Tennis Elbow: A little bit of magic
October 29, 2012 · Print This Article
Welcome to Tennis Elbow, a new column that will look back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon examines the curious case of Grigor Dimitrov.
In Basel this week, for the Swiss Indoors Open, Roger Federer was hoping to take home his seventh title of the 2012 season and the 77th overall for his career. This didn’t happen. Instead, things broke the other way around as Juan Martin Del Potro captured his fourth title of the season and 13th of his career.
In the final, the Argentine Del Potro defeated King Roger by the score of 6-4, 6-7 (5) and 7-6 (3). The match was an entertaining one, though it will quickly be shelved along with most of the other matches of other tennis seasons. Very few ever become classics, and most of them are played at one of the Grand Slam tournaments. For the 2012 Swiss Indoors, after he failed to capture what could have been his sixth title in the past 7 years at the event, King Roger proved that though nowhere is a king more at ease than in his own palace, there are some hiccups along the way.
But enough on Federer, let’s switch to Federer-lite.
Grigor Dimitrov is a poor man’s Roger Federer–I mean this in the best way possible–and it all starts with his tennis racquet. Dimitrov doesn’t look like his idol physically, but he hits the balls just like he does–the serving motion, the forehand, the one-handed backhand, you name it. He plays with essentially the same racquet as Federer (i.e. the Wilson Pro Staff six.one BLX), the lone difference being that Dimitrov’s has a 95” head to Federer’s 90”. The difference is probably a negligible one. For what it’s worth, I use the same exact racquet as Federer and haven’t been nearly as successful as Dimitrov has.
That said, Dimitrov isn’t on Tour with (slightly) out-of-shape French Canadian upcoming reporters from Montreal by way of Toronto. Weekly, he’s pitted against world-class athletes. And relatively speaking, he hasn’t been all that successful. His career-high No. 52 ranking is only slightly higher than his current ranking of No. 55. Dimitrov has yet to make any ATP World Tour tournament final, much less capture a title. And to date, Dimitrov has earned close to $1 million in prize money on Tour.
Relatively speaking, these are peanuts. These totals are all a far cry away from Federer’s but of course, the Swiss has a 10-year head start over the 21-year-old Dimitrov, who turned pro only in 2008. And really, there’s nothing wrong with being far away from Federer–the man will live on in history as one of the very best that the sport has ever seen.
In Basel, for the same tournament that Federer won, Dimitrov lost in the third round to Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu. His next opponent would have been King Roger himself, and with a little luck Dimitrov could have faced him–he lost 7-6 (2) and 7-6 (4) against Mathieu. Maybe he didn’t face Federer this time, but not all is lost.
In the first round against Viktor Troicki, Dimitrov hit the shot of the year–and possibly the shot of many years to come, too. He had won the first set 6-3 and, serving at deuce and up 2-1 in the second set, he hit an inside-out forehand to Troicki’s backhand. The Serb managed to hit a great passing shot, but Dimitrov had the answer–a behind-the-back half-volley. Yep. It was an extremely lucky shot, but who cares? It’s one for the ages.
As far as I can tell, that’s a shot that Federer has never hit. Dimitrov has at least that on his idol.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @CeeeBG