ATP Istanbul: Grigor Dimitrov moves past Ivo Karlovic in two tiebreak sets
Grigor Dimitrov in action in Istanbul. Photo: Koza World of Sports

Grigor Dimitrov needed two tiebreak sets to put away the big-serving giant, Ivo Karlovic, in tremendous closing fashion. The top ranked player from Bulgaria denied the Croat of more than two points in both set tiebreakers combined.

Bulgarian Steals First Set In Great Fashion

Ivo Karlovic and Grigor Dimitrov took center stage at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open for one of the two semifinal matches to be contested on Saturday. The players opened up the match with an exchange of breaks, which was not surprising considering the forceful serves they both carry. The holding trend continued, but it seemed as if the Bulgarian was being tested more than the Croatian giant. Karlovic grabbed the upper hand to arrive at break point in the fifth game, but an ace from the second seed denied the Croat of a valuable break. 

The set stayed heavily in the servers’ favor, until Dimitrov brought a return game to deuce as he led six games to five. But the applied pressure of Karlovic's approaches to the net proved to be effective as the Bulgarian searched for answers on return. The opening set was forced to a tiebreaker after a grueling 12-game grind that lacked a single break of serve. The finesse and power from the second seed was utilized as Dimitrov cruised through the tiebreaker. The third seed fired his first double fault of the match to close the set his opposition's liking, 7-6(0).

Ivo Karlovic in Paris, France. Photo: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Ivo Karlovic in Paris, France. Photo: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Dimtrov Advances To First Clay Final In Two Years

The second set followed a similar pattern of the opening set with neither player having faced a break point in the early set proceedings. Grigor Dimitrov dominated on his first serve points, but Ivo Karlovic was given opportunities to pounce on his opponent's second serve. The first eight games showed zero signs of nerves from either player with the match continuing its previous pattern. The Croatian number two kept applying pressure by approaching the net after his powerful serves, and the Bulgarian number one could not find rhythm on return which put the third seed within a game of stealing the second set. But Dimitrov held to love to keep his set hopes alive and bring the match to level at five games apiece.

Two service holds followed to force, yet another, set tiebreaker. The world number 29, Grigor Dimitrov, raced ahead in the set tiebreaker just as he did in the late first set stages. He took a commanding 5-1 lead as the players switched ends of the court while the Bulgarian stood two points away from his second ATP World Tour final thus far in 2016. An untimely double fault from the Croatian brought the Bulgarian to four match points. Grigor Dimitrov, despite not having broken his opponent, wrapped up an enticing service battle to advance to the final after beating Ivo Karlovic 7-6(0), 7-6(2) in the Garanti Koza Arena.

Grigor Dimitrov in Istanbul. Photo: Koza World of Sports
Grigor Dimitrov in Istanbul. Photo: Koza World of Sports

Second Seed Awaits An Argentine In The Final

Grigor Dimitrov will face Diego Schwartzman. The Bulgarian will be put to the test against this clay-court specialist, but his form in Istanbul thus far puts him as the favorite to capture his fifth career singles title come Sunday.