As I implied in my previous post, the biggest news of last week’s ATP opening tournament play was not necessarily the Djokovic win at Doha over friend/foe world #1 Sir Andy Murray; that was the second most interesting development in men’s tennis.
We like to get out front of these less obvious developments, so we may look to purchase a little stock earlier than most, which takes some doing since most might not even see the stock’s potential in the first place.
In Grigor Dimitrov’s case, some may haveseen his potential back in 2013-14 (or even earlier), but have dismissed him since, justifiably lumping him in with the others as one of the “lost boys” (this linked article has a couple of insightful points about this lost generation – when you look at their actual ages compared to Nadal/Murray/Djokovic and Federer, misperception abounds. Something else I can explore later. . .)
The last line of that article reads: “Dimitrov shouldn’t wait till Federer or Nadal fade off from the scene. The young ones — Kyrgios and Coric — are catching up a lot faster. He should act before it is too long.”
Well, he may appear to be acting-out this potential (better late than never). And as we will certainly say from the stands, or sitting in-front of the tele, “Act on, Greegoar!”
Aside from whatever promise he showed as a junior, this is a guy who won his first ATP title in Stockholm in 2013 and backed that up in 2014, at the age of 22, when he won three titles: Acapulco (hard), Bucharest (clay) and Queens Club (grass). Queens was backed-up by his SF run at the The Championships. He beat Murray in the QF in straights 61 76 62 before losing to the eventual champ Djokovic in the SF.
Note that he won three different titles that year on three different surfaces, which only supports some of the thoughts that arise when you watch him play and think about what he could be capable of doing. His game is one of genuine athleticism and versatility. This is undeniable. BUT we have to wait and see how this potential works-out, whether we indeed have a real development on tour of a player that can cause opponents (even the top players) all kinds of problems. Or this is another false alarm from “the field.”
His new coach is worth brining-up as well. Daniel Vallverdu was hired last summer after the coach parted ways with Berdych. One highlight of Vallverdu is his work with Murray and Lendl from 2010 to 2014. He was Andy’s hitting partner and assistant coach under Lendl when Murray broke-through and won his first couple of majors. Another note here is Vallverdu’s capacity as head coach of the British Olympic tennis team in the 2012 London games where Murray took gold in singles. Vallverdu is only 30 years-old but has a fair bit of successful experience. The resume is not too shabby for a young coach, who might just be able to really connect with the still young Dimitrov and perhaps share some of that big boy tennis knowledge Vallverdu has picked-up along the way.
Here’s an excerpt from an article on the ATP website, where the coach discusses the Bulgarian’s current form after his win at Brisbane last week (again, where he knocked-off Roanic and Nishikori on the way to the title) and how this is great, but that they have just started, have a lot of work ahead in order to cash in on any legitimate success (and realization of the Grigor potential 😉
“He is close to the best form that he can be in, but the important thing is to maintain it now,” Vallerdu added. “At this moment he is feeling good physically, but still we can improve a little more. I am very happy with how he is playing and how he is competing in all his matches from start to finish. For me, the match against Raonic in the semi-finals has shown how much better he is playing since we have been together.”
With his pupil up to No. 15 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Vallverdu believes that he still has a long road ahead and is only first starting to realize his potential.
“We are in the first phase of our work. You are not able to create habits in a player in just three or four months. To create habits is the work of eight, 10 or 12 months doing the right things. And above all, they have to be the right habits in the important matches. Dimitrov has played important matches, but I want to see it in the semi-finals and finals. That is where you can see if the habits are where they have to be.”