Grigor Dimitrov isn’t so worried about getting his hands on any of the sneakers from the new Queen collection, the Serena Williams-inspired tennis collection from Virgil Abloh. No, he has his energy focused on something else from the Off-White designer: all black Prestos.
“These I know I can get my hands on pretty easy,” he says about the Queen collection. “The Off-White, full-black Air Presto that just came out, that is the next one I’m looking to get.”
Dimitrov, 27, the eighth-ranked tennis player in the world, has built a sneaker collection well over 100 pairs. And he does so mainly by finding the shoes that are, well, hard to find. “I feel like I have my connections so I can get stuff early,” he says. “Back (early on) it was Yeezy and I still have quite a few pairs of those, but with the Air Maxes, every model that comes out I want to test. I have four or five pairs from Virgil’s collection. There are so many things you can do with that, so many models. I am starting to pick up a great collection.”
Growing up in Bulgaria, Dimitrov always enjoyed sneakers, but never could afford them as a youth. “Sneakers is what I always loved the most,” he says. “That is what I use on a daily basis. Nothing beats a nice, fresh pair of sneakers.”
On the court, Dimitrov hasn’t strayed from the Nike Vapor line, now wearing the Air Zoom Vapor X, often with his favorite phrase “carpe diem” on the tongue. “This is totally the first shoe I ever put on my feet as soon as I started with Nike,” he says. “It is a pretty amazing shoe.”
And he doesn’t mess around with shoes. “There have always been two things that matter the most, shoes and racquet. Period,” he says. “To be able to put something on your feet on a daily basis and not have to question or think about comfort or a blister is pretty spectacular. The Vapors throughout the years have been amazing. For me, they are by far the best.”
He also wants to be as particular as Nike will let him. He’d love to have full input on the design, choosing as crazy and creative an aesthetic as possible. “That is what I really want and what I’m always looking after,” he says. “That is the best part for me.” But even with as much color as Nike will give him, he always chooses a white sole due to him feeling the rubber is stickier and more durable when coming in white.
And it is the rubber that tells him when it comes time to switch shoes. “If it is a really long match and I’m starting to feel like the rubber is becoming a bit different and beat up, then you change your shoes,” he says. While he typically wears one pair for practice and another for matches, he could go through up to three pairs in the course of a one-week tournament if he plays deep into the event.
For his on-court apparel, Dimitrov likes to be a “rebel” and have a bit of a “rock star thing,” but knows he can’t be too loud or in your face. “I want a delicate statement that is different,” he says. “I strive for that.”
To accent the all-important shoes, the 2017 Tour Finals champion also brings two or three Rolex watches with him on every trip, which stay in his tennis bag when on the court, organized nicely in their boxes. He’ll have a leather strap version for wearing with suits and going to dinner and something a bit more casual in case he gets sweaty during the day.
Of course, Dimitrov has plenty from his sneaker collection to pair with his suits and Rolex style, whether the latest Air Max or Off-White release. One thing he doesn’t have, though, are the all-black Off-White Air Prestos. At least not yet.
Tim Newcomb covers sneakers for Tennis. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.