One of the few matches unaffected by the rain on a gloomy day at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, Grigor Dimitrov had to dig deep to prevail over the dangerous Ryan Harrison in the second round, saving three match points to take the tough victory. It was a good performance from the unseeded American, but he would definitely rue his missed opportunities in the final set, where he had many chances to close out the huge upset.
Harrison strolls to the first set
A tight start to the match saw both players exchange service holds in the early stages where the receiver only won one point in the first three games. Unexpectedly, a slight misfocus from Dimitrov caused him to be broken early in the match, allowing Harrison to take the lead from the start. Showing no signs of nerves, the American came from 15-30 down to consolidate the break for a formidable 4-1 lead.
The next couple of games went past within a blink of an eye, and Harrison soon found himself serving for the set at 5-3 up. The pressure seemed to have taken a toll on the underdog as he failed to convert four set points and instead gave Dimitrov the golden opportunity to break back at the eleventh hour. Nonetheless, his superb serving eventually got him through the mentally-draining service game, successfully claiming the first set 6-3 after just 35 minutes of play.
Dimitrov fights back
The second set began in a similar fashion as compared to the first, but this time it was Dimitrov who earned the first break points as he looked determined to level the match. However, he was unable to convert three break points in the lengthy fourth game, allowing Harrison to narrowly get past his tough challenge for the tight service hold.
As typical as it may seem in men’s tennis, a string of consecutive service holds followed until Dimitrov made the pivotal breakthrough in the last moments of the set. The Bulgarian finally managed to convert a break point as he did so in the seventh game, ultimately leveling the match moments later with a straightforward service hold.
Harrison takes the lead in the final set
The final set was full of momentum shifts, first starting with Dimitrov’s break of serve in the opening game as he carried over the momentum from the second set. Consolidating the break of serve, the world number nine had the golden opportunity to extend his lead when he earned a break point in the third game with Harrison unable to gain any rhythm on his serve.
Unexpectedly, Harrison managed to hold on and he finally got onto the scoreboard with a tight service hold before coming out of nowhere to break straight back and level the scores at 2-2, placing himself in contention for the win once again. He continued to ride on his momentum, fending off a break point in the next game to remain on serve in the decider. Breaking serve for the second straight time, Harrison looked well on course for the huge upset in the beautiful city of Shanghai.
Dimitrov produces incredible comeback
Leading by 4-2, 30-0 in the final set, the American was favorite to claim the win as Dimitrov had no answers to his inspired play. However, he was able to rattle four consecutive return points to reclaim the break and return on serve. The remainder of the match then remained on serve, and the winner had to be decided by a cruel final-set tiebreak. From 2-5 down and trailing by a double mini-break in the tiebreak, Dimitrov roared back into the match as he saved three straight match points from a 3-6 deficit, eventually claiming the hard-fought victory in three tough sets.