Grigor Dimitrov Powers To Maiden Masters Title In Cincinnati - UBITENNIS
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Grigor Dimitrov Powers To Maiden Masters Title In Cincinnati

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Grigor Dimitrov (zimbio.com)

On the eve of his re-entry into the world’s top 10, Grigor Dimitrov illustrated his potential as a force in the men’s game with a clinical 6-3, 7-5, win over Nick Kyrgios in the final of the Western and Southern Open.

 

Battling against the 22-year-old for the biggest title of his career, Dimitrov was not fazed by the significance of the occasion. The Bulgarian dropped only 13 points behind his serve and hit 21 winners. A sharp contrast to Kyrgios, who produced a winner-error count of 21-31.

“I don’t know what to say… thank you for the support… This tournament has been one of my favorites. Every year things seem to be better.” A delighted Dimitrov said during the trophy ceremony.

The clash at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre was a milestone in men’s tennis. Masters 1000 tournaments have largely been dominated by the presence of the ‘big four’ in recent years. So much so that the clash was the first time two debut Masters finalists have faced each other since the 2002 Hamburg Open. It was also the first time in history that two players born in the 1990s have contested the final of a Masters event.

Embarking upon the historic match, it was the serve that proved pivotal. Throughout the week in Cincinnati, both players have won over 95% of their service games (98% for Dimitrov and 95% for Kyrgios).

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Dimitrov’s nerves failed to hold him back as he survived some tentative moments during the opening set. At 2-2, back-to-back double faults elevated Kyrgios to his first break point opportunity. The Australian failed to convert due to some sublime defence from his opponent. The following game saw the opposite scenario. Dimitrov’s game plan of keeping the ball low troubled 6’4” Kyrgios, who hit a backhand into the net to reward the Bulgarian a break point chance in his favour. The seventh seed secured the breakthrough with the help of a deep return, for a 4-2 lead. That sole break decided the outcome of the first set as Dimitrov eased the 6-3 lead with a love service game. Prompting a huge celebration from the army of Bulgarian fans in the crowd and leaving Kyrgios pondering his next move.

Dimitrov fans pose for Ubitennis (photo by Lorenzo Dellagiovanna)

With the momentum firmly on the side of the world No.11, Kyrgios soon saw the humorous side of the situation. During the early stages of set number two he joked ‘I don’t make returns often’ when a serve by Dimitrov was ruled out by the umpire. He was less friendly when discussing the court officials, who made some questionable calls.

“How many (mistakes) have we had already? How many, too many!” Kyrgios complained to the umpire during one of the changeovers.

Besides the Australian’s vocal outbursts, both players illustrated their best play with the help of some solid serving. Still, it was former Wimbledon semifinalist Dimitrov that had the edge. At 5-5 in the second set, a trio of Kyrgios double faults guided the Bulgarian to the break and moved him to one game away from victory. Serving for the biggest title of his career, Dimitrov surged to 40-15 before a forehand error from Kyrgios secured the title for him.

Kyrgios leads the praise

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As chants of ‘Dimitrov’ erupted throughout the stadium, it was almost like he was playing in his native Bulgaria. Even an upbeat Kyrgios joked about the atmosphere before paying his own personal tribute to the new Cincinnati champion.

“I want to congratulate Grigor. It’s great to see him back in top form. I knew you had it in you. A few weeks ago I was down and he had me out on the practice court… Today I felt, ‘I knew this guy is fitter than me.'” Said Kyrgios.

Sunday’s win was Dimitrov’s 24th on a hard-court this season, the highest on the ATP Tour going into the US Open. He will now rise to ninth in the ATP rankings, his best position since September 2014. In the ATP race to London, he now lies in sixth place.

The 26-year-old exits Cincinnati with $954,225 in prize money to mark his first ever Masters title.

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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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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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