Grigor Dimitrov; Less topspin needed and flatter hitting = higher % of short rallies won?

Following the conclusion here in Paris it will be the end of Grigor Dimitrov’s season. He is taking most of the headlines this week with Andre Agassi in his corner but what can help the Bulgarian going forward?

I watched his opening round match against Agut which he won in straight sets and there was something that caught my eye.

Dimitrov doesn’t win many rallies under 4 shots, but why is that?

Top-spin.

Top-spin is either good or bad like many shots in the sport you either pull it off or put yourself in danger depending on one thing, where the ball bounces.

Theoretically, lets go into the mind of Dimitrov on the baseline hitting that forehand with top-spin. Same starting position but different drop points on the court for the top-spin forehand.

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The blue arrows the one which will get you in trouble, top spin dropped short on the court gives the opponent time to be able to adjust their body and move around the court where as the orange line gives you little time to react to the top spin.

Against Cilic in the first day today the stats were;

Under 4 shots – Cilic 34 / Dimitrov 24
Over 7 shots – Cilic 1 / Dimitrov 7

You can argue he won the longer rallies but he isn’t winning the ones that matter and 10 more rallies one in that short gap of 4 or less points is massive in any match statistically and mentally.

I think Dimitrov would benefit from hitting the ball a bit flatter however to do this you require confidence to start with and without that fearless streak in your game the what is seen as a ‘safe route’ is actually not benefitting the Bulgarian which probably doesn’t make him feel any better.

The top-spin is making rallies longer but isn’t making Dimitrov more dangerous and neither is the backhand slice. The slice is a good shot to utilise but being effective with it is the most difficult thing.

You can understand Dimitrov being hesitant as he has dropped off massively this year but I do think it is time to just take the risk and in the off season this has to be worked on and discussed with his team because he will not get back into the top 10 without a change and how long will Agassi be here for?

 

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A ‘temporary’ but much needed new voice

The season finale is upon us.

Paris Masters is a time of the year when those looking to end in London have a final push and those looking to finish the season on a high and also those looking to prepare for the following year.

12 months ago the world was at Grigor Dimitrov’s feet and he went on to win London but now he’s in a rut after finishing the year ranked three and will potentially finish outside the top 20 now.

Grigor Dimitrov who has been coached previously by Roger Rasheed has now been with former coach of Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych but following a tough year Andre Agassi is now in the camp for Paris.

There has been no comment on the addition to the team but it does look like new ideas are being explored.

This isn’t the first time that these two have teamed up as they were spotted practicing together in Georgia.

I have watched a lot of Grigor over the years and his game is one I enjoy watching but I feel like the aspects of his game which needs to most work is his second serve and his forehand.

Part of the reason Grigor shot up was down to the sheer power he produced but he is still lining up his shots to play this way but feels like he is playing with the brakes on and isn’t trusting his game.

He does have a BYE for R1 but will play Agut in R2, it will be interesting to see what happens with this one.

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Kicking on? What went wrong this year?

Almost twelve months ago Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin had the tournament of their lives. Both wow’d us in London with sinsinlating tennis something which we were expecting to kick on from this year but it’s gone down like a led balloon but why is that?

Finalists at the O2 last year and with ruling out some miracle neither player will be there this year.

Both players have picked up around 1700 points this year which isn’t good enough. Once their London points drop off as well when the tournament begins and depending on how they get on for the rest of the season.

Dimitrov could fall to at least 12 in the world when he was No.3 almost 12 months ago and Goffin could fall to around 20.

The Belgian has however all but called time on his season due to an elbow condition. He does not have the best luck at all with injuries. Just over 12 months ago he had that horror fall in the court covering at the back of the courts at Roland Garros which badly injured his ankle and earlier on this year against Dimitrov he had that freak injury where he rebounded a Dimitrov shot off his own racket and into his eye forcing him to retire and miss a few weeks of tennis.

Dimitrov however has lacked belief, consistency and ideas. A man who’s presence on the court was infectious 12 months ago strolling about like the king has not looked confident. This is something I have witnessed and covered throughout the season and the reason I’ve been so vocal about it is because of how highly I rate him. I have said I think new ideas are needed whether that is by him looking elsewhere or changing parts of his game as this all started off for me back in Dubai when he played Federer in the final and he took him apart and that to me should have been a wake-up to his team not long after that win in London that things needs to be fresh as when you win big you are the man to beat.

Dimitrov may be ranked at No.4 but Rotterdam showed us his second serve needs big improvement

Dimitrov said after a win not long ago ‘Hope dies last’ but how long?

David Goffin did have a stage where he was impressive especially on the clay. The injuries have meant he cannot find any momentum which is his main issue this season.

It has at times been impressive but also had a feeling of survival to it rather than conviction.

I think it is a shame what’s happened this season to both but there is plenty of work to be done next season and maybe right now January should be the main priority.

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The race is on! Who needs to “save their season”

For the ladies a trip to Singapore awaits at the end of the year and for the men a trip to London awaits as the season finale draws closer. Over the coming weeks players will continue to add their names to the qualified list but who is in a race to “save their season” ?

The top 8 qualify and so far the names in the respective hats are Halep, Kerber, Nadal and Djokovic.

Garbine Muguruza

The name that stands out the most on the women’s side for players who are fighting to be there is Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard just hasn’t found any run of form this year. A semi-final at Roland Garros and 3 R2’s exits in the majors leaves her with her lowest number of wins at the majors since 2014.

It has also been the same story at the Premier 5’s and Premier Mandatory events this year and no top 10 wins since February.

I remember Muguruza went to Monterrey after Indian Wells and Miami and I felt that was just for confidence. To see the relief on her face after winning the title showed she needed something big.

Muguruza is 16th in the race right now and is just under 1000 points off Kiki Bertens who currently occupies the final space in Singapore. The fight is really on for her to save her season.

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Grigor Dimitrov

The man who won the World Tour Finals last year is in a bit of trouble.

He is down at 17 in the race at the moment and around 1600 points off 8th place occupied by Dominic Thiem.

It is virtually impossible for Grigor to be there and it is a great shame what has happened to him this season.

Throughout the season I’ve watched him, his serve is taking a pelting and he doesn’t seem to trust his game right now. I feel a mix-up of the team is required.

Jelena Ostapenko

I watch Jelena play and think, where is this going?

Too often to she plays that go big or go home style, the issue is more often than not she goes home early.

I still think despite that Roland Garros win last year we are still far off seeing her best tennis. I remember earlier on in the year when she was down in a match her coach said about going big but if anything it cost her.

Consistency is an issue and even though she does reel off amazing groundstrokes from time to time is she benefiting from this style? Qualification for Singapore will have to take something special.

Kei Nishikori

Some may think I’m being harsh putting Kei here but I feel like he needs to push on now.

He missed the beginning of the year with injury and ended up playing in challengers to get match fit. He looked better at New York but now needs a run of form. Win/loss of 28/14 for the year and no titles shows it has been tough.

He is just outside of the top 8 around 600 points off the mark at the moment and on these indoor hard courts coming up he needs to find form.

His record against top 20 ranked players is 7 wins and 9 losses and in the other 5 of his defeats he has lost to Wawrinka, Shapovalov and Kachanov so not really big surprises. He needs big wins if he is going to give it a final push.

US Open R1 Round Up – Halep out ❌ Dimitrov confidence crisis 😞 Andy’s comeback 💪🏻 Garbine & Sloane impress 👌🏻 Edmund’s ill 🤧 Stan wins 🦁 Usual winners ✅ & Youngsters impress 👍🏻

R1 is done. We have seen big upsets, comebacks, withdrawals and much more over the last 48 hours, so what are the stories?

Halep out!

This is the main story, Simona Halep has been dumped out of Flushing Meadows by Kaia Kanepi who was too strong from the baseline and Halep could not shift the momentum. She was a break down in set two and clawed it back but couldn’t gain any rhythm.

The only good news Halep can take from this is that she will not lose her number one ranking.

Andy recovers!

Andy Murray had a bit of a fight on his hands against James Duckworth from Australia. The Australian just went for it and was strong off the baseline and this was something that he sustained for a while and even took the first set but so is the tenacious never giving up attitude of Murray from a set down he secured his first Grand Slam win in over a year.

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Garbine & Sloane impress!

The two ladies who really impressed me on Day 1 were Garbine Muguruza and Sloane Stephens. I was really impressed with the performance of both ladies who are in the same half.

Garbine was super impressive against Zhang dropping just three games in her 6-3 6-0 win and usually for me it takes a few performances until I feel convinced she can challenge. Sloane Stephens was also super impressive. You could sense the nerves throughout the match and then witnessing the relief on her face at the end. It was the perfect start to her title defence.

Edmund out!

Slight concern for Kyle Edmund who didn’t cope well with the heat and seemed to be unwell as he fell in round one something he will be super disappointed with following a very good season.

Usual business

It was a round of usual business as well for Roger, Rafa, Serena, Del Potro, Wozniacki and Novak but the Serb did drop a set on route to securing his place into round two.

Confidence crisis?

I while ago I hinted at it and now something looks like it needs to change and maybe it is time. Dimitrov looked out of confidence, he was hitting with hope and it was bad to see.

Youngsters impress!

It was a good time out for De Minaur, Chung and Shapovalov who all impressed especially the Australian who won 6-0 6-1 6-2 against Taro Daniel to secure his place in the next round.

Dissecting the draw 🗽

The US Open draw is out. The battle for the final major of the year begins on Monday, as ever the draw has thrown up some fantastic clashes and some interesting potential meetings…

R1 treats!

David Ferrer v Rafael Nadal

Grigor Dimitrov v Stan Wawrinka

Venus Williams v Svetlana Kuznetsova

Caroline Garcia v Johanna Konta

Caroline Wozniacki v Sam Stosur

The draw

The big stand out is Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the same quarter, if either will win it will likely be an early big clash between these two.

Del Potro, Murray, Raonic, Stan and Grigor in same quarter.

Last years finalist Anderson and Nadal in same quarter

Halep, Serena, Venus, Pliskova, Muguruza in same quarter!

Defending champion Sloane Stephens in same quarter as Svitolina and Azarenka.

Sharapova and Kerber in third quarter and In the fourth, Wozniacki and Kvitová

Stay tuned for previews and talking points ahead of Monday’s big kick off!

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‘Hope dies last’ Grigor knows what is needed!

Toronto should go down as a success for Grigor Dimitrov. Usually you go further than the quarter finals but for Grigor wins against Verdasco and Tiafoe we’re enough to show me he knows what is needed.

Following his win against Tiafoe he spoke to Sky Sports and he said two things, the first was he knows what he needs to improve on but is happy with performance as first tournament since Wimbledon but also a quote;

‘Hope dies last’

Grigor isn’t giving up. He is obviously disappointed and we see that in his reactions on court to things that aren’t going well!

Grigor is a player who won’t just stop. I imagine that he and his team would have sat down multiple times this year and discussed what can be done to improve his game. Two big things stand out for me, one of which I have written about before and that was his serve and the second serve in particular. Players return to the backhand of of Grigor as in the third shot of the rally it isn’t going to be a backhand to be scared of but it buys the returner time.

Dimitrov may be ranked No.4 but Rotterdam showed us his second serve needs big improvement

For me the other thing I have picked up on is how Grigor is returning serve.

His intensity has dropped and statistically by 2%. He’s winning 2% less of return shots and break points which doesn’t sound like much but for example if you say 532 break points liked he did last year and took 38% of them which was 202 out of 532. If it was 36% percent which is where he is at now it is almost 20 points less, imagine the matches you could win with those?

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