Sydney snapshot: Day 5
The Grigor Dimitrov v Alexandr Dolgopolov quarterfinal promises to be a shot-making extravaganza, and it headlines the Day 5 schedule at the Apia International Sydney.
Grigor Dimitrov admits he sometimes feels overwhelmed by the sheer number of tactical tools at his disposal, but credits new coach Franco Davin with helping to simplify his improving game.
Dimitrov continued his solid 2016 form on Wednesday to set up a Apia International Sydney quarterfinal date with Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov.
The Bulgarian fourth seed prevailed 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 over Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas at Olympic Park on Wednesday.
It came less than a week after the 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist put up a strong challenge against Roger Federer during his recent Brisbane International quarterfinal.
His performance against Federer aside, the 24-year-old world No.28’s win on Ken Rosewall Arena is his first at this tournament, having been bundled out in the first round of his only other main-draw appearance in 2013.
He put some of his recent success down to his relationship with Davin, Juan Martin Del Potro’s former coach with whom he linked in September.
Dimitrov could not put his finger on how the Argentine’s approach is different from that of previous mentors, including Australian Roger Rasheed, only that it’s working.
“He sees in me (things) that maybe I haven’t seen, nor anyone else,” Dimitrov said.
“We’re still adjusting to certain things, but overall we had a great off-season. (We worked on) how to show your true colours a little bit, your identity as a player.
“It sometimes is kind of tough when you have so many tools in your bag and you don’t know which one to pick. We’re trying to simplify the game as much as possible.”
Dimitrov has beaten Dolgopolov in three of the pair’s four previous meetings, but still saw Thursday’s clash as “tricky”.
“He’s a dangerous player, you never know what to expect,” he said of the world No.36 who ousted American qualifier Alexander Sarkissian 7-6(6) 6-2 on Wednesday.
“Especially here, the conditions are pretty suitable for him – it’s a faster court and a little bit windy.”
Keep an eye on …
 Simona Halep (ROU) v Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
A match between the top seed and the two-time Grand Slam champion, Halep v Kuznetsova is one of the matches of the Day 5 schedule. Halep looked impressive against the fifth seeded Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday, but few of her opponents possess the experience and big-match capabilities of the veteran Russian, who has posted her best finish at the Apia International Sydney since reaching the final in 2008. “I like to play against her. I had good matches with her,” said Halep, who leads the head-to-head 3-2. “I expect a tough one. Of course every match at this level is very tough, but I believe I have my chance.”
 Belinda Bencic (SUI) v [Q] Monica Puig (PUR)
Puig has been one of the stories of the tournament, notching up her sixth match win on the trot with a flawless performance against Australia’s Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals. The qualifier will take on one of the brightest prospects in the game, who gritted through a tough battle against Ekaterina Makarova in a late-night quarterfinal on Wednesday. The match represents the future of women’s tennis, and if both women bring their best, the game looks to be in good hands.
 Jeremy Chardy (FRA) v Gilles Muller (LUX)
Muller continues to rack up the wins in Sydney. Through to the quarterfinals for the second straight year, he will attempt to match his semifinal finish of 2015 when he takes on rangy Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, who came through on Wednesday in a straight sets win over Australian qualifier James Duckworth. Chardy might be the seed, but he’s ranked just seven places above the man from Luxembourg, who has expressed his love for the conditions and surface in Sydney.
Catch all the action on Day 5 at the Apia International Sydney, running from 10-16 January at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre, by booking your tickets now!