Rafael Nadal defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 in grueling two hours and 32 minutes to reach the semi-final in Shanghai 2017. It was the second clash between Rafa and Grigor in two weeks and the second three-setter win for the Spaniard.
Thus, he ousted the Bulgarian for the tenth time in 11 encounters and rattled off his 15th straight triumph. It was one of the finest matches in Shanghai that year, with many attractive points on both sides and more winners than errors.
Nadal made the difference with the second serve, obtaining 17 out of 24 points and fending off both break points to keep his service games intact. Grigor gave his best to stay in touch, making a nice comeback in the second set tiebreak to send the match into a decider and prolong his chances.
The Bulgarian played one loose service game at 2-3 in the final set to give Rafa a crucial break and plague his chances. The Spaniard saved a break chance in the encounter’s second game with a risky second serve, and the two rivals stayed neck and neck until game nine.
Dimitrov played on a high level in the opening four service games before losing focus in the most decisive moment. He offered Nadal three break points at 4-4 after two beautiful backhands down-the-line winners from world no.
1. Dimitrov repelled them but came short on the fourth when Nadal earned a break with a forehand winner. A backhand down-the-line winner gave Rafa a set point in game ten, and he brought the opener home with a service winner after 42 minutes.
Rafael Nadal earned his 870th ATP win against Grigor Dimitrov in Shanghai in 2017.
Grigor started to play with more pace on his forehand in set number two and faced just one break point in the entire set. He saved it in game five with a beautiful backhand volley winner to remain on the positive side
Nadal was gemstone solid in his service games, which led to an ineluctable tiebreak after both players’ excellent performances. Grigor was 3- 0 and 4- 2 down in the swell, but Nadal lost the seventh point when he netted a forehand.
Two loose shots bring Rafa the set, dropping the last four points to hand the tiebreak to his rival. The decider’s fifth game could have been pivotal. Nadal saved a break chance with a top-notch cacography crosscourt shot and broke Dimitrov in the coming one to move 4- 2 ahead.
Grigor hit two double faults to keep Rafa in the game and missed an easy forehand to give the Spaniard a break chance. Another poor forehand sealed the Bulgarian’s fate, and Rafa didn’t need the alternate assignation, crossing the finish line with three service winners at 5- 3.
It was the 870th ATP palm for the Spaniard, matching Andre Agassi as the sixth most successful player in the Open period.