Jordan Thompson has continued his inspired return from the tennis doldrums to reach the last 16 of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time.
The Australian Davis Cup player backed up his second-round win over 10th seed Karen Khachanov at the prestigious Miami Open with a 7-5 7-5 defeat of former world No.3 and 2017 season-ending champion Grigor Dimitrov.
Thompson earned a crack at 2018 Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson, the tournament’s sixth seed, after breaking Bulgarian star Dimitrov in the 12th game of both sets to claim his 11th win of the year.
It’s been quite the turnaround for Thompson since he departed the US Open in despair just six months ago – little more than a year after stunning then-world No.1 and reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray on grass at Queen’s in 2017.
The 24-year-old won only one match on the ATP Tour all last season, forcing him on to the secondary Challenger circuit to rebuild his confidence.
But Thompson’s decision to swallow his pride is paying off in spades.
The Sydney native won 52 Challenger matches – the second-most in history – and 14 of his last 15 of the year to climb back to No.60 in the world after falling outside the top 100 at one point.
Now he’s a win away from the Miami quarter-finals and the biggest pay cheque of his career.
“It’s huge,” Thompson told the ATP.
“Last year I spent a lot of time on the ATP Challenger Tour. I didn’t hear the end of that I only won one match (at tour-level) last year, so it’s nice to be in a fourth round of a Masters.
“Persistence paid off.”
Anderson booked his date with Thompson with a 6-4 7-6 (8-6) win over Joao Sousa.
Other third-round winners on Tuesday included three-time Miami champion Roger Federer, who beat Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic 7-5 6-3 to set up a meeting with Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and fellow young guns Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe also advanced to the last 16, along with Belgian David Goffin.