World No. 48 Grigor Dimitrov advanced to his first ATP World Tour final on Saturday, edging Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5) at the Brisbane International.
The Bulgarian hit 12 aces and won 79 per cent of his first serve points. In the deciding tie-break, he relinquished a mini-break lead at 4-2 and 5-4, but clinched the semi-final encounter on his first match point to prevail over Baghdatis in two hours and 28 minutes. The 21 year old improved to 2-1 against the Cypriot and ended a three-match losing streak in tour-level semi-finals.
“The third set was just matter of who was going to take the first opportunity, the first chance,” Dimitrov said. “I was down break point and stuff, but I tried to come back into the set. So that helped me also to look further ahead. And then when it was a tie-break, it was just a matter of a point… I have to say I'm very, very happy. It’s definitely it's a great feeling.”
Dimitrov has won 44 of his 47 service games during his event debut this week. He knocked out second seed Milos Raonic in the second round and No. 7 seed Jurgen Melzer in the quarter-finals. Dimitrov will bid to become this season’s first maiden title winner on Sunday.
“I have nothing to lose tomorrow,” said Dimitrov. “Whoever I play, I just want to go out there and compose myself and say, ‘Okay, it's your first final. Don't be nervous, at least.’ I think it's going to be a good match. It doesn't matter who I play.”
Dimitrov will square of against top-seeded reigning champion Andy Murray who progressed after fifth seed Kei Nishikori retired with a left knee injury, trailing 6-4, 2-0 after 45 minutes.
Though broken early in the opening set, the Scot recovered quickly, winning 81% of his first serve points.
Dimitrov lost the pair's only previous encounter at the 2011 Thailand Open in straight sets. “He's obviously played well this week,” said Murray of Dimitrov. “I think he served pretty well the majority of the week. It's obviously a big, big win for him today.”
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