Grigor Dimitrov holds off Dominic Thiem in his ATP Finals debut


LONDON — Grigor Dimitrov is the player Rafael Nadal‘s coach has identified as the one he’d rather the world No. 1 didn’t have to face at the round-robin stage of the ATP Finals.

And the Bulgarian justified Toni Nadal’s concern with some flashes of brilliance as he overcame Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 in his debut match at the event on Monday.

Dimitrov will play Nadal on Wednesday if the Spaniard beats David Goffin later today, and he will be full of confidence after producing some great net play and battling through after Thiem made his second set comeback.

Neither player was in top form, with serving an area in obvious need of improvement, but Dimitrov always looked the more likely as the Austrian’s sorry run — he now has just two wins in his last seven tour matches — continued.

“I’m not going to lie — I was pretty nervous for my first match here,” Dimitrov said in his post-match on-court interview. “You come in and feel the weight on your shoulders, in a positive way. It isn’t easy to come out here and play this tournament for the first time.”

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