Fifteen months ago, world no. 5 Grigor Dimitrov defeated the top-10 star David Goffin to reach the semi-final in Monte Carlo where he lost to Rafael Nadal. At that moment, no one could have even imagined this would be his last semi-final appearance, losing ground completely and scoring only one top-20 triumph ever since!
After a string of tough losses and inconsistent results, Grigor had to bow out from the top-50 for the first time since November 2012 after another setback at Wimbledon where he wasted two sets to love lead against Corentin Moutet.
The Bulgarian asked for a wild card in Atlanta, returning to Georgia for the first time in eight years and extending his misery following a 6-4, 7-5 loss to world no. 405 qualifier Kevin King. It was the first ATP win for a former Georgia Tech standout, creating no less than 23 break chances against the pale Bulgarian and coming from a 5-3 down in the first and a 3-0 in the second set for the biggest moment of his career.
Grigor is now 11-12 this season and nothing seems to be working for him, struggling with a shoulder injury and not finding the winning formula with his coach Andre Agassi who was with him here in Atlanta. By the end of the season, Dimitrov has to defend just over 400 points and will have to do that to stay in the top-100, already losing the direct main draw spot in Montreal and Cincinnati, competing as world no.
5 there just a year ago! The winner of eight ATP titles and 2017 ATP Finals champion, Grigor had a great run in that season and the expectations were high ahead of 2018 when he was supposed to challenge the rivals from the top at the most significant tournaments.
Instead of that, the Bulgarian lost the course completely, losing the final in Rotterdam to Roger Federer as well as many other encounters he would have won in the past, drifting away from his best tennis and moving out from the top-10.
As we already said, his most recent notable result came in the semi-final at Monte Carlo in April 2018 and Grigor is yet to make another last four appearance on the Tour, finishing the previous season with a mediocre 25-19 ratio and failing to make progress in 2019 as well, dealing with a shoulder injury and winning only 11 out of 23 matches.
At Roland Garros, Dimitrov clinched the first top-20 win in 13 months (!!) against another struggling player Marin Cilic but that gave him nothing in terms of confidence, heading to the All England Club as world no. 49 and experiencing a painful 2-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 loss to the young Frenchman Corentin Moutet.
The encounter lasted just under three hours and Dimitrov had to hit the exit door for the first time in a career in the best-of-five matches after taking the opening two sets, also moving out from the top-50 for the first time after 349 consecutive weeks in that group!
Dimitrov gave everything he had against the youngster, hitting more winners than unforced errors and taking two points more than his rival, just missing a chance to seal the deal in straight sets and never recovering in sets four and five to pack his bags and crash out.
As we know, things were even worse in Atlanta and the Bulgarian will have to find something special in his game if he wants to get back to at least a decent level and compete for the titles again. It is hard to predict his next results and it should be interesting to watch him in Cincinnati on fast hard courts, winning the first and only Masters 1000 title there two years ago and hoping to revive that kind of tennis in a couple of weeks.