Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov snaps six-year title drought in Brisbane

Grigor Dimitrov has ended a six-year trophy drought with an emotional Brisbane International win.

Grigor Dimitrov has ended a six-year trophy drought with an emotional Brisbane International win. Photo: Getty

Grigor Dimitrov says he’s a better version of the player who rose to world No.3 seven years ago after breaking a title drought to win his second Brisbane International.

The Bulgarian slid into the Australian Open picture with a brilliant 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 defeat of top-10 young gun Holger Rune on Sunday.

It was the 32-year-old’s ninth title but first since a four-win 2017 season that had him on a trajectory towards dizzying tennis heights.

But multiple injuries halted that rise, with Dimitrov only rediscovering his touch late last year to move back to No.14, and finally converting it to silverware in the first event of 2024.

“There’s a lot of emotions on so many different levels for me,” Dimitrov said.

“Playing against the top players, way younger than me as well, it’s a very good way for me to see where I’m at.

“There’s a little bit more that I can get better at on a few more things.

“Who knows, if those things go right, what else might be coming my way?”

Dimitrov’s fine form hasn’t resonated with bookies, who have him 12th favourite behind rivals including 20-year-old Rune and fellow emerging stars Ben Shelton and Jannick Sinner.

But the veteran believes he’s proved his game, trademarked by a ripping one-handed backhand, has adapted to counter that generational change.

“I want to say I’m a better player now than I was back then (in 2017),” he said.

“Because of the style of everybody else, I had to alter mine a little bit, had to find a way to get through those powerful guys differently.

“I’m trying to find my way around the court against sort of a different generation.

“I’ve gone through quite a few generations over the years, so many different players. All the time I had to adapt.”

Dimitrov’s court coverage and counter-attack frustrated world No.8 Rune, who lost his temper in a tight first set then survived a 17-minute service game to level at 2-2 in the second.

The veteran then came again to break, before Rune saved a match point with a terrific volley on his serve.

But Dimitrov comfortably sealed the win, a magical backhand drop volley clinching the match to spark an emotional celebration with both his parents courtside.

Dimitrov hit 33 winners and only 14 unforced errors, with Rune saving eight break points before Dimitrov finally cracked his serve to deny him a fifth title.

“Congrats to Grigor who played an amazing tournament,” Rune said.

“I think we have a lot to build on after this week and hopefully we can go one step further in the Australian Open.”


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