no break points faced by either player - Karlovic delivered 39 aces but to no avail, losing the second and third of the three tie break sets.

The win for Estrella Burgos should come as no surprise considering he is the two time defending champion in Quito.  He proceeded to the final of the Ecuador Open yet again, including a win over fourth seed Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci in the semi final, the same player he defeated in Quito in the 2015 semis and last year's final.

This year he will need to overcome third seed Italian Paolo Lorenzi if he is to take home a third straight title.  Lorenzi made quick work of second seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets in the semi finals.

Bulgaria welcomed home it's hero Grigor Dimitrov after his brilliant Australian summer, capturing the Brisbane title and pushing Nadal to the limit in the Aus Open semi final.  In Sofia, Dimitrov has shown no sign of a form lapse, where as third seed he has dropped only one set (the first of his tournament) en route to the final.
He avoided top seed Dominic Thiem in the semis, as the Austrian left the event in the second round (his first match) courtesy of a loss to unseeded Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.  The world number 87 also dismissed eighth seed Martin Klizan in the quarter finals before finding the Grigor hurdle a little to high to clear.

Dimitrov will face David Goffin in the final - the two met in the quarter finals at Melbourne Park just a couple of weeks back.  The Belgian will be hoping for a much better display from his racquet this time.  His semi final win over fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut was hard fought, coming from a set down and winning in a tie break third.

As in Sofia, where the locals will have a Bulgarian to cheer home in the final,  French fans in Montpellier are rapt to see Richard Gasquet flying their flag in the final.  The third seed knocked over two fellow Frenchmen, Kenny De Schepper and Benoit Paire, in the quarters and semis respectively.  Qualifier De Schepper had upset Aus Open quarter finalist Mischa Zverev in the opening round.
An all French final was prevented with the semi final defeat of second seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by fourth seed German Alexander Zverev. 
Another German, unseeded Dustin Brown, extended top seed Marin Cilic's terrible start to the season, ousting the Croatian in the second round - Marin's first match.

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