Grigor Dimitrov embraces his mother’s advice – ‘Before being a great champion be a great person’

Shahida Jacobs
Grigor Dimitrov press conference
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) talks to the media after his tennis match

Grigor Dimitrov has vowed to continue running his own race following his resurgence as he opened up about how pressure affects tennis players and their lives.

Former world No 3 Dimitrov is enjoying a renaissance as he has returned to the top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time since 2018 with his surge coming on the back of brilliant runs at two ATP Masters 1000 events.

The Bulgarian’s return to form started at the end of the 2023 season when he finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Paris Masters and he followed it up with a title run at the Brisbane International at the start of 2024 before another defeat in a final, this time against Jannik Sinner at the Miami Open.

Following the Miami final, the 32-year-old – who won the 2017 ATP Finals, but had slipped down the rankings in recent years – was asked what pressure means for tennis players and their life.

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And he produced the perfect answer.

“I think each one is very different. I really don’t know how to answer that too well. More on that, I think it’s just I think each player has his own goals, targets, long-term goals, short-term goals. I think each player tries to find their own way to feel ready to compete,” he said.

“It’s just as simple as that and then what it actually means to you, what it means to you to compete, what it means to play at certain tournaments, what are certain wins means to you. So it’s very personal.

“I think for me it’s about being consistent. For example, that’s the one thing that I have been really focused on, how I’m going to prepare, how I’m going to put myself in the best situation to get out there and play my best, but along the way enjoy. Because also, you’re your own critic, you’re your own best friend, and you’re your own, you know, teacher at times for things.

“I, for one, also want to thank myself for the work that I have been putting in, for the discipline, for the hard hours that I have been, doing for the heartaches, for the pain, for everything that we’re going through behind the scenes.

“You need to also acknowledge those things. You need to embrace them as well. You need to cherish them. I also think those things are making you a better person. My mom always used to say before being a great champion [you need to] be a great person. This is the thing I have always focused on since I was a kid.

“I think at some point all the trophies and all that, it kind of paled in comparison to what else is. I think at the moment, all of us that we’re playing tennis out there, living our dream.

“So it’s a little window of our life, and I think after that it’s going to be different. That’s why I feel like right now I’m in a very interesting path. That’s what I’m saying, I’m running my own race.”