Grigor Dimitrov used to tire of being labelled ‘Baby Fed’ so his slide out of the limelight at least spared him the awkward comparison with the Swiss great as he prepared for Wimbledon.
There were signs on Monday though that the Bulgarian was starting to rediscover the form that took him past Andy Murray into the Wimbledon semi-finals two years ago.
Unseeded and cast out to Wimbledon’s Court 16 to face American Bjorn Fratangelo, Dimitrov, the one-time boyfriend of Maria Sharapova, won 6-3 6-4 6-2 to reach the second round.
It snapped a sequence of five first-round defeats for the 25-yer-old who is still to reach the heights many predicted after he won the Wimbledon junior title in 2008.
“There were just so many components in my game that I just felt were not up to speed,” Dimitrov, who faces Frenchman Gilles Simon next, told reporters when asked what had been wrong.
“My confidence was down a little bit also, and I was not going for my shots. I was not playing my game in the way I wanted to structure the points.”
There has never been any doubt about Dimtrov’s languid shot-making prowess, hence the comparison with 17-times grand slam champion Roger Federer, but consistency has been a thorn in his side since he reached eighth in the ATP rankings in 2014.
Now coached by Argentine Franco Davin, who once worked with Juan Martin del Potro, Dimitrov hopes that his career can start on an upwards curve again having slumped to 37 in the world.
He also took a swipe at those who have been writing him off.
“Everyone has periods in their career and I think in their life that things are a little bit uncertain and they are struggling a little bit.
“But to start making assumptions and judging, there is just no need for that.”
Some of Dimitrov’s best moments have come on the All England Club lawns and he admitted to “thanking God” when the claycourt sesason concluded and thoughts turned to Wimbledon.
Rather than complain about being sent to Court 16, an upbeat Dimitrov used that as a positive.
“It was different. I think, to be honest, I played my first round there as a junior before I won the tournament. So I took it as a good sign, to be honest, like a good omen,” he said.
Dimitrov will have to be at his best to get past 16th seed Simon, although he says he fears no one.
“Are you sure you don’t?!” teased defending champion Novak Djokovic, who poked his head into the press conference suite.
“No. Especially you. Especially you!” Dimitrov said.