Zverev Downs Dimitrov, Sets Safiullin Final In Chengdu

German chasing first hard-court title since 2021 Nitto ATP Finals

Alexander Zverev repeatedly kept his cool under pressure to down Grigor Dimitrov on Monday at the Chengdu Open to move within one match of his second ATP Tour title of the season.

The top seed at the Chinese ATP 250 saved all five break points he faced in his 6-3, 7-6(2) semi-final victory. Zverev fired 21 winners, including nine aces, as he delivered a classy all-round showing to improve to 7-1 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series. After pulling through three-set battles against Pavel Kotov and Miomir Kecmanovic in his first two matches in Chengdu, the World No. 10 believes he is gaining momentum as he prepares to face Roman Safiullin in Tuesday’s championship match.

“For sure it was the best match I’ve played [in Chengdu],” said Zverev after his one-hour, 50-minute win. “Even though I think yesterday’s match was a very high level and Kecmanovic was playing extremely well. I’m very happy to be in the final, that’s what I came here for and hopefully it’s going to be another high-level match tomorrow.”

Zverev is now 45-21 for the season and seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin as he seeks to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, where he is a two-time champion. His next hurdle in Chengdu is a second tour-level meeting with Safiullin, who will be competing in his maiden ATP Tour final. The German is all too aware of Safiullin’s improvement since he defeated the now-World No. 55 in straight sets at Roland Garros in 2021.

“I think this tournament he has been one of the most dangerous players,” said Zverev of Safiullin. “He is somebody that plays very fast, hits the ball extremely hard and he is somebody that maybe sometimes lacks consistency. This week obviously he’s playing extremely well, and when he’s playing like that, he’s one of the most dangerous players.”

Safiullin earlier dismantled second seed Lorenzo Musetti 6-3, 6-4 with a razor-sharp display of ballstriking in Sichuan province. He outhit the Italian by 30 winners to 20 to reach the final and ensure he will surpass his previous career-high of No. 43 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. After his semi-final win against Musetti, the 26-year-old is No. 41 in the Live Rankings, having started the event at No. 55.