PERTH, Australia -- Alison Van Uytvanck kicked off Belgium's United Cup campaign with a hard-fought 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Bulgaria's Isabella Shinikova in 1 hour and 43 minutes. However, Grigor Dimitrov levelled the tie with a 6-4, 7-5 win over David Goffin in the second rubber.

Five-time Hologic WTA Tour titlist Van Uytvanck had entered as the favourite against No.381-ranked Shinikova and lived up to that status over a dominant first half hour. She rattled through eight of the first 10 games, going up a break for 2-1 in the second set as Shinikova double-faulted twice.

Flipkens, Dimitrov stepping up as playing captains at United Cup

But Shinikova, who showed little sign of the leg injury that had beset her during a three-set defeat to Greece's Despina Papamichail on Day 1, struck back. Introducing more variety into her game, the 31-year-old added subtle chips and drop shots to her aggressive tactics to turn the second set around.

Van Uytvanck's error count increased from six to 20 as she struggled to adjust. Striking winners off both wings, Shinikova took five of the next six games to level the match and set her sights on a sixth career Top 100 win.

The start of the third set saw the highest level of tennis from both players, with Van Uytvanck conjuring a pinpoint lob winner off her toes in the first game and Shinikova scrambling up and down the court before finding a pass in the second. No.72-ranked Van Uytvanck reasserted herself in the sixth game, coming up with a winning drop-shot and taking advantage of two Shinikova double faults to break for 4-2.

That proved decisive. Van Uytvanck, now back in a groove on serve, closed out the win at the first time of asking, firing a forehand down the line on match point for her 31st winner of the day.

Next, Dimitrov held off Belgium's top ATP player Goffin in a topsy-turvy clash. The Team Bulgaria playing captain showed grit to notch a vital triumph and tie his nation’s Group A clash with Belgium at 1-1.

ATP No.28 Dimitrov kept his cool after Goffin reeled off three straight games to extinguish the Bulgarian's early 4-1 lead in the first set, breaking for the second time in the set in the 10th game to move ahead.

After the pair exchanged breaks in the opening two games of the second set, the pivotal moments of the 1-hour, 42-minute encounter came in the third game. Dimitrov dug deep in the face of some sharp Goffin returning to fend off six break points and hold serve, leaving the Belgian six-time ATP Tour titlist visibly frustrated.

Just as he had in the opening set, Dimitrov then made his move late to clinch the second set, and consequently the match. He took advantage of some loose groundstrokes from Goffin to break for 7-5 and seal a win in which he had fired 10 aces and won 79% (38/48) of points behind his first serve.

The win extended former ATP No.3 Dimitrov's head-to-head record against Goffin to 9-2. This was the pair’s first tour-level meeting since 2020, when Goffin edged the Bulgarian in three sets at another team event, the ATP Cup.

Dimitrov was pleased to get over the line and get his team on the board, particularly after he had came close to upsetting ATP No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday in his opening singles match.

"I'm pleased that I was able to sustain my level," Dimitrov said in his on-court interview. "Even though I felt I could play better tennis, but I was staying in the match, I was trying to work on the things that I’ve worked on in the off-season. I was just happy to play a good level."

The ATP Tour contributed to this report.