Grigor Dimitrov recounts Rafael Nadal loss that he couldn't get over for long time

In early 2017, Dimitrov thought he had Nadal but the Spaniard figured a way to win that day.

by Dzevad Mesic
Grigor Dimitrov recounts Rafael Nadal loss that he couldn't get over for long time
© Getty Images Sport - Michael Dodge

Grigor Dimitrov needed almost the entire 2017 season to mentally get past the Australian Open semifinal loss suffered to Rafael Nadal as the now 33-year-old Bulgarian admits he left the court day wondering if some special powers propelled the Spaniard through to win. 

In early 2017, Dimitrov made his first Australian Open semifinal and he felt he was ready to go all the way. But then came the Nadal match, and even though the Bulgarian played extremely well throughout the entire match, he still somehow lost that day after the Spaniard escaped with a 6-3 5-7 7-6 (5) 6-7 (4) 6-4 win. 

Late in the decider, Dimitrov was 4-3 up and also earned two break points, which put him in a great position to seal the win. But instead of going 5-3 up and having a chance to serve out for the match, Dimitrov ended up losing the eighth game and also the next two. 

"The match with Rafa took me seven or eight months to get over. I often felt like there were invisible powers that tipped it over," Dimitrov told The Athletic.

"I was 4-2 up in the fifth and played an amazing… there was no way I could lose the match, and yet I lost the match. (I got over it with) Mental strength, overall."

Grigor Dimitrov and Rafael Nadal
Grigor Dimitrov and Rafael Nadal© Getty Images Sport - Michael Dodge

How Dimitrov did after that loss?

After the 2017 Australian Open, it was not that Dimitrov was playing poorly or anything like that since he instantly managed to win Sofia in his next tournament. That same year, Dimitrov also went all the way at the Cincinnati Masters and the ATP Finals. 

But the problem was that Dimitrov wasn't the same on the Grand Slam level in the remainder of 2017 - he lost in the French Open third round, exited Wimbledon in the round-of-16 and bowed out of the US Open in the second round.

When Dimitrov returned to Melbourne Park in 2018, he was a quarterfinalist and he also had another quarterfinal in 2021.

Grigor Dimitrov Rafael Nadal