Grigor Dimitrov: “I had enough fuel in my body to go through the match. I was just physically really strong” - UBITENNIS
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Grigor Dimitrov: “I had enough fuel in my body to go through the match. I was just physically really strong”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 27th of June. G. Dimitrov d. A. Dolgopolov 6-7, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. An interview with Grigor Dimitrov

 

Q. It all seemed to change on that backhand that hit the baseline to take you to 5b#4.

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, the slice shot. Yeah, I mean, what can I say? First of all, I think it was a good fight throughout the whole match. Alex is a tricky opponent to play. The only thing, my game wasn’t at my best level today. The only thing I could do is just stay in the match and fight with every chance that I had during the match. I had to basically use it and try to break him down.

I think he came out of the match really intrigued, and I just had to just play a better tennis in the end.

 

Q. Were you surprised how quickly the final set went? I think he won seven points.

GRIGOR DIMITROV: You know, as soon as I had that break in the fifth set, you know, I knew I that could close it up fast. I saw his movement changed a little bit. His shots were becoming lighter and lighter. I just had to put my foot down and really close it up the best way possible.

I was happy I was able to do it that fast.

 

Q. Is this where all the hard work on and off the court really pays off?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, I mean, obviously, as I said, it’s one of those days that the game wasn’t there. I had to count on something else. I had enough fuel in my body to go through the match. I was just physically really strong, you know. I knew that the deeper the match goes, the better odds I have of winning it.

That fifth set proved a lot to me today.

 

Q. It might be a little bit surprising to some people because obviously as a player you’re quite known for your elegance, the beauty of your shot-making. It’s nice to see the scrappy fighting elements.

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I mean, not every day you wake up and feel at your best. You have to do anything you can to win the match.

Today I was capable of doing pretty much everything that I had to do. I knew I didn’t play one of my best shots or I was not playing beautiful tennis. But, you know, it’s in the game. In the end it doesn’t matter if you’re going to win crappy or if you’re going to lose beautiful. I’d rather win that way.

That actually gives me another chance, another look for the next match what I can do better. That’s my goal, to be better.

 

Q. Last year you had a heartbreaking loss in five sets here. Now you’re stronger. Did it help you that you had that tough experience last year? Did you think about it today?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I think you always think about moments like that, regardless if it’s that tournament or any other ones.

I was really positive coming into Wimby that year. This year has been a better preparation. Obviously I had a great week before that, winning Queen’s. Of course, that gives me extra hype, extra excitement.

Still, you don’t have to forget one of those moments that you fail. I think because of those moments, you know, I’ve prided myself on some of the matches that I played so far. Some of my mental strength comes from that. I was able to overcome that.

It’s a great feeling.

 

Q. I’m sure you knew part of what you were letting yourself in for when you brought Roger onboard. Has it been tougher work than you expected?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: No, I don’t look at it that way. I love working. I enjoy working with him. I think sometimes it’s not even enough.

That’s how it’s been. He’s the one that brings definitely those little details of my game and I think of my mentality as a player. It’s something nice to have between a coach and a player.

 

Q. Respectfully you’re a player with a number of nicknames. Some people call you Baby Fed. Some call you Mr. Sharapova now.

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I didn’t know that.

 

Q. Do you feel a bit like with this run now, you can make your own name?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: People will judge anyway. What can I say? I think I’ve grown through all the nicknames by now. I think it’s time for everyone to kind of come up with something better.

I think all those things are starting to fade away. I’m proving myself not only as a player but as a person outside of the court. So to me it’s much more valuable.

 

Q. How do you want to be regarded? Does that come back to the fighting spirit you showed today? Is that the way you would like people to see you?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: It would have been better if I won in three, straight sets, I’m not going to lie to you.

But when it comes down to matches like that, yeah. I think I want to create my own legend, my own trademarks. I’m the only player that is playing out there on the court, so everything is in your hands.

You have the choice, the opportunities, the varieties, to make something.

 

Q. You said you wanted to make changes at the US Open because you weren’t happy with your fitness. Do you still consider yourself a work in progress?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, I think I’m just at the beginning. I still have a lot of things to work on. I think it’s a good way of thinking because if you think that you’ve reached the top, this is where you don’t improve.

For me the most important thing is to improve, to get better every day, every match I play in, and take one step at a time.

I never wanted to be one of those that takes numerous steps to the front and settle with that, then wait till the next big thing comes. It’s all or nothing.

 

Q. Millions of Bulgarians are following your matches with excitement. Do you ever think about the fans back home when you play?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I always think about the fans at home. Luckily when I was back home after Miami, they were showing some of my matches, the excitement of the people. It makes me happy, makes me happy to see that. I’m happy that people in general are engaging with that sport in Bulgaria and it’s developing in a good way.

 

Q. Most of the top players name Raonic and you as the next generation. Do you feel proud or do you feel pressure for that?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: In a way it’s nice to hear it, but I think, so to speak, the youngest generation, we all look for what we are looking for. I don’t think we ever listen or hear.

I’m like that in particular. I don’t listen to those things. I just want to take my way and have my team around in the surroundings which is the most important thing and focus on what I have to do.

I think it’s important thing for me to just keep that way, not paying much attention to anything else around.

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Novak Djokovic Survives Krajinovic Battle To Seal Last Eight Berth In Rome

Novak Djokovic reached an 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@ATPTour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic survived a tough battle in Rome to beat Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7) 6-3 to reach the last eight.

 

Although the World Number one got the victory, it was a tough battle as he fought his compatriot for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

Breaks were shared to start the match as Krajinovic brought his fearless game to the top seed.

Djokovic created a total of ten break points, with only one executed as Krajinovic saved two set points in the tenth game to hold for 5-5.

After two comfortable holds, a tiebreak settled the winner of the first set as Djokovic was having a hard time to contain Krajinovic’s power.

The world number one battled from 3-0 down to edge the tiebreak 9-7 and win the opening set in 88 minutes.

Once Djokovic had survived the Krajinovic stormed, he took control and went into another gear as a break of serve in the third game was all that was needed to seal his place in the quarter-finals.

Winning 47% of his 2nd return points was key as Djokovic reaches his 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final of his career.

Next for Djokovic will be either talented teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti or Dominik Koepfer.

In other results today, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov set a last eight showdown after tight three set wins.

Shapovalov edged out Ugo Humbert 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 while Dimitrov defeated Jannik Sinner 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a tough match.

There were also third round wins for Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini.

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Rafael Nadal Missing Fan Support Despite Emphatic Win At Italian Open

The 19-time Grand Slam winner reacts to his latest win 200 days after his last.

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Rafael Nadal (image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

The absence of a crowd at this year’s Italian Masters has been branded as ‘not beautiful’ by Rafael Nadal following his opening match on Wednesday.

 

The world No.2 raced to a 6-1, 6-1, triumph over US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta in what was his first competitive match of any sort since March 1st. Despite his lengthy break from the Tour, Nadal showed little rust as he dropped only eight points behind his serve and broke the world No.18 five times overall. The latest victory is Nadal’s 62nd in Rome and he has only won more matches at four other tournaments.

“Of course I have to improve things. The things that I have to improve, the only way to improve is to keep practising with the right attitude, the right intensity and to spend hours in competition matches,” he said afterwards.
“Today has been a positive start for me,”
Nadal later added.

Choosing to skip the New York bubble due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nadal is still getting used to the concept of playing without the crowds. Something many of his rivals has already had experience of. The Italian Open had originally hoped to allow fans to enter its grounds before the local authorities ruled against it over concerns it could trigger an outbreak of the Coronavirus.

“It’s Not beautiful the feeling of playing without the spectators because the energy of the fans is impossible to describe. But for me, at least, today has been a very positive comeback,” Nadal assessed.

It is a case of wait and see as to how the Spaniard will fare in the coming days given his recent lack of match play compared to his rivals such as Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. Fortunately for Nadal, he is playing on the clay which is a surface which he has won more ATP titles on than any other player in the Open Era. As for the upcoming French Open, will a lack of play in recent weeks be problematic for him?

“I don’t think so, no. If Roland Garros was this week, maybe yes. Roland Garros is two weeks away.” He concluded.

Nadal will next play either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic who will play their second round match on Thursday.

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Dominic Thiem And Thomas Muster: A Comparison

They are the only Austrian Slam champions in men’s tennis, but how do they stack up against each other?

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Dominic Thiem - US Open 2020 (via Twitter, @usopen)

The original version of this article was published on loslalom.it.

 

On October 24, 2011, Dominic Thiem had just turned 18 and was in the very early stages of his professional career, so the organisers of the ATP tournament in Vienna rewarded him with a wild card. On October 24, 2011, Thomas Muster had been 44 for about three weeks and at the sunset of his career, so he was also given the wild card for Vienna tournament. What no one could predict, neither the players nor the tournament organizers, was that the draw would pit them against each other in the first round, for what would be their first encounter, and ultimately the only one – after conceding with a 6-2 6-3 score in an hour and four minutes, Muster retired forever. He was the only Austrian to have won a Grand Slam tournament, in 1995 at Roland Garros, at least until Sunday night, when the then teenager who ended his career equalled him.

In the first decade of his career, Thiem has earned almost twice as much as Munster did in 18 (22 million dollars against 12). Thiem is right-handed, Muster a southpaw. Both sport one-handed backhands. It took 10 years for Muster to win a Major, and by the eleventh he was the world N.1, albeit not for long. He was a bona fide drop-shot chaser. It took nine years as a professional for Thiem to win at Flushing Meadows, but he has not yet risen higher than third in the ATP Ranking. Thiem is two inches taller (6’1’’ versus 5’11’’), he has an edge for the number of aces (5.8 per game on average against 3) and for the effectiveness of his first serve (74.2% vs 69.1%). The two are essentially tied with their second serve (53.2% vs 53.7) and in the break-points-saved department (62.9% vs 63%), but Muster is more dominant in the return games (31.6% break vs 23.5%) and, despite earning a street rep as a marathon runner, his matches were 11 minutes shorter than Thiem’s (an hour and 30 minutes against an hour and 41). His winning points ended on average in 35 seconds, Thiem’s in 37,8 seconds.

In his career Thiem has met stronger opponents, ranked on average at 35 in the world, while Muster’s foes usually hovered around number 52. Despite this, the latter managed to beat opponents better placed than him in the standings in only 9.8% of cases, while Thiem’s ​​percentage is 12.3 %. On the contrary, Thiem was beaten in 21.4% of cases by tennis players ranked worse in the rankings, whereas this happened to Muster in 19% of cases, a percentage that drops to 13% when it comes to clay only. For a couple of weeks at the beginning of 2020, Muster coached Thiem.

The following chart summarises the numbers: 

Gianni Clerici, the Italian Hall-of-Famer journalist and writer, gave Thomas Muster the moniker of “Mr Muscolo” (Mr Muscle). This is the portrait he made of him: “He’s not very nice, seven out of ten people say about Muster. A couple of them find him downright unpleasant. The remaining, meagre ten percent all but worships him. It is probably the attitude that does not appeal. His face appears incredibly rapacious, reminding of a bird of prey, or, if not strictly of an eagle or a hawk, at the very least of a possessed personality, those wide-open eyes animated by a blue and sinister light. But, even more than the face, what repels many people is his technique, his relentlessness devoid of human breathing which is fully on display as he gets back bopping on his side of the court a ripe thirty seconds before the  established one minute and 25, while the unfortunate opponent is still splayed on his chair, trying to recover some breath and peace in the aftermath of the gruelling races that Muster locked him into. If the style is the man, well, the Austrian’s style does not capture the imagination. His serve is average at best, and he cautiously avoids volleying, but he has some great weapons, like that terrible loopy forehand and, in the last couple years, that no less terrible backhand slap. Come to think of it, even Muster’s ancestors, Borg and Vilas, were no less engulfing, less repetitive. But Borg had more athletic talent, his runs were very fluid, his sense of playing so high that he even managed to adapt to the Wimbledon lawns where he won five times and where Muster instead looks like a wretch. Muster has the athletic pedigree of champions but certainly not the charisma”.

Clerici also had the opportunity to write on Thiem for “la Repubblica” (an Italian daily newspaper), stating that “he was born with tennis in his blood, […] he has a refined hand, as can be seen with his drop shots and with his cross-court volleys,” then adding: “I have seen many times the Austrian go all-out on his backhand, as if he were holding an umbrella wide open, while his forehand is more akin to a machete.” Yesterday morning, he added that Thiem reminds him of “the tennis players of my time during the Fifties, when tennis was different from today, perhaps more beautiful to watch, a spectacles that intellectuals like Giorgio Bassani enjoyed, and that could have taken place in the genteel backyards sketched out in his novels.” 

Translation and graphics by Andrea Canella

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