Dimitrov soars to Cincy Masters 1000 title
“Tennis is a simple game for intelligent people.”
Grigor Dimitrov says that’s what his father taught him.
After beating Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5 to win the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Dimitrov is one of the hottest, healthiest — and happiest — players on tour. Can he win the US Open and satisfy the high hopes of fans who call him Baby Federer?
In post-match pressers, Dimitrov spoke at length about his admiration for Kyrgios and Nadal, his emotions under pressure, and his chances going forward. Here are some excerpts:
“There are a lot of guys that are playing same level as me, if not better, and anybody can beat anybody. The seeds — to me, the seeds don’t even matter anymore, 3, 5, 6, 7. We have all been seeing what’s been happening in the past year and a half. Players that are maybe unseeded or lower ranked are beating players that are higher ranked.”
“You just never know what’s going to happen in the upcoming years, for sure. I just like to take my chances the way they are right now. Obviously I’m here for a reason right now, and I expect from myself every. This is my sixth, seventh title that I have won already. I’m aiming to just get better every single day, to give 100% for myself when I get out there on the court. Last, but not least, just not to disappoint my team and just work. This is just my priority right now.”
“I always had, like, higher goals for myself, and I think the biggest pressure I’m putting on myself, it comes from me.”
“These are those moments where you kind of want to build a momentum, and it’s so hard to get that kind of momentum on tour, especially with so many players that are playing good and competing. Everybody is playing well nowadays. So I think it’s so important to keep that momentum going, that game with you, and just apply it every single time to there is no more, basically. Just keep on going.
I think that’s why the best players in the world have been doing throughout the years — Rafa, Roger, Andy, Novak. Once they build the momentum, they were pretty much unplayable. You have seen other people doing it. And why not you? I think a lot of players right now are knocking on the door. And it’s different when you don’t see the guys, for sure, playing quarters, semis, and they are not top 4. It’s a completely different view on the other side of the net.”
Dimitrov had an intimate conversation at the net after beating his friend Kyrgios. “We have hit quite a few times the past weeks with him, and just had some things that were on his mind. All I can think of is just help a friend out, not even a colleague at the time. I just said what I thought, and I guess I might have helped him. Off the court, we are all just regular people who just happen to be good at tennis.”
“He’s a great guy. Honestly, even in the locker room he’s pretty respectful to everybody. Likes to chat around with everybody. Comes to sit next to you sometimes. Even today before the match, he was, like, Okay, let’s go play. I was, like, Just give me a second, Man.
He’s one of those characters that can always make you feel good. I think a lot of players appreciate him in different ways. I seem to have just a good connection and good talk with him every time.”
“Against him, you never know what’s going to come at you. I mean, he’s a type of player that can do anything and can generate unbelievable amount of power from pretty much any position, so I had to be very aware of that. That’s what keeps you on the toes pretty much the whole time. Even if he’s not playing well, there are still weapons and certain plays that he can go to. You have to be aware of that.”
“Arguably could be one of the best serves out there. He can do anything with the first or second serve. Can put the ball absolutely anywhere in the box. I mean, it’s pretty amazing. Even when he plays other matches, I just like to watch because sometimes second serve goes 125 miles an hour like right on the dot. You know the ball is going to go there, but there’s not much you can do.”
“Today it came down to a few points I could have done better than him, and yeah, I was just able to hold my nerves.”
“I’m just happy and I’m humbled to have that trophy in my hands, and especially to win here, my first Masters 1000. It’s just amazing.”
“I always like this tournament. I have played it quite a few times and always thought this can be maybe one of the first ones. And it is the first one, so I will listen to my gut feeling a bit more. The most important thing now is just to stay grounded, keep on doing the same work, believe in myself, and just prepare the best way that I can for the Open.”
“I like it here a lot, especially before New York. It’s so quiet. You go to Dickey’s Barbecue. It’s just such a peaceful place to be. I don’t know why. I just appreciate the place. And also, as I said — I was telling the tournament director he’s done a great job the past years with the tournament. Everything seems to be better. The food. Transport. You have your own car. You don’t need to rely on anything or anybody.”
“So that’s great. Go around. Just do your stuff. Plenty of stuff to do whatever you want. It’s just an easy vibe, especially before New York. I know going there is going to be the first couple of days you don’t want to get out of the room, but that’s New York, you know.”
Dimitrov said he was nervous serving for the match. “I barely lift my arm to serve and the ball was like bottom of the net. I was, That’s not good, Grigor. You need to do more. Moments like that, it’s so different. There is just so many things are going through your head. You don’t even think about the win. That’s the problem. I wish I was thinking, oh, wow, great, I’m going to have the trophy or something. You think of, like, God, I just need to put the ball in the court. It’s so simple, but the weight of your shoulder and your arm, it just multiplies by a lot.”
“As a player, I always try to just relax a little bit as much as I can. I have been in situations like this before, so I have kind of grown from it. But today was, I think, a bit more on the line for me. So, yeah, the weight was a bit more.”
Dimitrov says practicing with Rafa in July at the Nadal Academy had a big impact on him. “He’s always been one of my inspirations. Sometimes when I’m down in the match, if I’m complaining or something, I was, like, Would Rafa do that? I don’t think so. He’s great. The week I spent with him was just pretty amazing. Just to spend time with him, not even on the court. Even off the court. We were having dinners together and just going to the beach and stuff.”
“In the first half morning, we’re just practicing nonstop. I swear to God, nonstop from the early morning. I was, like, Whoa, can we have at least the afternoon off? The facility is great. They have done an unbelievable job with everything. As soon as I went there, you felt such good vibes. Pretty much just quiet. You know what you’re there for. You can feel also the weight of the place itself. Great gym, great courts. Everybody is just so welcoming and just trying to make sure that everything is done for you.”
“I was more than thankful for him letting me have that opportunity. You don’t get opportunities like that. I think after today, I’m just going to text him, like, Let’s do that again at some point. So, yeah, I think there is only positive things I can take out of that week with him.”
“I started working, I think, earlier than everybody that last offseason, and I kept it for quite some time. Coming to Australia, I like playing in Australia, I like the weather. The heat really helps me to, I think, to play better. I like my chances even more back then. So that’s great.”
“The clay court season wasn’t the best for me. That, I think, is the only, I want to say, negative, but kind of something that I was a little bit down about because I grew up on clay. I mean, I like playing on clay. It’s just a couple of times, pretty unfortunate loss, few match points here and there. It was kind of not easy, and you have those, as we said, the momentum, it kind of switched.”
“I couldn’t get too down on myself. I had to kind of regroup and take a step back. After Wimbledon I took some time off a little bit and kind of reflect on everything that I did this year with work, whatnot. Slowly starting to build up again.”
“But the most important thing is your mental toughness, how you prepare mentally for not only the tournament but to be able to come, let’s say, for five, six days off and to come back to the court, it’s not easy. It’s not as easy as everybody thinks it is. You still feel a little bit down from your loss. You kind of, like, lost faith a little bit.”
“So this is something that you don’t need to forget. Luckily I have a great team, great friends, great family around me, and they all kept me on a great level. I, myself, I think I was very grounded, kept doing the same thing. Yeah, simplify things. Control what I can.”
“Losses, I think, they teach you the most, but it’s tough. I’m not gonna lie. It sucks. It’s terrible. You can’t sleep for two days. You’re pissed. You don’t talk. You don’t eat. I’m not gonna lie. Yes, this is how you feel. But, yes, you’re supposed to feel that way. You need to grow somehow. You’re going to grow winning matches like today, and you’re going to grow from losing matches like that.”
“I don’t want to get too down on myself, but in the same time, I don’t want to fly high just because I’m playing well. No, it’s just — I just think tennis is such a simple game, if you think about it, a simple game for intelligent people. That’s what my father kept telling me when I was a kid. Grigor, why you playing this? I’m, like, I don’t know. I like this shot. He says, No, forget that shot. It’s not a good shot. Why? He says, Tennis is a simple game for intelligent people.
Yeah, that’s in my head nowadays. The same thing I guess off the court. You need to be intelligent, and I think also in sync with your feelings, and the way you perform after that I think really reflects on the way you practice, the way you eat, the way you are with the outside world. Because guess what? There’s more to tennis.”
(words and images copyright Christopher Johnson Globalite Media all rights reserved)