ATP Cincinnati: Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov preview

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Rafael Nadal looks to make 12 wins in a row on hard courts when he takes on Grigor Dimitrov in Round 3 of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Rafa leads the Head to Head with 2-0.

Nadal has been in outstanding form since his return, with his latest 6 wins moving him to 49-3 on the year. The extra aggression in his game helped him past biggest rival Novak Djokovic on his way to taking the title in Montreal, with Milos Raonic having no chance in the final against a player on the top of his game.

He had little trouble in his opener here winning 6-2 6-2 over the German qualifier Benjamin Becker. Meanwhile, Dimitrov saw off Brian Baker and more impressively, Nicolas Almagro to make it this far. Mediocre performances to date in his career at slams have led to some suggesting Dimitrov is struggling to fulfil his potential although one-off performances against the elite have shown his ability, even if consistency is an issue currently.

Dimitrov twice took Andy Murray to a first set tiebreak on hard courts this year but it was his clay performances that suggested he was ready to make the step up. The Bulgarian would lose only 6-4 in the decider of a hard fought three setter to Nadal before pulling off a shock win against Djokovic with the backing of a rowdy Madrid crowd.

When Nadal is in the groove, he will be very difficult to stop. Dimitrov has taken both their meetings (Monte Carlo 2013, Rotterdam 2009) to three sets before losing but will have his work cut out to even win a set this time round.

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