Grigor Dimitrov is not having the best spring. A virus contributed to him losing four of his last five matches. He starts his Monte Carlo ATP 1000 Masters campaign this afternoon against the Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert hoping to reignite a season that has had some highlights: reaching the final in Rotterdam where he lost to Roger Federer, the semifinals of Brisbane (Nick Kyrgios) and the quarterfinals of the Australian Open (Kyle Edmund). But his aura is still intact and where he goes is remembered as the Master of tennis. His victory last winter at the 02 Arena in London supports him.
Before his debut at the Monte Carlo Country Club, the Bulgarian tennis player, number 5 in the world this week, remarked on his recent form: "Sometimes you need one or two matches and then suddenly the best match comes with the better tennis. And other times it's the other way around. Last year, in Cincinnati, I did not have good practice the previous days. I could not get the ball on the court. And the tournament came and I was able to win it. It was crazy. I did not expect it. I wish this happened to me many more times. "
As a Monte Carolo resides the 26 year old Dimitrov has been able to spend more days than expected at home after his premature departure from Miami, where he lost to Jeremy Chardy in the third round. He looks forward to this tournament that brings him back to clay, the surface on which he stood out in his early career. The Bulgarian was granted a scholarship for several seasons at the Sánchez Casal Academy and was used to this surface, although over time he has had more success on hard courts and has yet to raise single trophy on clay.
"I grew up on clay," he told atpworldtour.com, "I spent my first years in Barcelona, so I feel like I can play well on this surface." Last year I was a bit unlucky in certain tournaments (4-5 win/loss record on clay), but this is a new year, I am a year older, but also more experienced, more mature, I have to try to learn something from last year. "
Talking to the international press, he made some interesting reflections in the Principality: "I try to take things as they are. I finished the hard court season a bit earlier, so I guess that gave me a little more time to rest, rehabilitate my body and start over. I think that until now I have done all the right things and the only thing I can do now is to go out and start competing. It's my priority right now: play a lot of matches to start moving on the clay as best I can. "
Dimitrov is one of the main attractions of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell this year. He has played on the courts of Real Club Tenis Barcelona on three occasions, but that was long before his appearance as a great tennis star. In 2008 he did not pass the qualifying and in the 2011 and 2013 editions he fell in the first round of the main draw.
When asked if he is ready to win a Grand Slam he has no doubt. Many previous Masters champions have won Grand Slams, but it is neither a guarantee nor a pre-requisite: after all, Rafa Nadal has never won the Masters.