Sizzling Sinner faces giant killer Dimitrov in Miami final

Jannik Sinner takes on Grigor Dimitrov in the Miami Open men's singles final on Sunday. (Brennan Asplen)
Jannik Sinner takes on Grigor Dimitrov in the Miami Open men's singles final on Sunday. (Brennan Asplen)

World number three Jannik Sinner looks to clinch his third title of the year when he takes on giant-killer Grigor Dimitrov in the final of the Miami Open on Sunday.

Sinner, who won his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January and then clinched the Rotterdam Indoor in February, went on a run of 19 straight match wins before losing to Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells earlier this month.

But any notion that the loss in California would derail his season has been swept aside by Sinner's run to the final in Miami.

His 6-1, 6-2 demolition of defending Miami champion Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals at Hard Rock stadium was an emphatic statement victory.

The Italian will be appearing in his third Miami final in four years having lost to Hubert Hurkacz in 2021 and then Medvedev last year.

But as calm and modest as Sinner is, he is well aware that he is a very different player to the one who suffered those disappointments in South Florida.

"The first time I came here I made the final and I couldn't sleep the night before,” said Sinner.

"The second time, which was last year, I was relaxed because I went through periods where I already had (these) experiences.

"Now I'm a different player, different person. I will handle it hopefully a little bit better again," he said.

The 22-year-old, said his nerves before his first final came from the sense that he might never get another chance to play for a title.

"I couldn't sleep because, you know, I was not sure if I could get back in this position again," he said.

"I was, like, who knows if I can be again in a final? Now I'm more sure that I can make it. It doesn't mean that I have to make it, but it's a different feeling. I just take it very relaxed," he added.

- Mental strength -

If Sinner has matured in terms of his mental strength and confidence, he has also improved in the past 12 months in other ways, as Medvedev noted after his loss on Friday.

"He misses less, he chooses his shots more wisely. He serves 10 times better. You know, Jannik was always serving well, but now he serves like big, big," he said.

"I wonder actually how he made it, because serve is not that easy, it's not that easy shot to work on, and now, yeah, his serve is a big improvement for him," added the Russian.

But however strong Sinner is, Dimitrov has proven in Miami that he fears no one.

The Bulgarian came into Miami ranked 12th in the world but has beaten three top 10 opponents on his way to the final --  Hurkacz, world number two Alcaraz and in the semi-final Alexander Zverev.

Those results mean the 32-year-old will next week move back into the top 10 for the first time since November 2018.

Dimitrov's win in Brisbane this year was his first title since 2017 and he is looking for his second Masters 1000 title, after winning in Cincinnati seven years ago.

A high energy, inventive player, Dimitrov says he is most pleased by the way he has been able to string together his big wins in the same tournament.

"I think the consistency of beating top players, that to me is way bigger success than anything else," he said.

"If you do that, you get the ranking. If you do that, things are just getting better for you. But in order to do, it (you need) the discipline, the hard work, all the dedication," he said.

He'll need all of that -- and probably a little more -- if he is to pull of another giant-killing on Sunday.