Three years ago, after reaching the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career at Wimbledon, Grigor Dimitrov became the first Bulgarian man ever to break into the Top 10. He would get all the way up to a career-high of No.8, spending five weeks there between August 4 and September 8, 2014.
His progress stalled for a while - he dipped out of the Top 10 by the end of 2014, fell out of the Top 20 in 2015 and dropped as low as No.40 in the world during the two weeks of Wimbledon in 2016.
But that’s when the career turnaround started. Dimitrov hired coach Daniel Vallverdu, found his best form again and cut his ranking in half by the end of 2016 - he finished the year as the World No.17.
And his revival has continued in a big way in 2017, starting with an incredible 16-1 start to the year that brought him titles in Brisbane and Sofia and his second major semifinal at the Australian Open:
He shifted his revival to a new gear right before the US Open when he won the biggest title of his career - his first Masters 1000 title - at Cincinnati. During that run he didn’t lose a set - he only lost one of 53 service games all week - en route to the title, defeating Nick Kyrgios in the final, 6-3 7-5.
“It’s an amazing feeling, what can I say. It was one of my greatest weeks,” Dimitrov said. “This shows that when you’re physically fit and feel good about your game and doing the right things, it pays off.
“Better late than never, right?”
Dimitrov was the first Bulgarian man ever to win a Masters 1000 title. He was also just the second player born in the 1990s to achieve the feat, the first being currently World No.4 Alexander Zverev.
After Cincinnati, Dimitrov moved back into the Top 10 at No.9. This week Stan Wawrinka slipped down from No.8 to No.9, and Dimitrov has risen from No.9 to No.8 - a return to his career-high.
So what are the chances Dimitrov goes even higher than No.8 this year? He has a fair chunk of points to defend the rest of the season, including a final (Beijing) and two more semifinals (Chengdu and Stockholm). But he’s currently scheduled to play a full fall season, and since he’s currently at No.6 in the year-to-date standings, he may qualify for - and earn even more points at - the ATP Finals.
Stay tuned to Tennis Channel to follow Dimitrov and all the biggest stars until the end of the year!