Wimbledon 2014: Next up for Andy Murray it’s the Bulgarian standard-bearer Grigor Dimitrov

The number 11 seed beat Leonardo Mayer in straight sets
  • @stevetongue

Grigor Dimitrov booked a Wimbledon quarter-final date with defending champion Andy Murray by dismissing Leonardo Mayer in straight sets.

Never mind famous Belgians, who can name many famous Bulgarians? Grigor Dimitrov, still best known outside Sofia as Maria Sharapova’s beau, will raise his profile further by becoming Andy Murray’s next opponent in tomorrow’s quarter-final here.

Sharapova may not be his only admirer but Dimitrov, the 11th seed, struggled to rouse the Court One audience while beating Argentina’s Leo Mayer 6-4, 7-6, 6-2 on either side of a long rain delay yesterday. Many spectators had understandably headed home when the covers came on just after 5.10pm, so there were empty seats by the resumption almost two hours later.

Only when Dimitrov took his shirt off, produced a winner in one of the longer rallies or finally completed the victory was there much noise. Dimitrov won the first two points of the match with aces to set the tone of booming serves, and the only surprise of the first set was that a tie-break was not required.


At 6-5 the he pulled off some outstanding defending then an equally good pass for two set points, forcing Mayer too wide on the second of them. The second set was going with serve come the rain stoppage, interest withheld until the subsequent tie-break, when mini-breaks suddenly abounded, Mayer suffering the crucial seventh of them by double-faulting.

By the third set the Argentine, ranked No 64, was making more mistakes and was broken twice.

Dimitrov thus became the first Bulgarian male to reach a quarter-final here. He has beaten qualifiers Ryan Harrison and Luke Saville, before a tougher outing against Alexandr Dolgopolov, won in five sets. Four years younger than Murray, he lost their first three meetings but won the most recent, in Acapulco in February.

Earlier, beaten ninth seed John Isner, the heavy-serving American, helped set another new Wimbledon record in defeat, contributing 52 of the 86 aces fizzed down in his third-round loss to Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.

Four years ago Isner famously beat Nicolas Mahut by 70 games to 68 in a final set here that lasted eight hours 11 minutes. The number of aces in that match was 216 but yesterday’s total was the highest anywhere for a four-set match. This time Isner was on the wrong end of it, losing 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-5, when one of the few break points was finally accepted by the Spaniard after almost three hours’ play. The result means there will be no American in the last 16 for first time since 1911.

“I knew we going to play a lot of tie-breaks, so this is the match I was expecting to play,” Lopez, the 26th seed, said. He is expecting a different sort of match today against Stan Wawrinka, who had long had his feet up by then after beating the rain and a compliant opponent in Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

Critical as he was of Saturday’s scheduling, Wawrinka was keen to get the job done smartly yesterday and, apart from allowing Istomin three break points in the fourth game of the match, he was untroubled.