One of the most graceful players in ATP Tour history, Grigor Dimitrov has never been one to focus on cold, hard numbers. That is not to say the Bulgarian’s career stats do not hold up.
On Saturday, Dimitrov defeated Juan Pablo Varillas at the Chengdu Open for his 400th tour-level win, a milestone he later acknowledged he was unaware of while completing his 6-3, 6-4 victory.
“I’m a person that loves the game and I’ve, in a way, lived for the game,” the 32-year-old told ATPTour.com. “I think this [milestone] has been something for me that was not the most important thing, but at the same time I try to do the right things for the sport itself. I think when you do these things and you win, it adds up.
“This is an achievement in itself. For me, I never set myself a goal to have 500 or 300 wins or whatever it is. You just never know how it is going to be, but I’ve been on Tour for 14 years now so it’s nice when you have that approval and you’ve done it yourself out there. You’ve gone out there 400 times and won, so I think it’s pretty cool.”
Grigor Dimitrov poses for a selfie with fans after claiming his 400th tour-level win at the Chengdu Open. Photo Credit: Chengdu Open.
An eight-time tour-level champion and former No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Dimitrov has come a long way since his first tour-level victory as a 17-year-old in 2009, when he upset then-World No. 23 Tomas Berdych in three sets in Rotterdam. The Bulgarian retains clear memories of that triumph and his first experience of being a winner on the ATP Tour.
“I remember everything about that day, about that match,” recalled Dimitrov, who went on to push Rafael Nadal to three sets in the second round. “About two days before that match, I was supposed to play qualies in Rotterdam, and the night before the qualies started they decided to give me a wild card and I drew Tomas. Then I saw the draw and it was Tomas, and Rafa was up there, and he’d just come from winning the Australian Open.
“That match against Tomas was crazy. I was sliding, running around. I was just being myself out there really, and I never thought about, ‘Oh that’s my first [Tour win]’ or something like that, it was just another match for me. I think this is something that at some point you need to remind yourself a little bit more.”
Still going strong on the ATP Tour 14 years later, Dimitrov hopes to use breaking the 400-win barrier as a foundation for renewed success deeper into his 30s.
“It not only motivates me to play well, but to develop more,” said Dimitrov, who lifted the biggest and most recent title of his career at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals. “I think in whatever I want next in my life as well. Tennis is not everything. The career, if you think about it, it comes and goes.
“Nothing lasts forever, especially in our sport, so use that window as much as possible, enjoy as much as possible, love as much as possible, play as much as possible and how the cards fall, you never know. The only thing I can try to do is give 100 per cent of myself.”
Regardless of what happens, Dimitrov will take some time to cherish his latest achievement in a career that has made him one of the most popular figures on Tour among players and fans alike.
“I’ve always been the type of person that never focused on [stats], but of course I’m going to rank it up there,” he said of hitting the 400-win mark. “One of my favourite stats, and I have it almost as a trophy. I haven’t won a tournament lately, but I feel like I’ve won something very special and that’s that. My career is far from over, so who knows, maybe I’ll reach 500?”