Grigor Dimitrov hopes to use his Western and Southern Open success as the springboard for a serious tilt at a maiden grand slam title when the US Open rolls around next week.
The Bulgarian claimed his first ATP 1000 crown by defeating Nick Kyrgios 6-3 7-5 on Sunday, a fitting end to an impressive campaign in Cincinnati in which he did not drop a set and only lost one service game.
After reaching the Australian Open last eight and the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2014, great things were forecast for Dimitrov, who many likened to a young Roger Federer.
Perhaps burdened by the weighty expectation attached to that comparison, Dimitrov failed to get beyond the fourth round at any of the nine ensuing grand slams.
But a semi-final appearance at the Australian Open this year served as a reminder of Dimitrov's undoubted capabilities, further underlined by his victory over Kyrgios.
"It sounds amazing, what can I say? It was one of my greatest weeks here, I felt good all week and it’s a step forward for me," said Dimitrov, who climbed two places to ninth in the ATP rankings on the back of his triumph.
"Now I need to try and hold this momentum into the US Open.
"Going to the Open, it's for sure a lot of positivity with it, but the most important thing now is just to stay grounded, keep on doing the same work, believe in myself, and just prepare the best way that I can for the Open.
"When you're physically fit and feel good about your game and do the right things, it pays off. Better late than never, right?"
Kyrgios, meanwhile, was full of praise for his opponent while also delighted with his run to the final - which included ousting world number one Rafael Nadal - following some stuttering form of his own.
"It couldn't have gone to a more deserving player. He's really got his game back on track. I think he's starting to be where I think I pictured him being," Kyrgios said. "He struggled a year ago with his game, but now he's playing some really good tennis.
"Gradually, I just feel back to where I should feel on a tennis court. I wasn't enjoying it at all, didn't want to be out there. External things were affecting how I was feeling. It really didn't make sense.
"I feel great where I'm at right now. I'm feeling good. I'm pretty excited for the US Open. I'm just happy, being out there and getting some wins again."
24 de febrero 2018
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