Grigor Dimitrov is already Bulgaria’s best tennis player ever at the age of 23, but the world number 11 says he is determined to do better after an uneven start to the season.
“I always want to reach the top. If I get good results, that is unavoidable, but I cannot define a specific goal,” Dimitrov told reporters in Sofia on April 24. “I want to play better tennis and that is a process. In any case, I want to do better than last year and finish higher in the rankings,” he said.
In 2014, Dimitrov had a break-out year, winning three titles on different surfaces and reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon, where he dethroned reigning champion Andy Murray and lost a evenly-fought match against world number one Novak Djokovic. After Wimbledon, he briefly broke into the ATP Tour’s top 10, spending several weeks at eighth in the rankings.
This season, he started brightly with a semi-final in Brisbane, where he lost to Roger Federer, and then reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, but that was followed by early exits at several tournaments, including in Acapulco, where he was defending his title.
Last week, he reached the quarterfinal at the Monte-Carlo Masters, playing well in his victory over Stan Wawrinka in the third round, but followed up that performance with a one-sided defeat to Gael Monfils in under one hour.
“Unfortunately, against Monfils in Monte-Carlo, nothing worked. It was one of those days when whatever I tried, nothing worked,” he said.
Dimitrov blamed some of his struggles on his ongoing search to find a perfect fit with his racquet. “We have gone through many stages with Wilson. I have tried two so far and I think it is getting better. I believe that by the end of the year, everything will be perfect and we’ll have the right parameters,” he said.
“The season, for me, starts now. I did have some trouble in some of the tournaments,” Dimitrov said.
Dimitrov chose not to defend his clay-court title in Bucharest, but is scheduled to play the inaugural Istanbul Open next week, where he will be the second-highest ranked player after Federer.
“We will train together on Sunday. The tournament is shaping up to be a strong one and anyone can beat anyone. I hope to do better in the coming clay-court tournaments, which is very important to me, and then it is grass courts, which you know is my favourite,” he said.
Asked whether he was thinking of parting ways with his coach Roger Rasheed, under whose tutelage he had shot up the rankings, Dimitrov said that the situation was “delicate”.
“We have discussed the results with everyone on my team and we are looking for the best solution. I am playing more, travelling more and I need more attention in training and in tournaments. Me and my team are looking to find where we can improve. There is always tension, but that is one of the things that I like,” he said.
Dimitrov was in Sofia to sign a two-year sponsorship deal with mobile carrier Telenor Bulgaria. “It is a pleasure and an honour for Telenor to partner with a sportsman and natural-born winner like Grigor. He is a true inspiration for his fans and for all Bulgarians who eagerly follow his rise to tennis stardom and passionately support him in every endeavour,” Telenor Bulgaria CEO Stein-Erik Vellan said.
Dimitrov has already appeared, briefly, in two previous Telenor ads, but will now become one of only a handful of Bulgarian athletes who have signed commercial deals with large local companies.
(Telenor Bulgaria CEO Vellan and Dimitrov at the news conference in Sofia on April 24. Photo: Telenor Bulgaria)