For years, Grigor Dimitrov faced the burden of living up to his "Baby Federer" nickname. The stylistic comparisons were obvious from the beginning, but Dimitrov has always lacked the precision and mental toughness of his so called "father". As he nears his 24th birthday, it's clear Dimitrov isn't going to become the dominant player many expected. This isn't to say he won't have a long and accomplished career with the occasional big title, but Dimitrov's fans were aiming higher. When it's all said and done Dimitrov's career may indeed resemble that of a Swiss player who preceded him, but it's Stan Wawrinka whose footsteps he may be following.
Dimitrov got his season somewhat on track with his run to the quarters in
(including an easy win over Wawrinka), but looked like he could barely find the
court in his lopsided loss to Monfils. While
it's encouraging that he finally pieced together some good wins, to reach the
top tier he would have to drastically improve his consistency (in terms of both
shot making and competing well week in and week out). However, instead of everyone continuing to
believe it's just a matter of time until he finds whatever is missing, it's
quite possible this is simply who Dimitrov is.
There's only one Roger Federer for a reason, and it's much more likely
Dimitrov continues on as a remarkably talented yet inconsistent player.
This doesn't mean Dimitrov won't continue to improve, just that it's not likely everything will simply click one day and he'll morph into the next Federer. Like Wawrinka, he may not hit his peak until his late twenties. Further, unlike Wawrinka, Dimitrov has the advantage of being several years younger than the "Big Four". This means he may have better chances to steal some bigger titles once that elite group starts slowing down. It's not hard to imagine Dimitrov ending up with a grand slam title or two in his pocket before he retires, a la Wawrinka, but fans certainly expected a lot more a lot sooner from the Bulgarian.
Ultimately, judging Dimtirov's career will be all about expectations. Loads of junior grand slam champions struggle to even establish pro careers, and most would kill to be where Dimitrov is. Had Dimitrov's strokes not strongly resembled Federer's, he'd likely be thought of as nothing but a success. However, Dimitrov has never had that luxury, and will continue to battle the burden of being held to a higher standard. If only he'd been dubbed "Baby Wawrinka", everyone would say he's coming along right on schedule.