Ice-cool Sinner downs Dimitrov to triumph in Miami

Italian beats Bulgarian 6-3, 6-1 in one-sided final to reach world number two ranking

AFP April 01, 2024


Italy's Jannik Sinner won the ATP Miami Open Masters 1000 title on Sunday with a dominant 6-3, 6-1 victory over Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the final at Hard Rock Stadium.

Sinner's third title of the season means he will move to a career-high second in the ATP world rankings on Monday ahead of Spain's Carlos Alcaraz.

And the manner of his performance, ice-cool throughout with errors at a minimum and winners struck with sure-fire confidence, suggests that when Novak Djokovic finally surrenders the top spot, Sinner and Alcaraz are set to battle for supremacy for years to come.

Sinner finishes the hard court season in electric form, having won 25 of his last 26 matches -- the only defeat coming to Alcaraz in the semi-final of Indian Wells.

He added the Miami title to his crowns this year at the Australian Open and the Rotterdam Indoors after taking care of business in 72 minutes.

Sinner never looked in danger after he broke in the fifth game of the first set, facing just one break point in the entire match.

"As this tournament went on, I felt better and better. Today's performance was really good. I'm just proud of how I handled the situation," Sinner said.

"I started the season really, really well. I never thought (I would) start like this. Being number two is an amazing feeling."

Sinner clinched the first set with his second break, a brilliant backhand down the line that brought spectators to their feet.

Dimitrov, with his trademark one-handed backhand strokes and willingness to go to the net, was enjoying plenty of support from the home crowd but Sinner's calm approach and pristine technique was too much for him.

The Italian broke in the second set to go 3-1 up and with his serve strong and returns rock solid, it was a procession to victory from that point.

Sinner's Australian co-coach Darren Cahill, whose past pupils include Andre Agassi and Simona Halep, was hugely impressed with the way his player approached the match.

"I thought he was incredible today, barely any unforced errors, kept a great depth and kept it difficult for Grigor to win points. If Grigor did win points, he did so with spectacular tennis," Cahill said.

"He made Grigor force a lot and take a lot of risks and when he's doing that I know Jannik is playing the right way. Tactically, I thought he was great today."

Dimitrov had no doubt he had lost to a man in supreme form.

"I think at the moment clearly Jannik is playing outstanding tennis. There is nothing to say to that. You see how focused he is, how determined he is, the way he's hitting his shots, there is zero doubt," said Dimitrov.

"Can he play any better? I don't know. He's the one to show that. But at the moment he has been able to really put so many matches back to back with the same level, so all credit goes to him.

"And he's the best player right now in the world."

The Italian's title came in his third appearance in a Miami final -- he lost to Poland's Hubert Hurkacz in 2021 and Daniil Medvedev last year.

Sinner's previous Masters 1000 title came in Toronto in 2023.

Dimitrov will return to the top 10 in Monday's rankings for the first time since October 2018.

The 32-year-old's run to the Miami final included a quarter-final win over Alcaraz and a semi-final victory over world number five Alexander Zverev.

"I just want to focus on the positives this week," he said. "I was extremely determined throughout the whole week.

"Clearly it's Jannik's week. He has been playing amazing tennis. It's really impressive how he's been able to keep that way of playing.

"I don't think I have much time to be down on myself. I just want to embrace this moment as well. Just as you win, you need to be able to handle (losing) matches like that, I think, even better than winning those type of matches."


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