2017 was a magnificent year for Grigor Dimitrov, not many would have expected the year to end with him winning the ATP Finals in London but before that there was some work to do.
Down in Shanghai the Bulgarian missed out only slightly in an epic battle with Rafael Nadal!
A place in the semi-finals was at stake, I’ve always watched Dimitrov but I did slightly feel like the performance was a bit too nice.
It was fantastic tennis throughout, Dimitrov in the first game showed how he can turn defence into attack with a stunning forehand get and then a stupendous scoop volley/drop shot.
The ninth game did see things unravel for the Bulgarian who needed to be a bit more ruthless especially at the net.
I liked that he was forward thinking but against Rafa you can’t not put it away when at the net because he will find a way.
4-4, 0-15 isn’t too dangerous, 0-30 is big trouble against Rafa.
I like Dimitrov’s variety but it was a giveaway.
image credit – ATP
Backhand slice down the line was a good move but you can see his body weight shift immediately cross-court expecting the crosscourt backhand from Rafa who pings it down the line. Subsequently Rafa was 0-30 up and went onto break and win the set.
I did like that this didn’t stop Grigor at the net and he continued to go for it, he believed in what he was doing and it forced a tie-break.
In the opening few points he was a bit tentative slipping down 0-2 but then really dug deep to win the tie-break 7-4 with some really deep hitting.
The phrase “missed opportunity” is used a lot in the sport but because of how Grigor reacted to losing the match and going onto win London it felt like he learnt from the performance.
Grigor showed incredible defence to see some break points but just couldn’t get the ball to drop kindly as a potential 3-2 lead suddenly became 4-2 to Rafa.
The intensity dropped from Dimitrov, the power reduced and the depth was shorter from the Bulgarian.
The fun didn’t stop there, Dimitrov continued to work hard and forced Rafa to serve for it with the Spaniard winning their quarter final 6-4 6-7 6-3.
Another iconic performance from Shanghai but also one I felt that he reflected on a lot as he went onto build on that performance, more consistency which was key to him winning in London!