Grigor Dimitrov: I never had a good relationship with the French Open

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For a player who has the talent and the game that is suited to every surface, Grigor Dimitrov has bizarrely never done well at the French Open.

The Bulgarian, who will be seeded No. 4 in next week’s Roland Garros, has lost in the first round in Paris four times in seven appearances and his record there is his worst of all the Grand Slams.

It’s the only major where Dimitrov has never reached the second week and his winning record there is a poor 42 per cent (5-7 win-loss).

Last year, Dimitrov matched his best showing at the French Open by reaching the third round before losing to eventual quarter-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta.

The 27-year-old Dimitrov, who is the reigning ATP Finals champion, has claimed eight career titles so far – one of which has come on clay in Bucharest.

His season on the red dirt in 2018 saw him make the semis in Monte Carlo, quarters in Barcelona, before making opening round exits in Madrid and Rome.

A former semi-finalist at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open, Dimitrov is hoping he can finally turn things around at Roland Garros this year.

“Yes that would be great, of course. I always want to do better than the year before in every tournament that I play,” Dimitrov said in Madrid this month.

“I know the French has never been… we never had a good relationship I thought so far but I think with the time now that has passed, I kind of started the season pretty well, on the clay, so I just want to keep on playing that way, keep on winning matches on the clay and of course when that time comes around I hope I can do better. It’s as simple as that. The rest, I want to control what I can control and if the rest doesn’t happen, then hopefully there’s another time for that.”

Dimitrov made huge progress last year, winning his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati before capping his career-best season by lifting the ATP Finals trophy in London.

He has formed a strong team with his coach Dani Vallverdu and while the Monaco-resident doesn’t have a clear explanation for his mediocre history at the French Open, he’s not spending too much time analysing the reasons behind it.

“There’s no point to go that deep into your thoughts – for sure it’s a big event but I don’t want to get too technical because there’s really no need,” said the fifth-ranked Dimitrov when asked about why he’s never done well in Paris.

“You prepare yourself, you get out on the court, give 100 per cent of yourself and see what happens. And I think in the previous years I wasn’t able to convert any of that time that I was there, and it’s just as simple as that. Why? I wish I could give you more answers for that. In that particular situation, I don’t want to over-think it. Every year and every tournament that I enter I’m very excited, very positive and I think you need to put a lot of that into every event that you play.

“You might have tough rounds, you might lose early, it sucks for sure, but at the end of the day you play tennis and the best thing in tennis is also that you always have a next week.”

The French Open main draw action begins on Sunday May 27. Qualifying action commenced on Monday and Tuesday’s matches saw Egypt’s Mohamed Safwat advance to the second round 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-4 over Slovenian Blaz Rola.

Former semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis also won his qualifying opener, 7-5, 6-4 over 38-year-old Frenchman Stephane Robert.

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