Diego Schwartzman battled Grigor Dimitrov for the 2016 Istanbul title. (AP)

Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov battled through a gripping final with a surprise outcome at the end.


The Setting

In 2014, it appeared that Girgor Dimitrov had put together all the facets of his multilayered game, winning three titles on as many surfaces and reaching his first career Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon.

The 2015 season brought him back down to earth as he failed to reach a final over the year and was out of the Top 20 by the fall. The young Bulgarian showed signs of a rebound early in 2016, though, as he reached his first final in more than a year in Sydney to kick off the season. And in his second clay-court tournament of the year in Istanbul, he advanced to another championship match.

Surprisingly, Dimitrov’s opponent in the final would be a player with only three victories at the ATP level all year coming into the tournament. Diego Schwartzman surpassed that total with his run to the championship match. The Argentinian—who fought off a match point in the quarterfinals—would be playing in his first career final.

The Final

Watch highlights of the match here.

In the first set, Dimitrov showed that he was able to routinely pick apart his opponent’s serve, breaking Schwartzman four times. However, the Argentinean demonstrated that his own return game was one to be reckoned with as he broke back each time. The set eventually went to a tiebreak, which the Bulgarian took 7-5.

Dimitrov, trying to win his first title in two years, raced out to a 5-2 lead in the second set. Once again, Schwartzman rallied, winning four games in a row. While he was unable to serve the set out up 6-5, he clinched it in the tiebreak.

Late in the second set Dimitrov started showing signs of duress, both physically and mentally. In the decider, Schwartzman took full advantage as he raced to a 5-0 lead. Dimitrov—who had received a warning and a point penalty for racquet abuse—smashed his third frame, which resulted in a game penalty, bringing the match to an end and giving Schwartzman his first title.

Notable Numbers
 

2

Following Nick Kyrgios of Australia, Schwartzman’s title made him the second first-time winner of the year to that point.

3

Schwartzman became the third Argentinean to win a title in April, after Juan Monaco in Houston and Federico Delbonis in Marrakesh.

7

Out of Dimitrov’s eight career finals, this was the seventh at the ATP 250 level.

Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias