Maxime Cressy is congratulated by Grigor Dimitrov
Maxime Cressy is congratulated by Grigor Dimitrov Image Credit: AFP

Grigor Dimitrov was knocked out of the Melbourne Summer Set 1 on Saturday as the former world number three was handed a 7-5 7-6 (9) defeat by American Maxime Cressy in the Australian Open warm-up event at Rod Laver Arena.

Big-serving Cressy, ranked 112th in the world, hit 17 aces past the Bulgarian and won when he converted his fourth match point to advance to Sunday’s final against either Rafa Nadal or Emil Ruusuvuori.

“I’m very pleased with my tennis,” said Cressy. “Nothing happens by luck. I’ve been working really, really hard with my team on and off the court in this preseason and have big goals. I’m very proud of myself for staying focused the whole tournament so far. I played incredible today and I’m really proud of myself.”

Unseeded Cressy dominated the opening set but was drawn into a battle in the second set by his more experienced opponent.

Dimitrov’s tenacity came to fore to deny Cressy on match point on three occasions before he eventually succumbed, handing the American an 11-9 win in the tiebreak when he steered his shot wide.

Meanwhile, Simona Halep defeated China’s Zheng Qinwen 6-3, 6-2 to set up a meeting with Veronika Kudermetova in Sunday’s women’s final in Melbourne.

The former world No. 1 was rarely troubled by the hard-hitting Zheng and will meet Kudermetova in the decider following Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from their semi-final due to an abdominal strain.

“It’s a great feeling to play in the final of the first tournament of the year,” said Halep. “I think I played well today, we both played really well and it’s nice to see I can start this year pretty well because last year was not that easy.”