By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Third seed Grigor Dimitrov suffered a huge scare against 186th-ranked qualifier Mackenzie McDonald before holding his nerve in a tension-charged decider to win 4-6 6-2 6-4 0-6 8-6 and reach the Australian Open third round on Wednesday.
Bulgarian Dimitrov, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park last year, imploded in the fourth set against the free-swinging American, whose shot-making and composure made a mockery of his humble ranking.
Dimitrov had to wait and hope for McDonald to falter under the lights at Rod Laver Arena, and finally the American did with a double-fault that gave up match point.
Dimitrov held on until McDonald slammed a forehand into the net, putting his opponent into a third round clash with Russian 30th seed Andrey Rublev who beat Marcos Baghdatis.
“He (McDonald) deserves a lot of credit. He played an unbelievable game,” Dimitrov, who claimed his biggest title to date in November by winning the ATP Finals.
“I had to fight so much and in the end I think my experience helped me. I’m so happy with the result and the fight.” (Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris)