By Simon Cambers
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An emotional Grigor Dimitrov vowed to come back stronger after failing to capitalize on his chances in a quarter-final defeat by top seed Rafa Nadal at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The Bulgarian held three set points in the third that would have given him a two-sets-to-one lead, but he could not convert them as the Spanish world number one prevailed 3-6 7-6 (3) 7-6 (7) 6-2.
"Of course I shed a few tears, but it should hurt," the 22-year-old told reporters.
"It should hurt, and it does hurt. I can take a lot of things (out of his performance) but at the moment I'm just a bit all over the place.
"I'm deeply disappointed. I'm not going to lie. But I have to take the positives and the negatives out of the match and just kind of move on."
In his first grand slam quarter-final, Dimitrov, who has been tipped for the top ever since he won junior Wimbledon in 2008, took the attack to the world number one and was rewarded with the first set.
His flowing one-handed backhand held up well to the onslaught from the Nadal forehand but when the Spaniard leveled and then led by a break in the third set, it looked as if his chance had gone.
But three double-faults let Dimitrov back in to level at 4-4 and the Bulgarian looked like grabbing the set.
But after shanking a return on his first set point at 6-5, Dimitrov pulled a forehand wide on the second one after a fine serve had given him the chance to close it out.
"It hurts," he said, again holding back tears. "I'm happy that I took the decision. Once you take decision, never look back. Same thing in life. You make mistakes, it's in the past.
"It's just a tough shot. It's a tough choice. I'm sure I could have done something different. But in a match, everything comes down to a split second, whether it's in or out."
Dimitrov said he was looking forward to getting back on court sooner rather than later.
"Coming to that first quarter-final for me was big, but I had expectations for myself, not to just go out there and play," he said. "That, to me, is the biggest disappointment, the negative part of it.
"But I want to get to that position again, quarters, semis, final, whatever it is, any big tournament. That's my goal. That's why I'm actually excited to get on court in the upcoming weeks."
(Editing by Patrick Johnston)