It sort of baffles me that some members of the world tennis media are hailing Grigor Dimitrov as having arrived and that “we have seen a new star born” after he took a set off Rafael Nadal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
Absolutely, it was a highly entertaining match to watch and it had its dramatic elements but let’s not get carried away just yet.
There is no doubt that the Bulgarian is a tremendous player – he is great. Potentially he is so good that he has been given the title of “baby Federer”. Yeah, good to have that sort of pressure put on you when you are trying to make a breakthrough, as was the case for Mario Ancic who was dubbed “baby Goran” (Ivanisevic).
But let’s face it; Grigor has been threatening to make a name for himself for the last couple of years. He has enjoyed some outstanding results and after every one of those results tennis media has suggested that he made a name for himself. Why is taking a set off Nadal in Monte Carlo any different?
At the beginning of this year here on wearetennis.bnpparibas I suggested he is one of the players (others included Alexandr Dolgopolov and Bernard Tomic) who need to stand up and be counted in 2013. Enough of the situations where he is coming close, the 21 year old (22 on 16 May) must now begin to assert himself on the tour and start closing out events in the manner that the tennis media have predicted.
Don’t get me wrong, Dimitrov is a terrific personality, a bit mischievous and appealing, the type of good looks that garners a following from the young kids and a tennis game to die for. He is the whole package, now we need to see that whole package producing the goods on a very consistent basis.
“I always had that feeling (he would do well)” said Nadal, “(but) always depends on how he stays mentally, how he's able to keep working hard and improving. But, sure, he's a great player and he has all the shots. He has everything to be a really, really good player. It depends on him.
“He has time. He has time to have a great career. It's not like golf; you have 20 or 25-year career. Here our sport is more aggressive for the body, so we aren’t that lucky. He still has time and he is doing very well. I saw him play very well in Indian Wells and Miami. He did well here.”
In Indian Wells and Miami he started well against Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, respectively, but then faded and that is the sort of thing he needs to cut out. His best results this year, apart from Monte Carlo, were a semi in Rotterdam and the final in Brisbane.
Understand, I am not criticizing Grigor, not at all, I think he is fantastic but as I said at the start it baffles me that taking a set of someone like Nadal, granted on clay at a tournament he has won a gazillion times, suddenly means that such a result is his making. It is not at all.
I have no doubt, barring any issues, that Dimitrov is going to be top 10, maybe even this year, but first the runs have to get on the board. Give him a chance before making statements like a “star is born” just because he took a set off Rafa.