As the sun began to set on Tuesday evening, Grigor Dimitrov booked his place in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters third round — mightily relieved to fight another day.
For much of his 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory, Dimitrov was constrained by the attacking instincts of Pierre-Hugues Herbert. It appeared that it wasn’t until the final game that fourth seed Dimitrov was really able to relax, open his shoulders in a love hold to complete a hard-fought win in one hour and 50 minutes.
Monte-Carlo resident Dimitrov will now await the winner of last year’s finalist and Spanish No. 15 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany. Earlier in the day, Kohlschreiber needed 71 minutes to beat American Tennys Sandgren, who finished runner-up at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship (l. to Johnson) on Sunday.
World No. 82 Herbert, fresh from qualifying wins over Stefano Travaglia and Andrej Martin, lost four points on serve in the first set and broke Dimitrov in the third and ninth games. Dimitrov regrouped and broke the serve and volleying Herbert twice in the second set. After three straight service breaks in the deciding set, it was Dimitrov who seized control to improve to a 12-6 record in 2018. Herbert is 1-8 lifetime against Top 10 players in the ATP Rankings.
Elsewhere, Spaniard Fernando Verdasco moves to within one match win of a 500th career victory after the 2010 finalist saved three match points to beat Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-1 in two hours and 50 minutes.
Verdasco, who missed out on two set points at 5-2 in the first set, then saved three match points at 3-5 in the second set to deny last year’s quarter-finalist Cuevas. Verdasco, who improved to 3-2 lifetime against Cuevas in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, will play second-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic on Wednesday.
Italian qualifier Andreas Seppi also knocked out one of last week’s ATP World Tour finalists, Briton Kyle Edmund, the Grand Prix Hassan II runner-up, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 in two hours and four minutes. Seppi now plays Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.