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The Renaissance of Grigor Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov BNP Paribas Open-Day 12

Grigor Dimitrov saw the void of one-handed backhand in the Top 10 and decided to fill it. With his semifinal win over Alexander Zverev, Dimitrov is back inside the top 10 rankings for the first time since November 2018. This makes it the third-longest gap between being ranked in the Top 10.

After his win over Zverev, Dimitrov was asked about his re-entry inside the Top 10 to which he said

“Whatever I say doesn’t do it justice. For me, I fight my own battles. I run my own race. All that comes with the work we all put in as a team. I’m at a very different path in my life and my career. A lot was done. A lot of work. A lot of everything behind it. So I don’t want to go too far back. There’s no reason for it. I kept on believing. I kept on thriving. I kept on having faith in myself. When I didn’t believe in myself enough, all the team around me was constantly pushing me in the right direction. I had very good discipline. My family was by my side. All the close friends.. It’s all love at the end of the day. This is just a cherry on the cake.”

Is Grigor Dimitrov playing the best tennis of his life?

The whole period from 2019 to 2022 was dire for Dimitrov with lots of bad losses, retirements, illness, and injuries. He didn’t manage to make a single final in that period.

Grigor Dimitrov has always been highly talented but he wasn’t consistent enough. Much of the inconsistency has to do with his high-risk game which needs a lot of confidence to work against the top players. Dimitrov’s confidence is finally aligning with his tennis skill level and he is producing exceptional results.

2023 was the start of his renaissance as he had his third-best season in terms of win percentage and has continued his form in 2024. Dimitrov won his first title since 2017 in Brisbane by defeating Holger Rune and has reached two more finals since then. The Bulgarian has also won 6 of his last 10 matches against top 10 ranked players.

In recent months, Dimitrov has defeated Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Carlos Alcaraz (twice), and other Top 20 players. He’s put in a ton of work and practiced discipline to get back to the Top 10. He has more confidence in tough matches as he has won his last 10 deciding sets matches.

His athleticism has hit a new high, and the backhand which once was his weakness has become a weapon. Improvement in the serve greatly compliments his net game. Dimitrov might have lost to Jannik Sinner in the final of the Miami Open, but he should be proud of his performance this week–beating three Top 10 players en route to the final.

In the era of two-handers, Dimitrov’s one-handed backhand brings a breath of fresh air and keeps the hope going for other single-handers out there. Now that he is back inside the Top 10 it will be interesting to see how he goes on in the upcoming clay and grass seasons.

Main Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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