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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday January 16, 2024

Grigor Dimitrov had to wait more than six years between ATP titles – way too long for a player of his caliber – but now that the 32-year-old Bulgarian is back in winning ways, he’s able to take stock of the process that enabled him to get back to playing impactful tennis once again.

Tennis Express

On Tuesday in Melbourne, after edging Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-2, the No.13 seed talked about what it took for him to build back his belief – and his tennis – to its current level.

“I had to find a way to work smarter, [and take stock of] what else I could improve, not only for the game but especially having to compete with all that sort of younger guys, younger generation and all that,” Dimitrov told reporters. “I had to find a different way to prime myself up to get to this point again, and it takes time.”

The 8-time ATP titlist and former World No.3 says he always had a sense of perspective, and enough self-belief to know he could get back to an elite level of tennis, he just needed time.

“The one thing I always believed in was the bigger picture,” he said. “I knew eventually things might come around for me on a better end. I knew I just had to keep on believing in the process. So there were, small steps I felt like I had to do every single time that I was getting out on the court or in fitness and all that – I had to go through the small beliefs every single day.”

Dimitrov, who will face either Thanasi Kokkinakis or Sebastian Ofner in the second round in Melbourne, says that each step he took put him in a better place mentally and physically.

“I think that sort of propelled me to put myself in a better mental state, in a better physical state,” he said.

And the tennis? That’s never been the problem, he says.

“I know I have the game, but how I'm going to put my game in order to do it not once, not twice, but over a period of time. It took time.”

Finally, Dimitrov says that playing his formative years and the bulk of his career in the Big Three era has only made him stronger today. It was tough to be shut out by the greatest forces in the history of men’s tennis, but he wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I had the game but I didn't have the body,” he said. “Then at some point I had the body and the legs but my game was a little bit off. It was just always that constant adjustment for me.

“And again, I'm not complaining I played in that era. I loved it. I would never give it up for anything. If someone says, ‘Oh, you get more titles,’ whatever, no, no, no. I'm very, very happy, because the experience that I gathered throughout the years and playing against these guys, my God, honestly, after that, nothing can scare you.”