They have the same style. They have the same gameplay. They share the same characteristics which make them so good. But what makes them so different when the extent of their achievements is concerned. Is it a matter of Federer being better in the qualities that they share? Or is there a quality not visible to the eye that Federer has, which makes him way better than Dimitrov? Dig in here to find out about what we think about this matter!
First, let's find out about the strengths which they share, and which made Federer the greatest tennis player of all time
The Rather Eastern Forehand Grip
The rather eastern forehand grip has given these players the versatility of shots and gameplay that more conventionally-gripped players will never dream of attaining. The lack of a need to rotate the body so thoroughly gives them a wider arc towards which they can direct their shots too - hence the amazing shot-making abilities of Federer particularly. The significantly lesser amount of body rotation needed for their shots also means less physical strain is being put on their bodies, allowing for lighter movement on the court without really compromising power - Federer's feather-like lightless is very much grounded in fundamentals and not merely a style! It is these two factors - outstanding shot-making ability and amazing footwork - that have helped Federer win the trail of matches that led him to where he is today. Why is Dimitrov not able to capitalize on such advantages to the extent Federer did?
Upon some analysis, some differences between the two players could be sourced out indeed, and boiled down mainly to two technical reasons
This is where the main difference between the very great and the greatest lies. If you observe closely the gameplay of Dimitrov and Federer, particularly on their typical court positions, you would find that while Federer typically hugs the baseline, Dimitrov stands a few inches (or is it centimetres? we are not good at this subject called 'distance measurements') from the baseline. This is a huge squandering of his precious gift of having a semiwestern-eastern forehand, the specialty of which is to naturally produce low and fast fast-skidding balls that gives the opponent less time to react (when compared to the typical balls produced by other forehand grips). In fact, it could be argued that Dimitrov is put at a disadvantage because when his shots get hit from such a distance, the above mentioned effect of fast penetration would not be as potent (in competitive tennis, the inches could make all the difference!) Might as well use a semi-western, Grigor!
A tennis coach in my junior days used to say that the most important shot in a tennis match is the serve. Because the serve sets everything else in the point up, it either makes or break you from the very start. If you notice - Federer seems to be having it easy for a lot of (if not most of) his service games, whereas that is not the case for Dimitrov at all whose service usually gets neutralized as the point goes deeper! There is a massive and glaring technical difference to both of their serves, as can be seen in the above photo. The key is Dimitrov's long extended and laterally stretched shoulders, as opposed to the compactness of Roger Federer's. This creates a greater distance between the racket head at such ready position (as captured precisely in that photo) and the eventual contact point. This means comparative energy loss for Dimitrov, and less precision given the naturally lessened ability to aim with such a body position.
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