By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of the Sofia Globe
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov notched his first win at the US Open, defeating American wild-card Ryan Harrison in straight sets to win his first career match at Flushing Meadows late on August 27.
Dimitrov had lost in the first round of the last tennis Grand Slam tournament of the season each of the previous three years, but needed just over two hours to brush past Harrison 6-2, 7-6, 6-2, just as he did when they met previously in the first round at Wimbledon earlier this year.
Only during the second set, when Harrison relied on his strong serve to push the frame into a tie-break, did the American look like he might pose some challenge to Dimitrov, who looked completely in control throughout the match, converting five of 13 break-points, while Harrison was 1-for-2.
Dimitrov is having a breakout season, winning three titles on different surfaces and reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon and two Masters tournaments (in Rome and Toronto), and is seen by bookmakers as one of a group of players most likely to challenge the main favourites for the US Open title – Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic and five-time US Open champion Roger Federer.
Bulgaria’s top-ranked female player, Tsvetana Pironkova, has meanwhile been dumped out of the tournament, losing in the second round to Serbian ninth-seed Jelena Jankovic in straight sets 5-7, 4-6.
The other seeded players from the Balkans had little difficulty advancing, with Croatia’s Marin Cilic, seeded 14th, advancing after Marcos Baghdatis from Cyprus retired half-way through the second set. Fellow Croatian Ivan Dodig was less fortunate, having to withdraw against 19th-seed Feliciano Lopez in the fifth set, while Slovenia’s Blaz Cavcic won his second-round match against 30th-seed Jeremy Chardy of France to set up a third-round meeting against third-seed Stan Wawrinka.
On the women’s side, world number two Simona Halep of Romania made short work of Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova in their second-round match, winning 6-2, 6-1. Fellow Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru, meanwhile, came close to scoring one of the upsets of the tournament so far, but eventually lost to fifth-seed Maria Sharapova in three sets.
August 28 will see two Serbian players in action, with men’s top seed Djokovic taking on Paul-Henri Mathieu of France in the second round, while former world number one Ana Ivanovic, seeded eighth on the women’s side, playing Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the third round.