Clutch Dimitrov wins “dog fight” against Zverev to reach Miami final, will return to top 10

The Bulgarianv handled the pressure moments better in a two-hour, 39-minute semi-final at the Miami Open on Friday

Grigor Dimitrov, Miami 2024 Grigor Dimitrov, Miami 2024 | © Julien Nouet / Tennis Majors

Grigor Dimitrov defeated Alexander Zverev in a titanic Miami Open semi-final on Friday evening, edging out the German 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4 to move into the final of the Miami Open on Sunday.

The Bulgarian played brilliant tennis under pressure, overcoming an impressive Zverev to book his spot against Jannik Sinner in the Miami Open final.  

Not only does the victory see Dimitrov through to his first ever final here in Miami, but it also ensures the former world No 3 will return to the world’s top 10 on Monday for the first time since 2018.

“Whatever I say doesn’t do it any justice,” declared an ectatic Dimitrov after the match, referring to his return to the top 10. “I think for me, I fight my own battles right now. I run my own race.” 

“All this comes with all the work that we have put in as a team,” he continued. “I’m on a different path in my life, in my career. There’s a lot that was done, a lot of work. I kept on believing, kept on striving, kept on having faith in myself. When I didn’t really believe in myself enough, all the team was constantly pushing me in the right direction.

“This is just the cherry on the cake.”

Dimitrov THE better under pressure

Looking back on this match, it would be harsh to say Zverev played poorly. There were long stretches of the encounter where the German did not miss a first serve, and his backhand was solid throughout the more than two and a half hour clash.

However, there were several moments in the match where Dimitrov stepped up to the plate and performed better under pressure than Zverev did.

The first came in the 10th game of the opening set. Up until that stage, nine service games had been traded, with Zverev looking rock-solid on serve. However, down 5-4, the German faltered, with his first serve disappearing and the errors flowing. From 30-0 up, suddenly Zverev found himself a set down at the change of ends.

While he did well to bounce back strong in the second set, at one stage making 17 first serves in a row and winning the set in a tiebreaker, he again faltered in the deciding set.

Behind 3-2, Dimitrov put his foot to the floor and won 13 of the next 14 points, including an incredible reflex volley at the net which left him lying on the court. The match went from level-pegging and anyone’s game, to Dimitrov holding a commanding 5-3 lead. While Zverev managed to stem the bleeding with a service hold, the damage was done and Dimitrov served out the match.

“I don’t actually remember the shot that well. I saw the ball was coming. Just make sure you get it over the net”, Dimitrov said. “I was waiting the down-the-line. I know that’s his favorite shot. That alone, hitting, clipping the tape, that was definitely no fun. I think definitely after that I kept on staying in the moment. I think I played an excellent game after that. I didn’t pull back. So that was, you know, that was a moment where I knew I had to use into my advantage.”

The win was Dimitrov’s second top five victory in a row, having also defeated Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals earlier this week. Remarkably, it was his first over Zverev since 2014, with the Bulgarian having lost his last seven matches against the German since winning their first meeting.

Based on an Opta stat, Grigor Dimitrov has become only the second player aged 30+ to claim ATP top five wins in the quarters and semis at an ATP Masters 1000 event after eventual tournament winner Andre Agassi (Cincinnati 2004), since the format began in 1990.

He now moves to No 9 in the live ATP rankings, and will face second seed Jannik Sinner for the title on Sunday. This is Dimitrov’s third Masters 1000 final, having made the final match in Cincinnati in 2017 and Paris in 2023 as well.

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