Grigor Dimitrov copes with windy conditions to reach Delray Beach semi-finals, faces surprise opponent in Rajeev Ram (Highlights included) - UBITENNIS
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Grigor Dimitrov copes with windy conditions to reach Delray Beach semi-finals, faces surprise opponent in Rajeev Ram (Highlights included)

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Grigor Dimitrov rebounded strongly from a minor wobble in the second set to win in straight sets against Adrian Mannarino (Image via Zimbio.com)

Grigor Dimitrov was in the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2014, but that represented his career highlight to date. The Bulgarian has since struggled, and has not won a title since the year of his excellent Wimbledon run. He managed to ensure that he remains on track to change things though, as he beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 7-5 to reach the semi-finals in a blustery Delray Beach. His opponent will be veteran American Rajeev Ram, who defeated German Benjamin Becker 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

 

Both men held strongly through most of the first set, with Dimitrov imperious on first serve, winning all eleven points on that statistic. Mannarino was also playing well in their first career meeting, consistently staying with Dimitrov despite serving from behind. The problem with serving from behind though, is that you are under pressure first as the set nears conclusion, and Dimitrov pounced at five-four, earning three break points, and taking the third. In the blink of an eye Dimitrov had the first set and would again serve first in the second.

Dimitrov did start dropping a few points on first serve in the second, but not nearly enough to give Mannarino a proper look at breaking. To his credit, the Frenchman dusted off the disappointment of the first set, returning to holding serve fairly comfortably through the second, and again stayed with Dimitrov, to four-all. Neither man had faced a break point in the second.

Dimitrov faced a wobble at four-all, double-faulting to give Mannarino a glimmer of a chance at love-thirty, and Mannarino would eventually break to fifteen to serve for the second set. Dimitrov mounted a furious charge, breaking back at the same point he had broken in the first, at five-four though this time it was Mannarino serving ahead, and the break of serve merely meant level terms and not the end of the match.

Dimitrov continued to struggle, double-faulting for the second successive game, and his fourth of the set and match. Going down love-thirty again, Dimitrov this time limited it to a minor wobble, winning the next four points to then put Mannarino under pressure to take the match to a tiebreak. Mannarino could not accomplish the task, going down love-forty after struggling to put first serves in play, and Dimitrov would complete the break and win the match having won the last three games in a row.

Dimitrov on the weather pre-match: “It was so swirly out there that I only practised for 20 minutes. You just have to stay focused and get the job done.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lRcZVLwe_A

Dimitrov’s opponent will be a surprise in Rajeev Ram. Ram achieved his career-high ranking of no.78 in 2009, seven years ago, but looks in great shape to surpass that at the veteran age of thirty-one. Ram is a surprise semi-finalist given that his only previous hard-court semi-final came four years ago at the LA 250,where he lost to Sam Querrey. His ranking is largely based on challenger success and his excellent record at the Hall of Fame Championships in Rhode Island, a grass-court tournament played shortly after Wimbledon, where he is the current defending champion. Yet Ram managed to defeat in-form German veteran Benjamin Becker in a come from behind victory.

In a match featuring a number of service breaks, Ram managed to spread his four breaks across the two sets that he won, whilst Becker could only two in the first and his third early in the final set, when he and Ram traded breaks before the American pulled away.

 

ATP

REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach

The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.

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Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.

 

TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.

The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.

“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.

Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.

Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.

Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.

Groh’s coaching CV

  • 2011: Michael Berrer
  • 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
  • 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
  • 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
  • ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
    Source -ATP/Linkldn

UPDATE*

Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.

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Dominic Thiem signs up to defend his Barcelona title

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Defending champion Dominic Thiem has signed up to play at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell in 2020. The 26-year-old Austrian player will make his sixth main draw appearance in Barcelona, where he won the title last year beating Danil Medvedev.

 

Thiem reached the round of 16 as a qualifier in his debut at this event in 2014. One year later Thiem lost in the first round in 2015 and did not play in 2016.

The player from Wiener Neustadt lost the 2017 final to 11-time Barcelona champion Rafael Nadal. In 2018 Thiem was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter final. In last April’s edition Thiem lifted the title without dropping a set. He beat Nadal in the semifinal before claiming a win over Medvedev in the final.

Thiem tied with Djokovic for ATP Tour-lead with five titles. He won his biggest title at Indian Wells Masters 1000 beating five-time champion Roger Federer and joined his compatriot Thomas Muster as second Austrian player in history to win an ATP Masters 1000 title. Thiem claimed three more titles in Kitzbuhel, Beijing and Vienna and beat Novak Djokovic in five sets to advance to his second consecutive Roland Garros final. Thiem saved two match points against Federer in Madrid Masters 1000 quarter final before losing to Novak Djokovic in semifinal.

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Late Replacement Tomljanovic To Face Maria Sharapova In Abu Dhabi

The order of play for the first day of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship have been confirmed.

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There has been a change made to the line-up for next week’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship with Ajla Tomljanovic making a last-minute entry.

 

Tomljanovic, who achieved a ranking best of 39th back in April, will be making her debut at the three-day exhibition event. Which will feature a women’s match for the third time in a row. The Australian has been called in to replace French Open semi-finalist Amanda Anisimova, who has been forced to pull out due to injury.

“It’s really disappointing to have to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship,” Anisimova said in a press release. “I was looking forward so much to coming to Abu Dhabi and I hope to make the trip in the future.”

The 26-year-old will take on five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova on the opening day of the event. Who hasn’t played on the WTA Tour since her first round loss at the US Open due to a shoulder problem. Sharapova will also be making her debut at the Zayed Sports City’s International Tennis Centre. The two players have never faced each other on the tour.

“I’ve heard amazing things about Abu Dhabi and the championship, and I’m really looking forward to playing in front of this crowd against Maria.” Said Tomljanovic, who will be the first Australian to play at the event. “It will give the perfect challenge ahead of a big season.”

Tomljanovic’s clash with Sharapova is set to be the final match to take place on the opening day of the event. They are only the fourth and fifth woman to ever play in the competition, which has hosted a men’s tournament since 2009. Jelena Ostapenko (2017), Serena Williams (2017 and 2018) and Venus Williams (2018) are the only other WTA players to have taken part.

The full order of play for the opening day has been confirmed by the organisers. Prior to Sharapova’s match, two men’s quarter-finals will take place. ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas will play Gael Monfils with the winner booking a clash against Novak Djokovic. Then world No.4 Daniil Medvedev takes on South Korea’s Hyeon Chung. The winner of that match will play Rafael Nadal.

“The 12th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship is fast shaping up to be the most exciting in the event’s history. We are looking forward to providing our spectators with a dynamic combination of world-class tennis and family fun in what is an unmissable event,” said John Lickrish, CEO of Flash Entertainment.

The Mubadala World Tennis Championship takes place between December 19-21.

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