Simon Reed

Djokovic-conqueror Dimitrov is top-five bound

Simon Reed

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Grigor Dimitrov puts his body on the line to beat world number one Novak Djokovic (AFP)

It was an absolutely massive performance from Grigor Dimitrov to beat Novak Djokovic in Madrid, that’s for sure.

Dimitrov is over-burdened with talent and it has, in the past, affected his attitude towards the sport. His talent was taking him to quite exotic places, and he was not having to work too hard in the process.

When he split from coach Peter McNamara last year, I was worried for Grigor as I was not sure what his work ethic would be like without him. Tennis is mostly about physicality these days – Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal are all physical freaks.

Thankfully for Dimitrov he joined up with Magnus Norman, who was also very much a physical player and as a coach operates very much as a slave-driver. That difference showed in his work ethic in beating Novak.

When he was cramping up, he just kept barging on through. And though Djokovic was suffering a bit with his ankle, I don’t think it was any more of a hindrance than Dimitrov’s cramp.

In some ways the win was Dimitrov’s arrival but for me, it was merely another step in that direction. The question now, of course, is can he push through on talent and willpower alone over five sets.

He has just come off the best clay performance of his career against Nadal in Monte Carlo, and though I see Dimitrov as a future top-five player, there is one more step to go in doing that at a Grand Slam.

This year’s French Open, unfortunately, is too soon for that if you ask me. I think Dimitrov will need another year, perhaps a little more, to make a true impact over five sets.

It’s a huge step on a steep upward curve for him to make a splash at Roland Garros in 2013, but I really would be surprised if the Bulgarian is not in the ATP top five down the line.

One thing that may help him get it done sooner rather than later is the sheer momentum from the Nadal and Djokovic performances. You never know: he was in tears after Tuesday’s win and those emotions could propel him to a very fast rise.

He appears to be as talented as the likes of Murray, and between that and his freakish physical strength Dimitrov should become a household name just like the Brit, like Djokovic, like Nadal and Roger Federer, at some stage.

Of course, it’s down to Grigor to convert his potential but he is with the right people, at least.

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