World No. 2 Rafael Nadal brings a dominant 12-1 record over Grigor Dimitrov into their Acapulco semi-final showdown on Friday night.
?? Rafael Nadal  vs ?? Grigor Dimitrov  Match Info
Date: Friday February 28
Tournament: ATP Acapulco SF
Time: 10.00pm local time (4.00am GMT)
Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov Head-to-Head
Nadal leads 12-1
2019 | Monte-Carlo R16 | Nadal 6-4 6-1
2018 | Monte-Carlo SF | Nadal 6-4 6-1
2017 | Shanghai QF | Nadal 6-4 6-7(4) 6-3
2017 | Beijing SF | Nadal 6-3 4-6 6-1
2017 | Australian Open SF | Nadal 6-3 5-7 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-4
2016 | Beijing QF | Dimitrov 6-2 6-4
2015 | Basel R16 | 6-4 4-6 6-3
2015 | Madrid QF | 6-3 6-4
2014 | Rome SF | Nadal 6-2 6-2
2014 | Australian Open QF | Nadal 3-6 7-6(3) 7-6(7) 6-2
2013 | Cincinnati R16 | Nadal 6-2 5-7 6-2
2013 | Monte-Carlo QF | Nadal 6-2 2-6 6-4
2009 | Rotterdam R16 | Nadal 7-5 3-6 6-2
Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov Match Preview
Nadal is targeting his first Acapulco title on hardcourt and is the heavy favourite to do so this weekend, especially after the early eliminations of Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios, along with Stan Wawrinka – who was knocked out by Dimitrov in the quarter-finals.
The Spaniard won the silverware when Acapulco was a clay-court event and part of the Latin America ‘Golden Swing’, prevailing in 2015 and 2013. However, Nadal hasn’t been as successful since the tournament’s transition to hardcourt, which was done to better accomodate players for the upcoming Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami (and also rival Dubai in a bid to attract more top players).
Nadal finished runner-up to Sam Querrey in 2017, losing the final in straight sets, while he was defeated by eventual champion Kyrgios in the second round of last year’s tournament, falling in the deciding set tiebreak after having match points.
Those were some tough defeats for Nadal, but as mentioned, he’s looking good in his bid to take home the trophy this week. The World No. 2 hasn’t dropped a set in advancing to the semi-finals, easing past Pablo Andujar 6-3 6-2, overcoming a second-set charge from Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2 7-5 and taking out the very in-form Soonwoo Kwon, who had made five straight quarter-finals coming into the match, 6-2 6-1.
A title in Acapulco will do nicely for Nadal, who hasn’t had the best season so far in 2020. After ending 2019 as the oldest year-end No. 1 in history, capturing two more majors at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open, Nadal has already relinquished the top spot to Novak Djokovic after the Serbian triumphed at the Australian Open. The 33-year-old lost two matches during the ATP Cup to David Goffin and Djokovic himself, while he was knocked out of the Australian Open in four sets by Dominic Thiem.
Can he continue his title bid and return to the Acapulco final on Friday night?
Dimitrov, although having lost 11 of their 12 previous matches, knows he can take it to Nadal on this surface. Indeed, the Bulgarian has taken a set in every single one of their eight hardcourt encounters, with his lone win coming in Beijing during his career-best 2017 season – which was the last year the pair clashed on the surface, with Nadal winning their last two meetings by identical 6-4 6-1 scoreline on the clay of Monte-Carlo in 2018 and 2019.
It’s been a tough season for Dimitrov so far, especially after he ended 2019 in promising fashion with semi-final showings at the U.S. Open and Paris Masters, but he’s made the most of his second chances so far in Acapulco this week, defeating Damir Dzumhur 6-3 6-3 in the first round before saving match points against Adrian Mannarino in the second round, emerging victorious in a deciding set tiebreaker. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion then produced his best match of 2020 to date in the quarter-finals, snapping a five-match losing run against Stan Wawrinka to defeat the Swiss 6-4 6-4.
”I’ve played quite a few times against Stan and we’ve practised together so many times. Between us, it’s mainly a mental battle,” Dimitrov said. “I had lost the past five times against him, but those losses have inspired me. Those losses helped me. Even though it hurts saying it, I’m admitting it. I wanted to stand tall tonight.”
Like Nadal, Dimitrov is a former champion in Acapulco, but unlike the Spaniard, he has won the title on hardcourt, triumphing in 2014 when he beat Kevin Anderson. Can the Bulgarian score one of his best career wins on Friday night to return to the final?
Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov Prediction
I give Dimitrov a decent chance of pulling off the upset here. Nadal has cruised into the semi-finals, but his opponents have all had chances to work their way into the matches, and if for a little more experience and quality, I sense they could have. Dimitrov has both of those qualities and as mentioned, he’s taken a set off Nadal in their eight previous hardcourt meetings. The smart bet says pick Nadal in three, but Dimitrov could be worth a flutter at good odds.