2017 AEGON Championships SF Preview: Grigor Dimitrov vs Feliciano Lopez

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Grigor Dimitrov bids for his first final in four months, while Feliciano Lopez can make it two straight weeks in finals with a win. The two hook up for the fourth time in their careers with a spot in the AEGON Championships final as the prize. This marks the third time they have met on grass at Queen’s Club.

(6) Grigor Dimitrov vs Feliciano Lopez

Dimitrov continued his run at Queen’s Club with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals. It was perhaps Dimitrov’s worst match of the week, lacking the bite on serve that he had produced the previous two rounds. He still slammed down nine aces, but his win rates of 70 percent on his first serve and 55 percent on his second serve were down sharply. He was broken three times on six break chances after being broken just once in the prior two matches. Perhaps Dimitrov was thrown off his game in warm-ups when Medvedev injured his shoulder and that got into this head. Either way, he’ll need to produce better against Lopez.

As for Lopez, he continued his grass assault with a second straight win in two weeks over Tomas Berdych. Lopez outlasted the Czech 7-6 (5), 6-7 (1), 7-5 to advance to a second straight semifinal on grass. The Spanish grass assassin was powerful again with his first serve, taking 91 percent of the points. He struggled slightly on his second serve, taking just 48 percent of the points after winning 69 percent through the first two rounds. The lefty walloped 18 aces and was broken just once one one break point. Lopez has not been broken in the previous two rounds.

The Greatest Show on Grass

These two are meeting for the fourth time overall and for the third time on grass. All three of those grass court meetings will have taken place at this tournament. In 2010, Lopez demolished Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4 with Dimitrov returning the favor in a barn burner in 2014. Dimitrov edged that contest 6-7 (8), 7-6 (1), 7-6 (6). Dimitrov would add a second win over Lopez last year in Cincinnati with another three set win in a tiebreak.

In the two Dimitrov wins, he’s done just enough on return to make a slight difference. There have been a ton of aces between the two in the last two meetings. Dimitrov has tallied 43 to 33 for Lopez. On grass, you can expect plenty of aces likely again on Saturday. Dimitrov has rolled up 30 this week. Lopez has 46 and is averaging 13 aces per match on grass this season. Both these guys have good grass court numbers with Lopez now 70-37 on grass, including 7-1 this year. Dimitrov is 31-20, but has seen some fantastic results on the green stuff. That includes his first career Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon in 2014 and the Queen’s Club title in 2014.

Stratego

There’s nothing new to report that on grass, serve is an even larger factor than usual. Both players have been mostly in rhythm this week on serve with Dimitrov producing a bit of an off-performance today. Lopez has been brilliant the last two weeks with his big lefty serve helping key him to easy points or aggressive starts to short rallies. Lopez and Dimitrov both have not shied away from playing baseline tennis on grass and that’s one thing that stuck out in watching some highlights from their encounter at Queen’s Club in 2014.

In that match, Dimitrov targeted Lopez’s backhand again and again with the Spaniard using his slice return over and over to try to get more looks off his forehand or to put Dimitrov in poor court positions. Dimitrov however was up to the task and came to the net at opportune times to shut down alleys for Lopez. His volleying in that match was superb. Lopez

From a pure shot for shot standpoint, Lopez’s forehand is fierce and perhaps the biggest difference maker off the ground. Dimitrov however can bring so many different looks off the backhand side to switch things up, from the one hander to a slice, and he hits it from all angles. His backhand wing was a massive factor in his two wins over Lopez. If he mixes and matches well again, he’ll be tough to beat. His forehand is steady, but not quite the laser shot that Lopez can produce.

The Pig’s Bottom Line

This is definitely tough to call. Lopez is in great form on grass the last two weeks with only a finals loss to Lucas Pouille last week in Stuttgart as a blemish on his record. Dimitrov has built on some good tennis early in this tournament, but needs to show more than he did against Medvedev. Dimitrov is just 1-2 against lefties this year, though they haven’t been a major bother in his career (34-19). The last lefty he saw was Guido Pella in Miami, so there is a chance he could take a set to grow into this match before getting completely settled into his game.

Lopez has racked up a lot of court time in the last two weeks, although he wasn’t taxed much this week until the Berdych match and he came through. I think these two could play ten matches on grass and probably split them evenly. They are that close in skill level and Lopez certainly has the edge in current confidence and form. I expect another competitive battle and this could go the distance again at Queen’s Club.

It took Pouille a really great effort to take down Lopez last week and I think Dimitrov has to put forward something similar to knock off the Spaniard. Not overly confident in picking a winner, but I’ll stick with the hot hand in Lopez.

Prediction: Lopez wins in three sets

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