The Secrets Of Dimitrov's Success Revealed...
Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers breaks down Grigor Dimitrov’s blistering start to the season
Grigor Dimitrov is ripping apart 2017. The 25-year-old Bulgarian comes into Rotterdam this week 14-1 on the season, with two ATP 250 titles in Brisbane and Sofia, and a strong run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open sandwiched in between.
Dimitrov played what many considered the highest-quality match in Melbourne this year – a five-set, semi-final thriller against Rafael Nadal. Dimitrov rose two spots this week in the Emirates ATP Rankings, up to No. 12.
His highest ranking was No. 8 in August, 2014. He is perfectly poised to surpass that in the next few months, as he has very few points to defend from 2016 Masters 1000 events from March through to the next Grand Slam event at Roland Garros.
Dimitrov's Masters 1000 and Grand Slam Points To Defend Through Roland Garros
|2016 Tournament||Matches Won||Points|
If Dimitrov continues his frenetic opening pace for a few more months, he will absolutely find himself deep inside the Top 10 in the world. An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Dimitrov’s red-hot start to the 2017 season identifies four key areas where he is posting career-best numbers.
2nd Serve Return Points Won
ATP Career Leader = Andre Agassi 56%
Dimitrov is owning his opponents’ second serve so far in 2017, winning 56 per cent, which is markedly above the 48 per cent he won last season. Winning more than 50 per cent of your opponent’s second serve points is a key strategy on the ATP Tour, providing a crack that he can widen to a canyon when looking for a pathway to victory.
Career 2498 = 6.8 / match
2016 372 = 5.7 / match
2017 142 = 9.5 / match
The ability to collect free points on serve has been greatly enhanced this year with a lot more aces. Dimitrov is averaging 9.5 per match in 2017, which is way up from the 5.7 aces per match he struck in 2016. He hit 20 in his Australian Open semi-final loss to Nadal, and 10 in the Sofia Open final against David Goffin last Sunday. This has greatly helped his first serve win percentage rise from 72 per cent in 2016 to a commanding 78 per cent so far this year.
Break Points Saved
It’s hard to lose if you can’t be broken, and Dimitrov is saving break points at a remarkable clip this season. The ATP Stats Leaderboards, powered by the Infosys Information Platform, identifies he has saved 77 per cent so far in 2017, massively up from 60 per cent last season. He saved 71 per cent (37/52) at the Australian Open, 67 per cent (6/9) in the Sofia final against Goffin, and 71 per cent (5/7) against Kei Nishikori in the Brisbane final.
Break Points Converted
In the Brisbane final against Nishikori in January, Dimitrov converted 60 per cent (3/5) of break points. He topped that in Sofia on Sunday against Goffin, winning 71 per cent (5/7) in the final.
He won 39 per cent (27/70) at the Australian Open in six matches, and overall is nine percentage points up from 2016 (37%) to 2017 (46%) in this critical area. When an opportunity arises, he is seizing it much more this season.
Dimitrov is flat out playing ball. His backhand is continually being hit big to big targets, making it a real strength from the back of the court. His run-around forehand is what he upgrades to when looking to finish the point from the back of the court. Dimitrov is the early success story of 2017, and there is a very good chance that he is just warming up for the season of his life.