French Open: Novak Djokovic warns rising star Grigor Dimitrov he has some way to go to the top

The world number one meets the Bulgarian in the third round of the French Open

Novak Djokovic has warned Grigor Dimitrov his path to the top is far from guaranteed as the pair prepare to meet in the third round of the French Open tomorrow.

Dimitrov has long been seen as one of the sport's brightest young talents having been labelled the new Roger Federer as a teenager, and at 22 he is beginning to make his mark.

The Bulgarian has climbed to 28th in the rankings but it was his victory over world number one Djokovic in Madrid earlier this month that really caught the eye.

Dimitrov's talent allows him to play a very attractive style of game, but Djokovic stressed the next step will be all about how hard he is prepared to work.

Djokovic said: "He's still young and he definitely has the potential to be one of the top players, but it's a very long way for him. A few tournaments don't change much.

"Of course it can help him mentally because he's got shots, he's got talent, he's built well and he moves well around the court.

"Now it's all about hard work, dedication to the sport and trying to be consistently successful on all the surfaces in order to be a top five, top 10 player, because this is the only way you can actually reach the level that it is right now.

"It's very competitive. It's much more competitive and I think more difficult for the younger players to make a breakthrough than six, seven, eight years ago when I was coming up."

Somewhat surprisingly, this is the first time Dimitrov has reached the third round at a grand slam, while Djokovic is bidding to win a seventh slam title.

Dimitrov has vowed to enjoy the experience of playing the top seed, saying: "It's a great feeling, obviously. I'm going to smile coming out on the court. That's the one thing. Smiling won't win the match.

"It's the third round, it will definitely be on a big court. The most important thing is just to go out there and try to enjoy the game. And at the same time, I'm really looking forward to playing at my best. And you never know what's going to happen."

Rain was the main winner at Roland Garros yesterday, with Rafael Nadal among the players unable to start their matches.

The big upset of the day came in the women's event where American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who was ranked outside the top 200 in February, defeated 2011 champion Li Na.

Nadal will try again today against Slovakia's Martin Klizan while Maria Sharapova should finish off Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard after being reluctantly forced off last night leading 6-2 4-2.

Assuming the forecast for better weather is correct, Roger Federer and Serena Williams will play their third-round matches against Julien Benneteau and Sorana Cirstea, respectively.

PA

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