Grigor Dimitrov has been taking a much-needed break. The 29-year-old from Bulgaria decided to stop his season at Vienna and recently had treatment for a foot injury.
“I think it’s very important at times to take a step back,” he told Hello Monaco. “And for me the year has been so crazy, and one thing I’ve understood from coaches and the people that have experience, that sometimes, the right thing to do is to take a step back. For the first time in my career, I’ve listened to that.”
His season has had some big swings, including testing positive for coronavirus following his appearance on the Adria Tour.
“I think it was hard. But it was also a positive thing,” he said. “And then 20 days self-isolation at home—you can only imagine, you can really think about stuff. And I really did think a lot. I appreciate, even more, the people that really care about me.”
Saying he was ‘hit hard’ by his illness, Dimitrov started slowly on his return to tour but finished with a respectable 11-6 record for the rest of the season, including the semifinals of Rome and a fourth-round run at Roland Garros.
While regular competition is difficult enough, the uncertain schedule and restrictive conditions make it additionally hard at the moment. But Dimitrov, who occasionally works with Andre Agassi and is coached by Christian Groh, is staying positive.
“Athletes are basically risking a lot, pushing the physical and psychological limits, every day, on the line,” he said. “I’m very rigorous with myself. The best thing in our sport is that you always have a next week. So you always have time to correct yourself, which is a good thing.”
But during the offseason, he is also turning his attention away from the courts. Having previously helped charitable foundations in his country, he now has his own initiative for children in need.
“I just started my own charitable foundation, the Grigor Dimitrov Foundation so I’m very happy. It’s in Bulgaria,” Dimitrov said.
The project has a special significance for him.
“I was a kid and my mom always used to pick me up from school. I was very, very young,” he said. “And every time we were stopping, there were these kids behind us and they were always stretching their arms through the fence netting. My mother tried to explain, ‘Son, they’re there because they don’t have family.’ So I always felt so sad.
“I was like, ‘Yes, I want to help them one day.’ And she said, ‘Just become a good tennis player, then start helping kids.’ I always wanted to build that type of school.”