Grigor Dimitrov 3-6 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2 Roger Federer; How Grigor bought time ⏱ let his forehand do the talking 🗣 & patrolling the baseline! 👮🏼‍♂️

Ok, I’m smiling.

There is just something about nights in New York isn’t there?

Maybe my choice of phrase will be a bit unfair but Grigor was close to rock bottom.

The Bulgarian was on the verge of slipping out of the top 80 in the world, recently had his worse loss to world 407 Kevin King in Atlanta and came into New York with one win in eight matches.

How he bought time…

When I say he bought himself time, he utilised his backhand slice smartly.

I thought this was something against Alex De Minaur which got over-shadowed. I wrote about it on the piece the other day.

Backhand slice can be most effective shot in tennis.

12 months ago I wrote about Del Potro giving Hyeon Chung a nightmare with it;

No pace, no rhythm and nothing to work with! The perfect performance from Juan Martin Del Potro

Dimitrov did the same. He bought himself time in rallies, it was simple!

The slice took away the pace, rhythm and opportunity for Federer. He gave him nothing to work with. Federer is usually good at adapting to this but ideally wants quick points.

We saw in early rounds a bit of a struggle in longer rallies but then maybe Dan Evans and David Goffin for me walked into it a little as they went for it and you aren’t going to win majority of short rallies against Roger.

Buying time is key and we see it here;

Screenshot 2019-09-04 at 08.48.37

image credit – US Open

He had time to run around for the forehand but he’s being progressive with his tennis and not rash. Backhand slice is a smarter move as it shows more confidence than running around looking to hit your way through.

What you hope for with the slice is to. hit that yellow circle. Low ball, no pace and no rhythm.

Screenshot 2019-09-04 at 08.48.53

Image credits – US Open

Federer likes quick points as I said so where is he coming to? The net. Grigor covered the crowd from one end to another like an animal and flicked the forehand winner up the line.

Federer should have put the prior volley away.

Time and time again he bought himself time with the backhand.

Let the forehand do the talking!

For some time during his career Dimitrov wanted the backhand to do the talking. He adopted the nickname ‘baby Federer’ as his game was soo alike to Rogers but he wasn’t being effective.

He got himself to three in the world and winning the tour finals as his whole game was singing from the same hymn sheet. I remember watching him in Rotterdam against Federer and he got bulldozed. The backhand took most of the traffic.

The backhand is still a very good shot of his but it isn’t about lashing it, but measuring it as he does more with the slice but he can still let rip with it.

You could argue his best shot is his forehand. He used his backhand as I spoke to give him time and slow things down. That is all good but then you have to find a way and his way was through his forehand.

He can just open up the court going down the line or cross-court moving progressively forward as well if needed winning 13/20 points at the net.

Patrolling the baseline

Despite being a set down I liked that Dimitrov stuck with his plan. He hasn’t had a great season but I like his attitude and you can tell her cares.

In tennis you either;

  • patrol the baseline
  • sit behind the baseline
  • looking to come inside the baseline

Sometimes you can’t choose. Different players style and authority in a rally can decide that for you.

Dimitrov sat here;

Screenshot 2019-09-04 at 09.47.05

Image credits – US Open

Screenshot 2019-09-04 at 09.47.22

image credit – US Open

He hit his shot and retreated to a slightly central area but also moved back. Finding time and patrolling the baseline. The confidence to do that when you haven’t been at your best is quite impressive.

When confidence isn’t great you can hind behind the baseline and get pummelled or come inside and create a sea of unforced errors.

He stayed true to his game and what he wanted to do not only in this match but throughout this difficult and he deserves this soo much!

Three words to finish on.

At Toronto last year after beating Frances Tiafoe he spoke about his struggles and was asked what keeps him going for it to which he replied;

“Hope dies last”

all image credits – US Open

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