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Dimitrov fights off three match points, defeats Molcan to set up U.S. Open matchup with Murray

Grigor Dimitrov lives to see another day at the 2023 U.S. Open.

Just barely.

Dimitrov came back from two sets to love down, from 5-3, 30-0 behind in the fifth, from 4-5, 30-40, and from 9-7 behind in the fifth-set tiebreaker to outlast Alex Molcan 6-7(9), 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(11-9) after almost four hours and 40 minutes of play.

Despite losing a two-set advantage, Molcan seemed to have victory wrapped up serving at 30-0 in the ninth game of the fifth. A long rally ensued, which Dimitrov ended with a winner that left Molcan sprawled on the ground. After getting up, the left-hander started cramping. That led to Dimitrov breaking back.

Molcan was never quite 100 percent the rest of the match, but for the most part his cramps went away and he was able to complete the contest in decent shape.

He couldn’t have come closer to winning it, too.

Dimitrov saved a match point with a big serve at 30-40 in the 10th game. The Bulgarian fought off two more at 7-9 and 8-9 in the tiebreaker, including the first of those on Molcan’s serve and the second with an awesome drop-volley. Dimitrov ended up winning the last four points of the thriller to take the ‘breaker 11-9.

Amazingly enough, the matches on Court 7 lasted so long that they finished after the night session in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Of course, a lot of that has to do with Venus Williams getting quickly erased by Greete Minnen and Carlos Alcaraz benefiting from a second-set retirement from Dominik Koepfer. Following Dimitrov’s heroics on 7, Tomas Martin Etcheverry outlasted Otto Virtanen 6-3, 6-7(3), 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(10-5) in almost four and a half hours.

In other five-setters on Tuesday, Hubert Hurkacz beat Marc-Andrea Huesler from two sets down, Arthur Fils upset Tallon Griekspoor, and Yibing Wu beat Dusan Lajovic.

Meanwhile, it won’t get any easier for Dimitrov. Next up for him is a marquee matchup with three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray. Murray, who won the U.S. Open in 2012, beat Corentin Moutet in straight sets.

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