Dimitrov stuns Alcaraz, plays Zverev in semifinal; Rybakina makes back-to-back finals, faces Collins


by Daniel Perisse

Under the eyes of boxing legend Mike Tyson, Grigor Dimitrov knocked out top seed Carlos Alcaraz in the Miami Open quarters with a 6-2 6-4 victory. The Bulgarian will face Alexander Zverev in the semifinal, while Elena Rybakina will have another shot at the final for the second straight year, now against American Danielle Collins, who plays for her first WTA 1000 title.

The 32-year-old Bulgarian came to the bout as the underdog, but he had won their last encounter, in Shanghai, in 2023.  The No. 11 seed snapped Alcaraz’s nine-match winning streak, which included the Indian Wells title he won two weeks ago.

Dimitrov won the first set by breaking the Spaniard’s serve in the second and eighth games. Alcaraz only had eight winners, against 12 from his opponent.

In the second set, the Bulgarian opened a 4-1 lead with a break in the fourth game. The Spaniard responded by holding serve and breaking Dimitrov right after that, trailing 4-3. Alcaraz leveled the set 4-4, but Dimitrov ended the Spaniard’s momentum by holding serve at 5-4. The final blow came from the Bulgarian, who broke Alcaraz again to clinch the victory 6-4.

“Well, I think he played amazing tennis, almost perfect if I can say perfect. I mean, I couldn’t find solutions. I couldn’t find a way to make him feel uncomfortable on the court. You know, it was a great game from his side,” commented the World No. 2 in the post-match press conference.

“I have a lot of frustrations right now because he made me feel like I’m 13 years old (smiling). You know, it was crazy. I was talking to my team saying that I don’t know what I must do. I don’t know, you know, his weakness. I don’t know anything. That’s why I have frustration right now, but, you know, in the thought of tennis, I left the court happy with my level.”

This will be Dimitrov’s 11th Masters 1000 semifinal – he has a record of 2-8 overall.

“I always call Carlos like a firecracker. He’s amazing. Honestly, I love watching him playing, I love practicing against him, competing against him. I mean, I’m 12 years older than him. It’s honestly a lot of fun for me to challenge myself. It’s a great opportunity for me,” commented the Bulgarian.

Dimitrov’s opponent for a place in the Men’s Singles final is Zverev, who halted Hungary’s Fabian Marozsan best career run with a 6-3 7-5 victory. This was the German’s 251st hard-court win and he will play his third semifinal of the season, after the Australian Open and Los Cabos.

The fourth seed broke the Hungarian’s serve twice, in the third and ninth games, to clinch the first set.

Marozsan, who had defeated Top-10 players Holger Rune and Alex de Minaur on his way to the semifinal, went with a more aggressive attitude in the second set. Still, in the 12th game, the World No. 5 broke the Hungarian’s serve to secure his semifinal spot.

“I felt good, but I have been feeling well the whole week so far. I thought he was my toughest opponent today, to be honest. I played some guys ranked inside the top 20 already, and I felt like he’s playing unbelievable tennis,” said Zverev

The German advances to the semifinals without losing a set in Miami.

Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner will play a rematch of last year’s Miami Open and the 2024 Australian Open finals. The Italian trails 6-4 in the head-to-head but has won the last four matches.

A runner-up in 2023, Rybakina will have the chance to win the title again this year after beating three-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-4 0-6 7-6(2), in 2 hours and 33 minutes.

“This year it’s much different. I was not expecting honestly to be in the final, because I was not prepared that well for this tournament. But I am happy that I managed to battle through all these matches and be in the final again,” commented Rybakina.

Despite having a 3-0 record against her opponent today, the World No. 4 knew it would be another tough battle from the first game, in which it took eight minutes for Azarenka to hold serve. However, she ended up getting her serve broken in the seventh game and this was enough for Rybakina to secure the first set.

Azarenka prevailed in the second set and won 6-0, breaking Rybakina’s serves in the second, fourth, and sixth games.

But the battle was far from over. The third set ended in a tie-breaker and Rybakina took control from the beginning, opening a 6-1 lead, which was too much for Azarenka.

“Well, I was just trying to keep on fighting, and of course, she had also this momentum. The whole match we were both fighting. I knew that in the tiebreak the only chance for me to win is just to switch off my mind and just try to go for it,” said the World No.4

Rybakina will now play her fourth final this season, after winning in Brisbane, Abu Dhabi and losing in Doha to Iga Swiatek. She is just the third player in the last ten years to make back-to-back Miami Open finals and improved her record this season to 22-3.

Her opponent in the final will be Collins. The St. Petersburg, Fla. native ousted Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3, 6-2, in 1 hour and 16 minutes and will play the first WTA 1000 final of her career in her native state.

The American broke Alexandrova’s service twice to secure the first set, 6-3.

In the second set, Collins began with a break in the first game and held her service right after, opening a 2-0 lead. She did the same in the seventh game and served for the match, securing her first final at this level.

“Yeah, to have made the finals, first finals of a WTA 1000 level in my home state during my last season, this is just, like, great. I mean, the memories made this week on and off the court, yeah, I’m just over the moon. Yeah, I’m playing great tennis. Having some good battles out there against really great players. That should give me a lot of confidence for Saturday,” said Collins.

She already knows what will be the plans for tomorrow:

“Hit the golf course, play a little tennis. Living the dream. Living the dream in Miami.”

In the Men’s doubles draw, the two top seeds won their respective semifinals and will play for the title. No. 1 seeds Rohan Bopanna from India and Matthew Ebden from Australia defeated Spaniard Marcel Granollers and Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos, the fourth seeds, 6-1 6-4.  The second semifinal had Croatian Ivan Dodig and Tampa, Fla. resident Austin Krajicek, the second seeds, overcoming Germans Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz 6-4, 6-7(4), 10-7. The men’s doubles final is on Saturday, at 12:30 pm.  The women’s doubles semifinals will be played at 1 pm. Americans Asia Muhammad and Alycia Parks play against Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe from New Zealand, the No. 2 seeds.  The second semifinal begins right after the men’s 7 pm match, with Americans Sofia Kenin and 40-year-old Bethanie Mattek-Sands taking on the Italians Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini.

Check the Miami Open website for more information about the order of play and the draws.