The vast difference in ranking and quality showed throughout this second round encounter as Alexandr Dolgopolov outplayed Santiago Giraldo in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3, to earn himself a first appearance in the third round at The Championships.
The match was delayed by rain on Thursday evening but, with one win apiece in their only previous two meetings, Dolgopolov seemingly held the advantage after claiming a three-sets victory over his Columbian opponent this year at Queen’s Club.
Having earned a straight-sets victory over Portugal’s Gastao Elias in his opening match, Dolgopolov was in a commanding position at 6-4, 3-0 up before rain interrupted proceedings.
It was Giraldo – who has managed his best performance at SW19 this year– who made the first error on Court 12 when his backhand travelled long to give the Ukrainian the opening point. Despite this, the 25-year-old responded well, seeing out his service game with an accurate ace.
Dolgopolov responded in similar fashion, powering an ace past his opponent to retain his three-game advantage in the second set. Nevertheless, Giraldo stepped up a gear in the seventh game, breaking his opponent’s serve and then holding his own with some accurate stroke-play to bring the set level. His 24-year-old counterpart displayed some clinical serving in the ninth game, securing a 5-4 lead with minimal fuss.
With Dolgopolov threatening to break the Columbian’s serve becoming a regular theme in the match, the player once ranked No.39 showed steel and courage to hold serve and bring the set back to 5-5. However he was unable to make any impact on his opponent’s serve with Dolgopolov winning eight points in a row to seize a 6-5 lead in the second set. With a solid forehand stroke taking his total amount of winners to 16 for the match, Dolgopolov broke again and with that secured the second set.
Having faced a gruelling five-set encounter in the first round, Giraldo had to receive brief medical treatment on his shoulder before the start of the third set.
Unfortunately, this seemed to turn the tide even more against the player who has never progressed beyond the third round of a Grand Slam, as a superb cross-court forehand winner by Dolgopolov, followed by a stunning backhand return, earned the former world No.13 a break point. Despite this, Giraldo, whose only third round appearance at a Grand Slam came at Roland Garros in 2012, held his serve to stay in the third set.
Once again Dolgopolov made light work of his service game, exerting further pressure on his opponent, who required additional treatment on his shoulder at the change-over.
A cross-court backhand strike, followed by a ballooned Giraldo forehand, gave the Ukrainian a break point which he duly accepted following another error, forcing a 4-2 lead in the third set. A swift hold of serve then edged Dolgopolov – whose previous best a Grand Slam was the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in 2011 – one step closer to sealing his place in the third round.
The inevitable happened when Dolgopolov served the match out with fine style by firing back-to-back aces to gain a comfortable passage into the next round.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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