Nobody would ever have expected a Fedal grand slam final in 2017 but it is a very distinct possibility after Roger Federer was the first to book his place in Sunday’s final. Rafael Nadal will need to defeat an in-form Grigor Dimitrov to make it nine times that the pair have met in a slam final. See their current H2H stats.
Nadal progressed to the semi finals with a stunning victory over the third seed, Milos Raonic. He wasn’t broken in the 6-4 7-6 6-4 victory, saving all four break points faced. The match could have turned on it’s head had Raonic not double faulted up set point in the second set tie break but it allowed Nadal to take control and a 2-0 lead which he never looked like letting go. Nadal has been impressive with wins against Zverev, Monfils and now Raonic to make it this far. “I think all of them are top players. So that’s very important for me because that means that I am competitive and playing well, no?” he said.
Meanwhile, Dimitrov is unbeaten in 2017 and will be looking for a sixth top 20 win of the year. He had just eight last year but looks like a newly inspired player and ready to deliver on the promise that so many held for the 25 year old Bulgarian. It hasn’t been a deadly draw for someone of Dimitrov’s ranking but the way he dispatched of Goffin and Gasquet in straight sets this fortnight was incredibly impressive, breaking the former’s serve six times in the previous round. “I’m confident enough to say that I feel good physically, and overall like on the court. Just going forward with the confidence that I have built up also from the previous tournament. With each match I’ve been feeling better and better.” Dimitrov said after that win.
Having gone 3-1 against Raonic in his career, Dimitrov will be disappointed not to be facing the Canadian in this match – instead facing an opponent in Nadal whom he is 1-7 against. That includes the 2014 Australian Open quarter final while Dimitrov won the most recent one in Beijing last year. Head to heads can often not tell the whole story but it remains the case that Dimitrov has a bad matchup against Nadal. It will be interesting to see how this one goes given Dimitrov is playing the best tennis of his life and has been beating some very good players in the process. When asked about his maturation as a player he said “I think I’m taking better decisions when I come out on the court, better decisions in terms of points or how I’m going to play certain players or how I’m going to prepare, for example, before my matches.”
All eyes will be on Nadal to deliver the second half of the final that is the biggest rivalry ever in men’s tennis but there is no doubt that should Dimitrov win, there is a compelling story of Federer taking on a player hailed as the next version of him as well as it being another opportunity for one of the next generation to take the next step.
Rafael Nadal in four sets
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