PA Sport

Dimitrov hopes Agassi can help him make leap to greatness

Dimitrov hopes Agassi can help him make leap to greatness
By PA Sport

12/01/2019 at 18:36Updated 12/01/2019 at 19:42

The Bulgarian was ranked third in the world this time last year but is now down at 21.

Grigor Dimitrov hopes his partnership with Andre Agassi can help him finally make the leap from good to great.

Of all the talents in the so-called ‘lost generation’ that came after the titans of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, no one has flattered to deceive more than Dimitrov.

Saddled with the moniker of ‘Baby Fed’ in reference to his stylish game and single-handed backhand, at 27 Dimitrov heads into his 34th grand slam looking to push back towards the top of the game.

The peaks have comprised two slam semi-finals – at Wimbledon in 2014 and here in Melbourne two years ago – and the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals to end 2017.

But each time, when a move into top gear was required, Dimitrov instead hit reverse.

Having started last season as the world’s third best player, he is now down at 21 but insists the will to improve remains strong.

He said: “There’s absolutely things I can do better on the court. I don’t think I’ve reached my full potential. Yes I’ve played good and established myself as a good player but I want to be a great player. I always like to say the best is yet to come and you never know what tournament can turn out to be the best.

“The past months have obviously been a little rough, I haven’t played that many matches so I’m just going to really focus on my side of the net and see what I can do my end.

“I just want to see where I’m at physically and mentally. I’ve put in the work, the body’s ready, my mind is ready and I’m hungry to play so those are all good signs. The only thing that is left is to go out and compete.”

The addition of Agassi is Dimitrov’s latest attempt to find the final piece to his personal puzzle, the American tempted back to the tour nine months after splitting from Djokovic.

That partnership coincided with the Serbian’s elbow injury and was not the success that some had predicted but Dimitrov is delighted with how things are working out so far.

He and coach Dani Vallverdu first spoke about adding a big name to the team a year ago, and the Bulgarian said: “Andre was definitely the first choice of mine.

“I’ve known Andre for many years. Step by step we started talking again, we met two or three times and then progressively our relationship developed.

“It’s going very, very good. The whole team is pretty happy having him around. We spent four weeks together in the off-season. We had a very good understanding from day one. It’s a great combination with Dani as well.

“I’m getting a lot out of the relationship already, whether it’s on or off the court, I’m learning something new from him every day. I feel like a better person every time we spend time together so that’s already a win for me.

“When we get to the court we’re very focused, we try to recognise opponents, certain games, certain ways of playing, a little bit of how you feel in order to perform well.

“It’s a little bit tricky for someone who’s never been there to relate to. Me and him, we speak a pretty similar language and it’s so nice when someone has actually gone through that process.”

Dimitrov will play Janko Tipsarevic in the first round on Monday.