Fewer hours of practice and videos add to Dimitrov in Miami

The Bulgarian will face Zverev on Friday after surprising Alcaraz

March 29, 2024

Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Grigor Dimitrov is No. 12 in the PIF ATP Rankings.
By Staff

Grigor Dimitrov began winning his Thursday match against Carlos Alcaraz at the Miami Open presented by Itaú on Wednesday. More specifically from the moment he looked for the video of the last duel between the two, and decided not to watch it. “He was about to press ‘play’. And I stopped,” said the Bulgarian. Not planning so much paid off: on Thursday he defeated the Spaniard in straight sets and advanced to the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

He was able to give in to the temptation of seeing what he had done well six months ago to beat the No. 2 in the PIF ATP Rankings at the ATP Masters 1000 in Shanghai. But he preferred to rest and trust in his intention once he entered the Hard Rock Stadium track.

“I told myself that there was no need to watch it because each game is very different. The courts are different, the weather too,” says the No. 12 in the PIF ATP Rankings. “So I just wanted to go out there like a blank slate and start building from point number one, but without allowing myself to put the ball in play and see what he was going to do.”

“I tried to hurt him at every opportunity, and that was the simplicity that added for me as the match progressed,” added the 32-year-old right-hander, who has taken an unexpected turn to his Lexus ATP HeadToHead rivalry with Alcaraz . After losing the first three duels with the Murcian – and in straight sets – he has now won the last two of the rivalry.

Furthermore, his victory this Thursday was in one hour and 32 minutes. Nobody had beaten Alcaraz in such a short time in 2024 (in complete matches). This defeat is also the second fastest for the Spaniard in Masters 1000, only surpassed by the one that Rafael Nadal gave him in Madrid in 2021 (1h17m). His performance was so impressive that Alcaraz said at a press conference that he had made him feel “as if he were 13 years old.”

Did Dimitrov do anything more special to achieve such an achievement? Unlike other tournaments, yes: practice less. “In the last two or three days I barely trained because the conditions are very different during the day. Sometimes I have done well in this tournament, sometimes not. It has been an interesting relationship with this event,” said the Bulgarian, who had never made it past the round of 16 in Miami before 2024.

“You always try to focus on what works. “Now I’m trying something new, and I finally feel like: ‘Ok, I’m finally doing something right,’ and I’m sticking to it, but still being as professional as possible,” explained the former World No. 3. “After many years of playing you learn one or two things.”

The truth is that Dimitrov has had little time to celebrate. Once he got his 19th win against members of the Top 5, he was already thinking about how to get the No. 20 in his Friday duel against No. 5 Alexander Zverev.

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“If I’m honest, I’ve already made the change in mentality and I’m thinking about my match tomorrow,” Dimitrov explained on Thursday night. “I’ll try to stay on point because you have limited time to celebrate. It’s important to be in the moment. That’s the beauty of our sport.”

Dimitrov has a Lexus ATPHeadToHead of 1-7 with Zverev and has not defeated him since Basel 2014. He most likely will not review any of his previous matches with the German to analyze what he should correct or maintain. Avoiding the “play” button has been beneficial for Bulgarian so far.

“Today I did everything as simply as possible. I hope to do the same tomorrow.”


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