Grigor Dimitrov has no business playing so well.
His abrupt (and frankly, uncalled for) ascent almost parallels another recent sporting performance: The New Orleans Pelican making last season’s playoffs, despite starting the season 1 win-12 losses. In a Masters 1000 career spanning 11 years, prior to last month Grigor Dimitrov had only ever made seven Masters 1000 semi-finals. To put that number into perspective, there are 8 Masters 1000 events held annually. All up, that is 7 semi-finals, in over 120 editions.
However, when he is on, there is no denying the charismatic Bulgarian maestro can certainly play. Two season ago, at Indian Wells, Dimitrov notched his only career Masters 1000 semi-final in the Californian desert. He defeated then world number 2 Daniil Medvedev in the quarter finals. Are we seeing a career renaissance from Dimitrov? Unfortunately, his results after that point beg to differ. In the very next round at October’s Indian Wells Masters (re-scheduled from March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic), he was discarded in straights sets by Cameron Norrie. However, Dimitrov is a new man in 2023. We must forget about the past, because it means nothing when we are discussing the brilliant results of Dimitrov this season. So brilliant in fact, that Dimitrov has barely lost to anybody who isn’t top 10 all season.
In terms of the 2021 Indian Wells semi, for most of his career, Norrie had hovered around the rank 42 mark on the tennis rankings list. Norrie’s biggest win to date was defeating Dimitrov in the quarter finals. Norrie then lost the first set of the final, before clawing back to victory against an equally inexperienced opponent in Basilashvili. This time things are different though in 2023. Dimitrov has made consecutive Masters 1000 semi finals for only the second time ever in his career. The first? Way back in 2013. So the question remains, is Dimitrov ready to impart his legacy, and start competing toe-to-toe with the current ‘next-gen’ top 5? Dimitrov has the game and the results (in flashes, no less) over the past 2 seasons, to indicate he can.
He now faces Novak Djokovic, a man that needs absolutely no explaining. Dimitrov should realistically have a shot in the final on this occasion, given Djokovic has been battling a stomach flu all week in Paris. However, Dimitrov has lately developed a sort of stage fright when it matters. For instance, he hasn’t win an ATP title since 2017.
Grigor Dimitrov plays his final against Novak Djokovic later today.