The ATP doesn’t stop too much in Grigor Dimitrov’s home country of Bulgaria. However, there is a 250-level tournament to be played this week in Sofia, and that will put Dimitrov under a little bit of pressure to perform. The Bulgarian, who is seeded third in the tournament, is the betting favorite to win the title this week with Dominic Thiem, David Goffin, and Roberto Bautista-Agut also in the field (bet365).
If Dimitrov plays anything close to the level of tennis that he played during the 2017 Australian Open, then his adversaries are not likely to stop the Bulgarian in the upcoming days. Dimitrov looked incredibly convincing in Melbourne Park as the #LostGen player most likely to win a Masters Series or Grand Slam title in 2017. He scythed his way through his quarter of the draw before losing a coin toss to Rafael Nadal in what was a memorable match. I think we’re seeing the beginning of Dimitrov’s rise to No. 1., noting that he has had one of the best starts to the 2017 season.
But a good question right now is what kind of condition Dimitrov is in following his efforts in Melbourne Park. He’s certainly not used to playing six matches in a Grand Slam draw yet, noting that he had only previously made one major semifinal before. In fact, I think the Sofia draw is almost entirely on Dimitrov’s racket provided that he is 100% recovered from his exertions in the South Pacific. Not only did Dimitrov make the semifinals at Melbourne Park, but he also won Brisbane to start the season. His Sofia draw is very workable all the way to the final with just Dominic Thiem sharing a path to that round as a core contender. The Austrian is definitely a talented player, however, his most-proven surface remains clay following his 2016 French Open run to the semis.
Veterans Philipp Kohlschreiber and Marcos Baghdatis have withdrawn from the 250-level tournament. The German’s reason is cited as a back problem in the official scoresheet while the Cypriot’s is a right-foot problem. Their exits do lighten the draw a bit as both were replaced with lucky losers.
The bottom of the draw has the main threats to Dimitrov. Goffin is the 2nd seed while Bautista-Agut is the 4th seed. Bautista-Agut has a recent title on tour, he made a good showing at the Aussie, and he’s last year’s champ from Sofia. I really like his chances of reaching the top ten sometime this season, and I think he’s a contender for the year-end tour finals. However, Bautista-Agut did play Davis Cup over the weekend, two matches that he won. The wins were only against players nowhere near the radar for good ATP tournaments. It could be that the seven sets of tennis might blight the Spaniard this week in Bulgaria.
Heading into the draw, a Dimitrov/Goffin showdown for the title looks plausible. Goffin skipped Davis Cup play over the weekend, and that’s a major clue that attests to his desire to compete for the Sofia title. The Belgian had nothing against Dimitrov in the Melbourne quarters, and I would expect the Bulgarian to win if they meet in the final.