Grigor Dimitrov snapped his streak of five straight first-round exits with a victory over Bjorn Fratangelo in his Wimbledon opener.
The Bulgarian had not won a match since beating Ivo Karlovic in the Istanbul Open semifinals. In the final against Diego Schwartzman, which he lost in three sets, the 25-year-old repeatedly smashed his racquet.
He has not been able to pinpoint the source of his recent problems in what has been a lackluster season.
"There is just so many components, I think, in the game," Dimitrov said. "And I think, of course, my confidence was down a little bit also, and I was not going for my shots. I was not playing my game in the way I wanted to structure the point, and, you know, the first serves, returns. So there are just a lot of uncertainties around that. I just couldn't, you know, couldn't get a handle."
One positive thing about those early defeats, he noted, was that they gave him extra time to train.
"I had a good week—I would say weeks—of practice considering my previous results,” he said. “So I'm just confident to get out there and play ... I just was not settled enough ... So that's why I said I just need some time. I need to find these answers, and what can I do better? ... Now, I mean, today in particular it felt really good. I felt like I was serving well, felt I was moving well on the grass."
Once ranked as high as No. 8 in the world, he is currently 37th. But Dimitrov still sees himself climbing back up the ranks, even if there is tough opposition at the top of the game. That became evident when his press conference was unexpectedly interrupted.
"The thing is, I'm not fearing anyone,” Dimitrov said. “I'm not fearing—"
The door to the press room opened mid-sentence, and none other than Novak Djokovic appeared.
"Are you sure you're not?" the world No. 1 said jokingly.
"No,” Dimitrov responded amid laughter. “Especially you. Especially you.”
A former semifinalist at Wimbledon, he is still cautious about his prospects, but says he is committed to the game.
"I'm still looking for answers, you know," he said. “I just think I have played long enough to, as I said—how I like to play and how I want to structure myself ... I was just focusing again on the tennis. That was the most important thing for me, and I just kept practicing, practicing and practicing. It seems to be good for now."
The Bulgarian will play Gilles Simon in the next round.