He’s been called “Baby Fed” and the looks, style and grace of Grigor Dimitrov suggest people are not far off the mark when they make a comparison with the great Roger Federer.
The Bulgarian youngster’s growing maturity helped him upset No.32 seed Kevin Anderson in an epic 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-7 (4), 6-3 contest with plenty of sensational tennis in the offing with neither man giving an inch.
It can only be a matter of time before Dimitrov produces something special on the senior tour. Now 21, he burst on the scene in Wimbledon in 2008 by winning the junior event to ensure links with Federer.
Against Anderson, Dimitrov kept his cool and his play and attitude was very similar to a certain Swiss ace. He was always ahead of his higher-ranked opponent but Dimitrov wants to be his own man.
“It’s a great compliment but it’s tough to compare someone who has not been established yet,” he said. “I’ve not got to the second week of Grand Slam yet and have not won an ATP tournament or reached the top twenty. I’m flattered but I’m sure when time goes by people will change their view. I want to be me and myself.
“There’s lots of work to do and I need to stay healthy. I need to progress a lot and can’t cut corners.”
The world No.69 had beaten Anderson in three sets in the quarter-finals at Queen’s a fortnight and certainly on this evidence Dimitrov can go far.
Given their recent meeting, it was no surprise that this was tight, tense tussle from the start, not helped by a rain delay.
Both players were serving well but it was Dimitrov who stole the advantage, taking his first set point on the Anderson serve at 5-6 with the South African firing long at the net.
Dimitrov’s ability to win the big points proved decisive and his never-say-die attitude helped him come through a brilliant third game in the second set, saving six break points in the process with both men at the top of their games.
It seemed inevitable that Dimitrov would claim the tie-break, which he did 7-3, thanks to a flying volley at set point.
But giant Anderson is not a player who takes things lying down and he was back in the match as Dimitrov’s own game dipped for the first time towards the end of the third set.
Having saved break points in two consecutive service games, Dimitrov was second best in the tie-break and Anderson took it 7-4.
However the Bulgarian rediscovered his touch and put the pressure on his opponent. Anderson netted to leave Dimitrov serving for the match. With his booming deliveries, which included 24 aces, there was never any doubt that Dimitrov would close the match after three hours and 29 minutes.
“I would like to get into the second week – and why not go even further?” he said. “I’m trying to embrace the moments here and have flashbacks to four years ago. Grass is a special place and it is great you can enjoy a couple of weeks per year on it.”
Grigor Dimitrov seems ready to live up to his huge potential.