• Queen's Club

Dimitrov makes amends for French Open agony

Nick Atkin at Queen's Club
June 14, 2014
Grigor Dimitrov beat Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets to reach the final at Queen's © Getty Images

Grigor Dimitrov admits the memories of his "painful" first-round exit at the French Open inspired his run to the final at Queen's.

The world No.13 was dumped out of Roland Garros by big-serving Ivo Karlovic, who hit 22 aces and lost just seven of his first service points during their match.

Dimitrov has revealed he couldn't bring himself to hit a ball for nearly a week as he agonised over the defeat, but says the extra time-off has benefitted his preparations for the grass-court season.

"I was really down after the French Open. I didn't touch a racquet for around five, six days after that," said Dimitrov, who will face Feliciano Lopez in Sunday's final after beating Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets.

"It took a lot of, I would say, courage for me to just come right up here and sort of grind out there on the grass court and finding a way to go through every day with that stinging pain from the French Open.

"It was just painful. I just kept dwelling on it every day. But at the same time that pushed me into those hard sessions on and off the court, and eventually put me in a really good position. I was really positive coming into that week. Next thing you know, I'm in the final.

"It was a good thing for me to leave everything aside for a bit and calm myself down and settle, thinking that I'm going to have a better grass-court season. But it's never easy, because those days you just practice, you don't have to go out and compete the next day, so that of course stays in your head a little bit. You're over-analysing every day.

"You go for those long walks and you just keep thinking what's been happening to you. But I took that in a very positive way."

What made the 6-4 7-5 7-6(4) defeat in Paris even harder for Dimitrov to swallow was the fact he had been enjoying a superb clay-court season.

Dimitrov won his third career title in Bucharest in April and was a semi-finalist at the Rome Masters, where he lost to Rafael Nadal.

"I'm pretty good with losses in general," Dimitrov added. "But this one in Paris was just tough because the thing is I was ready and I was really expecting for myself to come out there and really perform really good, especially on those courts.

"But this loss in particular really took a lot out of me. I had all those days just to put myself out of the scene for a little bit and go back to the basics and find another inspiration for me.

"I ran for around 25 miles for the whole week. It was a good thing to kind of flush myself out.

"I love being here. I was practicing around in the area. It was just really nice to go back to basics, have to get out, take a taxi or Tube or whatever you had to do to get to the court. It actually felt pretty cool. I was excited about it, for some reason. It felt great. You know, it was just free.

"Obviously I couldn't get back the match. What else could I do except dwell for a few days and, okay, just get it over with.

"The good thing in tennis is you always have a next week, but it's just when you fall, I think the matter is how are you going to get up? How are you going to bounce back?

"And I proved not only to everyone, but I mainly proved to myself that I bounce back pretty good. You know, following back to a final after that loss, it's a good thing for me. I'm not going to lie. It feels good, but my job isn't over yet."

Should Dimitrov defeat Lopez, he will be the only player on the men's tour this year to have won titles on all three surfaces, following his victories on the hard courts at Acapulco and clay of Bucharest.

Dimitrov was unsure, however, whether his girlfriend Maria Sharapova would be in attendance for Sunday's final.

The French Open women's champion watched Dimitrov beat Britain's James Ward in the second round at Queen's Club earlier in the week.

"I don't know. It's up to her, actually," Dimitrov added. "You know, she has also her things to do. Wimbledon around the corner.

"I mean, I understand how these things are. I'm fully supportive either way, so I have no hard feelings for that."

Nick Atkin is an assistant editor at ESPN. You can follow him on Twitter @NickAtkinESPN

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