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Saturday, 21 January 2017 15:36 PM GMT
Australian Open Night 6: Pliskova survives as Dimitrov makes statement rounds up the action from Night 6 at the 2017 Australian Open. READ MORE

It's nine years since Grigor Dimitrov won the boy's singles title at Wimbledon, and since then he has had to live with the hype and the expectations of being the next big thing.

Until now, it seemed as if his would be a talent unfulfilled but on a long night at the Australian Open on Saturday, Dimitrov sent a message that he may just be ready to break through with a brilliant 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Richard Gasquet.

After the overrunning of the Rafael Nadal-Sascha Zverev afternoon match and a long women’s match before they were due to kick off themselves, Dimitrov and Gasquet began their match at 11.58pm, the latest-starting match in Australian Open history.

That had many at Melbourne Park wondering if they would be in for a repeat of 2008 when Lleyton Hewitt beat Marcos Baghdatis in five sets, finishing at 4.34am. But thankfully for the players and the fans, this was far shorter as Dimitrov turned on the style, building on his win in Brisbane, where he beat Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori – all top-10 players – to win the title.

The first two games lasted around 12 minutes but the rest of the first two sets was something of a masterclass from Dimitrov, who dominated most rallies, coming forward when he could and generally bullying Gasquet from the baseline.

The purists were happy as there were plenty of one-handed backhand to one-handed backhand rallies, but although Gasquet hit some outrageous winners, Dimitrov was in charge throughout.

The reward for one of his best Grand Slam performances is a match against Denis Istomin, who followed up his shock win over Novak Djokovic with a fine five-set win over Pablo Carrena Busta of Spain, coming out on top 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 and earning a “Good job” from his mother, who is also his coach. 

“After beating Novak, I didn't want to lose like three sets in a row and then (have) everybody saying that I was dead,” he said.

With the exception of some of his slam-dunks or jump-and-turn forehands, Gael Monfils has snuck under the radar so far but he looked confident in beating Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets. Elsewhere, Milos Raonic continued his progress, beating Gilles Simon in four sets.

Pliskova survives

Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova won a rollercoaster battle with another junior Wimbledon champion, Jelena Ostapenko, but only after trailing 5-2 in the final set.

One of the favourites to take home the title in Melbourne, Pliskova's second serve was picked apart in the first set, but she rallied in style before Ostapenko gave herself a golden opportunity to pull off one of the shocks of the tournament.

As it was, the Latvian blinked with the finish line in sight, allowing US Open runner-up Pliskova to clinch a 4-6, 6-0, 10-8 victory.

She’ll play Daria Gavrilova in the last 16 after the Australian kept the home flag flying with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Timea Bacsinsky of Switzerland. “She's playing unbelievable,” Gavrilova said of Pliskova. “I lost to her pretty easily twice, I think. But she's definitely playing her best tennis right now.”

Quote of the night

“I actually told to a reporter, before the draw came out, If it wasn't me, who do you think is going to win the tournament? I picked her (Pliskova).” Daria Gavrilova, who will play Pliskova for a place in the quarter-finals.

Tweet of the night

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manchester United footballer and the husband of Ana Ivanovic, on events at Melbourne Park.

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