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Grigor Dimitrov was ready to beat Carlos Alcaraz — here's why

Grigor Dimitrov was ready to beat Carlos Alcaraz — here's why

The tennis world was stunned when Grigor Dimitrov blew through Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets with a 6-2 6-4 victory in the Miami Open quarterfinals. But the win wasn't such a surprise — it was quietly foreshadowed in an epic match the prior round. 

Florida Tennis Magazine Editor Matt Pressman and I recently discussed highlights from the Miami Open. Without a doubt, the Grigor Dimitrov vs. Hubert Hurkacz match was one of the best tennis battles of the tournament, and the combined precision and shot making were practically as good as it gets for any tennis fan.

Why? Both players were extremely sharp serving, returning, slicing & dicing, and hitting powerful groundstrokes from the baseline. This was corner to corner tennis, and the two in-form tennis superstars were practically tied at the hip — that’s how close the match felt. (Though, I guess if they were actually tied at the hip, the tennis would be much worse.)

Photo credit: Miami Open/Hard Rock Stadium. 

As one statistical example of how high the level was against Hurkacz, both players had very high winner-to-unforced error ratios. How often do you see that? Hurkacz had 28 winners and just 14 unforced errors in a grueling, long, 3-set battle in Florida humidity. Normally, that would be enough to win a match against almost anyone. However, Baby Fed outdid him, with 43 winners and 20 unforced errors. The quality of the tennis was superb, and the stats back that up.

Shockingly, although Hurkacz is widely considered the best server on the men’s tour at the moment and has the stats to prove it, Dimitrov ended up having a higher overall serve rating in the match! That was a combination of how well he served as well as a testament to how superbly he returned. Dimitrov’s ability to neutralize Hurkacz’s serve was possibly second to none. Naturally, Hurkacz still held serve plenty, but that was also from his great touch, groundstrokes, and tennis smarts. Turning to the match stats for a moment again, Hurkacz ended with 8 aces and two double faults, while Dimitrov ended with 9 aces and two double faults.

Photo credit: Miami Open/Hard Rock Stadium. 

At the end of the day, though, it seems all that pressure on Hurkacz’s serve built up and Dimitrov eked out the win in the third set tiebreak. Hard work pays off. 

So if you're still scratching your head after seeing Dimitrov put on such a clinic with Alcaraz, do yourself a favor — rewatch the Dimitrov vs. Hurkacz match. It previewed the level Dimitrov later displayed in the quarterfinals. Will he maintain that level for the remainder of the tournament? In the press conference after the Alcaraz match, Dimitrov confessed, "It’s honestly a lot of fun for me to challenge myself. It’s a great opportunity for me."


Zachary Shahan has been a tennis fan since his favorites in the 1990s, Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf, seemed to be setting records that would never be broken. In the past 7 years, as his daughters have developed into masterful little tennis players, he has embedded himself in the Florida tennis scene of Bradenton and Sarasota. With coaches who grew up with, played doubles with, and are still friends with Francis Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Taylor Fritz, and Michael Mmoh, and sharing courts with various IMG students and college players, Zach is always digging for a little more intel on the current happenings as well as deep history of ATP and WTA pros. Zach also does some live match commentary for popular YouTube tennis channel Game to LoveTop photo credit: Miami Open/Hard Rock Stadium.   

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