“Players when they come up, they have this little window, if they catch the wave, yeah, they’re there,” he said before the Open began. “A lot of guys can play good the first year, but how are you going to play your second year? Your third year? Your fourth, your fifth? I mean, that is where you’re going to actually see how much you’ll develop.”
To Dimitrov, it felt like yesterday that he was where Shapovalov and others are now. Experts flattered him with a “Baby Fed” moniker, a reference to Federer, the third-ranked player in the world. People also told Dimitrov after junior boys’ titles in 2008 at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open that he needed to strike fast on the men’s tour, too.
Grandiose expectations aside, Dimitrov, at 23, rose to No. 8 in the world in 2014. He has earned about $10 million in prize money. He came to New York riding a Masters 1000 tournament victory in Ohio, hoping for that elusive Grand Slam title breakthrough.
And then, in his second-round match Thursday against the lanky Rublev, he managed to blow 4-1 leads in the first two sets and succumbed, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-3. He departed the tournament knowing the good news is that his pursuit…