Gotta have Tennis Channel now that tennis has Showtime

It’s Showtime!

Finally.

It took a while, but so what? That is the nature of the beast that is the current era of men’s professional tennis. Instant superstardom and teenaged Grand Slam champions are things of the past. Stanislas Wawrinka just won his first major title at 28 years old. Tomas Berdych, also 28, is playing the best tennis of his life and up to a career-high ranking of No. 5 in the world. A much-improved Marin Cilic is showing his best stuff at 25. Same goes for the 25-year-old Ernests Gulbis, whose head finally seems to be out of his derriere and at least somewhere near the vicinity of his shoulders.

By those standards, Grigor Dimitrov is ahead of his time. At 22 years old, the Bulgarian has climbed to a career-best mark of 16th in the world. In the past 11 months, Dimitrov has reached the quarters of a Masters 1000 (Monte-Carlo), upset then-world No. 1 Novak Djokovic at another Masters 1000 (Madrid), captured an indoor hard-court title (Stockolm) by beating David Ferrer in the final, advanced to his first slam quarterfinal (Australian Open), and triumphed at a 500-point event (last weekend in Acapulco).

Dimitrov in action at the Cincinnati Masters

Dimitrov in action at the Cincinnati Masters

But it was not always this way. Like many others before him and sure to be many others after him, Dimitrov endured his fair share of issues both on and off the court in the early stages of his career.

In 2011, when he was 19 and 20 years old (still young, but also many moons after being baptized as “Baby Fed,” or the next Roger Federer), Dimitrov lost to someone named Denis Bloemke. He also lost to Karol Beck, Denis Kudla, Rajeev Ram, and Alex Bogomolov. He retired from two matches in 2012, one to someone named Adam Feeney and another at Wimbledon. Dimitrov’s fitness had been called into question early and often, mainly due to an inability to win long matches. He did not reach the third round of a Grand Slam until last season’s French Open and he is 2-3 lifetime in five-setters, with one of those victories coming in lower-level Davis Cup action.

In 2010, he shoved a chair umpire after losing a match at the Helsinki Challenger

He kicked off his 2012 campaign at the Hopman Cup with an incident involving Mardy Fish that spanned across two different matches:

At last year’s French Open, he could not even walk after a grueling rally against Richard Gasquet (in fairness to Dimitrov, he at least declined to use the crushed brick of Roland Garros as his personal barf bag):

That’s all well and good for entertainment value, but Dimitrov has now reached “must-watch” status every time he takes the court for all the right reasons. He is 11-3 this season with his only losses coming against Cilic, Gulbis, and Rafael Nadal (that trio boasts a combined record of 46-9 in 2014). More impressive is the way in which he has compiled those 11 wins. In Melbourne he recovered from a set down against Bradley Klahn, won a third-set tiebreaker 13-11 over Yen-Hsun Lu, beat Milos Raonic 12-10 in a fourth-set tiebreaker, and prevailed in another four-setter over Roberto Bautista Agut. In Acapulco, he outlasted Gulbis 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 then survived consecutive third-set tiebreakers against Andy Murray and Kevin Anderson. A three-day span saw Dimitrov spend eight hours and 33 minutes on court without losing a single match.

Kiss concerns over possible mental and physical shortcomings goodbye…and give some of the thanks to Roger Rasheed in the process!


Dimitrov’s shot-making ability, of course, has never been a concern.

In the fall of 2012, he came up with “the shot of the year”:

Who cares he lost this 2014 Australian Open point against Nadal, because Dimitrov hit a tweener lob in the process:

He won an outrageous point against Murray in last weekend’s Acapulco semis, during which he fell to the ground:

Plus, you never know what he is going to do at the net after a match. No, his kissing is not limited to girlfriend Maria Sharapova:

Rock-star status may not be what’s on Dimitrov’s mind now that he is taking tennis seriously and storming up the rankings, but rock star is what he is and what he’s going to be. He dates Sharapova, takes ice-baths with Murray, and wears sombreros like a boss.

Baby Fed? Not fair to either Federer or Dimitrov. Showtime? Yup.

Although Sharapova enthusiasts may want to see Showtime’s after-hours program, his primetime slots on the tennis court will no longer disappoint.

Comments

  1. —Who cares he lost this 2014 Australian Open point against Nadal, because Dimitrov hit a tweener lob in the process—

    Dimitrov’s tweeners should work against Federer, because Rafa has been Dimitrov’s idol.
    19-year-old Rafa hit a tweener against Federer at the Monte Carlo Masters 2006 and WON the point.

  2. All of those guys you mentioned in the beginnng, Wawrinka, Berdych, Cilic, and Gulbis (and I would maybe add Gasquet) were all great early in their careers. Wawrinka reached No. 9 in the world when he was 22; Berdych won the only 1000 title of his career when he was a teenager; Cilic was in the top 10 by the age of 21; and Gulbis won a title when he was 21 and reached top 30; Gasquet won a title when he was 18. However, the problem is that while all of them are having great success 5-9 years down the road, none of them maintained that level during that time. They have each had spectacular careers but they have never reached the heights in tennis that people are saying that Dimitrov could achieve. My point is that these next few years are crucial for BabyFed to continue to rise instead of drop back down. He needs to plant himself in the top 10, which isn’t easy to do, but that’s how high the expectations are right now. This is going to be fun to watch what he does over the next few years.

    • Ricky Dimon says:

      solid points, although i disagree with “spectacular” career.

      with the exception of Wawrinka, none those guys has had a spectacular career.

      • Spectacular is a relative term I suppose. All of them except Gulbis and Dimitrov have reached the top 10 in their sport. If you are the top 10 in the NFL or MLB, you are probably the best your position and a household name in the States.

  3. Luckystar says:

    Don’t understand the fascination with tweeners. Many players could do the tweeners successfully but maybe not as many times as Fed could do.

    I’m more interested in this Dominique Thiem boy, the one who played an interesting match vs Murray at Rotterdam. The boy has speed and has some excellent shot making and retrieving skills. I feel he’s a more attacking player than Dimitrov is, having more power too. Dimi sometimes spent too much time on the court, got drawn into long rallies without knowing when to end them with killer shots. He’s getting drawn into all these baseline rallies instead of moving up to the net to shorten points (sounded a bit like Murray right, when in the past, with not so great fitness, Murray was more willing to move up to the net to finish the point as soon as possible).

    I also like Jerzy, his attacking game, when it’s on, is scarily tough to counter. It’s just that he’s too hot tempered, overdoing things and gets impatient and lost his temper. Among this group of 20-24 year old players, I’m looking for a clay court specialist to take over from Rafa when he retires. I don’t know anyone notice this Delbonis guy, who plays left handed and I feel is more promising than Bellucci who is older. He just won the Brazilian Open last Sunday, beating Almagro and Bellucci along the way. He also beat Fed last year at Hamburg before losing to Fognini in the final.

  4. Luckystar says:

    I would say Rafa’s generation (born 1984-1988) of players are more competitive, may be more talented and more promising (when they’re even as teenagers) than the next generation of players. Rafa is the most dominant of his generation followed by Novak, and together they’ve won 19 slams so far, leaving other players of his generation not much chances to win many slams. Still we’ve Murray, Delpo and Stan as slam winners, maybe Berdych and Cilic next? Look at Fed’s gen, six slam winners with Fed having 17, Safin 2,Hewitt 2, Roddick 1, Ferrero 1 and Gaudio 1; six slam winners winning 24 slams. Rafa’s gen looks like it’ll overtake Fed’s gen in terms of slam counts, they’ve already won 23 so far and is not done yet. Rafa has 13, Novak 6, Murray 2, Delpo 1 and Stan 1 – five slam winners winning 23 slams so far, and most likely more to come their way.

    I feel Dimitrov’s generation may not have a dominant player, at least not someone like Rafa or Fed, so maybe we’ll see more slam winners in Dimi’s generation and the slams more evenly spread out. IMO, Dimi, Jerzy, Raonic, maybe Tomic, Thiem or even Delbonis (on clay) will be slam winners once Rafa’s generation past their prime. I haven’t seen anyone in Dimi’s gen being more dominant, at least not yet, than others, to earmark one to be the leader of the pack.

  5. Luckystar says:

    Don’t laugh. Let’s see who’ll have the last laugh. The guy has a big serve, and many times more senior players have to go to tiebreaks to beat him. He’ll mature into a more experienced player on clay and those tie breaks may be in his favor then. Who among that generation of players has/have good records on clay? I’m not talking about him winning a slam now, none of them, including Dimitrov, will be winning a slam in the next two years, until Rafa, Novak and Murray past their prime. So, Delbonis will have his chances on clay, to beat his generation of players to win a clay court slam by then. Let’s wait and see,don’t laugh too soon, didn’t you learn a lesson yet?

    • Ricky Dimon says:

      lesson from who?

      and just calm down about Delbonis. There is no need to overreact to a win over PAOLO LORENZI.

  6. Luckystar says:

    No, not just a win over Lorenzi, but wins over clay court specialists like Almagro, Montanes, Bellucci. Also, over Robredo, Verdasco, Fed (not at his best of course) at Hamburg last year. He had to play qualifying rounds in many events due to his rankings. Now he’s no. 43, a few more match wins and he may not need to play qualifying rounds any more. The guy has all the tools to win on clay, he has big forehand and a good serve, grows up on clay and plays primarily on clay. I’ll look forward to him playing the European clay season right up till end July and see where he heads in the rankings and on clay.

  7. rafaisthebest says:

    Never seen Ricky drool over a player as much as this over Dimitrov.

    I must say he has improved greatly but I am not yet ready to proclaim him the pick of his gen’s bunch. He hasn’t played Jerzy yet, I want to see how that match-up unfolds before I sit up. I hope Jerzy hooks up with a good coach who can reign in his temper and make him control his aggression.

    The odd wins over Murray and Djokovic by Dimi ain’t swaying me at the moment. He needs to solidly get out of the gen’s pack first and then aim for the big guns………

    • Ricky Dimon says:

      haha you must not have followed me for a long time!

      and it’s not drool, it’s facts.

      #Truth

      • What are these so-called unsubjective facts you speak of Ricky.

        Well I just hope you not comparing facts to drooling over a short term spike in results ,… don’t you?…. or do you?

      • Ricky Dimon says:

        is it something wrong that we compare facts to drooling?

        it’s a good thing, yes.

      • Ricky Dimon says:

        it’s not the spike in results that is impressive. He’s had the occasional big win for several years now. What’s impressive is the new commitment to fitness and improved mental strength.

        #Rasheeeeeeed

  8. chevelle says:

    I like Dimitrov but this hype is too much. All he’s done is improve his fitness and mental toughness. His game is exciting but he has trouble breaking serve hence so many breakers this year. He has to win a 1000 or 2000 to really break away from the other youngsters.

    • Ricky Dimon says:

      he doesn’t have trouble breaking serve. I would guess almost all of his ‘breakers this year have come after at least one break of serve each was exchanged during a set.

  9. hawkeye63 says:

    Welcome back Luckystar!!!

    What sites were you posting on after TT?

    Well I just hope that you not comparing Rafa to Delbonis,… don’t you?…. or do you?

    #CantResist
    #BrokenRecord

  10. luckystar says:

    Hi hawkeye. I was and is posting at Tennis.com using different user name.

    Of course I’m not comparing Delbonis to Rafa. Who can be compared to Rafa on clay? I hope Rafa wins as many FOs as possible till the day he retires! The next gen guys – I’m really not sure who’ll be the leader of the pack. Maybe there wont be a dominant no.1 and the no.1 ranking will change hands often. I feel that Dimitrov may be the one winning the most slams among his peers, he can play reasonably well on all surfaces, whilst Raonic is not so good on clay and grass. Jerzy plays well on quick surfaces but I’m not sure he’s good on clay. I’m now looking at Carrena Busta from Spain, Delbonis from Argentina, Dominic Thiem from Austria and see how they progress. Theres this French guy Paire too of the same generation, so these more promising next gen guys come from various countries, countries like Bugaria, Poland, Austria, nice!

    • It’s funny how the tennis winds change so rapidly over the last few years whether trying to prognosticate the fortunes of the Top 4 or the next generation.

      After 2011, everyone though Nole would have along reign but he’s only managed two Aussie titles since.

      Last year, after Rafa’s injury, it was supposed to be all about Murray and Djokovic as the new rivalry and top slam contenders with Jerzy and Raonic as the next wave whereas it became probably Rafa’s best year (according to him) and none of the new wave really made a dent!

      Now it’s Fedal again with BabyFed as the flavour of the month. He finally looks great but so has Gulbis on occasion.

      I’m with you Lucky. I need to see it continue over a longer term and in higher level tournaments. Good potential drooling but, at this point, that’s all.

  11. rafaisthebest says:

    very soon y’all have to call him Dr, Rafael Nadal Parera:

    http://www.uib.cat/som/Arxiu/El-Consell-de-Direccio-de-la-UIB-proposara-al.cid319747

  12. rafaisthebest says:

    So, how much did you pay SI.com Ricky, form them to say these nice things about you?

    “A great write-up, from Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand, tracking the development of Grigor Dimitrov from a flashy but immature player to a legitimate rising star.”

    http://tennis.si.com/2014/03/04/agnieszka-radwanska-cheesecake-factory/

  13. nativenewyorker7 says:

    @ritb,

    I am with you in not getting too excited yet over Dimitrov. It’s true that he has improved his fitness and mental strength. Those are two qualities that were lacking. So he is putting in the effort and hard work. I think that’s a good thing. However, I am not ready to jump up and down because he beat Gulbis and Murray. He wasn’t able to capitalize on his victory over Djoker last year in Madrid.

    The key is consistency. That is what the top players have and why they have been able to stay at the top. They are able to bring their best throughout the year and their results speak to that. Now it’s up to Dimitrov to see if he can play well consistently enough to get some solid results on a long term basis. Then we can start getting excited.

  14. Loved all the film clips and high-light shots, and Dtrov truly is an entertaining player to watch…I hope to see him at IW in a few days…maybe vs Gulbis in 3rd Rnd!

Trackbacks

  1. […] A good write-up, from Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand, tracking a growth of Grigor Dimitrov from a adorned though juvenile actor to a legitimate rising […]

  2. […] A great write-up, from Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand, tracking the development of Grigor Dimitrov from a flashy but immature player to a legitimate rising […]

  3. […] A good write-up, from Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand, tracking a growth of Grigor Dimitrov from a adorned though juvenile actor to a legitimate rising […]

  4. […] A great write-up, from Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand, tracking the development of Grigor Dimitrov from a flashy but immature player to a legitimate rising […]

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