Dimitrov’s open heart is a driving force behind his career renaissance

April 28, 2024

“I’m at the age,” the game’s proverbial good guy shares, “where I think maturity comes in, experience comes in, the love for the sport kicks in more”

Dimitrov’s open heart is a driving force behind his career renaissance

Over the past seven months, Grigor Dimitrov has produced some of, if not the, best tennis of his career.

Since October 2023, the former world No. 3 has amassed eight Top 10 wins, including two over Carlos Alcaraz. He’s reached a pair of ATP Masters 1000 finals and ended a title drought dating back to the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.

Last year, when Dimitrov arrived at the Mutua Madrid Open, he was ranked No. 33. Twelve months later, the Bulgarian, who turns 33 next month, is back inside the Top 10.

Earlier this week, Dimitrov was announced as a brand ambassador for Payhawk. The global spend management solution is the latest addition to Dimitrov’s portfolio, one that saw him become the face of Lacoste Underwear in January, as part of his blossoming partnership with the French luxury fashion brand that began at Roland Garros last spring.

All of this suggests Dimitrov is in a great headspace - physically, emotionally, spiritually, you name it. During a sitdown interview with Tennis Channel, we discussed the impact strong relationships have made on his willingness to push boundaries, and trust his identity as a competitor.

“Outside the court, things are just as important,” says Dimitrov. “Connections with people, with friends, with family, with people that have maybe not served you right, but you understood the lesson maturing. All these things I feel bring a lot to it. For me, it’s been an incredible road I would say the past seven months outside of tennis.

“I’m also at the age where I think maturity comes in, experience comes in, the love for the sport kicks in more. You try to understand more of yourself, more of your surroundings, more of who you want to have around, the upside of certain things, the disappointment and how to handle things.”

Throughout a career that has seen him collect well over 400 match wins, Dimitrov has coexisted as a Mr. Congeniality of the ATP Tour. Whether it’s the Big Four, shot-makers Stan Wawrinka and Gael Monfils - who preceded his box-office friendly tennis - or likes of Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz emerging from the generation behind him, Dimitrov possesses an inherent ability to build meaningful rapports with anybody. It’s a quality he traces back to his mother, Maria, a physical education teacher who like her husband Dimitar is a former volleyball player.

“She knows how to connect with people from very different backgrounds, whatever they’re doing. We often discuss that,” shares Dimitrov. “She’s like, ‘Oh, I’m trying to motivate these kids by saying this and doing that.’ She always tries to connect with people and kind of rattles them, just wants to get you out of the comfort zone to express yourself and without any judgment.

“She always wants to see the person from within. And I think this is something that I think has been the biggest trait in a way that my mom has always given me.

“My dad is totally the opposite, so it’s very strange. I’ve kind of gotten the best from both worlds because just as I feel like I can be in surroundings with many people, players, officials, and so on, I can definitely be on my own and just enjoy going for a walk in the desert. I feel comfortable with being on both ends.”

Over time, Dimitrov has learned to neutralize the highs and lows - or as he dubs them, “imposters”-that a 10-plus month season brings.

“Nothing is ever that good, but nothing is ever that bad,” he advises.

This Dimi-ssance isn’t a “magical” period he’s taking for granted, either. The game’s proverbial good guy is embracing the freedom of pursuing his own quest and figuring out what he wants in a fascinating chapter still being written.

What makes a person good, one might wonder? From the Haskovo native’s side, it all starts with being authentically Grigor-to those in his corner and most importantly, to himself.

“Everyone has a good heart and all that, but it’s also how you use it and to express yourself,” he says. “I think for me, this part has always been very, very strong. I always wanted to keep that way with the risk of maybe getting on the wrong side of some people, and being judged.”

“I’m okay with that, as long as I’m true to myself and true to my heart, and to the people that are around me. I think that itself already pushes you. It propels you to be a good person and it sets up very good and high standards for life.” —Tennis.com

Dimitrov’s open heart is a driving force behind his career renaissance