Tennis: Jannik Sinner tops Grigor Dimitrov for Miami Open title

AP , Monday 1 Apr 2024

Jannik Sinner’s strong 2024 continued as he won the Miami Open with 6-3, 6-1 victory over 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday.

Jannik Sinner of Italy returns against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in the men s final of the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium . AFP

In a flawless display on a 79-degree afternoon, Sinner, the 2024 Australian Open champion, moved to 22-1 on the year in winning the Miami Open for the first time. Sinner had been runner-up twice in 2021 and 2023.

In his second straight Miami Open finals appearance (Sinner lost last year to Daniil Medvedev), the 22-year-old played with an abundance of confidence despite the crowd cheering on the underdog from Bulgaria. Sinner ended it in 1 hour, 13 minutes with a backhand winner.

Sinner dropped just seven games combined in the semifinals and finals.

“This was my third time in the final and I figured this would be the lucky one,″ Sinner said. “I’m really happy I can hold the big trophy.″

Chants of “Gri-gor’’ resounded the entire match inside the home stadium of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Dimitrov had created a buzz this week with upsets of top seed Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals and No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev in the semifinals.

“I felt like a rock star these days,’’ Dimitrov said.

Dimitrov, 10 years older than Sinner at 32, will climb into the top 10 rankings for the first time since 2018.

“Unfortunately, 10 years made a huge difference today,” Dimitrov said. “Clearly it’s Jannik’s week. He’s been playing amazing tennis.”

Sinner also hit a milestone, moving from No. 3 to 2 — highest ranking of his young career and in Italian history.

“It means a lot to me,’’ Sinner said. “More importantly it was a great performance for me. Being No. 2 is an amazing feeling and never thought to be at this point. I come from a very normal family and my dad is still working and my mom too.’’

Sinner, who was never broken and faced just one break point, was undeterred by the pro-Dimitrov crowd and could be an early favorite for the upcoming French Open.

The men’s tour swings in April to the clay-court season in Europe finished off by the French at Roland Garros which begins on May 20.

“The clay-court season is coming and usually I struggle there,” Sinner said. “Let’s see what I can do this year. You don’t have much time. We start practice and not even one week to get used to the clay.”

Sinner won his first major at the Australian Open, then captured the title Rotterdam, and was a finalist in Indian Wells. His only loss in 2024 was in the Indian Wells final to Alcaraz.

Dimitrov won the first eight points on his serve, holding at love in each game. Then the Bulgarian got broken at 2-2 when he tried to get too fancy.

Amidst a long rally, Dimitrov hit a drop shot into the net. Thereafter, he advanced to the net twice only to get beaten by two deft passing shots by Sinner. While Dimitrov has a decent net game, Sinner is perhaps the best passer in tennis.

“He’s the player that’s a front-runner,” Dimitrov said. “If he’s up a break, I think his confidence kicks in even a little bit more. I think he’s one speed of game right now.”

His chances in the second set were wiped out when he got broken at 2-1. Sinner kept the ball deep on the final two rallies of the game and Dimitrov flubbed shots into the net. At 4-1, Dimitrov got broken again when he flubbed an easy volley long.

Darren Cahill, Sinner’s coach of two years and a former tour player and an ESPN analyst, said afterward he’s added “little things’’ to Sinner’s game and “a belief.’’

The American women made a clean sweep. On Saturday, Danielle Collins won the women’s singles title. In women’s doubles Sunday, Americans Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands rallied from a set down to top Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada) and Erin Routliffe (New Zealand) 4-6, 7-6 (5), 11-9 in a third-set match tiebreaker.

The American men didn’t fare well in Miami without anyone advancing in singles to the round of 16.

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