Despite succumbing to Andy Murray in the final at the Brisbane International Open, Grigor Dimitrov's level of play has the tennis world buzzing.
During his final run in the season's opening tournament, Dimitrov upset Milos Raonic, Jurgen Melzer and Marcos Baghdatis. In those victories, Dimitrov focused on playing more aggressively, and it paid off.
In Dimitrov's victory over Raonic at Brisbane, the young Bulgarian won every point on his first serve, which is remarkable despite Raonic's poor return game.
Instead of being tentative from the baseline, Dimitrov made a concerted effort to take the ball early in order to dictate play. With his fundamentally sound forehand and powerful serve, the young Bulgarian has the weapons to be successful on tour.
According to Tennis.com, Dimitrov said the following after his loss to Murray in Brisbane: "I got off to not the best start and he was playing very aggressive, and by the end of the first set I had turned the tables. It's a change of mentality really, and that doesn't happen in a few weeks. It's taken time to believe that that's the right thing to do, to be aggressive."
A major change in on-court philosophy can lead to growing pains, but that has not been the case for Dimitrov. Instead, he looked more comfortable on the court in Brisbane.
Murray had a front seat to Dimitrov's transformation, as the world's third-ranked player said the following after his victory (ht/t Tennis.com): "It's his first final. Everyone will agree he played some extremely exciting tennis, it was a very tough match. He's just changed coaches, started with a new team, so congratulations to them—I'm sure they're going to do great things together."
In some cases, like with Fernando Gonzalez and Larry Stefanki at the 2006 Australian Open, a coaching change can inspire improved performance, especially in the short term.
The new voices in Dimtrov's ear appear to be doing him a lot of good, with the ultimate goal being consistent success.
Dimitrov decided to leave his longtime French coaching team in favor of the Good to Great Tennis Academy in Sweden, a coaching service run by former pros.
The decision by Dimitrov shows he is ready to take the next step in his development, as his honeymoon period on tour is officially over.
At 21 years old, Dimitrov can no longer hide behind the veil of potential. The time is now for him to improve conditioning and on-court mindset, which is something he appears to have realized.
Dimitrov said the following in regards to his decision to change coaches (h/t Tennis.com):
I think the time that I was there, I think it was the appropriate time for me to be [in France]. It was a great four years. I experienced a lot of things. But think there is a time in life when you want to find the best way for you and improve in what you do. I mean, the years are rolling and you don’t want be stuck at a certain spot, so you got to try things until you actually find the right formula for it. I felt it was time for me to change and experience something new.
After being dubbed as "Baby Federer" years ago, Dimitrov appears poised to proceed past the second round at a major when the Australian Open kicks off in a week's time.
Aggressive players are rewarded on tour, which is why the future is bright for Dimitrov, who is set to make 2013 the best year of his young career.