MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Roping in former world number one Andre Agassi was an obvious decision for Grigor Dimitrov as he chases his maiden grand slam and the Bulgarian says he can already feel the benefits of the partnership.
Tennis – Australian Open – First Round – 1573 Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 14, 2019. Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in action during the match against Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic. REUTERS/Edgar Su
Since winning the junior Wimbledon title in 2008, Dimitrov has been identified as the successor to Roger Federer due to some similarity in his playing style with the Swiss master.
The ‘Baby Fed’ tag has proved a burden and Dimitrov, despite occasional glimpses of his talent, has never managed to consistently deliver results.
Last year he added eight-times Grand Slam winner Agassi, who has also worked with world number one Novak Djokovic in the past, as a new coach alongside Daniel Vallverdu, hoping the American to be the missing piece in his puzzle.
“At some point last year, I think midway through the year, me and Dani sat down to talk about our goals, objectives, and so on,” Dimitrov told reporters after his opening round win over Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic in the Australian Open on Monday.
“I have known Andre for a really long time, since I was 14. I have spent some time with him back in the past, in Vegas. And we just wanted to kind of add a person that has done a little bit of, I mean, of what we are trying to achieve, you know.
“There was one person that I could trust unconditionally, and that was him.”
Reaching the semi-finals at the 2014 Wimbledon and the 2017 Australian Open remain his best returns in Grand Slams.
Dimitrov won the ATP Finals in 2017, which took him to a career-high ranking of third at the end of that year but has now dropped down to 21 after a mediocre 2018.
While the 27-year-old is yet to figure out the intricacies of his work schedule with Agassi in the future, he was glad the American was in Melbourne with him after spending four weeks in the offseason together.
“I’m just a better person, period. On a daily basis, I have learned something new from him,” Dimitrov said after defeating Tipsarevic 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-4.
“Sometimes some of the things that he says, it doesn’t really, it has nothing to do with tennis, absolutely nothing to do with tennis. And today before the match we are talking about completely different stuff.
“I was, like, Oh, that feels nice. I think he also keeps me on point, keeps me on check. He’s just trying to remind you of the good things in life.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Amlan Chakraborty