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Grigor Dimitrov: A work in progress

He's dating Sharapova but there are a thousand other reasons why people should be interested in Bulgaria's rising star.

Last Modified: 26 Jun 2013 09:14
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Grigor downed Italy's Simone Bolelli 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday to move to the second round [GETTY]

"I like Wimbledon. I like England," says Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov.

Why?

"Because I like the weather."

Dimitrov is being serious – and a group of English journalists are looking at him questioningly.

"Why?," I probe him.

"Because I like the rain – the gloominess, the clouds coming in," he replies.

These are strange words to hear at Wimbledon, but perhaps someone like Dimitrov can afford a bit of gloominess in their life. Because things are going rather well for the 22-year-old.

Dimitrov is through to the second round of Wimbledon, is ranked world number 31 and is dating the desirable Maria Sharapova.

Outside of tennis’ fab four, he is the name on people’s lips. There is potential in Dimitrov.  

Court number 18 was chock-a-block with fans as he defeated Italian Simone Bollelli in three sets. There he had commentators in the palm of his hand, gushing over his technique and charismatic court persona.

As well as enjoying ‘a good win’, Dimitrov would have inevitably liked the weather, with plenty of clouds joining the party on day two.

Something that isn’t as much to his liking though is the ‘Baby Federer’ tag which has been cast upon him.

"I think this thing is getting pretty old. That’s one thing I’ve learnt in past month. I have built up my own style and game and everything has been going according to Grigor Dimitrov. Of course it’s nice to hear but this thing comes to an end," he says, in a manner rather dissimilar to the Swiss great.

Dimitrov in action on Court 18 [GETTY]

Yet – the similarities with Federer end when you start talking about trophies. His lack of a significant title exposes the fact Dimitrov is still is a work in progress, something he readily admits himself.

Despite reaching the third round in Roland Garros, he is not sure how far he can go at Wimbledon.

"I feel good for this tournament but I have to work on a lot of things – I know I can do much better."

Dimitrov is also in action on Wednesday, taking part in the doubles alongside Danish friend Frederick Nielson. Whilst clearly excited about doubles tennis and playing with Freddy (as he calls him), Dimitrov says it might be the last time he takes part in both competitions. His singles schedule is firmly a priority. 

Unsurprisingly Dimitrov would not entertain questions about his new relationship with world number three Maria Sharapova or her spat with Serena Williams, in which his name was dragged through the mud.

"I won’t comment on that. I’ve played a great match today and I’d rather talk about my tennis than this other side."

In a way questions about Sharapova seem rather futile when you consider the potential and character of this young man.  

Dimitrov is leading Bulgarian tennis to new heights, he is the first Bulgarian male to rank inside the top 30, to reach the third round of a grand slam and to claim $1m in prize winnings. He has already given his nation's tennis fans something to cheer, and one wonders if there is much more to come. 

Outside of the top ten, Dimitrov is one to watch at his tournament and into the future. Not because of his good looks, famous girlfriend or love of the rain – but because he has the talent and quiet confidence of someone who could one day be a grand slam winner.  

Joanna Tilley is a freelance journalist working with Al Jazeera on the Sport website and reporting from the Wimbledon Championships. She has worked at Sky News, Sky Sports News and LBC Radio.

Follow her on Twitter (@joannatilley) or her website, http://mythoughtonsport.blogspot.com

Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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