Less than a year after lifting the biggest trophy of his career, Grigor Dimitrov dropped out of the ATP Tour top 10 on November 4 after a disappointing year that failed to build up on his breakthrough season.
Dimitrov, who won the 2017 ATP Final in London to finish the year ranked third in the world, did not qualify for the year-end tournament in 2018 and, after relinquishing the 1500 points from last year’s run, fell nine places in the ATP rankings to 19th, his lowest since October 2016.
After London, Dimitrov spoke about building up on the success to winning a Grand Slam tournament, but after a good start to the year, which included a quarter-final run at the Australian Open and a final appearance in Rotterdam, the Bulgarian rarely showed any consistent run of form.
He finished the year with a 24-19 record, but after a 10-3 run in his first three tournaments, the rest of the year was a mediocre 14-16. Most of those losses came against lower-ranked opponents too – admittedly, some were to players previously ranked in the top 10 and coming back from injuries, including first-round exits to Stan Wawrinka, then ranked outside top 100, at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Dimitrov only notched two wins against a top-10 player, both against David Goffin, the losing finalist in last year’s ATP Final, early in the year.
After yet another early exit at the Paris Masters last week, Dimitrov said that after a tough year, he and his team still believed in their ability to succeed. He acknowledged that starting most matches as the favourite was a new feeling that might have contributed to a poor year.
“I had injuries and personal issues, I lost a dear person, but those things should not be an excuse. I want to win matches and win titles, and I am certain that next year we will, with lots of work and sweat, health permitting, return to the top 10,” he said, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio.
(Dimitrov’s final in Rotterdam, which he lost to Roger Federer, was his only title match this year after winning four trophies in 2017. Photo: @abnamrowtt/Twitter)