For the Open previews, Tennisense will be skipping ATP/WTA players who have pulled out of the Open, even if they are currently ranked in the Top 10.
Current Rank: #9
It is only apt that we start with Grigor Dimitrov. The 26-year-old Bulgarian won the last build up tournament to the US Open when he captured his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati. The last time he won a build up tournament to a Grand Slam, he went all the way to the semifinals of the Australian Open. That was in January, and the build up tournament was Brisbane, a 250 tournament.
Grigor Dimitrov was excruciatingly close to reaching his first grand slam final down under, losing a tight five setter to Rafael Nadal. Considering the legendary Spaniard was in the beginnings of an ascendancy, Dimitrov can look back at that clash with more perspective. He pushed a champion re-approaching his best, to the brink. With so many dangerous obstacles pulling out of the Open – Milos Raonic is the latest to pull out with a wrist injury – Dimitrov does have an outside chance to claim his first Grand Slam title. He’s coming into form at the right time, and the tennis world has long known he’s got the talent to do it. It’s his week in, week out focus that has been questioned before. I wrote a piece on Dimitrov, after he won in Cincinnati, where I stated that for Dimitrov to be successful, he needs to take his game into his goldilocks zone. That’s the sweet spot where his game finds the right balance between aggressiveness and complacency and between entertaining and effective shot making.
If there is one problem for Dimitrov, it would be whether or not the draw will place him in Federer’s path. Dimitrov has defeated every other member of the big four at least once, but Federer. He is currently zero for six attempts. Watching their last clash at Wimbledon, it was clear to see why. Dimitrov gives Federer too much respect on the tennis court. This may be a function of idolizing the Swiss while growing up, to the point of emulating his game style. That’s the second problem. You cannot outfederer Federer. Though he may never say it, I think Federer has an easier time reading Dimitrov’s game because it is so closely built on his own game. It probably is a bit like playing “what would I do?” for the Swiss.
All being said, if Dimitrov can keep his mental focus and game calm, he should do a great deal of damage at the big apple. He’s my dark horse to win the tournament. I feel like I’m sticking out my neck again, but the brave venture where no men dare tread. And so I venture.