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Preview: Grigor Dimitrov vs. Alexander Zverev - prediction, form, head-to-head

Sports Mole previews Friday's Miami Open semi-final clash between Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev, including predictions, head-to-head and their tournament so far.

Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev will be fighting for a place in the Miami Open final when they meet each other for the ninth time in their careers on Friday.

Dimitrov stunned the No.1 seed Carlos Alcaraz at the quarter-final stage, while Zverev defeated Fabian Marozsan as expected.

Match preview

Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov pictured in January 2024© Reuters

Indeed, Dimitrov's sensational return to form continued with a remarkable straight sets victory against Alcaraz on Thursday, denying the Spaniard the opportunity to win the 'Sunshine Double' (back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami) in the process.

The Bulgarian sprung out from the traps, breaking Alcaraz's first service game, before striking again at 5-2 to take the first set. The 32-year-old moved into a commanding 4-1 lead before Alcaraz fought back to level proceedings, but Dimitrov found another gear to break for the fourth time and close out a second successive victory against the Spaniard inside 92 minutes.

"To win against him, you have to play at your best; that's just how it is," said Dimitrov, who also beat Alcaraz at last October's Shanghai Masters. "Sometimes simplicity is genius. It's very hard to do it, especially when you play against an opponent like that, but I was able to dictate the game, read the game a bit better than the last time."

Experience was clearly key in helping Dimitrov to his surprise victory against an opponent 12 years younger than him, with Alcaraz admitting that his opponent "played amazing tennis, almost perfect" and that he was made to "feel like a 13-year-old" during the defeat.

Having reached the final of the Paris Masters last November before ending his seven-year trophy drought in Brisbane earlier this year, Dimitrov will feel that the time is ripe for him to strike at a more significant tournament. He will move into the world's top 10 if he can end his wretched record against Zverev (seven straight defeats) and move into another final.

Alexander Zverev reacts at the ATP Finals on November 13, 2023© Reuters

While Zverev will certainly respect his forthcoming opponent's improving form within the past few months, he will feel supremely confident given his dominance in this match-up, especially having avoided dropping a single set across four victories in Miami.

The 26-year-old reached the last four in Miami for the first time since 2018 when dominating Hungary's Marozsan, who had beaten top-10 players Holger Rune and Alex de Minaur on his way to the quarter-final stage. Yet Zverev had few difficulties against the World No.57, breaking him four times while using his own serve to great effect.

"I'm happy to be back in these late stages of these tournaments, playing the best players in the world, I think there are only those left," said Zverev after his victory on Thursday. "I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Dangerous opponents such as Felix Auger Aliassime, Christopher Eubanks, Karen Khachanov and Marozsan have all fallen short of the mark against Zverev this week, suggesting that he is back to his best.

Indeed, the two-time ATP Finals champion may have missed out on lifting a Grand Slam title so far during his career, but of the active players on tour, only Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have reached more Masters semi-finals than the German.

A combination of injury, issues off the court and dips in form have stopped him winning a title of this magnitude since his peak year in 2021 - when he won the ATP Finals, an Olympic gold medal, plus the Madrid Open and Cincinnati Open - but he will fully expect to be involved in Sunday's final by overcoming Dimitrov for the eighth successive time on Friday.

Tournament so far

Grigor Dimitrov:

Second round: vs. Alejandro Tabilo 6-7[5] 7-6[5] 6-2
Third round: vs. Yannick Hanfmann 6-1 6-0
Round of 16: vs. Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 6-3 7-6[3]
Quarter-final: vs. Carlos Alcaraz 6-2 6-4

Alexander Zverev:

Second round: vs. Felix Auger Aliassime 6-2 6-4
Third round: vs. Christopher Eubanks 7-6 6-3
Round of 16: vs. Karen Khachanov 6-1 6-4
Quarter-final: vs. Fabian Marozsan 6-3 7-5

Head To Head

Chengdu Open (2023) - Semi-final: Zverev def. Dimitrov 6-3 7-6[2]
US Open (2023) - Last-32: Zverev def. Dimitrov 6-7[2] 7-6[8] 6-1 6-1
Cincinnati Masters (2023) - Last-64: Zverev def. Dimitrov 6-2 6-2
French Open (2023) - Last-16: Zverev def. Dimitrov 6-1 6-4 6-3
Paris Masters (2021) - Last-16: Zverev def. Dimitrov 7-6[4] 6-7[3] 6-3
Rome Masters (2016) - Last-64: Zverev def. Dimitrov 6-1 6-4
Indian Wells (2016) - Last-64: Zverev def. Dimitrov 6-4 3-6 7-5
Basel Open (2014) - Last-32: Dimitrov def. Zverev 2-6 6-4 6-2

Incredibly, since losing their first ever meeting as a 17-year-old almost a decade ago, Zverev has won each of his last seven meetings against Dimitrov,

Four of their match-ups have taken place within the last 12 months, including at the French Open and the US Open. As expected, Zverev dominated on clay, but Dimitrov took the opening set on a hard court at Flushing Meadows, before losing a tight tie-breaker in the second set and collapsing thereafter.

The Bulgarian has gone on to produce some of the best levels of tennis in his career since that defeat, ending his seven-year trophy drought earlier this year, so he surely has a better chance than ever of ending this unwanted run of defeats against the German.

SM words green background

We say: Zverev to win in three sets

Both players have produced incredibly high levels of tennis throughout the week in Miami, with very few people foreseeing Dimitrov's second straight victory against Alcaraz. However, he will be tested much more by Zverev's serve in the semi-final.

The German clearly holds the psychological edge against his opponent, and we expect him to come through in three sets to set up an enticing showdown against Daniil Medvedev or Jannik Sinner in Sunday's final.

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Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov pictured in January 2024
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