Grigor Dimitrov is a Bulgarian tennis player who has made a big name for himself with his aesthetic and athletic game. He was nicknamed 'Baby Federer' at the start of his career due to the similarities his playing style has with that of Roger Federer, but Dimitrov has put together enough memorable wins and shots to establish a unique identity for himself.
The Bulgarian has a penchant for the spectacular, and regularly features in the ATP's "Hot Shots" compilations. His acrobatics have earned him a huge fan base, and he is also very popular on social media.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: Semifinalist (2017)
French Open: 3rd Round (2013, 2017, 2018)
Wimbledon: Semifinalist (2014)
US Open: 4th Round (2014, 2016)
Highest Ranking: No. 3
Style of play
Dimitrov has a very fluid game; his timing and athleticism make him equally comfortable in both defense and attack. He is also flexible in his choice of court positioning; he can either stay back and rally, or close points at the net.
That said, the Bulgarian is not the most hard-hitting player, and so is frequently forced to defend from behind the baseline. His one-handed backhand at such times is often turned into a slice, which he uses to buy time and regain his footing.
Dimitrov approaches the net fairly regularly, coming in off both topspin and slice approach shots. He is most comfortable on grass and fast hardcourts, but struggles to generate sufficient power on clay.
Strengths and weaknesses
Dimitrov's movement is perhaps his strongest asset, as he can outrun almost any player in the world. He is very good at anticipating the direction of his opponents' shots, and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
His forehand is also an important weapon, as he can impart heavy topspin on it to push his opponents off the court. His backhand, while very pleasing to the eye, can sometimes leak errors and is considered his weaker wing. However, Dimitrov's backhand slice is one of the best in the world, and assists him greatly in both offense and defense.
Dimitrov has a good first serve, but a shaky second serve; he is known to produce a lot of untimely double faults. The Bulgarian's mental game is also considered a weakness, as he often makes the wrong decisions or loses concentration on the big points.
Dimitrov was born in Haskovo, Bulgaria, and took up tennis seriously at the age of five. Both of his parents were involved in sports in some way; his mother Maria was a sports teacher, and father Dimitar was a tennis coach. In fact, Dimitar was Grigor's primary coach for much of the latter's junior career.
After turning pro, Dimitrov worked with Emilio Sanchez at the Sanchez-Casal academy in Barcelona. Later he also trained at the academy of Patrick Mouratoglou (the current coach of Serena Williams) in Paris.
Dimitrov famously dated Maria Sharapova for a couple of years, before entering into a relationship with singer Nicole Scherzinger. His personal life has been the subject of much scrutiny over the years, with some rumors even suggesting he dated Serena Williams at one point.
Dimitrov has often been criticized for being an under-achiever; many experts believe that he should have been more successful at the Slams given his abundant natural talent. However, it is easy to forget that the early comparisons with Federer meant Dimitrov was always under a lot of pressure to perform. The expectations from him were too high, too soon.
Still, the Bulgarian has accomplished quite a lot in his career already. He is one of a handful of active players to have won an ATP Masters 1000 title, and in 2017 he added the prestigious ATP Finals trophy to his cabinet. His epic battle against Rafael Nadal in the 2017 Australian Open semifinals was also a pivotal moment; that match is widely considered one of the best in the history of the sport.
Dimitrov hasn't turned out to be the second coming of Roger Federer, but the tennis world has realized that he doesn't need to be. He is a fine player in his own right, and his achievements will be remembered for a long time to come.
Social media presence:
Grigor Dimitrov Instagram: @grigordimitrov
Grigor Dimitrov Twitter: @GrigorDimitrov