Friday, February 13, 2009

Even Better Than Federer

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Getty

Yesterday in Rotterdam, Rafael Nadal survived in three tight sets against a youngster who seems to have come out of nowhere. But Roger Federer's old coach believes he's got a future champion on his hands.

Grigor Dimitrov's new coach, the Swiss Peter Lundgren, who has coached Marcelo Rios, Marat Safin and Roger Federer, considers the Bulgarian one of the world's biggest talents, "Meridian Match" reports, quoted by tposport.bg.

The specialist even compared Grisha with the 13-times winner of the "Grand Slam" Roger Federer in front of the "Sundsvall".

"This boy has the potential to win a "Grand Slam" tournament. He's even better than Federer was when he was his age. Grigor makes excellent volleys and has better physic than Roger. We are now starting to advance in the men's tournaments and hope to enter the top 100 this year", Lundgren comments.

The Swiss paper "Sundsvall" also reveals that Grigor himself contacted Lundgren in the Patick Muratoglu's academy in Paris. Thus our player received several ATP invitations, which at this point of his career would otherwise be impossible.

A new player to watch? The photo above is of Dimitrov acknowledging the crowd after defeat. Clearly, he loves center stage. Talent alone doesn't always lead to big results (see: Richard Gasquet), but the sport can certainly use more all-court players challenging the elite.

More On Dimitrov

12 comments:

MMT said...

I think Lundgren may have been a bit shortsighted in comparing this kid to Federer - it may gain him a few more wildcards, but it will also put him under a lot more scrutiny which may not be the best thing for young player.

I haven't seen him play yet, but I'm looking forward to catching clips of the match later.

But I'm just drooling at the Tsonga/Nadal matchup now. That should be a barnstormer.

Beth said...

Anyone know if this is airing on Tennis Channel or ESPN?

Helen W said...

It's on ATP TV (the new version of ATP Masters Series TV) so if you are a subscriber you can watch it on-line.

Beth said...

I am! Awesome. Thanks Helen W!

Helen W said...

Beth, wouldn't you have thought that they would have sent their subscribers an e-mail telling us that they had transferred our subscriptions? I missed Rafa's first match because I didn't know I could watch it. The next day I decided to see if I could log on, and lo! my credentials worked!

On another topic, do you find the commentators on the ATP TV biased? I find them irritatingly so.

The Tsonga-Nadal match was great tennis.

Vamos Rafa!

Pamela said...

I love the fresh talent, but until they actual show and prove they have the mental fortitude to win matches along with the talent .. I can't get excited.

The young ones always go all out for one match or two and seem to fade away. I'm STILL upset with Gulbis. Ugh! He's still got time, but there's no reason he couldn't be in the thick of things right now.

Helen W said...

MMT, I agree that it is entirely premature to compare Dimitrov to Federer at this point in his young career. I watched his match with Nadal and I saw lots to like -- but c'mon, he's a complete newcomer. Save the superlatives until he has played a few more than 3 matches in the ATP circuit.

Craig Hickman said...

Helen W, Lundgren compared Grigor to Federer at similar ages. I find no fault in that.

I don't know if Grigor is the real deal or not. I haven't seen him play a single point.

But lest we forget, Carlos Moya, who one could argue was simply being biased, said that 15-year-old Rafa was the best player he had ever seen and that he would surely become No. 1 someday.

Well, then.

Lundgren isn't exactly a hypemaking scrub. He took the job with Raja because he saw his potential.

How players mature into champions has as much to do with their hearts and heads as with their talent.

What if Lundgren is giving his young charge the validity he needs?

Look at that thousand-word photo. He showed that fist and that smile after losing. I suppose it could be interpreted many different ways, but I see it as the gesture of a man who believes he belongs. If he has the talent to back up that belief (taking sets off the world No. 1 isn't exactly easy to do on any surface at this point)....

Well, then.

Helen W said...

Craig, don't get me wrong -- I watched (online) most of his match with Rafa, and as I said, I saw a lot of things to like -- not least such intangibles as his mental fortitude, and his easy grace in his first-ever match against a World #1. And he's a thinking player out there as well.

Lundgren can say whatever he needs to say to his young charge, but when he starts making public pronouncements, we all get to weigh in. And I still feel that to make such comparisons is premature.

Craig Hickman said...

Helen W, I hear you. But how is it premature to say that a player exhibits more talent and a better physique than another player at a similar age?

It would be another thing if he suggested his young charge would become the next great tennis champion, shattering all Slam records.

All he said is that Grigor has the potential to be a Slam champion and he's better than Federer was at the same age.

You and I both acknowledge Raja's talent, but we don't worship him.

Lundgren's frame of reference includes Raja, whom he clearly doesn't worship. If he had said Grigor had more talent than, say, Andy Roddick, at the same age, who would care?

I refuse to see any issue with his remarks.

sic said...

Dimitrov sure looked like a potential world-beater the other night. But how many top 100 players have given similar flashes of greatness. Gasquet, Gulbis, Tsonga, etc.,etc.

The thing is all of the top 100 are amazing tennis players and as far as talent goes, very little separates them. What makes a champion is usually found in the head and chest.

Federer made to make a radical mental adjustment when he was a temperamental young player to move into greatness, despite his wealth of talent. Rafa, with less talent than say Gulbis, was born with that implacable will and tremendous heart that allows him to be a multiple slam winner and routinely beat players that seem more "talented" than he is.

So not a very controversial statement about Dimitrov. Yes, he has the talent to be one of the best, but he'll have to prove he has those other essential components before we say he's better than Roger Federer or even one-slam wonders like Albert Costa.

Beth said...

sic, I agree with what you've said about heart and determination. I think so very much of high level tennis is 'between the ears' and this cannot be overstated.