Former Dutch tennis player Richard Krajicek reckons Grigor Dimitrov’s career was influenced adversely by the media comparisons between him and Swiss maestro Roger Federer.
Dimitrov is one of the few players who has been compared with Federer from very early in his career, even given the nickname of ‘BabyFed’. And it looked like he was about to live up to those comparisons during the 2017 season, in which he finished the year ranked third.
He had gone on to win the ATP World Tour Finals title in that year, after having started off the season with a semi-final appearance at the Australian Open. There was a Cincinnati Masters title to boot as well, making it five tournament finals and three victories in them.
This year, however, a season in which he was expected to take off and challenge for a major, Dimitrov entered just one final and lost that at Rotterdam to Federer. He has currently fallen to number 19 in the world.
The former Dutch player said while Dimitrov is a very talented star, comparisons with Federer have been unfair because “there is only one Federer”.
“He has a nice technique, good player, unbelievable guy like Roger, but it was difficult and not only to deal with Federer but also with [Rafael] Nadal, [Novak] Djokovic, [Andy] Murray who were still playing.”
With so many tough opponents and younger players coming through as well, it has been tough for Dimitrov to live up to those comparisons, especially the BabyFed one, which was given to him for what was described as his stylish tennis and ‘Federer-like’ talent.
Dimitrov will now hope he can turn things around as he takes on the likes of Alexander Zverev and Karen Khachanov as well, along with the aforementioned top stars.
Having made back to back Australian Open quarter-finals over the last two seasons, he should feel at home in Melbourne but his real challenge will come in the latter Majors where he hasn’t made it beyond round four since Wimbledon 2014.