Grigor Dimitrov Plots a Renaissance in 2020

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Grigor Dimitrov Plots a Renaissance in 2020
Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov eyes the ball during the men's singles semi-final tennis match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000, on November 2, 2019. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU/AFP)

Grigor Dimitrov will bid to surge up the world rankings in 2020 after recovering from a shoulder injury that thwarted his progress last year.

The Bulgarian slipped down to 78th in the ATP world rankings after struggling for form and fitness in the build-up to the 2019 US Open. Yet he then stunned everyone by beating Roger Federer and going all the way to the semi-finals of the season’s final major. That saw him soar back up to number 25 in the rankings and filled him with belief that he could turn a corner as he surged into a new decade.

He is now over the shoulder injury and bidding to get his career back on track. “There were a lot of question marks, a lot of doubts and in a sense negative thoughts,” he said. “The most important thing right now is to really keep on doing the work and sort of put the past in the past,” Dimitrov said. “I think it’s a very exciting time ahead.”

The Bulgarian has been dubbed “baby Fed” in the past, as his elegant strokes often resemble Federer’s. Securing a first career victory over the great Swiss at the US Open could provide the springboard for an upturn in form. He has split with coach Radek Stepanek in an effort to rejuvenate his career, although the legendary Andre Agassi still serves as his coaching consultant. Dimitrov feels he has the right ingredients in place to return to his best form – he was ranked number three in the world after winning the season ending ATP Finals in 2017 – and he now needs to discover consistency on the court.

Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 – Rolex Paris Masters – on November 2, 2019. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

However, he has made a somewhat sluggish start to 2020. He was seeded 18th for the Australian Open, but found himself dumped out in the second round by unseeded American Tommy Paul. A shock defeat to Gregoire Barrere followed at the Sud de France Open on February 5. He then beat eighth seed Dennis Shapovalov in straight sets at ATP Rotterdam, only to suffer a comprehensive defeat to another Canadian, Felix Auger Aliassime in the second round. The result left Dimitrov 22nd in the world rankings.

He still has a couple of months to improve his fortunes before the clay court season begins. Clay has historically been Dimitrov’s weakest surface. He has never been past the third round of the French Open, and his record there is 9-9, which might explain why he is a 100/1 outsider to triumph at Roland-Garros with SBR’s best sportsbooks. He really comes alive on hard court, although he is a former semi-finalist at Wimbledon.

Dimitrov’s record on grass at the All England club is 15-10, but he has lost in the first round for the past two years. That is a sign of his struggle for form, fitness and consistency. He needs to start picking up morale-boosting victories on hard court over the next two months and build up momentum as we approach the summer. Dimtrov remains an exceptionally talented player, despite the rollercoaster ride he has endured over the past year, and he has the potential to break back into the world’s top 10 players.

He is now 28 years old and should be operating at the peak of his powers. He just needs to improve his first serve percentage, play with more aggression and have more belief in his own ability. If his confidence improves then he could spring a few surprises going forwards, so he could make a strong outside pick at the big tournaments coming up in March and April, so don’t forget to check SBR’s Tennis live betting odds.

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