In the very last match at the Australian Open on Rod Laver Arena that took place past midnight, it was Grigor Dimitrov who got the better of 18th seeded Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in the third round. The Bulgarian will now face Denis Istomin conqueror of Novak Djokovic for a place in the quarterfinals.
Grigor Dimitrov snatches first set from a break down
Grigor Dimitrov came out more energetic and after holding serve, he then had two break points with Gasquet going on to hold serve for 1-1. A backhand error then presented the Frenchman with a break point chance of his own. Good serving from, the Bulgarian brought the game to deuce, however, just a few points later, Gasquet broke for 1-2. Dimitrov responded well and ran away to a love-40 lead before going on to break back. A hold of serve to love made it 3-2 in Dimitrov's favor.
With momentum well with the world number 15, he smashed a backhand winner to bring up a double break point opportunity. An overhead smash by the Frenchman denied Dimitrov as he held for 3-3. Just two games later, the Bulgarian continued to pile the pressure and earned three break points. He broke on the next point for 5-3. Serving for the opening set, Gasquet squandered four break points and saved three set points. Nonetheless, Dimitrov clinched the set, 6-3 with an excellent passing shot.
Dimitrov continues to raise his game
Dimitrov got off to the perfect start in the second set by breaking the Frenchman with a backhand passing shot. He backed that up by consolidating for a 2-0 lead. Gasquet held his first game of the set but struggled on serve, not generating enough power and becoming on the back foot too often. The 30-year-old, however, kept plucking away and a break point arrived his way, which was saved comfortably with an overhead smash.
Both players then held their next serve with the set at 4-2. The 25-year-old brought up double break points at 15-40 with a forehand winner. The Frenchman despite saving a break point fell even further behind, 5-2. Dimitrov raced away to a love-40 lead then forced the error to go two sets up, 6-2.
Bulgarian remains undefeated; advances to the second week
Dimitrov started the third set in the same vein as the second, gaining a break point, this time three of them. He broke the Frenchman and held serve to love for a perfect start to the set. Gasquet continued to struggle on serve, not putting enough power but managed to get a hold of serve in the third game. Dimitrov, on the other hand, was striking the ball as well as he did when he picked up the title in Brisbane. With a mountain to climb, Dimitrov had even further chances to put the set and match to bed in the seventh game, taking Gasquet to deuce on two occasions.
However, despite struggling, he held serve but that wasn't to be enough. Serving for the set at 5-4, Dimitrov grabbed a quick love-40 lead. The Frenchman placed a backhand shot down the line which produced the error with one set point saved. However, that only delayed the inevitable as Dimitrov ended Gasquet's run and advanced into the second week for the first time since his semifinal appearance at Wimbledon in 2014.