Why Dimitrov Wants To 'Put The Past In The Past' In 2020

Go inside Dimitrov's road to the 2020 season

Grigor Dimitrov got off to a fast start in 2020, nearly leading Bulgaria to the Final Eight by helping his country past Great Britain and Moldova. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion will look to maintain that momentum as the No. 18 seed at the Australian Open, where he made the semi-finals three years ago.

Physically, the 28-year-old is prepared after an intense off-season conditioning block in Monte-Carlo.

“It’s such a different pain to what you experience on the court because on the court you cannot turn off your brain, but here you can actually turn off your brain,” Dimitrov said. “So you can kind of push through it a lot and that’s what we’re aiming [for], especially early on in the weeks, to just beast through it and be like, ‘This is where I’m at, I’m burning, I’m feeling pain, I’m suffering’, but sort of close your eyes and go through it. [That’s] whether you’re going to lift weights, do something on a bike, do a cardio exercise, so you’re able to do that.

“When you get on the court you cannot really do that. You need to follow the ball, take the right decision, stay loose in your head. But I think all that from the gym carries so much more for us on the court and then when you’re in a similar situation, if you start feeling whether it’s an anxiety a little bit, nervousness or a higher heart rate for example, you kind of go back to what you’ve done and you know you’ve gone through it. That gives you a certain way of calmness and then the rest is [the] mental game.”

In Monaco, Dimitrov would start in the morning to wake up his body, do injury prevention exercises, work on his abs among other body parts, and generally do work that he is unable to do during the season at tournaments. Along with his team, the Bulgarian also worked on his shoulder because of an injury that limited him early in 2019, preparing for a stronger start to 2020.

“It’s like Formula One, we are always on the edge, so it’s like the details that make the difference here and there. We do some muscle testing, we see there is this feeling on the court, off the court when we do the exercise,” Sebastien Durand, Dimitrov’s fitness trainer, said. “We have to listen a lot and then we have to adjust all the time to his feedback. Constant adjustments. We work, but at the same time it’s creative, we put the brain on it and it’s fun, too.”

After falling as low as No. 78 in the FedEx ATP Rankings last August, Dimitrov turned his season around by making the semi-finals of the US Open and the Rolex Paris Masters.

“I think right now I’m really not trying to think so much about how I ended the year. Yes, I had pretty good results, but those were important for me personally,” Dimitrov said. “It was a tough moment, especially when I started dipping down the [FedEx ATP] Rankings. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to come back by the end of the year.”

Dimitrov is now focussed on what’s in front of him. The 2019 season was a roller-coaster, but he’s ready to push forward to greater heights.

“There were a lot of question marks, a lot of doubts and in a sense negative thoughts. The most important thing right now is to really keep on doing the work and sort of put the past in the past,” Dimitrov said. “I think it’s a very exciting time ahead.”

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