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Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov ATP Beijing tennis tips, Predictions and Live Stream: Will Nadal avenge last year's loss to Dimitrov?

  • Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov is live from Beijing on Saturday, 7 October from 4:30pm local time/ 9:30am BST
  • Nadal leads 8-1 on head-to-head, but Dimitrov's only win was in Beijing last year
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Beijing at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

Twelve months after suffering a comprehensive quarter final defeat to Grigor Dimitrov at the China Open, Rafael Nadal takes on the Bulgarian at the semi-finals in Beijing. Will the world number one get his revenge on Saturday?

Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov ATP China Open tennis is live from Beijing on Saturday, 7 October from 4:30pm local time/ 9:30am BST
Watch and bet on tennis live from Beijing at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

A lot has happened in the life of Rafael Nadal since last year’s meeting in Beijing, he played only one match after that- an opening round loss to Viktor Troicki in Shanghai- before ending his season because of persistent wrist problems, but he returned with a vengeance in 2017, and has surged to the top of the world rankings.

Nadal and Dimitrov met again early in Nadal’s resurgent 2017, with both men composing an Australian Open masterclass in what remains one of the best matches of the season for its sheer physicality and shot-making. Dimitrov thought he had his man at 3-4 15-40 in the final set, but Nadal upped the ante in the way only he can to bang the door shut. The Spaniard went on to break in the next game before closing out an absolutely amazing contest.

That match took Nadal to one of three finals in the initial hard court swing earlier in the season, and while he could not quite get over the line in Melbourne, or Acapulco, or Miami, those results had set him up nicely for his a big tilt on his beloved clay. The Spaniard carted away tenth titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros, and a fifth crown in Madrid in a vintage campaign on the dirt. He dropped off a bit after Roland Garros, but was back in beast mode at the US Open, charging to a third title at Flushing Meadows, a sixteenth major overall to continue his astounding season.

Back on the tour in Beijing, Nadal opened with a shaky three-set victory over Lucas Pouille, saving two match points in the second set, but that was all he needed to get his eye in. He dismissed Karen Khachanov 6-3 6-3 in the second round, before diffusing the big-serving threats of John Isner in the quarter finals. Having saved a break point in the fourth game of the match to hold for 2-2, Nadal broke away late in the set, winning the final three games to bag the opener. He fell into early trouble yet again at 0-1 in the second set, but he battled back from 15-40 down, saving the second break point with an outrageous second serve ace on his way to another huge hold. Isner maintain a high serving percentage through the second set- he finished the match with 22 aces- but Nadal also held on to his deal until the inevitable tie break ensued. This one was no contest, as Nadal turned on the afterburners to run away with the breaker without dropping a point.

“I think I played a solid match,” said Nadal. “I played very well, changing good directions… I think on return I did well. It’s an important victory for me, of course, against a player that arrived here playing so well, winning two great matches. For me it’s an important one and I'm very happy.”

He will have to play another solid match on Saturday, if he is to get his revenge over Dimitrov.

Dimitrov has come through three quality opponents in Beijing- he battled past the in-form Damir Dzumhur in three sets in the opening round before scoring a 7-6 7-5 victory over Juan Martin del Potro. 

Grigor Dimitrov. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
That was just his second win in seven matches against the giant Argentine. Dimitrov needed three sets to get past Roberto Bautista-Agut in Friday’s quarter finals, fending off early trouble at the start of the third set before running away with the match. He saved two break points at 1-1 in the final set, but then made the most of that lucky break, winning four of the next five games to complete the 7-6 4-6 6-2 victory after two and a half hours. 

Dimitrov has been a bit of an enigma this season, jumping out to a 16-1 run, and claiming titles in Brisbane and Sofia, as well as that Australian Open semi-final within the first two months of the year, but he did virtually nothing for the rest of the hard court season, and the clay season, notably suffering opening round defeats at Masters 1000 events in Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome. 

A semi-final at Queen’s hinted at a return to form, but there was nothing significant until a title-winning run in Cincinnati- which at the time appeared to set him up for a strong run in an open US Open field. That never materialized as the Bulgarian crashed to a second round loss to Andrey Rublev at Flushing Meadows. He has again looked good in Beijing- his first tournament since the US Open- but he faces by far his biggest test yet when he takes on world number one, Nadal on Saturday.

“He is a player that I really like, a good friend on the Tour," Nadal said of Dimitrov. "He's a great guy. I think Grigor is a player always with a great attitude, with a positive character. I’m happy for him that he's having a good year. Tomorrow will be a tough one, for sure. He's playing well. He had a good victory today. Let's see. I going to try to play my best. I hope to be ready for it.”

Last year’s victory in Beijing remains Dimitrov’s only win over Nadal in their nine meetings. However, of Nadal’s eight victories, only two have ended in straight sets, and they have both been on clay. The US Open champion has had to work very hard to get past Dimitrov on hard courts, just like he did at the Australian Open earlier in the year.

Without taking anything away from Dimitrov’s win over Nadal in Beijing last season, the Spaniard wasn’t exactly right- that became fairly clear after Shanghai. Nadal has been a totally different beast this year, playing with confidence, conviction, and most importantly, good health. He has also got better as he has progressed through the Beijing draw- an ominous sign for Dimitrov on Saturday. Trust Nadal to continuously plug away at Dimitrov’s single-handed backhand, while picking his moments to change direction with his forehand and come to the net. Dimitrov, of course retains his own weapons, formidable ones at that. He has shown that he can stay with Nadal physically, and possesses the stroke-making genius to hurt anyone in the world.

However, there is a very good reason why Rafael Nadal has eight wins against Dimitrov. The great Spaniard also possesses all those aforementioned qualities, and in greater measure too. With the way he has progressed this week, I’m backing him to get that revenge on Saturday and move into another Beijing final.

Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov is live from Beijing on Saturday, 7 October from 4:30pm local time/ 9:30am BST

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Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov ATP Beijing tennis tips, Predictions and Live Stream: Will Nadal avenge last year's loss to Dimitrov?

Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov meet in the Beijing semi-finals on Saturday. Will Nadal avenge last season's loss? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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