The Key Stat Fuelling Dimitrov’s Resurgence
Grigor Dimitrov has spectacularly flipped the switch with his second serve.
An area that the Bulgarian has struggled with in the past year has come roaring back to form at the 2019 US Open, helping power him through to the semi-finals, where he will meet Daniil Medvedev on Friday.
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers breakdown of Dimitrov’s second serve identifies a substantial improvement the past two weeks in New York. The Infosys ATP Stats Serve LEADERBOARD currently finds Dimitrov sitting at 77th best on tour with overall serve performance in the past 52 weeks, with only 46.8 per cent points won behind his second serve.
That’s yesterday’s news…
Of the eight players who reached the quarter-finals at the US Open this year, Dimitrov leads the pack with second-serve points won at 59 per cent (99/168). It’s actually the highest win percentage of anyone who reached the third round and beyond.
Dimitrov scored one of the biggest wins of his career Tuesday night against Roger Federer in the US Open quarter-finals, winning 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Trailing two sets to one, Dimitrov’s second serve was a rock as he moved towards the finish line. He won 57 per cent (8/14) in the last two sets. In the fifth set against Federer, Dimitrov closed out service games with a second serve at 3-0 and 4-1, which were both pivotal moments that stopped Federer making inroads to find a much-needed break of serve to get back into the match.
In the fourth round, Dimitrov defeated Alex de Minaur 7-5, 6-3, 6-4, winning 59 per cent (23/39) of second-serve points overall, and 63 per cent (15/24) in the last two sets. The more Dimitrov needs his second serve to help seal victory, the more it is stepping up in the big moments.
Dimitrov won 63 per cent (26/41) of second-serve points in his third-round match against Kamil Majchrzak of Poland. He faced two break points on second serve and won them both.
An interesting strategic element of Dimitrov’s improved performance is that he is not hitting it bigger, attempting to force return errors. Opponents have only missed putting into play 12 per cent (18/150) of Dimitrov’s second serves, which is considerably lower than Medvedev’s 23 per cent (45/193) – the player he will face in the semi-finals.
The player that wins north of 50 per cent of his second-serve points for the match will most likely be playing in his first Grand Slam final.