ATP Queen's: Grigor Dimitrov comes through tough test against Julien Benneteau

Grigor Dimitrov made sure he wasn't part of the seeded casualties as he came through a tricky test against veteran Frenchman Julien Benneteau 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Up next for the Bulgarian is either Thanasi Kokkinakis, who knocked out Milos Raonic, or Daniil Medvedev at the Aegon Championships

Benneteau snatches first set

The Frenchman began the match positively, taking a love-40 lead and bringing up three break points following his second double-fault of the game. Benneteau had two of his three break point chances saved but once again, Dimitrov's serve went awol and a third double-fault arrived, handing the game to his opponent.

This was followed by a hold of serve for Benneteau who went 0-2 up. The Bulgarian once again had trouble in his service game but did come through it unscathed to gain his first game of the match, 1-2. Just a couple of games later, the sixth seed had his chance to break back, earning a break point at 30-40 following the Frenchman's first double-fault of the match.

Julien Benneteau strikes a backhand shot (Photo: Alan Martin/Getty Images)
Julien Benneteau strikes a backhand shot (Photo: Alan Martin/Getty Images)

His serve this time got him out of trouble as he went out wide with an unreturnable serve. However, the 26-year-old fought back and grabbed a second break point chance at advantage. The 35-year-old went for the same strategy, going out wide to save the break before holding and staying ahead at 2-4.

The next three service games went with serve and the Frenchman found himself serving for the first set. Up 15-30, Benneteau's serve and volley tactics paid off with double set point arriving. The Bulgarian managed to force the error from Benneteau as he saved the first set point, 30-40. An ace out wide did the job as another seed looked in danger down 4-6. 

Dimitrov levels

With the top three seeds already out, Dimitrov looked in danger as Benneteau continued to cause trouble, grabbing two break points early on in the set. Two unforced errors from Benneteau saw the game go to deuce before the world number 11 got himself out of trouble and held to begin the second set.

For the Frenchman, he had no problems on serve, holding to love for 1-1. The Bulgarian made it 2-1 and then started applying pressure to the Frenchman. A perfectly timed backhand lob at 15-40 gave Dimitrov a chance to get back into the match. First time of asking, he broke following an untimely double-fault from Benneteau.

Grigor Dimitrov stretches for a shot (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Grigor Dimitrov stretches for a shot (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The 26-year-old then consolidated to 15 to lead 4-1 and found his way back into a match that at the start, was slipping away. All the world number 87 could do was hold his serve, which he did to love, 4-2. It was vital for Dimitrov that he held serve and didn't let the Frenchman back into the match.

And so he did, holding to 15 to take a 5-2 lead. The 35-year-old held his last game of the set as Dimitrov served for the second. A comfortable service game and Dimitrov found himself up 40-15 with a set point in his court. The Bulgarian leveled up the match 6-3 thanks to an unreturnable serve. 

Bulgarian advances with lone break

The 35-year-old Frenchman got the third set underway with a hold of serve. For Dimitrov, he was troubled in the longest game of the set. Having had three chances to seal the game, he then faced a break point moments later at advantage. A ninth ace got the Bulgarian out of trouble as he then went on to hold his serve to restore parity, 1-1.

Both players had no problems holding their second service games of the set with the score locked at 2-2. In the next game, all square at 30-all, Benneteau served up his fourth double-fault a crucial one as he presented the sixth seed with a break point opportunity.

Grigor Dimitrov hits a forehand (Photo: Ashley Western/Getty Images)
Grigor Dimitrov hits a forehand (Photo: Ashley Western/Getty Images)

A lucky return that landed in gave the Bulgarian a vital breakthrough in the set. He then followed it up with an impressive hold to love for 4-2. Despite losing serve earlier, Benneteau got back on track and held serve comfortably to stay just the break behind, 4-3. But he couldn't trouble the sixth seed as he also held his serve pretty easy losing just the one point to go 5-3 up.

The Frenchman held his final service game but was troubled by the Bulgarian who took the game to deuce. Serving for the set, Dimitrov hit a 14th ace of the match to bring up triple match points. He followed it up with a 15th ace to get past the 35-year-old Frenchman, 6-4.