Dimitrov Looks To Repeat Beijing Win Over Nadal
If there is one thing you can be certain of Saturday, it is that the China Open semi-finals will not disappoint.
For the first time in the tournament’s history (since 2004), the top three seeds are in the semi-finals in Beijing. It just so happens that those three seeds are three of the top five players in the Emirates ATP Race To London, with World No. 1 Rafael Nadal leading the way. There is no shortage of talent behind him either, with World No. 4 Alexander Zverev, who officially qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals Friday, World No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov and three-time ATP World Tour titlist Nick Kyrgios completing the stunningly talented quartet.
Nadal is the only former champion of the group, having captured the glory in 2005. And while Dimitrov was a finalist last year, Kyrgios and Zverev are appearing in the semi-finals for the first time.
In the first semi-final on National Tennis Stadium, Nadal brings an 8-1 head-to-head record into a clash against Dimitrov, with their last meeting resulting in a five-set thriller at this year’s Australian Open, which the Spaniard won. Dimitrov’s lone win came in the Beijing quarter-finals last year.
Nadal hasn’t lost in any of his eight semi-finals this season and is appearing in his fifth Beijing semi-final (3-1). The 31-year-old Spaniard comes in with a tour-leading 59 wins in 2017 (59-9) and he’s trying to win 60 matches for the ninth time in his career. Nadal is attempting to reach his 110th singles final and win his 75th title.
Dimitrov, who lost to Andy Murray in last year’s final, is 3-2 in semi-final matches this season. He’s trying to capture a fourth ATP World Tour title in 2017, which would put him one behind the tour lead at five (Nadal, Zverev, Roger Federer). The 26-year-old Bulgarian is seeking his eighth title. And if he is to make the final to earn the opportunity to do so, he will have to beat a World No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the second time (1-7).
In the next semi-final, two of the bright young stars on the ATP World Tour, 22-year-old Kyrgios and 20-year-old Zverev square off for the fourth time this season. The Aussie has won two of the three meetings, but the German won their last encounter in August at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal.
Zverev became the third player to clinch a spot in the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in London by virtue of his quarter-final victory over Andrey Rublev. Like Nadal, he has an opportunity to become the tour’s solo leader with six titles should he go all the way in Beijing.
A berth in the final will not come easily against Kyrgios, who has only been broken once in 25 service games this week while also leading the tournament in return games won at a 50 per cent clip (12 of 24). Kyrgios is attempting to claim his first title since last year’s Rakuten Japan Open (d. Goffin).