LONDON Grigor Dimitrov set up a mouth-watering quarter-final clash with Wimbledon title holder Andy Murray after a 6-4 7-6(6) 6-2 victory against Argentine Leonardo Mayer on Monday.
Nicknamed Baby Fed for the similarity of his playing style with that of 17-times grand slam champion Roger Federer, the Bulgarian 11th seed extended his winning run on grass to nine matches with a plethora of eye-catching shots.
He won his fourth career title in the traditional Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s Club this month and has now followed up by booking his first quarter-final at the All England Club.
"First of all I'm happy that I'm in the quarter-final," he told reporters. "Just going to give credit to myself for that, but my job isn't over yet.
"You know, I don't want to stop here. Again, I hope there are going to be a lot more first times for me. I'm just aiming to be better and better every time."
His showdown against Murray, who has breezed through to the last eight without dropping a set, will be the truest indication yet of Dimitrov's progress.
"It's basically his home here ... He knows his way around the grass pretty good. He's a great mover," the Bulgarian said.
"I'm just going to play my game. I'm not going to step back. I just want to come out with my big game and play my aggressive tennis. I don't want to adjust to my opponent. I'm focusing on my game and what I can bring to the court."
The 23-year-old, a former junior winner at Wimbledon, combined lightning-quick movement with punishing groundstrokes, taking the first set with a forehand winner.
He continued to wow the crowd in the second set with a sumptuous half-volley winner from between his legs before a Mayer double fault gave Dimitrov the tiebreak for the set.
Dimitrov eased through the final set, breaking Mayer twice to raise expectations that he may yet challenge the "big four" of Murray, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
"I'm going to have another chance on Wednesday to challenge (the big four)," he added. "This is the position I want to be in at every slam and every tournament that they're on, whoever I'm playing. Those are the matches I want to play."
(Editing by David Goodman)