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First Time Winner Spotlight: Grigor Dimitrov

Stockholm, Sweden

Dimitrov© Getty ImagesGrigor Dimitrov is the first Bulgarian to win an ATP World Tour title in the Open Era.

Grigor Dimitrov won his first ATP World Tour title with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over top seed David Ferrer in the If Stockholm Open on Sunday. The 22 year old converted his first match point to secure the trophy in two hours and 14 minutes.

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This feat makes Dimitrov the first Bulgarian to win an ATP World Tour title, joining seven other first-time champions on the ATP World Tour in 2013. He is now 1-1 in career finals, losing his first against Andy Murray in Brisbane earlier this year. Dimitrov, who this week took on Roger Rasheed as a coach, spoke with following his victory.

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What did it feel like to be holding your first ATP World Tour trophy?
It was certainly something new for me. I was very overwhelmed and still am. I am very happy. It means a lot to me and my team and everyone who has been supporting me throughout the years - my family, my girlfriend, and everyone else who has been around.

How many text messages have you received since after the final? And any special ones?
The most special ones were the ones from my family and my girlfriend. I've gotten over 30 messages so far. That's nice.

How does it feel to be the first Bulgarian player to win an ATP World Tour title?
That's big not only for me but also for the country. They need to see that everyone can succeed. I am happy that I could achieve something like that. I hope that people in Bulgaria appreciate [my win] and that it's going to motivate little kids and people in the clubs to work harder.

Were you nervous going into the final against a player who was playing in his 40th final?
I didn't know that. I was a bit nervous but less nervous than the first final I had at the beginning of the year [in Brisbane]. It was nice to get on court this time. I felt really welcome. This is always a good event to play. The [If Stockholm Open] is one of the most special tournaments for me.

I was even nervous in the last point. I was happy that I could close it out.

Did you learn anything from your previous final, where you played another No. 3 ranked player, Andy Murray?
[In Brisbane] I was up in the first set. I was so anxious to win the points. This time, I knew I had to stay in the match. I'm playing against a good guy, a great competitor. I'm sure [Ferrer] felt really comfortable. This win is a thing that I'm going to remember for life.

You only lost one set en route to the final. What did you do well to put five match wins together during the week?
I tried to be really consistent throughout the whole week - with practice, preparation. That really helped me to step up. I also had my coach Roger [Rasheed] doing a lot of things for me. I think that when you are really organised and have good structure around you, it helps a lot.

It's also nice to stay at home. It's nice to drive back and forth and not have to wait for transport. I was just showing up for matches. Those things always help.

This was your first week working with Rasheed. What was his approach going into the week? Are you surprised with the success so quickly?
The first thing I remember we did was to get into the gym. It's nice to pair up with him and it was nice to start our relationship with a tournament win. That's new for me. We were just trying to be really basic, focus on what we have to work on against my opponents. Obviously it helped at the right time.

Last year you finished in the Top 50 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time and now you are approaching the Top 20. What were your goals at the beginning of the season?
Actually my goal at the beginning of the season was to reach the Top 20. One day can change everything. There are still two tournaments to go for the year. If I keep doing well, there's a good chance to get into the Top 20. If not, I won't be disappointed considering the year I've had so far.

What are your favourite surfaces and what do you consider the strengths of your game?
I like playing on hard courts for sure. Indoors, too. There's no sun, no wind, everything is really constant. Of course the surface can be a bit tricky. This week I used my serve, my movement, my forehand. These are things I have been working on. It was good to see my work in action this week. Of course I'm going to try to change a few more things and move on to the next step.

Who has been instrumental in your development and assisting you with your career? Who were your favourite players growing up?
My father taught me how to play tennis. I owe everything to him. I have been watching a lot of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Roger Federer. Since I was really young I played one-handed so I focused these guys. My style resembles theirs so it's nice to work your style like theirs. I never wanted to copy anyone. I wanted to have my own thing. The way I play now is just the way I feel like playing. I want to keep it that way and improve.

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