ATP Young Gun Alexander Zverev toppled Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 on Monday in first-round action in Rome.
Zverev’s win over the former world No. 8 gave him a one game edge in the duo’s head-to-head record. The 19-year-old has now beaten Dimitrov twice this year, both at ATP Masters 1000 tournaments.
It was a fairly routine match on the Russian’s end. After dropping the second game on Dimitrov’s serve, Zverev rattled off five games in a row, while only losing a mere three points on serve, to take the first set. The 24-year-old Bulgarian evidently struggled to make an impact, failing to strike even one winner during the opening set.
As Dimitrov failed to find his range on the baseline, accumulating 20 unforced errors by the end of the match, the world No. 44 powered out to a 4-2 lead in the second. Dimitrov, ranked just nine positions higher than his opponent, seemed to tune into the match as he broke back to make it 4-4.
Unfortunately, Dimitrov’s resurgence was to be short-lived, as Zverev broke back and held to close out the match in 69 minutes. The 6’6″ Russian clearly outclassed his opponent, swatting 15 winners including six aces in his tournament debut. Dimitrov struggled with only eight winners and a whopping 20 unforced errors.
Dimitrov looked extremely casual the entire match, like he’s still feeling the burn from self-destructing in the finals of Instabul against ATP Young Gun Diego Schwarztman, where he was up 7-6, 5-2 but went on to choke the match away 6-0 in the third. It looked like Dimitrov was going through the motions in a Sunday morning practice after a heavy night out, instead of trying power through matches in order to climb back into the Top 10, where he once resided.
The straight-set win over the man who was once dubbed “Baby Fed” and heralded to be one of the next greats is Zverev’s 17th win of a fairly impressive season. He’s only loss 11 times thus far and made two semifinal appearances in Montpellier and Munich. Zverev even had match point against Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells, but unfortunately netted an easy put-away volley and ultimately went on to lose the match in three sets.
For Dimitrov, 2016 has been quite a struggle as he continues to plummet down the rankings and outside the top 30 for the first time in two years. After imploding in the finals of Instabul, the Bulgarian has dropped two consecutive first round matches.
After defeating “Baby Fed”, Zverev will now face the real Roger Federer in second round action on Wednesday. It will be the first meeting between the pair.