It is a match-up fans have been clamouring for for some time now. A contest between two competitors deemed so similar in playing style, that the up-and-comer was nicknamed after the icon. Since then, it was inevitable that they would eventually cross paths on the World Tour. 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer (Player Profile) will step out on the Basel Centre Court across from Grigor Dimitrov (Player Profile) for the first time tomorrow afternoon, in a match that many hope to be charged with awe-inspiring shotmaking that only special talents such as these two can produce. Federer v Dimitrov Head to Head.
The 22-year-old Dimitrov, dubbed “Baby Fed” for his almost indistinguishable likeness to Federer’s style of play, is far from comparable to former No. 1 in terms of career achievements. In fact, he has even admit over the past two years that the comparisons have been tedious and pressuring, leading us to believe that he has not purposely moulded himself after Federer. Prior his, many believe, long-delayed maiden ATP tour title win last week, Dimitrov was in a tough position and struggling to clinch a place in the upper echelon in tennis.
After cruising past Radek Stepanek in the opening round in Basel, the World No. 22 followed up this afternoon with another splendid performance to reach the final eight of the tournament. He needed precisely one hour to down Alexandr Dolgopolov in a surprisingly one-sided contest. The Bulgarian looked remarkably self-assured in his performance and that is likely due to the relief of finally winning his first career ATP Tour title. The win was not simply a win over a fellow-inexperienced youngster, it was a three-set battle against World No. 3 David Ferrer and his performance certainly deems him worthy of elite competition.
On the other side of the net, the Bulgarian will face a Roger Federer struggling for self-confidence after a season riddled with disappointing results and setbacks. Not only has Federer, who holds the Open Era record for Grand Slam titles, not won a single Major in 2013, he failed to reach the quarter-finals in two of the Slams for the first time since 2004. When compared to his season just 12 months prior, it is remarkable how much things have changed since then.
While he is keen on putting 2013 behind him, Federer is still vying for a spot in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals next month and appeared motivated in his first two matches in Basel this week, with the knowledge that he will clinch a qualifying spot if he reaches the finals.
The similarities between these two are uncanny. One can study tape on both and realize just how comparable they are in terms of on-court movement and racquet swings, not to mention Dimitrov’s uncanny replication of Federer’s backhand.
“I’ve always wanted to play [Federer],” said Dimitrov. “He’s the greatest. He’s given opportunity to so many players and has brought so much to the game. Everyone wants to be part of that. I’m excited and looking forward to our match.”
While the former World No.1 is leaps-and-bounds ahead of Dimitrov in terms of their on-court experience and achievements, this is still likely to be an entertaining and competitive contest. The appeal in this contest does not lie in their career statistics, yet in the potential to witness simply beautiful tennis.
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