Tennis: Top seed Dimitrov forced to retire against Thiem in Winston-Salem

Grigor Dimitrov stepped up to the line to serve while trailing 2-4 but decided he was feeling too unwell to continue. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Grigor Dimitrov came out strong but faded fast as the Winston-Salem Open's top seed was forced to retire from his match against Dominic Thiem on Tuesday (Aug 23), sending the Austrian into the round of 16.

With less than a week to go before the start of the US Open, the 31-year-old Bulgarian came out sharp, unleashing a torrent of backhanded slices to keep Thiem off balance as he raced through the surprisingly one-sided first set 6-0.

But things took a turn for the worse for world No. 19 Dimitrov at 2-2 in the second and he began to misfire in bunches in an apparent attempt to shorten points.

After a visit from medical staff, he stepped up to the line to serve while trailing 2-4 but decided he was feeling too unwell to continue and shook hands at the net, where he waited for Thiem while hunched over.

The win gives another lifeline to 2020 US Open champion Thiem, now ranked 231st, who had to save two match points to win his rain-delayed opener against American J.J. Wolf the day before.

The 28-year-old, who was third in the ATP rankings in March 2020 before struggles with form amid a wrist injury dropped him outside the top 300, will next face Britain's Jack Draper, who beat Italy's Fabio Fognini 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

Earlier in the day, France's Benjamin Bonzi, Australia's Jason Kubler and Americans Maxime Cressy and Steve Johnson were among those who advanced in straight sets at the ATP 250 tournament in North Carolina.

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