The one breakout star of the 2014 Australian Open in the men’s draw has been Grigor Dimitrov. Earlier Monday the 22-year-old defeated Roberto Bautista Agut to advance to his first career Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Dimitrov, who bested Milos Raonic a round earlier, became the first man from Bulgaria to ever make it to a Slam quarter. Up next, however, is a showdown with World No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
Dimitrov three times has played Rafa taking a set in each, and now on Wednesday the boyfriend of Maria Sharapova isn’t going to back down. Not now.
“I had tough battles with him in the past,” Dimitrov said. “Played a couple times on clay. There were always little things missing. But I’m quite happy with the way I’m performing so far. So I like my chances.”
Here’s Dimitrov’s full presser from Monday:
Q. Two rounds further than you’ve ever been in a Grand Slam. Looks like Rafa awaits. You could be satisfied to get this far. How do you approach it?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: First of all, I’m really happy to be out there in the quarterfinal. I’m not even close to satisfaction. I would say I’ve been working really hard in the past year, especially in the off season.
So it’s nice to see that result, you know, coming over. It’s nice to see a bit of a good result for me, but I’m just excited, you know, for that win of course today.
I’m really looking forward to that match. I just want to put myself into a good position to play matches like that more often. So that’s what I’m working for and this is what I’m aiming for.
At the end of the day, it’s just another match.
Q. Coming this far for the first time, how are you feeling fitness wise? Body holding up okay?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, not bad. Not bad. Got a little treatment after every match. Following a little protocol. Everything has been quite okay so far with the body.
Yeah, feeling good and excited.
Q. When there’s so much expected of you going forward, do you have to be patient yourself?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: I think most of the time patience is key in general, not only in sports, but I think in life.
Again, you know, this is what I always wanted to do, is to play tennis. You know, you have to be patient. I started playing tennis really early. This is what I’ve always wanted to do.
So whether I like it or not, the patience is one of the main ingredients to become good.
Q. You had a pretty tough match with Nadal a few years back maybe in Rotterdam. I don’t know if you’ve played him since then. What was it like then and what do you expect?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: We all know that he has won tons of slams. He’s been a tremendous competitor. He’s Rafa. We all know him.
But, again, I just want to put myself that’s what I’m playing for, to put myself in position to play those guys. I had tough battles with him in the past. Played a couple times on clay. There were always little things missing.
But I’m quite happy with the way I’m performing so far. So I like my chances.
Q. Why do you hit a one handed backhand?
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Why? ‘Cause I never knew how to play with two, so…
And my father taught me how to play one hand. He’s still teaching two hands, but I’ve never been interested. That was also one of his passions, actually one of his favorite shots.
I guess that’s one of the reasons that I’m taught that way.
Q. Is it nice to see 7 guys, one handers finished in the top 20 last year. You were outside that but will soon be in there.
GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, it feels good.
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