Grigor Dimitrov returns to action with a new coach in tow. Dimitrov is teaming up with Juan Martin Del Potro’s coach Franco Davin. Kuala Lumpur is their first tournament together.
(4) Grigor Dimitrov vs. Joao Sousa
It’s been a rather mediocre season for Grigor Dimitrov in 2015. The Bulgarian looked on the verge of finally taking his game to the next level after 2014 after making the Australian Open quarterfinals and Wimbledon semifinals. Both came under the tutilage of Roger Rasheed. By the numbers, 2015 has been largely an average season for a player that achieved those accolades last season. Dimitrov is 27-17 on the season. That is respectable, but his Grand Slam results have been even more troublesome than that record.
After making the fourth round of the Australian Open, Dimitrov went out in the first round at the French Open, the third round at Wimbledon and the second round at the U.S. Open. Those results led to the coaching change with Rasheed and Dimitrov parting ways after Wimbledon. Davin has a solid resume, having coached Del Potro to the 2009 U.S. Open title and Gaston Gaudio to the 2004 French Open title. It seems a matter now of whether or not Davin is the voice that can speak to Dimitrov and get the best play out of him.
Sousa has continued his surprising indoor play this Fall with a Finals appearance last week in St.Petersburg. That marked the third straight season that the man from Portugal has made an indoor hard court final. Last year, he did it in Metz where he lost to David Goffin. In 2013, it was at this very tournament where Sousa beat Julien Benneteau for the title. He’s off to a good start this week with a match under his belt. Sousa dumped qualifier Michal Przysiezny 6-2, 6-2 in the first round. He was solid winning 73 percent of his service points and saved both of the break points that he faced.
Dimitrov and Sousa have met once at the ATP level. That came at the 2013 U.S. Open in the opening round. Sousa prevailed that day in five sets; 3-6, 6-3, 6-5, 5-7, 6-2. Dimitrov’s serve was not good that day as he was broken eight times and won just 66 percent of his first serve points. This season, Dimitrov is winning 75 percent of his first serve points. That likely will be a main focal point for the fourth seed to get his campaign at the Malaysian Open off to a winning start.
It is always difficult to know exactly what a new coach will bring to the table. Davin is a proven winner in the coaching ranks, so his reputation should comment respect from Dimitrov. The surface here should help the Dimitrov serve be a bit more stout than the last time these two players met. That Dimitrov and Davin have had a little bit of time together to prep for this tournament should also bring with it some expectation. It has only been announced that Davin will work with Dimitrov short term for now in Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo. That means time is of the essence and positive results are a priority for coach and player alike.
Sousa is unexpected formidable on this surface over the last few years. so this figures to be a tight match. This is Dimitrov’s first career match in the main draw at this tournament, while Sousa as mentioned already has a title in Kuala Lumpur. That confidence should help him to at least take a set off Dimitrov and if the #4 seed doesn’t flash a solid first serve to set himself up for overall success, don’t be shocked if Sousa stuns him and takes the win. For The Pig, I think the Dimitrov-Davin combo will get an uneasy winning start to their relationship. The most interesting thing will be seeing how Davin will try to harness the wide variety that Dimitrov has in his game. The variety that many think has caused him to over think some points and matches, instead of focusing and trusting his best weapons.
Dimitrov wins in three sets