LONDON (AFP) - Grigor Dimitrov insists his Queen’s Club triumph proves he is finally ready to end his long wait for a Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.
Dimitrov enjoyed the perfect preparation for Wimbledon as the world number 13 hung tough to defeat Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (8/6) in a classic final on Sunday.
The 23 year-old’s maiden success on grass makes him the first player since Roger Federer and David Ferrer in 2012 to win titles on three different surfaces in the same year after his victories on hard courts in Acapulco and clay in Bucharest.
Dimitrov’s fourth ATP trophy of a career so far scarred by unfulfilled expectations will make him a dark horse for the title when Wimbledon gets underway on June 23.
The 2008 junior Wimbledon champion’s impressive displays on the grass at Queen’s proved he is perfectly suited to the surface and added to the growing feeling he is ready to make the most of the vast potential that saw him compared to Roger Federer when he was a teenager.
Asked if he is set to make the breakthrough at one of the four majors, Dimitrov, who reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open earlier this year, didn’t back down from the challenge: “We’re about to find out in a week. It would be special to win that one."
“Wimbledon has been closer to me and what I have always wanted to achieve, and it’s definitely on my list to do or to win, and I’m going to have the chance in a week to go out there and perform the best way I can.”
“Ever since I’ve played as a teenager I’ve dreamt of winning Queen’s. So I’m just heading into Wimbledon with a lot of positive vibes.” If Dimitrov, the youngest player in the top 20, does enjoy a strong run at the All England Club, he will no doubt lean on the advice of girlfriend Maria Sharapova, who won Wimbledon aged 17 and clinched her second French Open title earlier month.
Sharapova was supporting Dimitrov at Queen’s and the Bulgarian, who blew a kiss to her during the post-match trophy presentation, was quick to pay tribute to his partner, while also hailing the impact of Australian coach Roger Rasheed, who has managed to add more focus and discipline to his game.
“Maria’s been unbelievable with me, just supporting me, and I think the feeling’s mutual, and I hope this won’t be the last tournament she’s at,” he said.
"Having Maria on my side definitely adds up, from a tremendous champion like her, there’s a lot to learn. And everything happened pretty naturally with Roger, it just feels comfortable.” Dimitrov has long tired of the comparisons with Federer that saw him dubbed ‘Baby Fed’, but he knows the label will never be forgotten until he proves a success on his own terms.
“I think this is a step forward for me. I’m excited with progress so far, but my goals are way too high, so I wouldn’t call it a breakthrough or a coming of age - not yet,” he added.
“I was fired up all week, it’s been a very successful week for me.”
“I’ve had such a good time but there’s still a lot to be achieved.” Lopez, no slouch on grass himself, is convinced Dimitrov is the most likely candidate to break the Grand Slam stranglehold of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
“He’s the most complete player of that young generation and he’s already doing well,” Lopez said. “Sooner or later it will come for him, but right now it’s tough.
“We’ve had 10 years of these animals at the top. It’s very tough to win slams because Roger, Rafa, Nole (Djokovic), they win everything.”