Dimitrov hopes Serena rumours will not hit rise


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The Independent Sport

Grigor Dimitrov always expected to hit the headlines one day, but what he never expected was that the majority of interest would surround not his career, but his private life.

The Bulgarian 20-year-old has become a high-profile name at recent tournaments due the growing obsession over the nature of his relationship with Serena Williams, who has been spotted courtside at his matches.

Dimitrov has laughed off questions in that direction, but the attention he always craved has clearly not been entirely unwelcome, after one of the best performances of his career at the Miami Masters this week.

There Dimitrov, currently the world No 101, claimed his first career win over a top 10-ranked opponent in Tomas Berdych, before finally bowing out in the fourth round to Janko Tipsarevic, who was due to play Andy Murray in the quarter-finals last night.

Dimitrov is a former world No1 junior who won both the Wimbledon and US Open titles in a stellar 2008 before making the immediate decision to concentrate on the senior circuit.

Big things were expected of the then teenage Bulgarian – but then, exactly the same had been said for his two immediate predecessors as Wimbledon junior champions, Donald Young and Thiemo de Bakker.

"I remember playing juniors and then coming up to these guys and I thought it was going to be a walk in the park," Dimitrov admitted this week. "But obviously it's not. Actually I'm pretty happy that I've got so far."

Dimitrov's progress has been slow and steady. Three years after committing to the seniors, he is yet to reach a tour final, and has not gone beyond the second round in his six main draw appearances at Grand Slams.

"It's very tough," admitted Dimitrov. "Nowadays I think the tennis is getting really competitive and it's a very physical sport so you've got to be on top every time.

"Of course you have your bad days, and you have to escape a little bit from them.

"The preparation [this season] was one of the best I did since I came on the tour. It has paid off a lot.

"I was expecting to play a little better at the beginning of the year, but obviously it wasn't the right time for me."

If there is any truth in the rumours of his relationship with Williams,the young man from Haskovo, close to the borders with Greece and Turkey, can expect to stay in the headlines for some time to come. But the way it is finally going, his tennis could soon be doing just as much of the talking.