Like Monfils, who was featured in the previous edition of this new series of blog articles, Grigor Dimitrov is one of the greatest under-performing (using the same definition of ours in the previous edition of this blog series) tennis players in opinion. With a great playing style (such style is not merely stylistic) and an athleticism made for tennis, Grigor Dimitrov could have won a grand slam ages ago had he not stuck to some major impeding techniques and/or styles of playing. Read on to find out what some of them are!
- Standing too far behind the baseline
Grigor Dimitrov is gifted with a natural affinity for the eastern forehand grip, which is quite rare in a tennis world dominated by the semi-western. The Eastern forehand grip is deemed outdated given the commonly held belief that it does not handle topsin that well - a flawed belief made even more prevalent by the then skewed head-to-head statistic between Federer and Nadal in favour of the later. As mentioned, this belief is flawed despite being deduced from the apparent. The eastern forehand is actually very versatile - in terms of being able to produce and receive spin. The additional benefits that come from it, vis-à-vis more conventional grips, are its better ability to take balls on the rise, the range of shots producible by such grip, and the shot-making ability it gives a player given that it is the most 'flexible' of all grips. A caveat is that such benefits will be received best the nearer one stands to the baseline, given that the range of shots possible increases the nearer one is the centre of the court. Dimitrov is doing exactly such a thing to deny himself the fuller range of possible benefits.
- He needs to change his serve
Speed is of the essence for anyone using the eastern forehand grip, not because not doing so will put one at a disadvantage, but because the speedy game is the best one playable with such a grip. What is one shot which plays the most important role in setting the speed of gameplay within a point - the serve. On account of that, Dimitrov is once again massively behind what he can potentially become. His serve quite energy-inefficient, the broad distance between both arms mid-way into his service motion means that a lot of energy is lost during the pivoting phase. This is the reason for his force lacking more speed or force than usual as compared to most other professionals his standard. Such service motion also ensures that he has much less service variety to play with - if you observe closely enough you can see that most of his serves are very straight, and hence rather predictable. A more compact serve will solve this double trouble.
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