Grigor Dimitrov beat last year’s runner-up Cameron Norrie in the first round of the cinch Championships at Queen’s with a 6-7(2) 6-1 6-4 victory over the British No. 1.
It is the first time Dimitrov has defeated Norrie in their third meeting on tour as both players ramp up their preparations for Wimbledon, which starts on June 27.
Former world No. 3 Dimitrov will play either Briton Paul Jubb or Netherlands’ Botic van de Zandschulp in the second round.
“Cameron is such a tough opponent,” the Bulgarian said after the match.
“He’s fighting for every single ball and I had to stay within myself. It’s the first day on the grass and on this particular court it’s a bit slippery.
“I had to find my way around the court and I’m pleased that I was able to apply constant pressure and it paid off in the end.”
The first set was tightly fought with neither player registering even a break point on their opponent’s serve as they battled to a tie-break.
In the tie-break, Norrie emerged victorious thanks to a flurry of unforced errors from Dimitrov.
But Dimitrov, who won Queen’s in 2014, immediately fought back in the second set and reeled off five games in a row. Norrie clawed one back on his serve but Dimitrov served out the set to force a decider.
Dimitrov went a break up in the fifth game of the third set, converting his third break point to take the advantage. At 5-3 up, Norrie almost pulled the break back but squandered his three break-point opportunities.
Dimitrov could not convert his first match point on the Norrie serve already 5-4 up, but instead he confidently served the match out to seal his place in the second round.
Earlier in the day British No. 4 Jack Draper shocked fourth seed Taylor Fritz in straight sets to reach the second round.