Watched by his girlfriend Maria Sharapova, in sunglasses that were hardly needed, the 29th seed Grigor Dimitrov slid out of the men's singles after a dramatic half an hour's play that was interrupted by light drizzle. Resuming at 8-9 in the final set, he never got a grip on the match against Grega Zemlja and was eventually beaten 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.
At 30-30 in the first game of the day Dimitrov slipped following his serve and, lying on the ground, could barely lay a racket on the ball. That gave Zemlja his third match point of the contest, which was immediately held up as drizzle began.
The players sat on court for a nervous 15 minutes before Dimitrov saved the match point, as well as two more in the same game. Serving at 9-10 the Bulgarian then went 0-30 down and despite retrieving the position, he was finally passed at the net to give Zemlja, ranked 55 in the world, victory.
An enthralling match had taken just over four hours.
Dimitrov admitted that conditions were difficult, although he insisted on giving credit to his Zemlja.
“ I don't remember when I played here and you're sliding so much on the court,” he said. “It started raining during the warm-up and I was expecting the chair-man [umpire] to say something. When I slipped, I fell down, I hit my hip. I told him, I'm not serving. Basically we had to stop and wait for another chance.
"It's the same for you and the opponent. It was a great match, great five-setter. (I've) Got to give all the credit to my opponent today. “
He even agreed to answer one question about Sharapova, saying: “I feel even more pumped and happy that she's there for me. I think that's what counts the most.”
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