"In the past, it has always been very hard to play against him. He always came up very fiery..." Grigor Dimitrov had said on his quarterfinal opponent Roger Federer at the 2019 U.S. Open. They've played 7 times and Dimitrov had that itch to make this match a special one being that he's lost every meeting with the Swiss.
It didn't happen this time: the sadness, the feelings of hopelessness for the Bulgarian were gone as he captured the victory in a stressful 5-set battle. The year has been tough for Grigor Dimitrov as he fought not only through injury but losses.
The Bulgarian had suffered an inflamed shoulder and was out of court action from the Australian Open and Miami. He didn't have surgery and was told that it wouldn't help the injury anyway. It would take rest, therapy and the right exercise to heal it.
Emotionally he was anxious. Dimitrov was never plagued with injuries so finding something to take the place of tennis was more than nerve-racking. "I think the past 6 or 7 months have been pretty rough for me, but I had somebody to lean on...There were so many things I had to adjust in such a small, but big period of time," Dimitrov said.
When he started back on tour, he'd lost 6 or 7 tournaments in the opening rounds, which helped to make an impact on his self-confidence. The Bulgarian knew the U.S. Open would be the slam left to make good on and felt this was going to be a positive performance as he started going deep into the tournament.
Firstly, defeating Borna Coric and then Alex de Minaur. But nothing would prepare him for Roger Federer. there were a few tangibles that Dimitrov felt he got a hold of in defeating the Swiss. "I kept on believing in what I had to do.
My game plan was working really well...changing up the shots, the only thing was to keep them on the court..." He admitted that the ability to deal with things emotionally was great. "I was able to control my nerves and my shots...making the right decision, that was more important to me," Dimitrov proclaimed.
The Bulgarian also knew how he faired the other six times and said: "I think I raised my bar a little bit and the movement..." But his opponent wasn't in 'tip-top' condition either. Dimitrov detected that Federer was struggling with a testy back ailment, which helped to make winning shots over the iconic player a bit easier.
Federer's movements were a bit hampered and Dimitrov took advantage of the change to create winning shots in his own favor to win points. He believed also that consistency was key and says that "..I kept on believing in the process."
Grigor Dimitrov had his first win over Roger Federer in a 5 set battle of 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Federer had gifted Dimitrov with many points by unforced errors, but the Bulgarian finally had his recipe for winning.
He was able to execute the shots necessary for a victory and hopefully putting these same ingredients together will work over other opponents he's defeated before and ones that he hasn't