Brisbane - Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov
launched his campaign to return to the world's top 10 when he outlasted
fifth-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon in the opening round of the Brisbane
International on Monday.
The powerful Bulgarian saw off Simon 6-3,
7-6 (12/10) in two hours and five minutes to move into the second round of the season-opening
Dimitrov had a disappointing 2015, slipping
from 11th in the world to his current ranking of 28, but during Monday's match
he showed glimpses of the form that saw him touted as a future top-five player.
He broke Simon once in the first set then
recovered from losing his serve early in the second set to take it to a
The big-serving Dimitrov always looked the
more dangerous in the tiebreak and skipped out to a 6-4 lead.
However, Simon battled back and saved three
match points against an increasingly nervous Dimitrov.
The Bulgarian had three more match points
but finally sealed the win on his seventh when he blasted a serve at the
Frenchman's body, which Simon bunted wide.
Dimitrov will now play either American
Steve Johnson or Serbia's Victor Troicki in the second round and is on track
for a quarter-final clash against top seed Roger Federer, a repeat of last
year's semi-final which the Swiss ace won 6-2, 6-2. Federer has received a bye
into the second round.
American Denis Kudla moved into the second
round when he downed Australian wildcard John-Patrick Smith 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.