RISING TENNIS STAR GRIGOR DIMITROV IS EYEING GRAND SLAM VICTORY AFTER HIS ATP FINALS WIN
Rising tennis star Grigor Dimitrov is eyeing Grand Slam victory after his ATP Finals win
Grigor Dimitrov is setting his sights on winning his first Grand Slam after his dramatic victory at the ATP Finals this week gave him the biggest title of his career. His victory against Belgium’s David Goffin also makes him the first debutant to win the season finale since Alex Corretja in 1998.
The Bulgarian came into the title decider unbeaten at London’s O2 Arena, with a healthy 4-1 head-to-head record against Goffin, including a 6-0, 6-2 win in the round-robin stage. But seventh seed Goffin was buoyed by wins over world No 1 Rafael Nadal and a gutsy effort against second seed Roger Federer, coming back from a set down to beat the Swiss in the semifinals.
Regardless, the Bulgarian sixth seed held his nerve to beat Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in a gripping contest at the O2, finally sealing the match with his fifth championship point.
The final was the first time in the tournament’s history that two players who qualified for the first time faced off in the title decider. Dimitrov’s victory takes the 26-yearold to the dizzy heights of third in the rankings
behind only Nadal and Federer as he begins to deliver on his rich promise.
Nicknamed “Baby Fed” early in his career for the similarity of style in his game to the Swiss, Dimitrov has struggled to live up to the comparison and was as low as 40th in the world in mid-2016. But he has bounced back strongly to enjoy the best season of his career in 2017, winning four titles in all, including his first Masters title in Cincinnati.
Dimitrov has never been beyond the semifinals of a Grand Slam, reaching the last four at Wimbledon in 2014 and repeating the feat in Australia earlier this year. “I’m still trying to think about what I just did,” said the Bulgarian after his victory against Goffin. “I think now definitely we [are] going to sit down with the team and reassess the whole year, see what we’ve done good, what we can improve.
“Of course, one of my main goals is to win a tournament, you know, a Grand Slam tournament. This has always been, again, a dream of mine. Now slowly I think this thing is getting there.
“I think I’ve had good results in the past, but now, as I said, I need to be even more consistent on those kind of events, and in the same time raise up my level on occasions like this. Obviously, this is a great, unbelievable achievement for me, yes. But, yeah, I just still have a lot to give.”
The final that nobody expected came just a year after Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray battled it out in London for the No 1 slot. But the
ATP Finals have had an unusual flavour this year, missing both Murray and Djokovic while world No 1 Nadal was forced to pull out injured after his opening round-robin match. Federer’s defeat in the semi-finals was also a huge shock.
But Dimitrov said it was too soon to proclaim a new era and write the obituaries of the
“Big Four” who have dominated tennis over the past decade and more.
“Next year I think is going to be obviously pretty interesting, especially the beginning of it,” he said. “There’s still quite a few names that are going to come back and play. That’s just obvious. You should never count them out.”
The Bulgarian said his win in London had lifted him into the conversation about the top players, but he had to work hard to capitalise on that. “Am I one of those guys? Well, right now I’m right here. I’m the winner of the tournament. So, yes, I’m happy with it.
“But that’s about it. Like, the important thing is just to stay on the ground and put your head down, even work harder because once you get to that point, everything becomes so narrow for you.
“I just want to keep the same line. I don’t want to get too hyped up because I’ve done well, now I’m No 3 in the world. No, this makes me even more, I think, locked in, more excited about my work and for what’s to come.”
Dimitrov is the first debutant to win the ATP Finals since 1998.