“I wanted to dig a hole and disappear”: Dimitrov compares playing Sinner and Federer

Grigor Dimitrov reveals why he’d rather play Jannik Sinner than Roger Federer, while Darren Cahill says comparisons to the Big Three are premature

Grigor_Dimitrov_Miami_2024 (1) Credit: Julien Nouet / Tennis Majors

Grigor Dimitrov has been around the block, debuting as a professional in 2008 and playing the bulk of his career alongside the Big Three of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Now, he’s facing the new challenge of carving a spot out for himself on an ATP Tour being dominated by young players like Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. After being subjected to a 6-3, 6-1 masterpiece by Sinner in the Miami Open final on Sunday, Dimitrov was asked how the previous era compared with what he had just experienced on court.

“I know for me I was going to say the toughest player that I have played at his absolute prime was Roger,” responded Dimitrov candidly. “Just too funny, actually. I remember a few times even at Wimbledon, once I remember it was just — I wanted to dig a hole and disappear. 

“I haven’t had that feeling yet against anyone, so I will leave it at that, I guess. Probably that’s going to be the player I felt I suffered the most with.”

Cahill: Too early for comparisons to Big Three

Sinner’s coach, Darren Cahill, also weighed in on the Big Three era in his press conference after the final in Miami, emphasising that despite his charge’s high level, it’s far too early to begin drawing comparisons.

“I don’t think anybody should be comparing this generation yet to the generation that we have just seen with Novak, who is still playing, with Federer, Nadal, who is still playing. What they were able to achieve for so many years is remarkable,” said Cahill.

“I don’t think we will ever see that domination again no matter what,” he continued. “So to be able to coach through that, to live through it, to watch it as a fan, it’s been remarkable how they have pushed their frontier of the game and made everyone more professional and made everybody play better.”

Cahill believes that the calibre of play we’re seeing now from the likes of Sinner, Alcaraz and Holger Rune is a consequence of the standards set by the Big Three.

“What you are seeing with the players coming through now is a direct result of their professionalism, of the teams they put together, the way they have tried to inch out every piece of improvement in each of their games. They’ve got big teams. They go from the physio to the mental coach to a couple of tennis coaches now to a fitness trainer,” he explained.

“You’re trying to tick every single box to maximize a player’s career. So this generation is copying and they’re doing pretty much the same thing. 

“But I wouldn’t start comparing what Carlos or Jannik or Holger or these types of players are doing just yet to the generation prior, because I think that’s unfair. They need time to establish themselves. But the level is right up there, and it’s a good level, but they need to win a lot more before you start comparing them to those boys.”

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