July 22, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Vid: Who’s back? Grigor Dimitrov is back

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – A certain Bulgarian has been missing in action since the Australian Open, which was six weeks ago.

But Grigor Dimitrov is in the house at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

So it appears he has put the reported shoulder woes that have sidelined him behind him.

Dimitrov missed the Rotterdam 500 event (he was in good company there). And he missed another 500-level tournament in Acapulco this week.

The Bulgarian won Acapulco the first time he played it, in 2014. He beat Andy Murray in the semis and Kevin Anderson in the finals – both in third-set tiebreaks – after beating then No. 18 Ernests Gulbis 7-5 in the third set in the quarterfinals.

Dimitrov was the defending finalist in Rotterdam. A year ago, he was on the other side of the net as Roger Federer took back the No. 1 ranking with the title there.

Ranking sinking

Missing those 500 opportunities (and not defending a final) have taken a toll on Dimitrov’s ranking.

A year ago, going into Indian Wells, Dimitrov was one spot off his career-best ranking. He stood at No. 4, but he lost in the first round to Fernando Verdasco.

This year, he’s down to No. 29.

The area of the rankings he occupies is one he hasn’t seen for more than 2 1/2 years. It’s definitely a lull – not helped by the shoulder issue.

He should be seeded next week at the BNP Paribas Open, and so will benefit from a first-round bye.

If we still think of him as a kid, time is passing quickly. Dimitrov will turn 28 just before the French Open.

Here’s what he looked like Thursday during a lighthearted practice session on the main stadium court at the BNP Paribas Open. 

Dimitrov has never done much on the Sunshine Double. He has never won back-to-back matches at Indian Wells in his career. He’s done a little better in Miami, but he has won back-to-back main draw matches there only twice – and only once since 2012.

If you’re going to come back from injury, hey, might as well be during a month when you have few expectations.

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