A week ago if somebody would have stated that Grigor Dimitrov would win the ATP World Tour Finals amidst the likes of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, given the tremendous season these two have had, he would have been promoting Dimitrov to a level he had not reached. Dimitrov was earlier known as ‘Baby Federer’, something that he now clearly outgrown.
Not only did Dimitrov win the title, he did it without losing a match which fetched him 1500 points and a career-best ranking of No. 3. In tennis, a lot of things have to go right for one to win a tournament. How Jimmy Connors got to 109 or Federer to 95 with the level of competition the game commands and the level of fitness the game demands is something mind boggling. The type of court (one of the reasons Nadal has not been able to win the World Tour Finals yet), the weather condition, the draw, the city and maybe a couple of more that we are not aware of. A player battles each and every one of such factors and wins over everything to be able to hold that trophy (or maybe bite it).
When Federer won the Australian Open this year, he was, seeded 17th, certainly not the favourite at the start of the tournament. But then, like a game of chess, the right moves took place and the right pieces got eliminated at the right time. Had Mischa Zverev not won over Andy Murray, Federer might or might not have made it to the semi-finals. This does not mean that Federer’s victory is any less deserved because he did beat the likes of Nishikori, Berdych, Wawrinka and Nadal but the point here is What If!. Similarly, in most tournaments and in any individual sport in general, winning a major tournament requires just everything to fall in the right place. Therefore, when players like Wawrinka, Djokovic, Murray, Milos Raonic. Nishikori and Tomas Berdych were out of contention due to injury everybody else pressed the pedal a little harder to be able to achieve as much as possible. Everybody wanted to be the opportunist including Nadal and Federer.
And when Nadal pulled out of the World Tour Finals and Goffin beat Federer, Dimitrov knew that this was his cue and he embraced it with both hands. Not taking credit away from Dimitrov as he has had an amazing year and he was at the top of his game right from the very beginning. He started his season by winning the title at Brisbane by beating three players ranked above him. At the Australian Open, he gave Nadal a run for his money in the semi-final match. At the beginning of that match, Federer fans wanted Dimitrov to win so that Federer could have a relatively easier final, but as the match proceeded FedFans weren’t really sure if they actually wanted Dimitrov to win. He made few errors and was in total control of his nerves and his game. Those were the early signs of a rejuvenated and ready-to-make-his-mark Dimitrov. He then went on to win the Cincinnati Masters and qualify for the World Tour Finals. His surge in ranking ensures that he will be one of the top seeds at the Australian Open 2018 and the preparatory tournaments.
A wolf running up the mountain is always hungrier than the wolf standing on the hill. We still have a pack of wolves standing on the hill but the wolves running up the mountain might just not back off. If Dimitrov is able to replicate his 2017 season, he would no longer be the wolf running up the mountain, he’d be the one on the hill!
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