Analysis: Can Andre Agassi addition prove the difference for Grigor Dimitrov?
In hiring American tennis legend Andre Agassi, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov has clearly set out his stall for the 2019 tennis season. But will such ambitions be backed up by stellar performances he has often promised but so rarely produced. James Spencer takes a look.
Dimitrov’s Career to date
Dimitrov was once seen as the next big thing in tennis. A future world number one. Future Grand Slam champion. But at 27 years old, “Grisha” as he is popularly known in Bulgaria, or “Baby Fed” as he was once dubbed, has failed to deliver on the early promise so many had foreseen for him.
In 2014, Dimitrov won Queens Club saving match points against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, then impressively overcoming defending champion Andy Murray at Wimbledon before losing in the semi-finals to Novak Djokovic.
Dimitrov then went into a lull, slipping as low as 42 in the world, and so began a long disappearance into the tennis wilderness before a brilliant fightback in 2017.
His life is often highly publicised away from the tennis court having dated female tennis stars such as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. He is now romancing with Nicole Scherzinger.
However, such off-court distractions have not helped his tennis. It is this commitment that makes people question whether he can finally win a Grand Slam.
What about 2017-2018?
Dimitrov made the semi-finals of the Australian Open two years ago and nearly beat Rafael Nadal along the way. The tennis he played that day before going down in five sets, suggested he has the quality to win Grand Slam.
The Bulgarian then won the Cincinnati Masters and a first Masters 1000 title in what turned out to be a true breakthrough season.
That year he even went undefeated on his debut at the ATP Tour Finals clinching the biggest title of his career.
The media hype that followed was that Dimitrov was set to dominate the tennis landscape.
However, the opposite happened. His form dipped considerably in 2018 as the former world number three’s ranking plummeted. Subsequently, he finished outside the world’s top 20 and unable to defend his ATP Finals crown.
Australian Open 2019
At the end of last season, Dimitrov began working with Andre Agassi, who is assisting head coach Dani Valverdu, a former mentor of Andy Murray. It will be very interesting to see how this partnership goes.
Agassi, history must record, enjoyed little success in his previous coaching role with Novak Djokovic. The question is, will this time be different?
Although Djokovic didn’t respond to his coaching style, Dimitrov is a younger player and that may make him easier to coach. If he is willing to put in the hard work.
Dimitrov has made the fourth round with relative ease and will face a tough showdown against American Frances Tiafoe.
The Bulgarian has a relatively clear path to the quarter-finals, though, where he could play the man that so narrowly ended his hopes of a first Grand Slam final two years ago, Rafael Nadal.
You never know, but this tournament may have come too soon for Dimitrov.
The Clay Court Season:
This is Dimitrov’s least favourite surface. There are other clay court specialists like Alexander Zverev, David Goffin, Nadal and Thiem that are much stronger than Dimitrov on the red dirt, so it may be too big an ask, even with Agassi in his team, for him to compete with the best on clay this soon, or indeed ever.
Grass Court Season:
Dimitrov has long been hailed as a future Wimbledon champion. The way he moves and glides across the grass, with a similar playing style to Federer, means he cannot be underestimated.
If some of the top four crash out early, he could definitely mount a challenge at Wimbledon and possibly win it one day. Should he hit any kind of form going into a summer, Dimitrov will rightly be at the top of everyone’s ‘dark horses’ list.
American Summer Stretch
Dimitrov is proven on the hard courts but many players are equally as good if not better equipped on the surface.
By the time the US Open swings around this year, it will be clearer if Agassi’s methods are successful and bear fruit. However, Wimbledon is still Dimitrov’s best shot at a Grand Slam.
Dimitrov needs to dramatically improve on his dismal 2018 campaign. He will be hoping that Agassi’s champion mentality is ingrained quickly but everything is on the Bulgarian to deliver.
Clearly the jury’s out on whether he has the commitment to finally win a Grand Slam, but Dimitrov’s attempts at a resurgence under the guidance of Agassi promises to be one of the most watchable sub-plots of the season.
More from Tennis365:
Novak Djokovic loses his cool in the rain and angrily asks umpire ‘How much more you wanna play?’
Novak Djokovic didn’t have it all his own way against Taylor Fritz.
Serena Williams on her WTA Ranking: ‘I don’t even know where I am, but somewhere in the top 10’
Serena no longer keeping tabs on her WTA Rankings.
Andy Murray and Liam Broad to team up in the doubles at the Italian Open
Murray had travelled to Rome for a week of practice.
Japanese stars Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori admit concern over Tokyo Olympics due to Covid-19 pandemic
Osaka and Nishikori voice concern.
WATCH: Three hours and 51 minutes later, Sara Sorribes Tormo beats Camila Giorgi in sixth longest WTA match in Open Era
Sorribes Tormo and Giorgi involved in 3h51m marathon.
He is not ‘paying too much attention anymore’, but Novak Djokovic feels ‘change is coming’ in ATP Rankings
Change is inevitable, says Novak Djokovic.
Emergence of Ashleigh Barty-Arena Sabalenka rivalry illustrative of generational change in women’s tennis
Oli Jefford on the rivalries in women’s tennis.
‘He moves well considering it’s clay’ – Novak Djokovic encouraged by Andy Murray’s performance in training
Andy Murray is in Rome for a week.
Jannik Sinner sets up ‘special’ match against Rafael Nadal in Rome while Dan Evans crashes out
Jannik Sinner expects tough match against Rafael Nadal.
Simona Halep on Aryna Sabalenka’s rise: ‘I was not surprised, and I’m expecting more from her’
Simona Halep impressed by Aryna Sabalenka.