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Tennis News • Bublik Does Bublik Things To Beat Dimitrov in Chengdu

By Ricky Dimon

The art of the first serve as a second serve is being made popular on the ATP Tour these days. Daniil Medvedev used it on plenty of occasions during his incredible summer run, most notably against Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati semifinals. Nick Kyrgios has employed it various times throughout his career. But no one does it more often than Alexander Bublik.

The 22-year-old Kazakhstan native was up to his usual tricks against Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals of the Chengdu Open on Friday, blasting big serve after big serve at the most crucial of moments to prevail 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(3). Bublik saved two match points in the second-set tiebreaker before eventually surviving the thriller in two hours and 32 minutes.

Down his first match point, Bublik fired a 137 MPH second serve and followed it up with a winning volley. He also served-and-volleyed on match point No. 2, fighting it off with a jumping overhead.

“It’s been a good week, and beating Grigor is a great achievement for me,” the world No. 71 assured. “The second-set tiebreak was tough. I never thought about being match points down, but just playing my own game and serving well.”

Bublik has now struck 73 aces through three rounds–15 against Dimitrov. The price that comes with it is 28 double-faults–15 against Dimitrov. This is the same player who recorded a ridiculous 48 aces and 26 double-faults throughout a five-set U.S. Open win over Thomas Fabbiano.

Next up for Bublik on Saturday is lucky loser Lloyd Harris, who ousted Joao Sousa 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4.

“It feels unbelievable right now,” said Harris. “I have been playing extremely well since getting into the main draw and I am really finding my tennis. I think the courts are good for the big servers, especially when the sun is out.”

The other semifinal will pit Denis Shapovalov against Pablo Carreno Busta. Their head-to-head series is tied up at one win apiece, with Carreno Busta having won 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 7-6(3) at the 2017 U.S. Open before Shapovalov prevailed 6-3, 7-6(5) earlier this season on the red clay of Rome.

Shapovalov has followed up Laver Cup duty with Chengdu defeats of Ricardas Berankis, Bradley Klahn, and Egor Gerasimov. Thus continues a solid stretch under new coach Mikhail Youzhny, which includes a semifinal showing in Winston-Salem and a third-round result at Flushing Meadows. Carreno Busta has now won multiple matches in five consecutive tournaments after disposing of Radu Albot, Benoit Paire, and Christian Garin while dropping only one set to Paire in the process.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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