Wimbledon 2014: Andy Murray faces serious challenge from friend Grigor Dimitrov after banter
The winner will take on Novak Djokovic or Marin Cilic in the semi-finals
Andy Murray has won three of his four meetings with Grigor Dimitrov, but as the Scot prepares for their quarter-final here, there could be talk of revenge within the home camp. Team Murray have already lost once to Team Dimitrov at Wimbledon this year, the Bulgarian’s coach, Roger Rasheed, having beaten Jez Green, one of Murray’s fitness trainers, in a 200-metre dash at a nearby athletics track in the week before the tournament.
Murray and Dimitrov were spectators at that race, but the two men aim to take part in future challenges between the two entourages. “After the 200-metre sprint we did the other day it was great,” Dimitrov said. “We have a few other bets that will come later on in the year. They involve both teams and this time we’re both going to participate.
“It’s more for the fun, but any money from wagers will go to charity. I think the fun is much more important. When you share that laugh it is priceless. It will be a chance for revenge for whoever loses this match, so to speak.
“That’s the beauty of tennis,” added Dimitrov. “It’s basically a gladiator battle. It’s just two people. What a great way to do that kind of thing. A quarter-final match out on Centre Court: what more can you ask for?”
Murray has got to know Dimitrov better since the Bulgarian started working with Rasheed at the end of last year. Murray has been on particularly good terms with the Australian since he coached two of his friends, Gaël Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“Andy is a great guy on and off the court,” Dimitrov said. “I have a lot of respect for him. I think we both have great respect for each other. We have practised a lot, we have played matches against each other. So I don’t think there will be any secrets out there.”
Dimitrov has been regarded as a major prospect ever since he won the Wimbledon and US Open junior titles in 2008. In his early years his style was often compared to Roger Federer’s, but only recently has his potential been realised. In the last year the world No 13 has won titles at Stockholm, Acapulco, Bucharest and Queen’s Club, and reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final in Melbourne in January.
Grigor Dimitrov’s talent is now being matched by his results (Getty)
“Maybe right at the beginning of his career it was hard for him because everyone was comparing him to Federer,” Murray said. “Now he’s starting to come into his prime. He’s won a lot of matches this year. He’s a tough player. It will be a hard match for me.”
Dimitrov, who beat Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer to reach the quarter-finals, was taken to five sets by Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round but has otherwise won in straight sets. Murray won his first four matches without dropping a set. “I feel good,” Murray said. “I haven’t played too many long matches. I’ve been moving well. And mentally I haven’t had to use loads of energy yet. But I’m aware that’s going to come.”
Dimitrov’s girlfriend, Maria Sharapova, watched him win the title at Queen’s Club last month. Until today they had been concentrating on their own campaigns here, but after Sharapova’s defeat she might start following his matches again.
“There is no competition between us, not at all,” Dimitrov said. “We are at different stages. She has had an incredible career so far and has won a lot of incredible titles. I am just starting. There is no point comparing. She is competing in the WTA, I am on the ATP.
“I think we can both learn from each other. I don’t want to compare me to her. Firstly there is no point and secondly, in my opinion, even before I knew her, I thought she was the best. I actually remember watching her win Wimbledon. She was 17, I was 13.”
Murray will be supported by the three key women in his life – his mother Judy, girlfriend Kim Sears and coach Amélie Mauresmo. “It’s gone well,” Mauresmo said of her short time working with the world No 5. “Everyone has really made me welcome in the team. I’ve got to know them much better now. Things are smoother and smoother.”
She added: “Obviously the results are a big part of it and then how he’s been playing and handling everything. He’s been pretty consistent in his first four matches. Definitely he’s going to have a big test against Grigor.”
The winner will take on Novak Djokovic or Marin Cilic in the semi-finals, though the world No 2 should not underestimate the 25-year-old Croatian, playing in his first Wimbledon quarter-final, as he has already beaten Tomas Berdych, the world No 6.
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