Technical discussion of Dimitrov's game


Hall of Fame
During the match against Federer at 2019 USO (just ID'ing it for people reading in the distant future, if any), Cahill and McEnroe talked at length about the issues that have kept Dimitrov in the 10-20 range in the rankings.

In no particular order, here they are:
* Small frame with less forgiving sweet spot and power than most players. This has been changed under Agassi et al. Dimitrov is still making too many errors as a result of the extra power and whatnot. His backhand used to be defensively weak because of the frame. He had a tendency to give ground in rallies from that side. Cahill suggested this nudges Dimitrov into a comfort zone just playing defense rather than dictating.
* Poor returning results are due in whole or part to the fact that he starts the return with a tweener grip and then always shifts. The recommendation from both Cahill and McEnroe was to pick one grip, either forehand or backhand and then only change when the serve is to the other side. I think it makes sense to start with a backhand grip since most players disproportionately serve to his backhand. The grip problem takes time away from Dimitrov and means he needs to stand further back to hit returns than he otherwise might.
* Serve ball toss should be more to the right side, or 1 o'clock if you prefer. The toss makes his serve predictable. Players eventually sit on second serves and hit big returns.
* His volleys could be better. McEnroe repeatedly criticized Dimitrov's choices after the split step. He seems fine up until that point, but afterwards he can hit the ball weakly, or to the wrong spot.

Some of this is being corrected by Agassi and his team, but I think Cahill is right that Dimitrov is a career 10-20. All of these issues, and probably some not mentioned are undoubtedly not secrets. Dimitrov's various coaches over the years, stretching back into childhood, probably have tried to make corrections. Anything is possible, but I think it's likely that Dimitrov is mostly immutable at age 28.


I don't think his ball toss is a serious problem, he can hit every serve quite well from that position. I think the real issue with his serve is the predictability of where he sends his second serve. Also listening to McEnroe's criticism of Dimitrov sliding was incredibly annoying. Just because McEnroe has never slid in his life does not mean the slide isn't effective or necessary and it also doesn't make it impossible to change direction out of it. The other stuff I completely agree with.
Dimitrov has low elbow in trophy position. Thus givin less power and consistenct to serves and is more injury prone movement. Dimitrov has had second serve problems throughout his career.