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Feature: Grateful Grigor Still Going Strong

Grateful Grigor Still Going Strong
October 8, 2023

Amid the many demands of his professional playing life, Grigor Dimitrov has a ritual he likes to complete.

At the end of the day, he often lists three things that provide him with gratitude - and there's been much of that for the popular Bulgarian, as he maintains his joy to compete at age 32. 

"It helps me a lot with so many different things," Dimitrov explained. "I think at that stage where I'm at in my career, I think with each year that has gone by I'm more appreciative of, in a way, anything that I get, not only to do, but to live."

It's proving the perfect complement to the stylish all-court tennis that's made Dimitrov a fan favourite for years. 

The 2023 season has been one of pleasing consistency for Dimitrov, featuring a first finals appearance since 2018 in Geneva, along with progress to the fourth round of Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

"I think that was my goal overall this year. I've dealt with a fair share of different changes, on and off the court. I felt it was just a matter of time until I start building up just a good base again. I think that was more important to me than the results," said Dimitrov, the No.18 seed in Shanghai this year. 

"Little by little, I was able to have a few good rounds here and there. I got to the final again, which was also very big for me, but I always want more from myself, I expect more from myself in any given tournament."

It's an objective that's so far working out well at the 2023 Rolex Shanghai Masters, where Dimitrov launched his campaign with a 6-4 6-3 win over Australia's Aleksander Vukic on Sunday. 

"I've always liked the conditions out here, but I feel like I always had tough rounds, to be honest. Now, it's no different. Every round is going to get tougher and tougher," said Dimitrov, who faces No.13 seed Karen Khachanov in the third round. 

"I'm happy that I was able to finish in straight sets today, which was the important part for me. Yeah, I think I play again tomorrow, so try to recover as much as possible and get out there again.'

Dimitrov will do so with an appreciation for a journey that's crossed multiple eras in tennis. 

Since his professional debut in 2008, he has competed alongside greats including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The world No.19 Dimitrov feels equally privileged to now be on tour alongside Carlos Alcaraz and other emerging stars of the sport.

"Lately, I've been having a lot of those conversations, actually with some of the generation just behind me, the guys around 25, 26, they have been asking a lot of different questions to have my opinion on things," he said. 

"It's very interesting for me to see in a way three eras that I've played with, and even players from way before that towards the end of their career. I'm in a unique position, and very fortunate position, to be able to compete with each one of them."

Dimitrov, who supports several foundations and initiatives that mostly support children, has no qualms about applying his perspective to younger competitors on tour. 

"I'm very open. I'm honest. If they need advice, I'm always there to answer the best as I can. In our sport there's not really secrets," he reasoned, noting the rewards in a generous approach.

"Also, tennis is the type of sport where whatever you put in, you get out of it, eventually, maybe not right away," Dimitrov added.

"I think one of my most important things is always, go at it, give a hundred percent and you never know how the cards will unfold, but at least when you look back, you'll be so proud of yourself."

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