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Jannik Sinner, Grigor Dimitrov advance to Miami Open final

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Jannik Sinner is starting to dominate.

Miami Open Tennis
Jannik Sinner, of Italy, left, shakes hands with Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, right, after winning their semifinal match at the Miami Open tennis tournament, Friday, March 29, 2024, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Lynne Sladky / AP

Sinner overwhelmed third-seeded Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 6-2 on Friday in the semifinals of the Miami Open to improve to 21-1 this year.

The second-seeded Sinner, rock-solid with his firecracker forehand, became the first man to reach back-to-back Miami Open finals since John Isner did it in 2019. In last year's Miami final, Medvedev prevailed over Sinner at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins.

This time, Medvedev's three games tied his career low for wins in a match. He committed 22 unforced errors.

"I'm happy about this season — who wouldn't be happy?" Sinner said. "I know the players will get to know me more and study me so I have to be ready."

Sinner, 22, will play in the final Sunday against 11th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, who beat No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev in the other semifinal after knocking out top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals.

Sinner began his revenge against Medvedev for last year's Miami final by beating him in the Australian Open final in January — rallying from two sets down — and setting the stage for a wonderful 2024 campaign.

Sinner posted his fifth straight win over Medvedev, all in the past 12 months.

"He's serving ten times better," Medvedev said. "He always served well but now he serves big, big."

This match was a lot easier than Australia in the 80-degree South Florida heat as the Italian jumped to a 5-0 lead at the outset in posting two straight breaks of the Russian's serve. It was over in 69 minutes.

Miami Open Tennis
Alexander Zverev, left, of Germany, and Grigor Dimitrov, of Bulgaria, shake hands after Dimitrov won their semifinal at the Miami Open tennis tournament Friday, March 29, 2024, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Marta Lavandier / AP

Sinner's opponent in the final, the surging Bulgarian Dimitrov, backed up his upset of Alcaraz by pulling off a win over the German Zverev in a three-setter, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4.

With fans chanting "Gri-gor, Gri-gor'' and several Bulgarian flags waving, the match went on for two hours, 36 minutes.

The victory gave the veteran Dimitrov back-to-back wins over top-5 opponents for the second time in his career.

As such, Dimitrov should surge into the top 10 for the first time since 2018.

"Whatever I say doesn't do it justice," Dimitrov said. "I fight my own battles. I run my own race. All that comes with the work we all put in as a team. I'm at a very different path in my life and my career. ... I kept on believing. This is just a cherry on the cake."

Dimitrov has lost two of three matches all-time to Sinner.

Sinner, who said his serve has improved because he's gotten stronger, broke Medvedev four times, didn't get broken, had seven aces and won 80% of his first serves.

"This year, I have another chance," Sinner said in the on-court interview. "I don't think he played his best tennis and I tried to stay focused and in my rhythm."

In the match's second game, Sinner hit a cross-court forehand winner on a third break point for a 2-0 lead. Medvedev motioned a thumbs down at his player's box.

The Italian went up 4-0 after cashing in on his fourth break point of the game, flicking away a short ball by Medvedev, who was flustered by two net cords during the game.

Sinner broke Medvedev in the first game of the second set and was on his way. Late in the second set, down 5-1, Medvedev heard jeers and whistles when he appeared to frustratingly hit a ball back to a ball girl with extra zest.

Sinner, whose only loss this year was to Alcaraz in the Indian Wells final, said Friday was "one of the best matches in how I handled everything."

"It's a great feeling," he said.

Long ago touted as the next major champion, Dimitrov is now 32 years old and has never been to a final of any of the four majors.

On serve at 5-4, Dimitrov broke Zverev for the first set, hitting a spectacular backhand volley after which the German then got tight. Zverev committed two straight unforced errors, including on set point a shanked forehand that sailed 2 feet long.

After losing the second-set tiebreaker, Dimitrov stayed resilient. At 3-3 he broke Zverev after a forehand winner and falling-down volley winner as he acrobatically blocked back a shot that caromed off the net cord.

That gave him a 4-3 lead. He held both his service games to close it out.

Alcaraz can attest to Dimitrov's current play, saying after his loss, "He played amazing tennis, almost perfect. … He made me feel like I'm 13 years old.''

The women's final is set for Saturday when American Danielle Collins faces No. 4 seed Elena Rybakina.


AP tennis:

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