Gritty Dimitrov stuns Dominic Thiem in London

Optimistic Rafael Nadal

Optimistic Rafael Nadal

World number 6 Grigor Dimitrov notched his 45th victory of the season and kicked off his maiden ATP finals campaign with a hard-fought 6-3 5-7 7-5 win over Dominic Thiem, in 2 hours and 21 minutes.

He also reached the semifinals at Rome and the French Open.

Again Dimitrov wobbled, squandering two match points at 40-15 with a double-fault and a tight forehand error, but he finally bagged the win when Thiem looped a backhand long.

So when Dimitrov failed to serve out his World Tour Finals debut against Thiem in London today, dreaded déjà vu revisited him again.

The first Bulgarian to qualify for the season-ending championship, Dimitrov upset the Austrian fourth seed 6-3 5-7 7-5 in the opening match of the Pete Sampras Group. The No. 4-ranked player produced two double faults from 0-30 down to give his opponent another chance to close the show, which this time he took. "You come in and feel the weight on your shoulders, in a positive way". I mean, I think there's a lot of components that are kind of coming together at some point.

"It, for me, was just one of those new experiences that I think I'm going to remember for the rest of my life, I think appreciate for the rest of my life", Dimitrov said.

"It's not only big for me, I think it's for my whole country, for Bulgaria". You kind of make a decision. It was just against like fighting with my demons to find the right path to be consistent enough.

The 26-year-old Dimitrov captured his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati in August.

"To be honest, I didn't think that much about that last match against him". "I'm super excited for what's ahead".

Facing break point at 5-5 in the second, Thiem produced a forehand victor to deny Dimitrov an opportunity to serve for the match, and then broke to love in the following game to level.

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