In edging past Spain's Feliciano Lopez in a gripping contest the
23-year-old Bulgarian, long-regarded as a future grand slam
champion, etched his name alongside some of the greatest exponents
of the grasscourt arts.
John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras all won the
traditional Wimbledon warm-up tournament just a few miles away from
the All England Club while of the current generation Lleyton Hewitt,
Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray have all found the slick lawns to their
While winning at Queen's Club is no guarantee of success at
Wimbledon, form at the homely Victorian club next to Baron's Court
Underground station has traditionally been a useful barometer for
the year's third grand slam tournament.
It proved the perfect Wimbledon tune-up for McEnroe in 1981 and
1984, the blue touch paper for flame-haired teenager Becker to
rampage to Wimbledon glory in 1985.
Sampras won at Queen's in 1995 and 1999 before serving and volleying
his way to the Wimbledon title while Australian Hewitt did the
double in 2002.
Nadal's famous de-throning of Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2008 was
preceded by the title at Queen's while last year Murray triumphed
there before ending his country's 77 year-wait for a men's singles
champion at the All England Club.
World No.13 Dimitrov, who already has a Wimbledon title to his name,
albeit in the boy's singles, seemed well aware of the significance
of his 6-7(8) 7-6(1) 7-6(6) win over Lopez - his third title this
year, all on different surfaces.
"We're about to find that out in a week," Dimitrov told reporters
when asked if he could repeat Murray's double.
"It's always I think special to win that week. To me this tournament
in particular has been that tournament I always wanted to win. I
remember playing as a teenager here, and ever since I have dreamt
about that moment.
"You can feel it in the spirit of the trophy itself. When you lift
it, it means something.
"The only thing I can say is I'm going to be with a lot of positive
vibes coming out to Wimbledon."
Few doubt that Dimitrov has all the weapons to win Wimbledon - a
damaging first serve, the ability to attack off both wings, an ease
around the net and ability to improvise.
On Sunday, in saving a match point against the left-handed Spaniard
whose game looks tailor-made for grass, he also showed that the
mental toughness that was occasionally questioned in the past is now
part of his make-up.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that French Open champion Maria
Sharapova, his girlfriend, is renowned as being one of the sport's
most ferocious fighters.
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"Of course I think having Maria on my side definitely adds up,
and a tremendous champion like her, there is a lot to learn,"
Dimitrov said. "But it's still completely different areas in a way,
women's tennis and men's tennis.
"But there is certainly a good amount that I have learned throughout
After a few false dawns, Dimitrov began to really assert himself on
the men's tour last year, although it was not until October that he
finally claimed his first ATP title by beating David Ferrer in
This year he won on hard courts in Acapulco and clay in Bucharest
and after claiming the Queen's title on Sunday he said he was now
becoming accustomed to title matches, even if he acknowledges he
still has big strides to take.
"For some reason I wasn't nervous at all today, which I was a bit
scared of that because usually when I'm a little nervous I play some
of my best tennis," he said.
"Of course I was focusing on winning the last point, but was all
about competing and testing myself on the mental side, which was a
little bit more important.
"I'm excited with the progress that I have had so far this year, but
my goals are way too high.
"I'm getting to know myself even better. How I'm responding on
different surfaces and sort of finding that right formula to be good
on every surface."
Whatever his formula, it is working and the notion of Dimitrov
becoming the latest member of that select list to win the
Queen's-Wimbledon double is not so fanciful.
(Reporting by Tom Hayward; editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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