Baby Federer No More: The Return of Grigor Dimitrov
When Grigor Dimitrov first burst onto the tennis scene, his stylish forehand, free flowing backhand and powerful serve mirrored that of Swiss legend, Roger Federer.
As his professional career progressed, the Bulgarian showed that he was a man for all surfaces with wins on hard, clay and grass courts. A semi-final run at Wimbledon in 2014 had many pundits and fans pinpointing him as the man that would break up the “Big 4.”
As quickly as he shot up the rankings, his fall was even more abrupt. With a forgettable 2015 and disastrous 2016 season, the once promising tennis player was now viewed as an overhyped media creation. His free flowing game became labored and his inability to find harmony in his professional or personal life, saw his spiral out of the top of 30. Most shockingly of all, he seemed to have lost the spunk and passion that made him such a crowd favorite.
With the New Year just beginning, Dimitrov refocused and as seen on the ATP World Tour YouTube page, went through a grueling off court season. With Dani Vallverdu at the helm of his coaching team, they focused on improving his fitness and speed around the court. They also made sure to reevaluate every aspect of his game in an attempt to find places for improvement.
As the Brisbane International began, Dimitrov appeared motivated and strong. In his run to the title, he overcame three top 10 (Thiem, Raonic and Nishikori) players. Most impressive was his willingness to take the ball on the rise and his enthusiasm throughout the matches. When asked what was different about his approach to this season, he simply stated that he was beginning to fall in love with tennis again. With so many tournaments and the amount of travel that a tennis player must endure, the sport can sometimes feel more like a burden then the game you fell in love with as a child.
With his win in Brisbane, Dimitrov moves into the top 15. This ranking will bode well for him as it means that he is secured a top 16 seeding at the Australian Open. With a higher ranking then last season, his chances of meeting the likes of Djokovic or Murray (in the early rounds) becomes less of a sure thing. Dimitrov has always been one of those players that has so many options, that he sometimes confuses himself. In Brisbane, the one thing that I really liked was his willingness to use his strengths to move the action forward. The Bulgarian’s forehand looked strong and his use of the slice will be imperative on the slick courts of Melbourne Park.