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Grigor Dimitrov interview: “You never know which week will turn things around for you”
In an exclusive interview with Tennis Majors, the Bulgarian says he’s convinced he is capable of another big run at one of the Grand Slams
At the age of 31, and after 13 years on the ATP Tour, Grigor Dimitrov still believes.
The Bulgarian has been ranked as high as No 3, reached the semi-finals of three of the four Grand Slams, won eight titles – including the ATP Finals – picked up more than $20 million in prize money and spent the vast majority of his career inside the world’s top 20.
For the harshest of judges, Dimitrov remains a talent unfulfilled. A junior world No 1, he was the boys’ champion at Wimbledon and his style of play drew immediate comparisons with Roger Federer. People expected him to win Grand Slam titles, plural.
That it has not happened is in part down to the fact that he was born in the same era as Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the trio having mopped up so many Grand Slam titles since 2003 that there has been precious little room for anyone else to break through.
For others, he’s a man who’s had a superb career, with some incredible highs, like when he won the ATP Finals in 2017. At 31, the chances of him winning a Grand Slam title are perhaps running out, but the now world No 22 still believes he can do it.
“Yeah, of course,” Dimitrov said, in an interview this week from London’s Queen’s Club, where he won his opening round on Monday, beating world No 11 Cameron Norrie in three sets. He’ll play either Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp or Britain’s Paul Jubb in round two on Wednesday.
“I mean, I still believe that. I’ve had it on quite a few occasions. The past slams I’ve had good results. Now, unfortunately, I just have to play very, very good players early on second, third round.
“But I believe that there’s a lot more to come on my end. I think I can push through it and who knows when, what and where? But the only thing that I need to focus on is how I’m going to go on and about.
Dimitrov playing well, without converting chances
Dimitrov first reached a Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon in 2014, when he beat the then defending champion Andy Murray. He made the last four at the Australian Open in 2017 and then in 2019, beat Roger Federer for the first time to make the semis at the US Open.
Since then, there have been some big moments, like in Indian Wells last year, when he beat Daniil Medvedev on his way to the semi-finals. Or in Monte-Carlo this year, when he made the last four. He’s not made a final, though, since Rotterdam in 2018. Getting into good positions and not converting them has been difficult, he says, but still encouraging.
“I think it’s both, to be completely honest with you,” he said. “I think, of course, because you’ve put so much effort into (something), you want to see the result, but it still shows that I put myself in those positions. You just never know which week hopefully will turn things around for you.
“And we know how volatile everything can be and how easily everything can change from one week to the other, from one point to the other. Obviously it’s kind of frustrating since, you know what you can do and you know you’ve done it and it’s just like there’s a few small things here and there that are, that are not going through. But I mean, also that’s that’s part of the game. I mean, I’ve been on tour for 13 years, so that also shows quite a bit of I think consistency. It’s definitely not an easy sport and sometimes it takes, you know, it takes a bit of a different route.
Queen’s always close to Dimitrov’s heart
Queen’s is an event close to Dimitrov’s heart, having first played it as a wildcard in 2009.
He reached the semi-finals in 2012 and won it in 2014, before making the semis again in 2017. Dimitrov said he will always be grateful for the way the tournament helped him out when he was coming from juniors.
“It was a tournament that I have really admired, since day one. I was one of the fortunate ones to get some help from that tournament early on and that wild card. And I played the juniors here as well. So there were, there were a lot of like positive things on that note.
“I was just very excited to play every year and it was always a dream of mine to win it. And I did. So that was good, that I felt like I’ve always had good results here. And I mean, I’ll keep on trying, keep pushing because I believe I can do more.”