Dimitrov: 'There’s No Reason To Panic’
Grigor Dimitrov appeared to break through in 2017, claiming his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati before lifting the trophy at the Nitto ATP Finals to finish the season at a career-best No. 3 in the ATP Rankings.
But the Bulgarian has struggled to find his top form in 2018, reaching just one final in Rotterdam, and carrying a 19-12 record into Wimbledon, where he advanced to the semi-finals in 2014. It didn’t get better for the 27-year-old at the All England Club, as the sixth seed served for a two-sets-to-one lead before ultimately losing to three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in four sets.
“There's no reason to panic or anything. I'm not that type of a person anyway. I'll try to remain positive because I know that's one of the toughest things, especially when you exit early in the tournament,” Dimitrov said. “You have to stay positive, simple as that. You can't just go down on yourself.”
Sure, it was not an easy draw for Dimitrov. Wawrinka has also climbed as high as World No. 3 and he now owns 51 victories against opponents inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, tied for 19th all-time. That’s little consolation to the Bulgarian, though.
“It's hard for me to just accept losing, period,” Dimitrov said. “Especially at an event like this that I've done so well at in the past. I've beaten big names on that Centre Court, played tough matches against big players. It's kind of at the same time a tough pill to swallow. Again, in order to get to the trophy, you need to win seven matches.”
Dimitrov admits that he put himself in a position to win on Monday, but just could not close it out. The World No. 6 felt good during practice throughout the past week. If he finished off the third set, perhaps the outcome would have been different. A few small footwork mistakes and a few unforced errors might have made all the difference. And now, instead of preparing for a second-round match, Dimitrov is left thinking of the bigger picture.
“I always want more for myself. Maybe this is what the body can take right now. I think it's very tough when you reach a certain level and you want to go forward, but there's the last, like, two, three per cent that are the toughest ones,” Dimitrov said. “Each year you're growing, growing. You're [World No.] 3. What is the next step? Wow, I can be No. 1. For me, those are the steps that are going to make the biggest difference.
“There's an accumulation of a lot of matches, beating up on the body, especially on the mental side. I mean, considering how many matches I had to fight through and come back from a set down on many occasions. Yeah, I mean, part of it could be, to be honest. But in order to be the best, that's what you need to be doing every single year.”
Dimitrov did not expect his ascent to be easy, even after the best year of his career in 2017. Everybody faces adversity. And the loss against Wawrinka — he said ‘even in my wildest dreams I haven't dreamed of losing first round’ — stings. But now, it’s about looking ahead, regrouping, and beginning to work toward top form again.
“It's a bumpy road, simple as that. For sure I'm not happy to lose first round in Wimbledon. I don't remember when was the last time that happened to me,” Dimitrov said. “It's still a bit of a shock to me. I need to accept it, I guess. I don't know what I will do now. I think one of the best things in a way is, I'm trying to find the silver lining, is that I can take some time off, really put the racquet aside now for plenty of time, if I have to be honest.
“A little break, I think, couldn't hurt anyone. The most important thing is, as I said, which is one of the toughest things, to remain positive. That is absolutely the toughest task. Knowing you're out, watching the matches on TV is not going to be easy. If it was easy, that wouldn't be tennis.”