Grigor Dimitrov Progress Ready to Be Showcased at Roland Garros
In 2013, Grigor Dimitrov set up a third round contest at the French Open against world no.1 Novak Djokovic. To say the match was greatly anticipated is an understatement. Just a few weeks earlier in Madrid, Dimitrov had beaten Djokovic in three thrilling sets and tennis fans were hopeful of another epic clash on the world’s greatest Clay court stage.
Djokvic thumped Dimitrov in a rain delayed encounter to the tune of 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. The disappointment was as heavy as the rain that can dampen the courts in Paris in Spring.
A year on, and Dimitrov is quite a different player to the one back then. Though he lost early at Wimbledon and the US Open, he had deep runs at Masters 1000 events, won his fist ATP title in Stockholm, beating Ferrer in the final, won an ATP 500 title in Acapulco, and a title in Bucharest.
Most tellingly, regarding his chances at the French Open, Dimitrov made his first quarter-final at a slam at the Australian Open. He was only seeded to make the third round but upset Raonic on the way to taking Nadal to four sets in their last eight clash. In the third set tiebreak he was a forehand away from taking a two sets to one lead, but inexperience got the better of him and the forehand landed in the net.
Such performances as he has put together the last season mean Dimitrov’s ranking is now at no.12. His improved ranking means he will not face a player of the caliber of Djokovic until at least the last sixteen. And with all the experience he has gained since his third round encounter in Paris against Djokovic last year, the chances of another damp squib of a contest are low.
In fact, Dimitrov fans should have high expectations of his potential Parisian performance. The Bulgarian won the title in Bucharest, and made the last sixteen of Monte Carlo and Madrid, losing only to players ranked above him in Ferrer and Berdych. Dimitrov then avenged that Berdych defeat in Rome on his way to the semis where he went down to Nadal, winning only four games in the process.
That loss should motivate Dimitrov to perform better at the French Open. Dimitrov is better than a 2-6, 2-6 defeat to Nadal and the fact he took a set off Nadal at last year’s Monte Carlo event proves it.
More convincing proof though of Dimitrov’s potential is his game itself. The versatility and flair he exhibits has earned him the nickname ‘BabyFed’, and he has all the tools to emulate the Swiss legend at the French Open. That will take some doing as Federer is a former Champion and a four-time runner-up, but many believe Dimitrov is the natural successor to Federer and if anyone can do it, he can.
This year though, Federer’s foe at the French, Nadal awaits Dimitrov if he makes it past David Ferrer in the fourth round. Ferrer handled Dimitrov easily at this year’s Monte Carlo Open, but the Stockholm final last year demonstrated Dimitrov could take him on and beat him in big matches.
Facing Nadal in the last eight of the French will be a tough task for Dimitrov, but he has proven he can compete with the Spaniard. If he can take advanatge of an out-of-sorts Nadal, Paris will see a new champion for the first time since 2009, and who knows, it could even be the Bulgarian himself.
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