Tired of being known as “Baby Fed”, rising tennis star Grigor Dimitrov credits Australian coach Roger Rasheed for finally giving him a grand slam edge.
The Bulgarian former world No.1 junior takes on Yen-Hsun Lu on Thursday hoping to reach the third round of the Australian Open for the first time.
Dimitrov’s sorry grand slam record extends beyond Melbourne, with the 22-year-old yet to venture beyond the round of 32 at any of the season’s four majors, despite 13 previous attempts.
Lumped with the “Baby Fed” nickname since his junior days because of his Federer-like playing style and obvious talents, Dimitrov is intent on making his own name.
Hence why the 22-year-old boyfriend of Maria Sharapova hired Rasheed – former coach of Lleyton Hewitt and Gael Monfils – last September.
“He’s always been very picky with his players, which shows he means business,” Dimitrov said.
“So it’s a good sign that he’s someone who is going to push me around and we’ll have that mutual respect.
“But at the same time, he’s going to be tough but fair, which I think is important.
“We’ve been together for four months now so we’re a work in progress. There are a lot of things to come and we both believe in it.
“It’s exciting times ahead.”
Dimitrov said the partnership had already yielded dividends, with the world No.22 saying his tough four-set first-round win over American Bradley Klahn was a result of a a gruelling off-season with Rasheed.
“I ran around for around three or four hours and felt alright physically, which helps you lot mentally out there as well,” he said.
“I’m starting to find my way around a bit better in terms of preparing before a grand slam and finding the right to formula to get out there and play a good match.
“It’s our first grand slam together so we talk every day together about little pieces that we can focus on to be better.
“So hopefully with time and of course playing more matches and the experience of being together – and that experience that he had with past players – he can bring something extra and that’s what I’m looking for.”