Grigor Dimitrov suffered an epic meltdown in his Istanbul final against Diego Schwartzman, losing his temper and forfeiting the match, courtesy of a series of racquet smash, while trailing 0-5 in the decider.
The Bulgarian former top-10 player was one game away from winning his first title since June 2014 but instead left Turkey on the lowest of notes, by smashing three racquets in one set and deciding to end the final prematurely in a fit of rage.
The last of those racquet smashes came at 0-5, deuce, in the third set, after which he shook umpire Mohamed Lahyani’s hand and went over to hug Schwartzman, handing him the victory.
The episode gave Schwartzman the first ATP title of his career with a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-0 win over Dimitrov, and it will surely be a final the Argentine will never forget.
“I let my family down, I let my team down, I let my fans down with that kind of behaviour which I definitely apologise for,” Dimitrov said during the trophy ceremony, addressing a crowd that booed him multiple times with every racquet smash.
“A little bit on the positive side, you still get a chance in tennis every week. It’s all my fault, there’s not much I can say.”
The ex-Wimbledon semi-finalist took the lead, battling through a 70-minute opening set, and looked on his way to the title when he opened up a 5-2 gap in the second. But Schwartzman struck back, taking four games in a row and the set went to a tiebreak, which Dimitrov lost.
Dimitrov appeared to be suffering from a leg injury – which he later revealed were cramps – and when he went down 0-2 in the decider, he annihilated his racquet, which earned him a warning from Lahyani.
He went on another racquet-smashing spree a few games later and decided to put an end to the entire match at deuce while trailing 0-5.
“What a disaster for Dimitrov to lose that match, until he gets 10x more aggressive-minded on his serve and fearhand [sic] he will continue to disappoint,” tweeted tennis pundit Brad Gilbert after the final.
Grigor Dimitrov may not be living up to the "Federer" part of his nickname, but he's sure earned the "Baby" part today. Good grief.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 1, 2016
In his post-match press conference, Dimitrov reiterated his regret over his behaviour.
“This wasn’t the way I wanted for the finish. I couldn’t control my frustration. And I apologised to Diego afterwards,” said the 24-year-old.
On his part, Schwartzman described winning his maiden ATP title as a “dream come true” and had some kind words for his opponent.
“I’m sorry Grigor. You are a big player. You are going to play in many finals,” said Schwartzman, whose title run takes him up 25 spots in the rankings to land at 62.
Dimitrov now heads to Madrid where he faces Estoril Open runner-up Pablo Carreno Busta in the first round on Tuesday.
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