Dimitrov’s One Day At A Time Philosophy Paying Off

WASHINGTON, October 29, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Grigor Dimitrov has come a long way since being bed-ridden – quarantined at home in Monaco – after testing positive for Covid-19 in June, which brought the ill-fated Adria Tour of the Baltics to a sudden halt. Looking back on his recovery and journey into the second round of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna this week, the fit-and-trim Bulgarian credits a one day at a time philosophy in getting him through his ordeal – a long-game approach, if you will – and guess what? The 20th-ranked Dimitrov is playing some of his best tennis at the end of the season at a time when many are running out of energy and desire.

Last week in Antwerp, Belgium, Tennis TourTalk caught up with Dimitrov following his second-round 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Spain’s Pablo Andújar and asked him about his mental and physical condition as well as what he hopes to accomplish during the remainder of the 2020 season.

“I think taking it one day at a time is what actually helped me the most in those days [after getting Covid],”Dimitrov recalled. “That trip to America [to play Cincinnati and the US Open] was very hectic. I’m not going to lie. I wonder if I should have gone at all.

“Nonetheless, it’s something I wanted to do, to test my body and see where I was at.”

Dimitrov beat France’s Ugo Humbert in the first round of the Western & Southern Open before losing to Marton Fucsovics of Hungary in three sets. Then, a week later in the US Open, after beating Tommy Paul of the United States in the first round, he was pushed to five grueling sets by his New York nemesis, Fucsovics, before losing, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, in a match that lasted four hours and 50 minutes.

After surviving quite an endurance test in New York, it was on to Europe for Dimitrov, where he switched to playing on clay in Rome and Paris. At the Italian Open, Dimitrov reached the quarterfinals, which included a three-set win over Jannik Sinner, before losing in three sets to Denis Shapovalov. Then, in the French Open, Dimitrov advanced to the round of 16 before falling in straight sets to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Now, finishing the season indoors exclusively on hard-court surfaces, Dimitrov declared that he’s “back to 92, 93, 94-percent.

“[Covid] hits everyone differently. I can only speak for myself. It took a little bit of time,” said Dimitrov, whose ATP Tour biography lists his height and weight as 6-feet-3-inches tall (191 cm) and 179 pounds (81 kg). “One of the toughest things was losing a lot of kilos. I didn’t have much to lose, anyway (laughs).”

Optimistic and determined, the 29-year-old Dimitrov is maintaining a busy schedule during the final month of this season while making up for the time he lost from both the ATP Tour’s five-month hiatus that began in March, in the aftermath of the global pandemic, plus his own recovery after contracting Covid-19. Last week, Dimitrov reached the semifinals of the European Open at Antwerp and showed signs of his former self. This week, he’s advanced to the second round at Vienna, and he’s entered in the Rolex Paris Masters next week.

“I think I have put in a solid amount of work and stayed on the court, and I’m doing everything to best I can to finish the year strong,” said Dimitrov, whose win-loss record is a solid 18-10. “I’m happy I’m able just to win and test my body to see where I’m at, at the end of the year.”

Dimitrov looked impressive while defeating Russia’s Karen Khachanov in a first-round match Tuesday afternoon in Vienna. He hit five aces, won 73 percent of his service points, broke Khachanov three times and outpointed his opponent 66-51 to advance against No. 3 seed Tsitsipas on Thursday.

“My main priority is my body. I just want to make sure heading into the off season that I’m 1,000 percent ready to push through, again, and to load myself up for 2021,” Dimitrov explained. “Right now, we’re taking it one day at a time and trying to make the most out of practice and the matches.”

Rolex Paris Masters behind closed doors

Late Wednesday (Central European Time), Lukas Lacko, a member of the ATP Players Council tweeted a copy of a letter released by ATP Player Relations to inform players and team members that “Following France’s announcement of a second lockdown, the FFT has informed ATP that as of now, they plan to play the Rolex Paris Masters behind closed doors. However, further government clearance is necessary.” Stay tuned.

Quite a journey for CiCi Bellis

Oft-injured American CiCi Bellis won her first tournament in four years last weekend in Macon, Ga.

Billie Jean King: Forever the activist

From Caja Mágica to Caja Mágica Rafa Nadal?

Wimbledon lawn care in wintertime

Lorenzo Musetti: Esquire Italia cover boy

What they’re sharing on social media

Dominic Thiem / Big day at the Vienna Zoo