The Bulgarian world No. 15 defied the 11.58pm start — the latest in Open history — to produce a world-class display good enough to blitz 18th seed Gasquet 6-3 6-2 6-4 in 2hr 2min on Rod Laver Arena.
Dimitrov, 25, hit almost double as many winners (48) as unforced errors (26) to overwhelm his French opponent, who entered the clash with a 5-1 head-to-head advantage.
Istomin backed up that titanic upset with another five-set success over Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, and stands between Dimitrov and a second Melbourne Park quarter-final.
“Lately I’ve been struggling with my sleeping, and I’ve been going to bed so late, but today it’s 2 am and I’m feeling great,” Dimitrov said with a grin.
“Big thanks to the crowd, for sure. You guys are amazing; it’s never easy to stay up so late for us.
“I’ve been feeling good this past week, so I’m just happy to be on court. That was my first win on that court, so I’m embracing it as much as possible.
“I think I’m going to hit the ice bath first before I do whatever else. It will take a while to fall asleep, so I might go practice again.”
Grigor Dimitrov had his first win on the main court at Melbourne Park, so he didn’t mind that the match started two minutes before midnight. “We had matches in the past finishing 4, 5 in the morning. Whatever it is, it’s in the game,” he said. “I just had to deal with whatever was in front of me.”
The No. 15-seeded Dimitrov beat No. 18 Richard Gasquet in straight sets and finished the third-round match at precisely 2 a.m. Then there was a list of things to do, including a news conference, more stretching and exercising, and he was aiming to get to bed by 5 a.m.
He said he’d been having trouble sleeping, anyway, so the late start/finish didn’t hurt too much.
“It was my first win on Rod Laver,” he said. “I’m going to remember that for sure. Those moments for me count a lot.”
Dimitrov reached the quarterfinals in Australia and the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2014 but hasn’t been beyond the fourth round at a major since.
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Grigor Dimitrov and Richard Gasquet may have had the latest start to a match at the Australian Open – organizers couldn’t confirm – but fell well short of the record for the latest finish.
The third-round match started at 11:58 p.m. local time. After grinding through four games in 24 minutes, No. 15-seeded Dimitrov picked up the pace and finished off 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 at 2 a.m. – well short of the latest-finishing match in Grand Slam history.
In 2008, Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis started a match here at 11:47 p.m. and ended at 4:34 a.m. For the record, Hewitt won 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-3.
Richard Gasquet and Grigor Dimitrov have started the final match of the day at Rod Laver Arena at 11:58 p.m.
After the first night match between Daria Gavrilova and Timea Bacsinszky went three sets, Gasquet and Dimitrov didn’t take the court for warm-ups until 11:48 p.m.
The latest finishing match at the Australian Open happened in 2008 between Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis.
The players didn’t take the court in that 2008 match until 11:47 p.m. and ended up finishing their five-setter at 4:34 a.m., with Hewitt winning 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-3.
U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova rallied from 5-1 down in the third set to beat Jelena Ostapenko 4-6, 6-0, 10-8 and reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time.
Ostapenko twice served for the match and twice she was broken, winning only one point in each game.
She saved a match point before holding in the 12th game, prolonging the match for another six games until fifth-seeded Pliskova finally broke serve again.
Pliskova hadn’t advanced beyond the third round at any major before she reached the final of the last U.S. Open, where she beat Venus and Serena Williams before losing to Angelique Kerber.
In another late women’s match on the adjoining Rod Laver Arena, No. 22 Daria Gavrilova beat 12th-seeed Timea Bacsinszky 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
Third-seeded Milos Raonic has advanced to the fourth round at the Australian Open following a 6-2, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 win over Gilles Simon. Raonic, who reached the semifinals here last year before losing to Andy Murray, reached the fourth round for the fifth year in a row.
It was the big-serving Canadian’s fourth win in five matches against Simon.
Raonic will next play Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat David Ferrer 7-5, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (3), 6-4.
In another third-round match, Simon’s French Davis Cup teammate Gael Monfils, the U.S. Open semifinalist, beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-4.
The secret to Denis Istomin’s winning streak in five-setters at the Australian Open?
Plenty of sleep and avocado sandwiches.
Istomin, a wild-card entry from Uzbekistan, backed up his shocking upset win over six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the second round with another five-set victory on over 30th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta.
He said he tried to put his win over Djokovic – the biggest of his career – out of his mind so he could concentrate on his next match against Carreno Busta. That meant getting a good night’s sleep and not spending much time on Facebook responding to all the congratulatory messages he received from friends back home.
“I have no time to answer everyone, so I just (said), ‘Thanks to everyone. Sorry, but it takes one month to answer to everyone, I need to prepare for the next match.’ And everybody was happy.”
He also stuck to his regular breakfast.
“It was a sandwich with avocados and tomatoes,” he said. “I like avocados.”
Rafael Nadal has overcome a spirited challenge from 19-year-old Alexander Zverev, beating the German teenager 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Nadal broke Zverev’s serve in the opening game of the final set, lost his own serve, and then broke back in the fifth game to advance to a Round of 16 match against the winner of a later match between Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gael Monfils.
The match started ominously for Nadal when he lost his serve in the opening game. Zverev hit a deft drop shot while stretched out completely on break point.
But Nadal, who had two lengthy injury spells last year, settled into the match and dominated after losing the third-set tiebreaker. At the end of the 4 hour, 6-minute match, Nadal pumped both arms toward the court in celebration.
Zverev was attempting to join his older brother Mischa, who plays Andy Murray on Sunday, in the fourth round.
Denis Istomin has followed his upset win over defending champion Novak Djokovic with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over Pablo Carreno Busta, reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open.
On Thursday, Istoman, a wild-card entry from Uzbekistan, became the lowest-ranked player – at 117 – to beat a second-seeded player at the Australian Open.
Istoman beat Djokovic on the main Rod Laver Arena, but his match Saturday was on the much lower-profile Show Court 2.
Istomin will next play the winner of a night match between Grigor Dimitrov and Richard Gasquet.
Martina Hingis and CoCo Vandeweghe have been beaten 6-2, 7-5 in the second round of women’s doubles by the Australian wild-card pair of Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty.
Hingis won the Australian Open singles title three straight years from 1997 and then lost the next three before taking an extended break from the game.
She has won five Australian Open doubles titles – the first in 1997 and the latest coming last year.
Hingis won five Grand Slam doubles titles after returning as a full-time doubles player in 2013, including three in a row from Wimbledon 2015 to last year’s Australian Open with Sania Mirza.
She has 55 career tour-level doubles titles.
Hingis and Vandeweghe were seeded fifth in Australia, where Vandeweghe has reached the fourth round in singles for the first time.
Johanna Konta has moved into the fourth round at Melbourne Park with a 6-3, 6-1 win over former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki at Margaret Court Arena.
Konta, who made a surprise run to the semifinals at Melbourne Park last year, broke Wozniacki in the final game of the opening set.
Wozniacki then made life difficult for herself by double-faulting on break point to give Konta a 2-0 lead in the second.
Although Konta double-faulted on her first match point, she clinched it two points later when Wozniacki hit a backhand wide.
Wozniacki had come into the match in strong form, failing to drop a set in her first two matches and losing only seven games.
Konta will next face Ekaterina Makarova in the Round of 16.
Serena Williams’ 17th appearance at the Australian Open remains on track – the 22-time Grand Slam singles champion beat fellow American Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena.
The 23-year-old Gibbs, making her 12th appearance overall at any major, had two game points at 1-1 in the second set, but allowed Williams to come back and break her serve.
Williams was broken at 5-2 while serving for the match but did the same to Gibbs in the next game to complete the win in 63 minutes.
The six-time Australian Open champion advanced to the fourth round for the sixth year in a row since not playing here in 2011 due to a foot injury.
Aiming for a record 23rd Grand Slam singles title, Williams will next play Barbora Strycova, who beat Caroline Garcia in straight sets.
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni has continued her unlikely run at the Australian Open with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari of Greece to advance to the Round of 16.
Before this week, the 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni hadn’t won a match at Melbourne Park since her debut at the tournament in 1998. The 19-year gap in between match wins at a Grand Slam tournament broke the record set by Kimiko Date-Krumm, who went 17 years between match wins at Wimbledon.
Lucic-Baroni was a former tennis prodigy who reached the semifinals of Wimbledon in 1999 as a 17-year-old and captured the Australian Open doubles title a year before that with Martina Hingis.
She next plays American Jennifer Brady, a qualifier ranked No. 116, for a chance to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since her run at the All England Club 17 years ago.
Ekaterina Makarova didn’t make it easy on herself, blowing a one-set, 4-0 lead over Dominika Cibulkova, but the Russian player advanced to the fourth round at the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3 win. After taking a medical timeout for an injured right elbow in the third set, the 2015 Australian Open semifinalist broke Cibulkova’s serve in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead, then held to win the match in 2 hours, 54 minutes.
Makarova won the last two games of the first set and the first four of the second. But Cibulkova, who had never lost to Makarova in three previous matches, won five games in a row to change the momentum of the game.
“An amazing fight. I got, to be honest, a bit tight at 4-0 in the second set,” Makarova said. “I want to enjoy my win today. It’s my first over Dominika, and she’s a great player.”
Makarova will play either 2016 semifinalist Johanna Konta or former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki.
U.S. qualifier Jennifer Brady has advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over 14th-seeded Elena Vesnina.
It is the 21-year-old Brady’s first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament after she qualified in her first attempt at Melbourne Park. She had failed in previous attempts to qualify for the U.S. Open (three times) and Wimbledon and the French Open last year.
Brady will next play either Maria Sakkari or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the Round of 16.
No. 16-seeded Barbora Strycova beat No. 21 Caroline Garcia 6-2, 7-5 to reach the fourth round, where she’ll meet either Serena Williams or Nicole Gibbs.
Serena Williams continues her quest for a 23rd Grand Slam singles title while Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic also attempt to advance to the fourth round on Saturday at the Australian Open.
Under sunny skies and temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), Ekaterina Makarova and Dominika Cibulkova opened play at Rod Laver Arena. Williams’ match was set to follow on the same court, with Nadal taking on Alexander Zverev in the last match of the afternoon there.
Raonic was scheduled to play Gilles Simon at Hisense Arena.
Nadal and Raonic are both in the same half of the draw as the beaten Novak Djokovic, who lost in the second round. The man who defeated him, Denis Istomin, was set to play his third-round match on Show Court 2.