Why Grigor Dimitrov Shouldn’t Be Called ‘Baby Fed’
Fighting every week for a position at the top of the ATP Tour is tough for every player, but for Grigor Dimitrov he has the extra burden of being compared to one of the greatest players to ever grace a tennis court.
At a young age, Dimitrov displayed shots and play reminiscent of Roger Federer’s style. The approached impressed many and lead to the Bulgarian being nicknamed ‘Baby Fed’. The comparison with Federer was obviously a compliment for Dimitrov as his roller coaster career kicked-off, however, the comparison soon became more of a hindrance.
“I’ve always been flattered we resembled [each other] a little, but when you haven’t done half of what someone else has done,” Dimitrov recently said.
“People were trying to put you down, saying you’re a potential threat, but everyone on the Tour wants to win and there’s always going to be someone wanting to put a stick in you. At one point you don’t want to deal with it anymore.”
2014 was a breakthrough year for the 24-year-old after his trio of triumphs on multiple surfaces. Dimitrov was triumphant in Alcapulco, Bucharest and Queen’s that year, but it was his Wimbledon performance that elevated him to the media limelight. Seeded 11th at SW19, Dimitrov stunned defending champion Andy Murray to reach the last four. Shortly after his Wimbledon run, Dimitrov achieved his best ranking position of 8th in the world. The run in 2014 was outstanding for somebody so young, however, he was swiftly brought down to reality during a troublesome 2015.
The fireworks from 2014 evaded him last year as Dimitrov struggled to find form on the court. Failing to reach a single final throughout the 2015 season, the Bulgarian spiraled down the rankings to outside the top 20. There was also events occurring off the court that troubled Dimitrov, such as his highly publicized break-up with Maria Sharapova. The sequence of events also included his separation from coach Roger Rasheed in July. Despite the lull is his form, Dimitrov remained upbeat.
“There has been a lot of changes for me this year and it causes a bit of commotion for just about everything”. He told The Star last September.
“But I’ve not played badly with a number of pretty close matches. There’s still quite a few tournaments left and my main goal is to stay healthy and work through each match. I just need to have the faith in myself to perform.”
The problematic 2015 now appears to behind Dimitrov after his encouraging start to 2016. Supported by Juan Martin Del Potro’s former coach, Franco Davin, the 24-year-old reached his first final for over a year at the Brisbane International, losing in three close sets to Viktor Troicki. Then at the Australian Open, he lost in the third round to his idol Roger Federer. Speaking about his convincing start to 2016, Dimitrov acknowledged that his problems during last year helped get him to where he is currently.
“I realized what I had to work on and I also found out who really are your friends. I’m positive and in a great space. I’m enjoying [tennis] again. … I learned not to live for other people. It was more of a life lesson … I’m relieved the year has passed and all that’s behind me.” The 24-year-old said.
Dimitrov’s experience on the tour has been a very different one to the mighty Federer. He is without a doubt capable of producing tennis similar to Federer. Despite this, Dimitrov isn’t Federer and for a matter of fact, he isn’t even ‘Baby Fed’. He is Grigor Dimitrov, a player trying to reach his full potential on the tour whilst being constantly compared with one of the greatest of all time. It is time to stop comparing and start looking at Dimitrov as a personality and as a individual player.