Talented Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov stunned world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, while reigning champion Roger Federer and former titlist Andy Murray were a pair of second-round winners Tuesday at the $4.425 million Madrid Open.
Dimitrov, who will turn 22 next week, made it a one-and-done situation for Djokovic this week with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (8-10), 6-3 decision at The Magic Box. The 28th-ranked Bulgarian sent the Serbian star packing in 3 hours, 5 minutes with the help of 13 aces and twice as many breaks (4-2) in an ultra- tight affair.
In the first set, Dimitrov denied Djokovic three set points, saving the first on his serve at 4-5, 30-40 and then erasing a 6-4 deficit in the ensuing tie- break.
Both players struggled with physical problems in the second set. Down 2-4, 40-30, Djokovic slipped on the baseline, aggravating a tender right ankle. After having it re-taped, the Serbian slugger returned to break Dimitrov. At 5-5, deuce, Dimitrov began to cramp up. The two played out a second successive tiebreak and after overcoming a mini-break lead, Dimitrov held match point at 7-6. But the No. 1 star surprised Dimitrov with a serve-and-volley tactic, forcing the Bulgarian to net a backhand.
Though the 2011 Madrid champion Djokovic seemed to have the momentum, Dimitrov broke for an early 2-0 lead in the third and held his nerve the rest of the way en route to victory.
The young Dimitrov is now 1-2 lifetime versus Djokovic, who beat the Bulgarian at Indian Wells back in March.
The Australian Open champion Djokovic, who enjoyed an opening-round bye this week, was a clay-court champ at the Monte Carlo Masters three weeks ago.
Meanwhile, after being idle since mid-March, the second-seeded former world No. 1 Federer brushed aside Czech veteran Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 at this clay-court Masters 1000 French Open tune-up.
"I feel good now," Federer said. "Took me a little time to get over my back issue from Indian Wells."
Federer beat Czech slugger Tomas Berdych in last year's Madrid finale and is a three-time overall champion at this tournament.
The third-seeded Murray needed a pair of tiebreaks to stave off capable German Florian Mayer, 7-6 (13-11), 7-6 (7-3). The U.S. Open champion Murray titled here in 2008 when the event was staged on an indoor hardcourt.
Murray will meet Frenchman Gilles Simon on Thursday in a rematch of the 2008 Madrid finale, which was won by the British star in straight sets.
In some other second-round play on Day 3, Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver upended eighth-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, Spanish left- hander Fernando Verdasco ousted 12th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (9-7) and a 16th-seeded Simon got past fellow Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
Another second-round result saw Spanish wild card Pablo Andujar douse towering American John Isner 6-4, 6-4.
In some first-round action involving seeds, Argentine Juan Monaco took out ninth-seeded Serb Janko Tipsarevic 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, No. 13 hot German Tommy Haas drilled Italian Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-2, and No. 15 Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka bested Romanian wild card Marius Copil 6-4, 6-4. The 35-year-old Haas is fresh off his title in Munich, while Wawrinka was last week's clay-court champion in Portugal, where he upset world No. 4 David Ferrer in the final.
Former top-five Spanish favorite Tommy Robredo reached the round of 32 with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over former Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis. Robredo will meet the surging Haas on Wednesday.
Additional opening-round wins came for Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo, Frenchman Benoit Paire, Russian Mikhail Youzhny, and Serb Viktor Troicki.
Second-round matches will also come on Wednesday for a fourth-seeded Ferrer, fifth-seeded Rafael Nadal and a sixth-seeded Berdych. The recent Barcelona champion and reigning French Open king Nadal is a two-time Madrid titlist and two-time runner-up.