By Alberto Amalfi | Sunday, January 8, 2017
Grigor Dimitrov spent time dissolving tournament stress by pushing buttons in his nightly trips to the local Brisbane arcade.
Weary of the waiting game today, the seventh-seeded Dimitrov played proactive tennis to capture the Brisbane International title.
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Dimitrov defeated third-seeded Kei Nishikori, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, to claim his first tournament title since he beat Feliciano Lopez to win the 2014 Queen’s Club crown two-and-a-half years ago.
It is Dimitrov’s fifth career championship.
“Sometimes you need to feel like normal, so to speak,” Dimitrov said. “I’m the kind of guy that cannot just lock myself in the room and just think tennis for 24 hours. Since I’ve been here every night I’ve been going to the arcades for an hour and a half been playing arcades. It’s given me a tremendous joy. It’s something so childish, while every time I was going to bed I was thinking ‘Wow that feels so good something so small.’ "
The 17th-ranked Dimitrov defeated Nishikori for the first time in four meetings; the fifth-ranked Japanese had won six of their prior seven sets.
“I think these 10 days that I’ve been here I’ve had for sure fun, but at the same I was very focused played quite solid all the matches," Dimitrov said. "Overall, I just felt good. I don’t remember the last time I felt that good on and off the court.”
The victory completes a week in which the 25-year-old Bulgarian beat three Top 10 opponents in succession. In a battle of one-handed backhands, Dimitrov defeated Dominic Thiem, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, in the quarterfinals before stopping defending champion and world No. 3 Milos Raonic, 7-6 (7), 6-2, in the semifinals.
Hammering his forehand with authority, Dimitrov beat Nishikori in key forehand exchanges in the opening set. Dimitrov broke for a 4-2 lead in the opening set.
Drawing a forehand error from Nishikori, Dimitrov gained a one-set lead.
Nishikori broke twice to take the second set.
Nearly untouchable on serve in the decider, Dimitrov won 20 of 22 points played on his serve in the final set and closed the one hour, 48-minute victory on a Nishikori forehand error.
“It’s been a pretty emotional past year, so this trophy means a lot,” Dimitrov said. “These 10 days have been most fun I have ever had on a tennis court."
Photo credit: Getty/Brisbane International Facebook