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'Braveheart' Lifts Dimitrov To Top Seed In Bucharest

Bucharest 2014

Simon, Dimitrov© Raed KrishnanGilles Simon and Grigor Dimitrov practise together in Bucharest.

Fast. Fearless. Braveheart.

Those are the three words Grigor Dimitrov used to describe himself as an athlete on Tuesday in Bucharest, and the characteristics that have helped propel the 22-year-old Bulgarian to top-seeded status for the first time at an ATP World Tour event this week.

Dimitrov reached a career-high No. 14 Emirates ATP Ranking last Monday, and reflected on his upwards progress as he prepared to open his campaign at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy.

“I’ve worked for this moment. I’ve worked a lot in the off-season and had sort of a good start to the year,” he said. “I feel at the moment I’m at a good stage, at a good momentum, but it doesn’t stop there for me. I criticise myself a lot for a lot of things. When I practise I don’t ever try to find a shortcut, so therefore you have better results.”

In addition to a career-high ranking, Dimitrov’s first quarter of the season came decorated with a number of highlights: his first quarter-final at a Grand Slam tournament, an ATP World Tour 500 title, his 100th match win, and victories over Andy Murray and Milos Raonic. He also issued a stern challenge to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open quarter-finals, just barely missing a chance to go up two sets to one.

“I think I’ve reached the point with a lot of players that I’m always close or have tough matches,” he said. “You just got to go out there out on the court and present yourself the best way possible.

“Let’s not forget that all those guys, I’ve recently hit my 100th [win] and those guys already at their 600th, 700th win, so there’s a solid difference…Of course the experience and the edge, the tournaments they have played, the routines that happen have developed. It’s something that you can’t just beat over a night. You just have to be really consistent and work yourself into that point.”

Despite his youth, Dimitrov will be the seasoned veteran when he takes the court Wednesday for his Bucharest opener against 20-year-old Czech Jiri Vesely, the 2013 ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates. Vesely will be playing just his 22nd tour-level match, advancing when he took out former World No. 25 Jeremy Chardy in the first round Monday.

“Any match you have to take as if it’s your last match,” said Dimitrov. “It’s never easy to play against any other player. It’s clay court. Anything can happen. You just got to be ready to come on the court 100 per cent and give your best shot.”

Dimitrov has a 3-1 record on clay this season, and reached the third round last week at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Ferrer).

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