A thrilling semi-final clash is slotted to take place on Saturday afternoon in Rome, as world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and budding Bulgarian talent Grigor Dimitrov meet for a spot in the final of the Masters 1000 event. The two have already met one so far this season, during the quarter-final of the Australian Open, where Dimitrov managed to take a set off Nadal before losing the next three. Nadal leads the head-to-head series 4-0, including a win on clay in 2013.
While the odds heavily favoured Nadal heading into the exciting encounter, it was Murray who stormed through the opening set to add an unexpected twist to the match-up. The Briton produced some remarkable shotmaking in the opening 30 minutes to go up 5-0 before closing out the set 6-1. The Spaniard would regroup rather quickly and return the favour in the second set, as he quickly went up 3-0 and eventually equalized the match at a set apiece.
The two battled on in the third set but it was Murray who took on the role of the aggressor this time, as Nadal’s first serve continued to weaken, which allowed Murray to control the longer rallies and break serve in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead. Nadal would respond with some blistering shots in the following game to get the break back. The match would remain on serve until 5-5, before Nadal would break to love and close out the match a few minutes later.
While he may not have played a complete match in his quarter-final outing, Grigor Dimitrov was in complete control against his far more experienced opponent Tommy Haas. The win was not only one over a tough opponent, it also means he reached the semi-final of a Masters 1000 event for the first time in his career – on his birthday as well.
“It was one of the most memorable days of my life,” said Dimitrov. “I was just talking to my team, it’s my first win on my birthday, so it feels good. It’s a bit unfortunate, the way it ended up. But I’m just a happy birthday boy today.
“I’m happy, but I don’t want to stop my progress here [in the semi-finals],” said Dimitrov. “I’ve come to the tournament with good health and good confidence. It’s a nice way to bounce back from last week, that was the most positive thing for me. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s match.”
These two competitors have already met one so far this season, during the quarter-final of the Australian Open, where Dimitrov managed to take a set off Nadal before losing the next three. Nadal leads the head-to-head series 4-0, including a win on clay in 2013.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Three Sets