MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Grigor Dimitrov may have not featured in many Australian Open title prediction lists at the start of the tournament but he continues to grow in confidence under the watchful eyes of coach Andre Agassi.
The 27-year-old Bulgarian powered past Italian Thomas Fabbiano 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4 to reach the last 16 in just over two hours at Melbourne Arena on Friday, staying on course for a potential quarter-final against second seed Rafa Nadal.
Despite showing glimpses of his sparkling form of 2017 when he reached a career-high ranking of world number three, Dimitrov is happy to work away in the shadows without any added external pressures.
“I mean, it’s great. Stealth,” he told reporters at Melbourne Park.
“You just got to beat one opponent at a time. Doesn’t matter on what stage you are, what round you are. For me, this is a great way obviously to start this tournament. Already have a few wins under my belt.”
Dimitrov looked set to take the next step when he lifted the ATP Finals title in 2017 but his inconsistent form on the Tour, including three early exits at Grand Slams, meant he has dropped down to 21 in the rankings.
Having added Agassi to his coaching team at the end of last season, Dimitrov is now keen to draw from the American’s two decades’ worth of experience on the circuit.
“For him to sit in my box, spend whatever, eight, ten hours a day with me, it’s already a plus. I mean, this is the most valuable thing: the time,” he added.
“I feel like I’m learning so much on and off the court.
“He’s travelled the road for so many years. Been there, done that. I feel I can relate to him in terms of whatever I felt, let’s say after a match, during a match, we can kind of communicate easier.”
Dimitrov will next face Frances Tiafoe, who is the last American man standing in the singles draw.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge