By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, November 4, 2023
Squeezed by Stefanos Tsitsipas in decisive tiebreakers before, Grigor Dimitrov was in no mood to play the waiting game today.
Playing proactive tennis, Dimitrov won 24 of 26 trips to net out-dueling Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-7(1), 7-6(3) to reach his first Masters final since 2017 in Paris.
Widely regarded as one of the game’s most gifted all-court players, Dimitrov reached his first Masters 1000 final since he beat Nick Kyrgios to win the 2017 Cincinnati.
Renaissance has been a wonder to watch: the 32-year-old Bulgarian has blended determined defense with some dazzling net rushes in Paris this week.
Former world No. 3 Dimitrov has defeated current No. 3 Daniil Medvedev, Antwerp champion Alexander Bublik, Rolex Shanghai Masters champion Hubert Hurkacz and Australian Open finalist Tsitsipas en route to his maiden Paris final.
A dynamic Dimitrov has tried to create offense rather than react to opponents at crunch time.
“The one thing I’m very happy and proud with myself is the fact that I give myself the chance,” Dimitrov said. “I mean, I might hit a forehand inside out or inside in that is that far in or out. It’s such fine margins.
“I think for me where I’m at right now, you know, things in a way, they’re going my way, but also I’m looking for them as well. I’m not waiting for my opponent to do something with it or I’m not waiting for them to miss. I want to win or lose on my own terms.”
It’s astounding a player of Dimitrov’s caliber has not won a title in six years.
Dimitrov’s last championship still stands as a career peak when he defeated David Goffin to complete an undefeated week and capture the 2017 ATP Finals championship at London’s iconic O2 Arena. That triumph propelled Dimitrov to a career-high ranking of No. 3 at the end of 2017 as he seemed poised to make a run at a maiden major final.
During the last six years, Dimitrov has ditched the Nike swoosh for the Lacoste crocodile, replaced the head band with the backward baseball cap, reunited with coach Dani Vallverdu and hooked up with co-coach Jamie Delgado this year and, maybe most importantly, has found the right blend between his flowing defense and imposing net skills.
Returning to Paris where he formerly lived and train, Dimitrov has played with heavy wrapping around his left thigh, but that hasn’t stopped him unleashing his all-court arsenal.