At the Accor Arena,
For Grigor Dimitrov, it's Indian summer in the French capital, despite the rotten weather in Paris for several days. “The weather is good at the moment,” summed up the 32-year-old Bulgarian. He had sent Carlos Alcaraz to the carpet in Shanghai. He took on world number 3 Daniil Medvedev on Tuesday in the second round. He got the better of Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday in the semi-final after a very good fight. Dimitrov signed only his second victory in eight confrontations against the Greek, against whom he had five defeats in a row. “I really appreciate this victory because I know how difficult these tournaments have been in recent months. This is one of the key moments of my career. So I want to savor every moment.”
In the final decisive game against Tsitsipas, Dimitrov pulled out all the stops: “Sometimes we have moments of grace like this, during the match, we manage to read the game better on the court. He was serving so well during the second set and during the third set as well and I was not able to get many points on his serve. When the tie-break started, I said to myself: well, he played very solidly, I had a good recovery, I attacked the ball and my forehand in the tie-break too. That was really a great moment. »
The great Parisian week continues for Dimitrov, which will allow him to re-enter the top 15 for the first time since 2018. In form since the beginning of the fall, the 32-year-old Bulgarian notably reached a semi-final in Chengdu (China ), a quarter-final in Beijing and a semi-final at the Masters 1000 in Shanghai. This Sunday he will try to win the ninth trophy of his career, his first since the Masters won in… London in 2017. He has impressed since the start of the week with his level of play and his consistency on a tactical level. His Roger Federer-style sliced backhand is particularly effective on the Parisian surface. “It’s always been a very natural move for me, I use it a lot. In fact, it’s probably one of the first shots I learned to master and that’s why I’m so comfortable with it.”
Before his great fall, Dimitrov also had an average summer. “There were times during the year where I felt like I was playing well but nothing was going my way. When this type of moment arrives, you just have to hunker down. You never know when you're going to have a good week, when things are going to go your way. It’s all about balance in the end.” His relative mental fragility has often played tricks on him in major events. Not this week: “We always have the jitters before a match, the excitement, all that, it's part of the game. And I appreciate them a lot more than before, not only this year but also last year, already it was the case. In general, the consistency that I demonstrate on and off the court is something you learn when you mature. Now I would say that the player I am today would win the player I was 6 years ago without losing a single set. » Place for the ultimate challenge, the boss Novak Djokovic against whom he lost eleven of his twelve meetings. Mission impossible? “I think it has even more meaning than some of the great moments of my career. For now, I stay in the present moment. I have one match left to play. I will give everything. »
Against one of his many favorite victims, the Serb doesn't expect any fun: “I'm really happy for him and his results. He was world number 3. He knows how to do everything. He is a truly complete player. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s in the final here, I’m very aware of his qualities.” It will take a Dimitrov in a state of grace to bring down the master of the place.