Australia’s Jordan Thompson was King of the Challengers in 2018. He won three from eight ATP Challenger finals in 2019 and was just short of the record number of wins for a Challenger season.
With his success on the Challenger tour, Thompson was able to take his ranking from no. 94 to 74, then a few good results early in 2019 on the ATP tour saw Thompson hit a career-high ranking of no. 60.
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Photo: Jordan Thompson of Australia in action against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria during the Miami Open Tennis on March 25, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Thompson spoke about wanting to go deeper in ATP tournaments in 2019 and to continue to build his ranking. He has done just that at the Miami Open reaching the fourth round at a Masters 1000 event for the first time.
After defeating the world no. 12 and no. 10 seed Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the second round, Thompson backed that up with a win over former world no. 3 Grigor Dimitrov. The Australian taking the match 7-5, 7-5.
The no. 24 seed Grigor Dimitrov continued his comeback from a shoulder injury and he got off to the perfect start when he broke the world no. 77 in the opening game.
His break point opportunity coming after Thompson hit a shot into the net after a long rally. Dimitrov converted the break when Thompson was not able to get his feet in position and he hit well wide.
Thompson hit back immediately, earning a break back when Dimitrov hit a shot into the net.
Another break opportunity came up for Dimitrov at 30-40 in the seventh game of the first set. Thompson was, however, able to fight his way out of that game to lead 4-3. The Australian saved the break point with a serve and volley play where he volleyed for the winner.
In the 11th game, Dimitrov ripped a classic one-hand backhand winner down the line to earn a break point at 30-40. On this occasion, Thompson played a great cross-court shot for a winner as he backed away to hit a forehand outside of the doubles court.
A Thompson double fault gave Dimitrov another break point opportunity. The Bulgarian blew that chance when he hit a forehand into the net. Another unforced error followed as Dimitrov hit a backhand into the net. A third straight unforced error from Dimitrov saw Thompson move to 6-5.
AT 30-30 in the next service game, Thompson attacked a second serve from his opponent. He hit a backhand close to the line and Dimitrov hit a shot into the net to face a set point against him. Thompson went close to converting as he hit a backhand down the line, but it was just wide.
A good first serve from Dimitrov forced an error from Thompson to see Dimitrov at game point. The next rally was long and Dimitrov was first to crack as he hit long to take the score to deuce. Back-to-back errors from Dimitrov eventually gave Thompson another break point.
Thompson returned and then Dimitrov hit wide to give Thompson the first set 7-5.
Thompson opened the serving in the second set and held comfortably. In the fourth game, it was Dimitrov that again faced break points at 0-40. Thompson had a look at a second serve but missed wide on a passing shot as Dimitrov charged the net. Yet another unforced error from Dimitrov put Thompson ahead 3-1.
Dimitrov got back on serve in the second set after winning four straight points, punctuated by a great passing shot to come out to serve at 2-3. Dimitrov held for 3-3.
Despite many unforced errors earlier in the match, Dimitrov showed what he is capable of as he won the first point of the eighth game after stepping in and belting a trademark single-handed backhand winner down the line. Thompson barely moved to cover the shot.
After that winner, it was 15 winners to 25 unforced errors from the Bulgarian and 14 winners to 17 unforced errors from the Australian.
At deuce in the next game served by Thompson, the Australian was a bit tentative with a forehand that he guided into the net to face a break point.
As he had done in the first set when facing a break point, Thompson served and volleyed to win the point from the net. Another forehand error gave Dimitrov his second break point in the game.
Dimitrov had Thompson on the run in the point that followed and forced an error from his opponent to get the break. Dimitrov was now serving for the second set.
Thompson in the past might have faded at this point, not today. He jumped out to a 0-30 lead with some more aggressive play. The first point was won at the net, the second when he hit a winner from the baseline.
Three break points came up when Dimitrov mishit a backhand that went long. Thompson converted to love when he hit a nice deep backhand that Dimitrov could not handle.
From 5-5 Thompson won the next two games to claim his spot in the fourth round at a Masters 1000 event for the first time.
The first point of the 12th game saw Dimitrov hit perhaps his worst forehand for some time, it almost hit the back of the court on the full.
The next rally from Thompson saw the Australian guide a shot right into the corner of Dimitrov’s forehand side. An unforced error from Dimitrov game Thompson three match points.
A long shot from Thompson saw one chance slip away. The second came and went when Thompson’s lack of footwork saw him out of position when returning a kicking second serve, he hit that into the net.
The score was back to deuce when Thompson hit another shot long. Dimitrov looked to have saved the game and the match, for now at least as he moved to Ad.
Dimitrov decided to test the waters with a drop shot and Thompson easily chased it down and then he hit a great down the line shot to have Dimitrov present him with an easy ball to volley into the open court for deuce.
The Bulgarian now was the one to have an unforced error to give Thompson another match point. This time it was the one time solid backhand that let Dimitrov down and he badly missed the shot and hit into the net.
The winners to unforced errors ended at 15 to 31 for Dimitrov and 22-22 for Thompson.
Next up for Thompson is the no. 6 seed from South Africa, Kevin Anderson. Australia’s Nick Kyrgios won into the last 16 yesterday. He faces Borna Coric.