September 20, 2020

2 months after COVID ‘darkish second,’ Dimitrov wins in return – tennis

Two months after barely having the ability to stroll whereas unwell with COVID-19, Grigor Dimitrov performed an expert tennis match on the Western & Southern Open on Sunday and — whereas the outcome was not what was most essential — he gained. “I stated to myself, ‘I’ll give it a attempt.’ Now I’m right here taking part in a match at this time,” stated Dimitrov, a 29-year-old from Bulgaria who was a U.S. Open semifinalist final 12 months and is ranked No. 19. “Actually, I’m simply purely grateful that I’m even capable of simply be right here, to take part. Neglect concerning the match — I’m not even speaking about tennis proper now.”

He stated he arrived in New York, the location for each the Western & Southern Open and the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 31, simply 1½ days earlier than taking the court docket for what turned out to be a 6-3, 6-Four victory over Ugo Humbert.

Dimitrov examined constructive for the coronavirus in June whereas taking part in a sequence of exhibitions in Croatia and Serbia organized by Novak Djokovic, who additionally received COVID-19. (Djokovic pulled out of the doubles occasion on the Western & Southern Open on Sunday, citing neck ache, however remains to be slated to compete in singles Monday.)

“The primary week was simply tragic. I began by simply strolling. I couldn’t actually do any train. I couldn’t raise weights. I couldn’t play tennis,” Dimitrov stated, including that he misplaced a variety of weight whereas sick.

“It was a very darkish second,” he stated. “I’m not going to lie.”

Finally, Dimitrov stated, he would apply for 20 minutes at a time, then constructed that up in increments. Nonetheless, he was uncertain about getting again on tour on the Western & Southern Open, the primary ATP event since tennis went on hiatus in March due to the pandemic.

Dimitrov stated he hopes his expertise with the coronavirus can function a little bit of a cautionary story for many who may not take the sickness significantly.

“I simply form of needed to indicate a message that it doesn’t matter, in a way, ‘who you might be,’ how match you might be and the way wholesome you eat and so forth,” Dimitrov stated. “This factor doesn’t ask anyone (these issues). We’re all equal.”

In ladies’s first-round matches on Day 2 of the hard-court event, 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens was eradicated by Caroline Garcia 6-3, 7-6 (4), and Jessica Pegula received previous Jennifer Brady — who gained her first WTA title final week at Lexington, Kentucky — 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Different winners included No. 12 Anett Kontaveit, No. 14 Elise Mertens and American qualifier CiCi Bellis.

Two seeded males exited: No. 10 Andrey Rublev, overwhelmed 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 by Daniel Evans; and No. 13 Cristian Garin, a 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-Zero loser towards Aljaz Bedene. Males’s winners included No. 11 seed Karen Khachanov, whose 6-4, 6-Four victory started together with his opponent, Alexander Bublik, attempting an underhand serve; No. 9 Diego Schwartzman, No. 16 John Isner and American qualifier Marcos Giron, who beat Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 (2), 7-5 in a matchup between former faculty teammates at UCLA.