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After defeating 19-year-old Jannik Sinner in three sets in round of 16 action on Friday, Grigor Dimitrov says that the young Italian, who toppled third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier in the week at Rome, needs only to follow his own path and keep growing his game.

Tennis Express

“I feel he can only get better,” Dimitrov said after notching a 4-6 6-4 6-4 victory over the Italian teenager.

Dimitrov said the young Italian should avoid listening to all the hype about him and just stay focused on the process.

“This is, I would say, one of the biggest mistakes when I was upcoming when everyone was telling me, ‘Oh, you're going to be a champion one day, you're going to be No. 1,’” Dimitrov said. “He should not listen to all of that. He should follow his way.”

Dimitrov said he hasn’t seen a ton of Sinner’s game, but nevertheless did his best to give a good assessment of what the World No.81 has to offer.

“What I like, he's already a very strong guy, meaning his legs are very strong already for his age,” he said. “So I feel he can only get better. I have not played honestly enough against him [before Friday's match]. I have practiced a few times, and, you know, we always have good practices and he's very stable.”

The Bulgarian, currently ranked No.22, says that Sinner needs to keep the ball between the lines more.

“He needs to start being consistent,” he said, before explaining how things went in their first ever meeting. “That's just how it is, for example, the first set he was playing so loose, I mean, he was making so many deep balls, and, I mean, I was thinking to myself, ‘Okay, he's loose, I get it.

“The second set, as soon as he had this break up, I felt mentally I was already ahead of him for some reason, even though I was a break down. I started using my slice a little bit more, and he was trying to overpower—he tried to overpower me in a sense, that he wanted to kind of blow me off the court, for example.”

Dimitrov chalked his win up to experience. The type of experience that Sinner will need to accrue over the years, and the type of experience that will allow him to win matches, even when he isn’t playing at his best.

“This is experience,” Dimitrov said. “That's just how it is. However you look at it, it's just experience.”

Dimitrov adds: “He has yet to develop his game. I think Riccardo [coach Riccard Piatti] is doing a great job with him. I think time can only tell for him. I think that's just how it is. I think on hard he's playing really well. Even on clay today I thought it was a very good match on his end.”