Wimbledon 2018: Stan Wawrinka produces classy performance to knock out Grigor Dimitrov

The Swiss scored his finest victory in his short comeback, rallying from a set down to reach the second round.

Wimbledon 2018: Stan Wawrinka produces classy performance to knock out Grigor Dimitrov
Wawrinka celebrates after winning his opening round match at Wimbledon/Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Stan Wawrinka
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Grigor Dimitrov

The first big upset on the men's side at 2018 Wimbledon saw sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov sent packing as he fell to Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4 in a blockbuster first-round matchup to wrap up the action on Center Court.

The Swiss, who came into the Championships with a 5-9 record on the year as he continues to come back from left knee issues that saw his ranking plummet to 224th in the world, recorded his first career Top 10 win on grass and 17th overall.

 

Dimitrov cruises through opening set

Dimitrov was quick out of the blocks as he held to 15 to begin the match and got to deuce on Wawrinka's first service game. A backhand error from the three-time major champion set up break point and a forehand hit long gave the Bulgarian a 2-0 lead.

Things would only get worse for the Swiss as he faced more pressure when he fell into a 0-40 hole on his next service game. After saving the first two break opportunities, Wawrinka approached the net behind a slice backhand, only to see Dimitrov fire off a winner from that side for a 4-0 lead.

Another hold made it 5-0 before the former world number three finally got on the scoreboard with a hold to love to make it 5-1. It would him no good as Dimitrov raced to a 40-15 lead. After wasting one set point, Wawrinka overcooked a forehand as the former Wimbledon semifinalist was in front after just 24 minutes.

 

Wawrinka takes second set tiebreak

The hold to love by Wawrinka perhaps gave him some confidence as the second set began, the Swiss losing just two points through his opening three service games. Dimitrov, whose serve has been an issue this year, did his part, dropping just a single point through two games.

The backhand was starting to find its mark for the Swiss and he found room in the corner to angle off a forehand winner to set up 0-40. Two points later, with his groundstrokes now more penetrating, Wawrinka was ahead 4-2 after forcing a weak reply from his favored opponent.

Dimitrov would break back immediately and the set would stay on serve as Wawrinka held a 6-5 lead. He flashed a backhand winner up the line to set up two set points, duly saved by the Bulgarian, who go on to hold, the set to be decided in a tiebreaker.

The first six points of the breaker were split evenly, the returner taking four consecutive to begin. The deciding point came at 3-3, Dimitrov spraying a forehand well beyond the doubles alley to hand Wawrinka the minibreak and a 4-3 lead.

The Swiss would hold his two points for a 6-3 advantage to set up three set points and when the sixth seed missed yet another forehand, the match was level at one set all.

 

Wawrinka rallies to claim third set tiebreak

It appeared Dimitrov found his equilibrium at the start of the third set. Mirroring the first set, he held easily and was gifted two break points as Wawrinka missed an overhead smash. After saving the first, a mishit backhand gave the Bulgarian a 2-0 lead.

There would be missed opportunities both ways as the set progressed, Wawrinka missing out on two chances to break back while Dimitrov saw a pair of break points go begging in the sixth game, something he would later regret.

Dimitrov would serve for the set, but fell into a 15-30 hole. A backhand wide and a shank off of that same wing donated the break back to Wawrinka, the score 5-4. After saving two set points, the two combatants would head to another tiebreaker.

The Bulgarian made the better start, a minibreak giving him a 2-0 lead, but the Swiss pulled that back for 2-2. Neither player was particularly effective in holding, four straight points going the way of the returner. Wawrinka finally held for 6-5 and on set point, a brilliant backhand winner gave him a two sets to one lead.

 

Three-time major champion closes out upset with late break in the fourth set

As he had done in two of the previous three sets, Dimitrov looked set for an early lead, holding a 15-40 lead in the third game, but this time he failed to convert, a forehand error saving the first and a backhand winner from Wawrinka, wrongfooting the Bulgarian, saving the second.

If not for nothing, the sixth seed was continuing to generate chances and he had another in the fifth game at 30-40, but again his ground game let him down, a backhand not even close, the Swiss escaping once more.

Serving to stay in the match trailing 5-4, Dimitrov began the game with an easy forehand error and when he smothered a backhand into the net, the Bulgarian was down 15-40 and two match points. After saving the first, one final sublime backhand from Wawrinka sealed victory and a second round matchup against Thomas Fabbiano of Italy.


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Swiss star talks about his victory

Following the match, Wawrinka said he wasn't worried despite losing the first set in such lopsided fashion: "I still think at that moment that I wasn't playing that bad. I was missing few things. The set went quick".

The reason for this confidence was that "i've been practicing so hard last few weeks on grass to get my level there, to be ready for big match, to know that I can count on my game. I had to put myself together again, to try to fight, try to find solution."