Connect to share and comment

Tennis: Win Roland Garros? Of course, says Dimitrov

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Composed on court and dating Maria Sharapova off it, Grigor Dimitrov lived up to his billing by confidently predicting French Open victory on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Bulgarian, dubbed 'Baby Federer' due to the high expectations of him, beat the rain to make the second round at Roland Garros with world number one Novak Djokovic a potential third round rival.

But Dimitrov, who has yet to get beyond the last 64 of a major, is already looking beyond a possible clash with the top seeded Serb, who he defeated at the Rome Masters in the run-up to Paris.

When asked if he could win the tournament, his reply was simple: "Yeah".

"I think you come into a tournament, you've got to be ready and come positive and loaded with energy. Playing matches and playing good players gives you confidence.

"I think with every match you're starting to wonder, you know, I can go further. Then I think once that talk kind of seals in your head and you have that set of mind, that I can win and coming on court every day and trying to do something better."

Dimitrov is seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time after a breakthrough year which has seen him defeat Djokovic as well as make a Masters quarter-final for the first time.

That Monte Carlo run was only ended by Rafael Nadal in three tough sets.

"I don't think I should feel any pressure at the moment. I mean, I'm into the second round of a slam. There's nothing better than that. It's a great feeling," added Dimitrov who triumphed on Tuesday after Colombian opponent, Alejandro Falla, quit with an elbow injury with the Bulgarian 6-4, 1-0 to the good.

"Of course, the random thinking is taking one match at a time. I mean, these are the kind of matches I'd always want to play in. I feel good on the big courts and playing against good players."

Seeded 26, Dimitrov is a former Wimbledon and US Open junior champion but until this year had struggled to measure up to the hype.

After breaking into the top 100 in January 2011, it wasn't until almost two years later that he made the top 50.

"The huge expectations that weighed on him didn't help," said Patrick Mouratoglou, who was Dimitrov's coach until last summer.

But 2013 has seen a change in his approach to the game, both on and off the court.

With new Swedish coach Mikael Tillstrom at his side, Dimitrov has worked on his physical fitness and reached his first final at Brisbane in January where he lost to world number two Andy Murray.

At the Indian Wells and Miami Masters, he suffered early defeats -- but they were at the hands of Djokovic and Murray respectively.

Then came his impressive claycourt season which also saw him thrust onto the celebrity pages when he was photographed arm-in-arm with Sharapova in Madrid.

Dimitrov insists he is comfortable with the spotlight and being trailed by the paparazzi.

"Well, they've got to live, right? What do you want me to say?," he said, when asked when asked for his thoughts on being pictured with the Russian superstar.

"It is what it is. It will happen, so gotta be ready. Next time I'll wave maybe."

Dimitrov will face French wildcard Lucas Pouille for a place in the last 32.

dj/cw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130528/tennis-win-roland-garros-course-says-dimitrov