Beijing Flashback: Rafael Nadal battles past Grigor Dimitrov



by JOVICA ILIC

Beijing Flashback: Rafael Nadal battles past Grigor Dimitrov
Beijing Flashback: Rafael Nadal battles past Grigor Dimitrov © Lintao Zhang / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal reached his 110th ATP final in Beijing 2017. World no. 1 met Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-final and scored a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory in two hours and 16 minutes, breaking the rival's resistance in the decider and remaining on the title course.

Rafa scored his ninth victory over Grigor from ten encounters, fending off ten out of 12 break chances and keeping the pressure on the other side. Nadal grabbed five breaks from 13 opportunities, earning nine in the encounter's final part.

Rafa had built a 6-3, 3-1 advantage before Grigor raised his level, taking five of the final six games and forcing a decider. However, the Bulgarian ran out of steam in the decider after three challenging games, taking one game and propelling the Spaniard through.

Rafa landed 26 winners and 27 unforced errors, outplaying Grigor's 31-37 ratio. The returners claimed only nine points in the opening set, and Nadal turned his points into a single break.

Rafael Nadal beat Grigor Dimitrov in three sets in Beijing 2017.

The Spaniard grabbed a break at 2-1 when the Bulgarian sprayed a backhand error.

Rafa denied two break points in the seventh game, bringing it home and opening a 5-2 gap. Nadal wrapped up the opener with a service winner in game nine, controlling the pace and passing his opponent with well-measured groundstrokes from every part of the court.

Dimitrov played a wayward forehand at the beginning of the second set, losing serve and moving closer to the exit door. Rafa opened a 3-1 gap and served to stay in front at 3-2. However, Grigor shifted into a higher gear and seized his third break point to lock the result at 3-3 and gain a boost.

The Bulgarian held for 5-4 and kept the pressure on the Spaniard on the return in the next one. It was an extended game, and Grigor grabbed a break to clinch the set 6-4 after a beautiful backhand winner that introduced a decider.

The encounter turned into an open war at the start of the final set, with the opening three games lasting 25 minutes! Nadal clinched them all and forged a massive 3-0 advantage. Rafa denied a break point in game two and created seven chances on the return in games one and three, seizing two and building a nice lead.

The Spaniard denied three break chances in the sixth game, moving 5-1 in front and closer to the finish line. Grigor served to stay in the match in the seventh game and netted a forehand to give Rafa another break and propel him over the finish line.

Rafael Nadal Grigor Dimitrov

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