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Australian Open 2018: Grigor Dimitrov's Grand Slam conundrum

Shyam Kamal
ANALYST
Feature
137   //    24 Jan 2018, 12:39 IST

2018 Australian Open - Day 1
Another tournament, another disappointing farewell

After another round of over-promising and under-delivering, Grigor Dimitrov is out of the Australian Open 2018. He put up a good show for most of it, but expectedly, could not cross the final few hurdles.

For someone who is touted to have a breakthrough slam at almost every major, he doesn't really live up to the expectations, does he?

Here are his statistics from the year 2014, when he made his maiden appearance in a quarter-final at a slam:

2014

Australian Open: 22nd seed – Quarterfinals, loss to Rafael Nadal (1st seed)

Roland Garros: 11th seed – First round loss to Ivo Karlovic (unseeded)

Wimbledon: 11th seed – Semifinal, loss to Novak Djokovic (1st seed)

US Open: 7th seed – Fourth round, loss to Gael Monfils (20th seed)

Day Nine: The Championships - Wimbledon 2014
2014 was a decent year for the Bulgarian

2015

Australian Open: 10th seed – Fourth round, loss to Andy Murray (6th seed)

Roland Garros: 10th seed – First round, loss to Jack Sock (unseeded)

Wimbledon: 11th seed– Third round, loss to Richard Gasquet (21st seed)

US Open: 17th seed – Second round, loss to Mikhail Kukushkin (unseeded)


2015 Australian Open - Day 7
Disappointment followed in 2015

2016

Australian Open: 27th seed – Third round, loss to Roger Federer (3rd seed)

Roland Garros: unseeded – First round, loss to Viktor Troicki (27th seed)

Wimbledon: unseeded - Third round, loss to Steve Johnson (unseeded)

US Open: 22nd seeded – Fourth round, loss to Andy Murray (2nd seed)

2016 Sydney International - Day 7
He still couldn't get that breakthrough in 2016

2017

Australian Open: 15th seed – Semifinal, loss to Rafael Nadal (9th seed)

Roland Garros: 11th seed – Third round, loss to Carreno Busta (20th seed)

Wimbledon: – 13th seed – Fourth round, loss to Roger Federer (3rd seed)

US Open: 7th seed – Second round, loss to Andrey Rublev (unseeded)

This year, he was eliminated in the quarter-final by an unseeded but in-form Kyle Edmund.

Out of 17 appearances, he has been eliminated by unseeded players six times, which is a lot, and by players ranked below him three times. He has lost to the first seed twice, to the 2nd seed once and twice to the third seed.

Putting things into perspective

2018 Australian Open - Day 9
Is his potential still unrealized?

Roger Federer had 12 Grand Slams, 4 final appearances, and 3 semi-final losses when he was of Dimitrov's age. Rafael Nadal had 12 Grand Slams, 5 finals, and 3 sem-final appearances. Novak Djokovic had 6 Grand Slams, a whopping 9 semi-finals, and 7 finals. Andy Murray had 2 Grand Slams, 5 finals, and 7 semi-finals to his name.

One thing is for sure - he is nowhere near the Big 4 in terms of output.

Among the current list of active players who have been in the top-10, he has a positive overall record against Stanislas Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, David Goffin, Kevin Anderson, Carreno Busta and Fernando Verdasco. That is all. For someone who wants to compete at the highest level in Grand Slams and win the big titles, a list this small is not acceptable.

The problem

2016 Australian Open - Day 5
Why can't the 26-year-old shake his demons?

Over the years, Dimitrov's mental fortitude has been called into question at numerous times - as to how he crumbles under pressure during the big moments, how he plays himself out of offensive positions and how he lets opponents off the hook frequently.

His second serve looks like it is one of the weakest on the tour and the lack of backspin on the backhand does him no favours, either.

His record at Roland Garros is abysmal - three first round losses and one third round loss in the last four years. If history is any indicator, the Dimitrov fans don't have much to look forward to the next big tournament.

But for reasons unknown, the excitement will still remain. Maybe this will be his tournament. Maybe this will be his breakout. However, for now, there too many maybe's and too little solutions.

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Shyam Kamal
ANALYST
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