Fixture: Grigor Dimitrov vs Marin Cilic
Date: 8 February 2021
Tournament: Australian Open 2021
Round: First round (Round of 128)
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: AUD $80 million
Match timing: Approx. 4.30 pm local time, 11 am IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | India - Sony Six
Grigor Dimitrov vs Marin Cilic preview
Grigor Dimitrov, the 18th seed at this year's Australian Open, has been handed a nightmare first round opponent in the form of 2018 finalist and former world no. 3 Marin Cilic.
The Bulgarian, who has himself made it to business end of the tournament on multiple occasions, will be hopeful of bettering his career best semifinal finish this year. Against Cilic though, he definitely has his work cut out.
Cilic started his 2021 with a tough three-set loss at to France's Jeremy Chardy. The Croat squandered a one-set advantage and five match point opportunities before eventually going down 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(8).
He will be looking to move past that disappointment soon, and a win against a quality opponent like Dimitrov will be the first step in that direction.
Cilic possesses all the weapons needed to succeed on the Australian harcourts. Big groundstrokes and a bigger serve have been instrumental in his success here, but whether the Croat can convert his strengths into a match winning combination on Monday remains to be seen.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Marin Cilic head-to-head
Marin Cilic leads Grigor Dimitrov in their head-to-head record with a 4-2 margin. The Croat has emerged victorious on all four of the duo's harcourt meetings, but it was the Bulgarian who came out on top in the duo's latest encounter (at the French Open 2019).
Grigor Dimitrov vs Marin Cilic prediction
Grigor Dimitrov suffered a second round exit at the hands of Tommy Paul at last year's tournament, and he will be keen to improve on that this time around. But to stand a chance against a fine striker of the ball like Marin Cilic, the Bulgarian will need to be at his very best.
The match is likely to witness a lot of big serving and quick points (and maybe a couple of tiebreaker sets), given both players' affinity to look for winners early in the rallies.
Dimitrov's record against Cilic might seem a little lopsided (especially on the harcourts), but many of these matches have been close affairs. If the Bulgarian can protect his serve well and show some retstraint on the important points, he could be in with a chance here.
All things considered, however, the Croat remains a slight favorite.
Prediction: Marin Cilic to win in five sets.