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Grigor Dimitrov growing in stature on grass

by Helen Gilbert
Wednesday 25 June 2014

It just keeps getting better for poster boy Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian who won his fourth career singles title at Queen’s a couple of weeks ago broke his second round Wimbledon duck on Wednesday, choosing the prestigious Centre Court stage on which to do so.

The 23-year-old needed just 93 minutes to sweep aside world No. 236 Luke Saville 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the third round for the first time in his career and confessed he was "honoured" to play on the grand stage that his girlfriend Maria Sharapova has graced so many times.

“Coming on [to] that Centre Court was just definitely something to remember,” he said. “How many people can say, you know, I walked on Centre Court and played a match? That's pretty awesome.”

Until this afternoon, the No.11 seed had failed to venture past the second round here losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011, Marcos Baghdatis in 2012 and Grega Zemlja last year, but the flamboyant showman was never once in danger against the 20-year-old Australian qualifier and 2011 Wimbledon boys’ singles champion.

Saville, making only his second Grand Slam appearance, had enjoyed a wonderful spell on the lawns, winning four back-to-back matches before reaching this stage, but was denied the chance to find his feet against an opponent ranked 223 places above him in the world.

The Australian served hard, rallied like there was no tomorrow and bounded around the court like a golden retriever. It didn’t help his cause. When it came to closing out points he was simply outclassed by the magical strokes conjured from Dimitrov’s wand of a racket.

He had no answer for the deft drop shots, text-book volleys, devastating forehands, and that exquisite one-handed backhand that consistently found gaps in the court.

Then there was the serve; Saville faced a barrage of 11 aces on his way to defeat and would become the second qualifier – Ryan Harrison being the first – to be sent packing by the man from Haskovo in as many days.

“I was just really happy to get out there and play a match like that,” Dimitrov said afterwards. "You know, a convincing win. I was just trying to be solid and well‑composed on the court. I think it was all about my game today.”

Dimitrov, who won the boy’s singles title in 2008, has enjoyed a stellar year under the watchful eye of coach Roger Rasheed. He reached a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time at the Australian Open and went on to win titles in Acapulco and Bucharest before triumphing at Queen’s.

“I'm having a good results and I've been quite healthy and successful on all the surfaces,” Dimitrov admitted. “So it feels natural to me to come and compete on that level. In the same time I feel really excited. So that brings even more to the game, of course to my confidence. I’m looking forward to every match.”

Dimitrov will face No.21 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round.

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