2014 was the year Grigor Dimitrov burst onto the scene but at the end of last season and so far this season the Bulgarian is looking strong and determined with his tennis doing the talking and some noticeable changes to his game have helped, but what are these changes?
Inside out forehand
This has become one of the most used shots in tennis by a lot of younger players on the tour. I think some over rely on it but let’s look at Dimitrov I think he has the balance right.
This is Dimitrov just after hitting this inside out forehand against Gasquet. The Frenchman is on the run and just look closely at the knees of Dimitrov. The right knee and the left knee bent inwards giving him that steadiness as he lands as majority of the time playing this shot he makes contact with the ball especially when he goes big with his feet off the ground.
Back to the top picture, you can see Dimitrov admire his forehand and so he should. Sometimes players admire but don’t anticipate but his tennis right now is so good that he can admire this shot knowing it isn’t coming back with interest but if it does come back it will be on his terms as he will slowly move forehand and look for the killer winner.
Serena style forehand!
Part of his game which has improved is the serve but I won’t get ahead of myself and will come onto this later now I want to look at the standing forehand. Without talking too much about the serve the serve out wide helps set up this forehand position and positionally it couldn’t be better.
I called this Serena style she has one of the most powerful and solid forehands in the game from a standing position. He sets himself perfectly for the for that forehand cross court, everyone can see it coming but his body and movement is perfect. In a piece recently I spoke about the bend of the right knee on the court putting your weight on that side to power through the forehand and it’s become such a weapon compared to him relying on his backhand a couple of years ago it’s now a very good mixture of the two.
Talking about the backhand, it was his best shot and there was a time I said it’s turned into his opponents best shot as the errors were leaking off it, he was reluctant to use the forehand too much but will now explore it more making him unpredictable but introduction of the slice just adds to the variety his has adapted into his game.
He defends much better with this shot. Again we go to the bend of the knee leaning into the shot, his slice is very good rarely short and sometimes plants that seed of doubt going short sometimes but has the movement and ability to keep asking questions in rallies similar style to how Murray or Wozniacki defend and ask questions. The slice is a pivotal shot it can turn a defensive situation into an attacking one very quickly!
I’ve talked about changes but that backhand is still there. You do see more of those backhand to backhand rallies from Dimitrov and it’s more solid these days than it was, it’s less relied upon which makes it difficult for his opponents to attack now but still has those moments of pure brilliance.
The body position is just perfect and guides it up the line brilliantly. It doesn’t need an in-depth description it’s just stunning!
Serving (bit of volleying)
Spoke about the serve previously in this piece. The serve out-wide opens up the forehand cross court beautifully but now let’s look at the serve down the T.
Once again, body position is very good. He’s leaning back before the contact with the ball but when he hits it his body weight will shift foreard. Firstly just look at his feet. The right foot is up and on his tip-toes but the left foot gives away the serve a little but his opponent couldn’t commit to it due to his variety. The left foot is bent in and as he hits it he goes for that power down thw T forcing the opponent to slice it back or just get a weak racket on it allowing Dimitrov to approach the net and volley and sometimes mixes it up with a serve and volley.
I think the game is there to keep this form up and potentially hit top ten by Wimbledon. He doesn’t have points to defend now until towards the end of the season so it is a chance to build the ranking. His game has improved, still things can always improve but it’s good to see him winning and playing well again!