To be blunt, I am Baby Fed up. There is Roger Federer—sleek, balanced, and graceful. And then there is the relative upstart, Grigor Dimitrov, who often comes across as decidedly unbalanced, even when he hits fantastic screaming shots; unsure of his footing; and bipolar in his results. So we have the icon who launched a thousand (or five thousand) David Foster Wallace words, Federer. And we have Dimitrov, scamperer.
Thus, as the nickname Baby Fed goes, let's be done with it already. I thought this was the case months ago when Dimitrov said publicly that he willed its ouster. And rightfully so, for it continues to place undue pressure on him. And it shows.
Forget Maria for a moment. Forget that ballyhoo. How do you solve a problem like Dimitrov? The 22-year-old Bulgarian seized a title earlier this season in Acapulco, and he made a quarterfinal appearance at the Australian Open before bowing out to Rafael Nadal, but his 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 loss to fellow mercurial talent Ernests Gulbis this week at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells highlights the chagrin that Dimitrov fans must feel. Yea, he'll make SportsCenter top-plays reels—see below—but will he ultimately win the day?
Gulbis himself, ever the truth teller, probably said it best in this clip from Tennis Channel after defeating Dimitrov. The Latvian told Justin Gimelstob and Lisa Leslie that he has discovered, over the past month in which he has played Dimitrov now thrice, the defects, the shortcomings, in the Bulgarian's game. (He also discusses his belief that he can become No. 1, which is solid verve to see from one presently perched in the No. 22 slot.)
It's refreshing stuff from Gulbis, who remains wild at times but well worth hearing out. As the Latvian would have it, the most memorable thing about Dimitrov's week (aside from this) may prove to be that Novak Djokovic crashed one of his press conferences to discuss both the Bulgarian's chiseled looks and his favorite flavor of Sugarpova, the candy brand masterminded by his fellow tennis-star flame, Maria Sharapova.
"Flirty Sour," eh? Let's hope that not how Dimitrov, who has time on his side, feels at his tennis career's end of days. Will he flirt with greatness or find himself sour at 28, 30 years young?
What's your own read on Dimitrov's game and future? Baby Fed in waiting, or shall we nix that moniker altogether?
Got a thought, a tip, or a point to make? Hit me on Twitter @jonscott9.