Back to the drawing board – Dimitrov, Muguruza & Konta all out of Indian Wells

It’s fair to say this isn’t a surprise. In the last 48 hours we have seen Grigor Dimitrov, Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta’s campaign come to an early end in what turned out to be not tennis paradise for the three players. So, what went wrong and where do they go from here?

Grigor Dimitrov

Dimitrov’ performances of late have not been great. His second serve is taking a beating and it isn’t getting better. I didn’t think Dimitrov actually played too badly in his defeat against Fernando Verdasco but the tricky Spaniard is never easy to play against especially so early on in a tournament. Smallest of margins took the biggest impact. Verdasco saved 7/10 break points on his serve so Dimitrov created but couldn’t capatalise on chances but the Bulgarian faced 1 break point a set and failed to save all 3 in the match. His second serve was slightly more effective winning 19/35 points at 53% but isn’t top 5 level.

There is work to do to get back to that level we saw last year and that serve I’ve said a lot this year needs improving quick!

Garbine Muguruza

For the first set and a half she was unplayable, honestly it was the best tennis I had seen from her all year. She was hitting the ground strokes well, timing the ball and using her net play to her advantage to take a 6-2 3-0 40-0 lead and lost…

Before you know it Muguruza loses the set 7-5 and completely unravels in the third to lose 6-1. She looked shell-shocked! I don’t know how she managed to let that go the concentration wasn’t there and it was a similar story against Daria Kasatkina lately in Dubai.

Screenshot (46)Screenshot (46)

Johanna Konta

It hasn’t happened for Konta this year. Early exits have been in a theme in Melbourne, Dubai and now Indian Wells. I watched Jo in Melbourne and I remember saying at the time she started the match looking erratic and full of panic! This was a close match at Indian Wells losing the two sets in 2 hours 15 but questions remain over her serve and also her ground strokes.

Konta plays a style of tennis I call ‘risky’ she goes for the lines and when the confidence isn’t high then it does suffer and it becomes messy. Jo does a lot of good in matches but it’s unravelled by these errors which will take time and confidence to eradicate something she does seem short on at the moment.


Who if anyone can stop this man at Indian Wells?

Whilst we freeze in Britain the top players on the ATP tour are heading off to the Californian desert of Indian Wells as the first Masters 1000 of the year is here but who if anyone can stop Roger Federer.

Roger the favourite?

Of course he is. No one has been to more finals than Roger at Indian Wells winning 5 of the 7 he has played losing just to Novak Djokovic but of course Roger is the defending champion here.


Who is missing?

Well, where do we begin? The ATP tour is like an episode of casualty at the moment with many missing but who won’t be there?


Will they? Won’t they?

Kei Nishikori, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are all down to play but have been having issues themselves.

Kei has returned but isn’t near match fitness to make him a contender here at all.

Djokovic hasn’t played since Melbourne so how fit and ready is his elbow?

Nadal once again either retired or withdrew from a tournament. He cited a sharp pain in his leg, the same that what made him withdraw from the Australian Open. Nadal has now withdrawn from his last four tournaments.

The Contenders?

So, who could make a name at Indian Wells?

Marin Cilic – Under-rated as the world number three. He did well in Melbourne making the final and is good at taking an opportunity when presented to him so I wouldn’t rule out a deep run here.

Grigor Dimitrov – Hasn’t really happened for him this season. His game has taken a dip since winning at the O2 especially his second serve which has taken a beating this year and in a word was awful against Jaziri in Dubai.

Alex Zverev – It hasn’t happened for him yet this year. He’s lost a lot of matches of late which you would put in the category of ‘should win’. Watching him a bit this year he does seem to be labouring through matches and those big performances haven’t resurfaced yet this year.

Dominic Thiem – Unpredictable and not in a good way! You never know what you will get from him. It’s been up and down for too long. I wouldn’t be too shocked on early exits, clay is where he should burst into life!

David Goffin – Dangerous player. Like to see him grab the chance by the neck if it were to come around. Not playing this week which is a smart move and of course had that freak eye injury a couple of weeks back so hopefully he will be back and ready!

Juan Martin Del Potro – I just have this feeling Juan Martin could be one the watch. He is a player for the big stage so I wouldn’t rule him out here especially with soo uncertainties about players.

Dimitrov off to Indian Wells with thinking to do after poor performance in Dubai defeat!

Grigor Dimitrov’ stint in Dubai is over. The man who won the world tour finals in November put on a simply bizarre and poorly planned performance as he lost to 34 year Malek Jaziri who recorded the biggest win in his career.

Early on in the match I was tweeting and I said this is bad, it was a bit of a mess and it continued to spiral and only took the first set after a few double faults from Jaziri.

The stats were not good from Dimitrov and they read like this;

46% of second serves won (theme throughout the season)
6/12 Net points won
41 unforced errors (16 FH, 13 BH, 12 DF)

This performance looked like to me a man who has put a lot of pressure on himself.

I said when he played Roger in Rotterdam he saw this match as a chance to take a big step but has taken a backwards one. His second serve is getting pummelled and he isn’t helping himself at all!


I’ve put a little diagram together, Dimitrov on the AD side was serving down the T into the forehand of Jaziri (his strength) instead of the backhand of the Tunisian and you wonder why he didn’t plan around this, Jaziri hit 9 service return winners in this match.

The performance lacked any planning which is so odd for Dimitrov, he wasn’t effective at the net or off the backhand and it all starts with the serve. The second one inparticular I mentioned in Rotterdam not long ago is ranked outside the top 90 in the world on the tour this year and it showed again.

This needs to change for Grigor quickly and he does have time to work on ahead of the sunshine double but judging from what I have seen these last few weeks and today the serve out-wide on the AD side should help reduce service return winners against his serve but is he holding back too much? I think so.





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

The final that offered so much delivered so little. All talk prior to the match was on Dimitrov and how he felt to get to the next level winning against Roger would help that but his 0-6 record is now 0-7 after a 6-2 6-2 thrashing in Sunday’s final but how can Dimitrov learn from Roger?

Watching the match I tweeted to say this looks like a man who has put too much thought into a potential win and after the first game when he started so well it quickly de-railed.

Grigor tried to go toe to toe in rallies and did well quite a few of the times but the rallies start somewhere and that was his second serve which let him down. For someone like Dimitrov who has a big first serve it is surprising not to see him let it go a little bit more on the second.

Dimitrov is ranked at 4 in the world but on second serve points won this year he is ranked at 96 in the world. His % is at 45.23% winning just 204/451 points behind the serve. This is something that Federer and his team would have studied and they did.


After the second serve is thrown in by Federer and Dimitrov in Rotterdam for Federer it has variety so it’s difficult to nail him down but the emphasis on this graphic shouldn’t be on Dimitrov’s position inside or behind the baseline but look where the majority of Dimitrov’ second serves are sent, down to the backhand!

The backhand is a strong shot on the attack but on the defence it is more of a reflex which makes it a weakness in this situation.

Now, let’s look at the second serve…


This is Dimitrov’ second serve very early on and of course get’s broken. The serve is too weak. Federer actually doesn’t move to return the serve, he just leans to the left and sends the backhand cross court which then leads to this…


This is the reflex shot, he has not option but to play this shot as Federer has gone for the backhand, the error comes and he loses the point and it was his last game of the set.

This shows a need to improve the second serve. It’s not just about speed but position, the ball was too central in the court asking no question of Federer but inviting him to attack the serve.

To improve it he should look at going for the serve out-wide on the ad side and on the deuce court going for the serve down the T taking the ball away from their comfortable zone which is what Federer has done so well throughout his career. His second serve doesn’t always need to be powerful but effective which we saw on match point Federer served out-wide on the second serve and with the skills he has finishes it off with a volley at the net.


No.1 again and Title No.97 – Roger rules in Rotterdam!

For Grigor Dimitrov his abysmal run against Roger Federer continues. The Bulgarian was out of sorts as he fell in straight sets to lose his seventh consecutive match against yes the world number one.

Earlier on in the week Roger became the oldest world number one in history on the men’s tour and continues to edge his name into records in the history books with his 97th career title as well in Rotterdam.

Grigor became the match like a steam train! He went after everything at 100mph and played a stunning opening and then it unravelled. I felt like this seemed like I was watching a man who put too much thought into it and it ended up quite predictable. Dimitrov did play some good shots but it felt like Roger was a shot ahead at all times and defended deep and well as he raced to a 6-2 lead in set one.

Roger raced to a 5-1 lead in set two average his service game time at 110 seconds and after 52 minutes would serve for the title.

His record of quick holds of serve was kept as he sealed the win with a lovely serve and volley move to win title no.97


The question now, does he go to Dubai in a week’s time or rest ahead of IW and Miami?




Stunned! Kyle Edmund sees off Grigor Dimitrov to make first Grand Slam semi-final!

With No Konta or Murray here in Melbourne not many would have predicted what has happened so far in Melbourne but Kyle Edmund is through to his first Grand Slam semi-final winning his first match against a top 10 player in Grigor Dimitrov in four sets.


Edmund showed his intent in the first game of the match going high towards the backhand of Grigor forcing him to play the defensive slice but because Grigor knows the power Kyle produces from ground strokes he had to try and put a bit more on it but on the first break point sent it long with Kyle taking an immediate 1-0 lead.

Dimitrov did get back on level terms at 4-4 but a second serve was eaten up by the Brit who returned beautifully running around the backhand to hit the forehand down the line and had no issue serving out the opening set.

The second set was all about the Bulgarian who raced to a 3-0 lead and never looked back taking it 6-3 to level the match.

The pressure began to mount as Dimitrov double-faulted with Kyle taking a 5-3 lead in the third set and sent a forehand painting the line to get to 30-30 in the next game and went on to seal the set.

The height that Edmund was sending to Dimitrov continued to cause issues and in the fifth game of what would be the final set the world number three sent a forehand wide sending Kyle a break up at 3-2. A roar of COME ON and before you know it Grigor was level at 3-3, where next?

Down break point again and a frustrated Dimitrov looked onto his box and said ‘I’m trying’ was he thinking too far ahead going into this?

The big moment came. at 15-30 Dimitrov hit what he thought was a backhand winner down the line but Edmund challenged and it was called out! Just have a look! The shock in the crowd as Kyle Edmund was a point away from 5-3 and a game away from a Grand Slam semi-final!


On match point another close call as Dimitrov’s slice was called out but challenged and Kyle’s coach could only look on concerned!

Concerned turned into relief for his coach, Tim Henman, Philip Brook and of course Kyle himself through to a Grand Slam semi-final 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4 v world tour finals champion Grigor Dimitrov.





Grigor Dimitrov finally brings his cards to the table as Nick Kyrgios tells him to ‘believe’

All week we had been waiting for Dimitrov to bring his elegant tennis to the table in Melbourne and he did it at the right time to see of Nick Kyrgios in an epic four set encounter.

From the off Dimitrov looked more settled than he has been all week, he seemed determined and a completely different player compared to the one that served double fault after double fault the other day and dropped a set 6-0 to McDonald and had to scrap through in 5.

Nick gave as good as he got during the first two sets in particular where the two were inseparable and it was a delight to watch their athleticism and skill at full stretch with the only thing able to separate them being tie-breaks with now Dimitrov winning their last 5 tie-breaks in all matches.

Nick surprisingly did pull himself back into the match in the third set despite visual frustration it did look like Grigor would cruise but credit to Nick as well who played his part in a brilliant match and a brilliant tournament the Australian who has won many over but nothing was stopping Grigor Dimitrov who will now play Kyle Edmund for a place in the semi-final.