ATP Indian Wells: Grigor Dimitrov eases into third round
Dimitrov celebrates (Photo: ATP World Tour)

Grigor Dimitrov powered past the veteran Russian Mikhail Youzhny to seal his place in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.

The Bulgarian needed a little over an hour to dispatch the 36-year-old, 6-4, 6-0, in sweltering conditions in the Californian desert.

His early break in set one set the tone for the contest, quickly establishing his dominance and breaking Youzhny when it mattered, at 5-4, to claim the opening set.

The second set proved a whitewash, with the veteran ostensibly struggling with the conditions and allowing the Australian Open semifinalist to shape proceedings from the baseline.

Dimitrov will face either the American Jack Sock or qualifier Henri Laaksonen in the next round.

Peaks and troughs

Dimitrov’s start was emphatic, holding to love to begin proceedings before breaking the Russian in his opening service game for the loss of only a single point.

Youzhny appeared reluctant off the forehand wing and was struggling to generate pace off the Bulgarian’s nasty backhand slice.

But the Russian, who knocked off his compatriot, Daniil Medvedev, in the opening round, was not prepared to crumble and inexplicably grabbed the break back; much to the dismay of Dimitrov after netting a routine forehand.

Youzhny consolidated the break back and, beginning to match Dimitrov’s intent, began finding tremendous depth off his trusty backhand as the set stayed on serve.

And it would remain on serve with the Bulgarian squandering a gilt-edged volley that would have manufactured two break points at 3-3.

At 5-4, and Youzhny having steadied the ship, Dimitrov recovered from a 15-30 deficit to hold and force the Russian to serve to stay in the set.

However, much to the delight of Dimitrov’s camp, the Russian wilted under the scoreboard pressure, sending an awry forehand into the net to cede the opening set.

A quick glance at the first set figures made for grim reading for Youzhny, slapping only four winners past his opponent and struggling in the lengthier rallies.

Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images Asia Pac


Those anticipating a Youzhny fightback to begin the second set were to be left short-changed with Dimitrov, in similar fashion to the opening set, quickly stamping his authority with a love hold.

In a rally that characterized the Russian’s outing, he sent a supreme first serve out wide before sending a forehand long with Dimitrov stranded.

That fashioned a couple of break points for the Bulgarian and he duly grabbed them with both hands.

The set was quickly slipping away from the 36-year-old as Dimitrov consolidated the break and, despite producing the shot of the match with a sumptuous lob from mid-court, broke for 4-0.

The writing was on the wall for the Russian despite gritting his teeth in anger.

Dimitrov held for 5-0 and, staring at a match point and 15-40 deficit, could only get the tip of his racket on a running Dimitrov forehand cross-court.