Despite taking a week off, withdrawing from the Erste Bank Open 500 only days after being handed a wild card and the third seed, Grigor Dimitrov has secured a place in the year-end ATP Finals, to be held in London’s O2 Arena on November 12-19.
Dimitrov, already the most successful Bulgarian men’s tennis player in history, will play in the tournament for the first time, a fitting end for a career year that saw him win three titles – in Brisbane, Sofia and a maiden Masters crown in Cincinnati – as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
Aside from the prestige alone – the tournament is restricted to eight best players, injury aside, on the ATP circuit in a given calendar year – the tournament also offers the top players a chance for a leg up on their competition in the rankings as each participant plays three round robin matches, with each victory worth 200 points, for a spot in the semi-finals. A semi-final win is worth an additional 400 points and victory in the final is worth 500 points on top of that, for a cumulative 1500 points for an undefeated champion.
Although he suffered a surprise second-round exit at the US Open, Dimitrov’s autumn form has been good, reaching the final in Stockhom and the semis at the China Open, with a quarterfinal of the Shanghai Masters sandwiched in between. This has propelled him to eighth in the ATP rankings, tying his career best from August 2014.
He will next play in the Paris Masters this week, where he is seeded sixth and has a first-round bye. With former world number ones Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic both currently injured and unable to defend big point totals from last year, Dimitrov is also set to climb a couple of spots in next week’s rankings to a new career high – and a deep run to the semi-finals or further in Paris could even see him break into the top five.
(Dimitrov lifts the Sofia Open trophy in February 2017, his second title of the year and the first ever won in front of his home crowd. Screengrab from Bulgarian National Television.)