WHAT HAPPENED: No. 7 seed Grigor Dimitrov overcame a 6-0 first-set deficit against Belgian David Goffin before finally gaining control of the match and finishing with a 0-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 victory to move on to the Round of 16.
Due to rain delays earlier in the evening, the third-round match was moved from Arthur Ashe Stadium to Grandstand, where the players continued play well into the night under extremely humid conditions.
At the start of the match, Dimitrov appeared out of sorts as Goffin ran the show with lights-out tennis for the entire first set, firing passing shots and down-the-line winners with no hesitation against the stunned Bulgarian. Meanwhile, Dimitrov struggled to find his rhythm, hitting 32 percent of his first serves and registering a 2-11 ratio of winners to unforced errors.
“He played a great, great first set,” Dimitrov said of his opponent. “I started the match a little bit sloppy and I think he saw that right away and took advantage of it. Whatever I was trying to do was just not enough. He was taking every ball on the rise, penetrating through the court, coming in, volleys. His game was just too good in the first set.”
That all changed in the second set, as Dimitrov, 23, cleaned up his game and opened up the court for more winners to take control and level the match at a set apiece.
“I didn't let go of my belief, especially coming into that second set,” he said. “I knew that my serve was not working the way I wanted it to, but I thought if I kept a good composure and if I just stayed there mentally, I knew physically I was able to go the whole five sets. But it was just mind over matter. After taking that second set, I knew eventually I was playing my game. His shots were not as accurate. I took charge of the game.”
Dimitrov sprinted through the first half of the third set, taking a 4-0 lead before serving errors – and six double faults – suddenly surfaced again, allowing Goffin to reel off four consecutive games for 4-4. Dimitrov put together a solid return game to break Goffin before serving it out to take the one-set advantage.
The final set was all Dimitrov, who raced through to another 4-0 lead before eventually closing it out in just over two hours and 20 minutes.
WHAT IT MEANS: Considering Dimitrov’s year that included three titles, a Top-10 debut, a semifinal result at Wimbledon, as well as a quarterfinal showing at the Australian Open, it’s hard to believe that this year’s US Open is the first time Dimitrov has had main draw success in New York. With the victory, Dimitrov evened his US Open match record at 3-3 in his blossoming career.
His next opponent will be the No. 12 seed Gael Monfils of France, who won his match over countryman Richard Gasquet, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Goffin was on a 25-match win streak this summer, until his quarterfinal loss to Jerzy Janowicz in Winston-Salem ended his run.
THE QUESTION: If Dimitrov were to advance to the quarterfinals and potentially meet Roger Federer, who would be your pick to win?