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Madrid, May 8 (EFE).- Bulgarian rising star Grigor Dimitrov pulled off a huge upset at the Mutua Madrid Open, fighting off cramps to defeat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (8-10), 6-3.
Dimitrov, who was rock-solid from the baseline and used a variety of spins to disrupt the Serbian world No. 1's rhythm throughout Tuesday's contest, staved off three set points in the first set before capturing the tiebreaker.
The Bulgarian could then sense the finish line when he went up a break of serve at 4-2 in the second set, although Djokovic, who has been struggling with an ankle injury in recent weeks, broke back in the next game.
A few games later, with Dimitrov serving at 5-5, the Bulgarian started experiencing leg cramps at the end of a long rally.
He went on to win that game and then had a match point in the tiebreaker, but when Djokovic erased that opportunity with a serve-and-volley play and went on to claim the second set the winds seemed to be blowing in the Serb's favor.
Surprisingly, however, Dimitrov bounced back strong in the third set, grabbed an early break and clinched the match in just over three hours.
"Of course this has been what I've been working for, to play matches like that, and why not win them?" the 21-year-old Bulgarian said in the post-match press conference.
"Today was one of these days that I felt good on court. I felt I had enough hours of practice in the weeks before. I felt that I could actually hang with Novak the whole match. That's the whole purpose of getting ready for big events and eventually for big matches."
In other action Tuesday, world No. 2 and defending champion Roger Federer dismissed Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 and world No. 3 Andy Murray held off Germany's Florian Mayer 7-6 (13-11), 7-6 (7-3).
In women's results Tuesday, world No. 1 Serena Williams rolled to a comfortable 6-2, 7-5 victory over Lourdes Dominguez Lino and world No. 2 Maria Sharapova routed Christina McHale 6-1, 6-2.
A big upset occurred on the women's side Wednesday afternoon, when Russia's Ekaterina Makarova stunned world No. 3 Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.
The Mutua Madrid Open is one of the biggest clay-court events on the ATP and WTA calendars and a key tune-up for the French Open, which gets underway later this month.