CHINA OPEN 2013
Next Chapter For Grigor
by ATP Staff|
After establishing himself in the Top 40 in the Emirates ATP Rankings this season, 22-year-old Grigor Dimitrov is looking forward to stepping up on the big stage in 2014.
The Bulgarian has made strides in the past 10 months, reaching his first ATP World Tour final at the Brisbane International (l. to Murray) and upsetting World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Mutua Madrid Open second round. Indeed, his win over Djokovic came on clay, an area where he credits his biggest improvement this year.
It’s been a learning curve for the player so long labelled “Baby Fed” – a nod to his similarity with Roger Federer - with some tough losses along the way. But Dimitrov is fast realising that consistency is the key to survival among the game’s elite.
“It’s been one of my best seasons so far,” Dimitrov told ATPWorldTour.com in Beijing, where he was competing at the China Open. “I had a few good tournaments and I’m happy with my results. I’m still chasing that first title and that’s an illusion for me at the moment. I’m looking forward to stepping up at big events and on hard court, because that’s where it all starts.
“I had a few tough losses here and there, but that’s the tour nowadays. It’s not that easy to compete every week, which is obviously the most important thing, that consistency. It gives you extra confidence and extra hunger and motivation to play even better in the coming weeks. Consistency in everything you do is obviously the most important thing in the game nowadays.”
In an era where so many players are finding their best tennis in their late twenties, Dimitrov admits the gulf in experience between the younger generation and the seasoned professionals is one of many challenges to overcome in attempting to establish himself in the upper echelons of the ATP World Tour.
“Experience talks on a lot of occasions,” said the right-hander. “But the guys who have been on tour for a long time, they’ve seen and done a lot of things and I’m sure they’ve learned from their mistakes. I’m sure the younger generation is going forward. All of us are going forward to settle somewhere out there and then strive to be among the best. It always takes time.”
Having spent time this season working at the Good To Great Tennis Academy in Sweden, Dimitrov has placed particular importance on improving his physical capabilities and endurance, recognising that it will be crucial for him as he looks to make his eagerly anticipated breakthrough at a major.
“I’ve been practising a lot this year; it hasn’t just been focussed on one thing,” explained Dimitrov. “I actually like practising things and trying new things. I don’t like to be set on one thing all the time. I think I’ve developed quite a few good things in my game and physically I’m developing in a good way, which helps me play more matches. I’m trying to have more endurance when I’m on court and playing tournaments. There are a lot of positive things [from the year], which is the most important.
“One thing I’m really looking forward to is the slams. I’ve never been in the second week. It’s not an easy task and the first week is always a crazy week, that’s just how it is. Of course physical [strength] is going to bring you to another level at the slams. But I think how you set up the weeks before the slams and during the slams and how you manage your way around it plays an even bigger role. Everything else is just you, out there on the court for two, three, four hours.”
Flying solo temporarily after parting ways with Mikael Tillström, Dimitrov revealed he is still looking for the perfect player-coach match-up. He expects to announce a new appointment soon, but explained: “You need to have change when you feel something isn’t right. When you have a concept in your head of how you want to do something and it doesn’t match up, then it’s tough to collaborate with someone and it’s tough to perform on court.
“I’ve gone through various changes in my career so far, a lot of coaches. I’m not going to hide that, it’s obvious. You’ve got to search for the right thing and hope that next time it’s going to be better. I’ve got no hard feelings and for me it’s just another chapter of my life. It’s not easy, but it’s something new and fresh to look out for.”