Dimitrov eases Grand Slam pressure before Goffin showdown

2014 Australian Open quarter-finalist Grigor Dimitrov says his last-eight clash with Belgium’s David Goffin is ‘just another match’ amid talk of Grand Slam success.

Dimitrov reached his second quarter-final at Melbourne Park after a four-set battle with Novak Djokovic’s conqueror, Denis Istomin 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 6-1. Istomin –  ranked No 117 in the world, began ferociously and stormed to a first-set lead.

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Dimitrov won 81% of points from first serves during his fourth round victory over Istomin

The Uzbek suffered a hamstring injury during the third set after narrowly losing the second on a tie-break. Dimitrov needed no second invitation, and the 25-year-old sealed his place in Wednesday’s quarter-final after two hours and 24 minutes on the Margaret Court Arena.

Dimitrov’s highest ranking was in 2014 when he became world No 8 after reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon – losing to eventual winner Djokovic.

The Bulgarian remained calm when asked about his showdown with David Goffin and potential success at the 2017 Australian Open, hinting he will approach it like any other day.

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“I just need to focus on myself and what I can do on my side of the court”

“It’s just another match if you think about it, I’ve been doing this for quite some time, so why change things if everything goes well,” Dimitrov said.

“You just go through your daily routines and what you have to do on the practise court, and prepare the best way that you possibly can, and go out there and give it your all.

“He has a bit more time to rest and all that since he finished early. So yeah, I just need to focus on myself and what I can do on my side of the court.”

Dimitrov hired Daniel Vallverdu in July 2016 as his coach – Vallverdu is a former coach of world No 1 Andy Murray, and the 25-year-old has seen tremendous improvements, most notably in 2017 – Dimitrov claimed his first ATP Tour title since 2014 at the Brisbane International.

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Dimitrov & Daniel Vallverdu have enjoyed a fantastic start to 2017 – won nine, lost none 

Goffin’s record against the world No 15 is played four, lost four – three defeats were in 2010, and their most recent duel was at the 2014 US Open which Dimitrov won in four sets.

With both men cemented in the top 20, their paths cross quite often on the ATP Tour, and Dimitrov feels a tough, physical encounter is on the cards as stakes are incredibly high.

“He’s a great player, and he’s been playing really good the past year,” he said.  “He’s done very well on tour.

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Goffin battled past Dominic Thiem after two hours and 43 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena

“His serve is really good, his defence is very good, so it’s going to be a tough match. I just need to prepare and be ready because everything is going to be on the line for both of us, and I’m sure he’s going to be motivated to come out here and play.”

After overcoming world No 8 Dominic Thiem in four sets 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals, Goffin was quizzed about a potential last-eight match against Dimitrov, and a physically worn out Goffin went on to praise his opponent’s start to 2017.

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David Goffin hailed the Bulgarian’s 2017 start: “He’s started the year really well… He was solid this week”

“Dimitrov, he’s won everything,” Goffin said. “He’s started the year really well. He won in Brisbane in a really strong tournament.

“He was solid this week, so it’s going to be interesting to see the match now.”

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