Dimitrov Dialed In For Monte-Carlo Run

It has not been the best start to 2018 for World No. 5 Grigor Dimitrov. He struggled early on in the year with a virus, and has lost four of his past five matches. But as the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters gets underway, he is well aware that with a positive mentality, it won’t take much for a complete turnaround.

“Sometimes you need one or two matches to get into a tournament and then, all of a sudden, you play the best game. Sometimes you play two, three scrappy matches that turn not only the whole tournament, but the whole year,” Dimitrov told press in Monte-Carlo on Sunday. “I’ve been there, I’ve done that.”

The Bulgarian has certainly proven that he has what it takes to succeed on the grandest stages on the ATP World Tour. He is the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion, after all. But the right-hander recalls one instance in particular when he never expected to have a standout week, and it ended up being the best of his career up until that point.

“Last year before Cincinnati, I did not have one good practice. I could not put the ball in the court. And next thing you know, the next Sunday, I was winning the trophy, which was total craziness for me,” Dimitrov said of his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 triumph. “I didn’t expect that at all or anything, so I just want to approach things this way.”

Dimitrov feels refreshed as he gets ready to open his first clay-court event of the season against Pierre-Hugues Herbert or Paolo Lorenzi. The 26-year-old resides in Monte-Carlo and trains at the Monte-Carlo Country Club during the off-season. So while he wanted to make a deep run in Miami, where he lost in the second round, spending three weeks at home before playing a tournament there was a nice side-effect.

“I try to take things the way they are and I finished the hard-court season a little bit earlier, so I guess that gave me some time to rest a little bit to kind of rehab my body and kind of start fresh,” Dimitrov said. “I think so far I’ve done all the right things and the only thing that I can do right now is get out there and start competing. I think this is the number one priority for me right now, just to get a lot of matches, to start moving on the clay as best as I can again.”

And Dimitrov knows that he has to be ready, as plenty of players can triumph. While Rafael Nadal is a 10-time champion in Monte-Carlo, the past three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 winners did so by raising trophies at this level for the first time. The Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters is the first clay-court Masters 1000 event of the year.

“Everybody’s been playing such a good tennis. I would say not only the top players, everybody can be a potential winner in pretty much any tournament,” Dimitrov said. “We saw a lot of good results, a lot of different results so I think that time was needed for me. I mean everything else, whatever I say obviously is going to be an excuse. But I’m happy and positive that I had that time. I think you always need that time, regardless, whether it’s maybe off the court, maybe it’s a little holiday, maybe we just need to spend time with the family, whatever it is.”

Now, the fourth seed can completely focus on putting in a good performance on the clay, which he only won four matches (4-5) on last year.

“I grew up on clay. I spent my early years in Spain, so I feel I can play good on clay. Last year I was a little bit unfortunate in certain tournaments,” Dimitrov said. “It’s a new year. One year older, more experienced, more mature in any way possible to try to learn something from last year and you keep on growing and you keep on working. That’s just the way it is.”

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