STARNBERG, December 11, 2017
2017 ended in perfect fashion for Grigor Dimitrov, with the Bulgarian triumphing at the ATP Tour World Finals in London and rising to number three in the world. He will be aiming to continue his upward trajectory on 2018 tour when it gets underway in January. The man nicknamed ‘Baby Federer’ beat David Goffin at the O2 and admitted afterwards that he is setting his sights on clinching his first ever Grand Slam.
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It’s fair to say that it’s been a stop-start couple of years, but Dimitrov’s hard work appears to be finally paying off. He also added ATP titles in Sofia, Cinncinati and Brisbane to his collection in 2017 and will be hoping to add plenty more going forward. The 26-year-old traditionally makes a fast start to the season and is often at his most formidable during the early stages of the hard court campaign.
Despite possessing plenty of natural talent, Dimitrov’s application and concentration have regularly been questioned and, after a series of inconsistent displays throughout 2016, he dropped to number 40 in the rankings. Dani Vallverdu has been a huge part of his upturn in form, with the Venezuelan coach playing a major part in his recent success. He has previously worked with Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych and has ensured Dimitrov avoids any off-court distractions and helped shaped him into an increasingly consistent performer.
The Bulgarian was quick to credit his coach and clearly enjoys working with him. Dimitrov immediately raced over to Vallverdu following his hard-fought success against Goffin and has spoken about his influence in various interviews with the media.
His success has catapulted him into the spotlight and there is a renewed enthusiasm for the sport and the ATP tour in his home country. Many tennis fans will be eagerly anticipating the start of the new season and Dimitrov is set to take part in the 2018 Fast4 in Sydney alongside Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev, which gets underway on January 8.
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Dimitrov’s record in Grand Slams is fairly underwhelming, but that could all change in 2018. He has reached two semi-finals during his career with his most recent appearance coming in the 2017 Australian Open. Melbourne is clearly one of the 26-year-old’s favoured locations, having previously progressed to the quarter-finals of the competition. He was beaten by eventual finalist Rafa Nadal at the Rod Laver Arena and will be aiming to go one better this time around.
He has made it beyond the second round of the Australian Open in each of his last four visits to the opening grand slam of the season and will be amongst the bookies’ favourites once again. Anyone who is thinking of backing the Bulgarian to continue his purple patch and come out on top in January can use one of the range of free bets available with bet365 as detailed by Oddschecker to support the world number three in his quest for grand slam glory. He is currently priced at 12/1 for the event.
He’s also performed admirably at Wimbledon and clearly enjoys the grass court season, having previously triumphed at Queens Club. If he isn’t able to succeed in Melbourne, he may set his sights on SW19. The US Open is the final grand slam of the season but he doesn’t possess a good record at Flushing Meadows, having been eliminated in the second round twice in the last three visits.
He is currently behind iconic duo Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal in the rankings and will be hoping he can improve his record against the pair this season. He has never beaten the Swiss maestro in six attempts, whilst he’s managed just one lifetime victory against the king of clay.
If Dimitrov is to clinch his maiden grand slam in 2018, he will need to improve his record against the top players. The returning Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are not good news for the Bulgarian, however, at just 26 years old, he has age on his side and can use his youthful exuberance and exemplary fitness record to his advantage. 2018 represents an excellent opportunity for Dimitrov to add a grand slam to his ever-growing collection of silverware but he must ensure he doesn’t get complacent. The Australian Open remains his best chance and there will be many tennis fans charting his progress throughout the season.