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Tennis | Roland Garros

Don't believe hype, Djokovic warns Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov has the superstar girlfriend in Maria Sharapova, and a precocious career which is expected to be meteoric, but Novak Djokovic has warned him to be wary of the pitfalls.

World No 1 Djokovic and 22-year-old Dimitrov meet in a mouth-watering clash at Roland Garros on Saturday, just weeks after the Bulgarian stunned the Serb in Madrid.

The stakes are a lot higher this time round with Djokovic chasing a first French Open title to become only the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam.

Dimitrov, meanwhile, who has spent his formative years shaking off comparisons to Roger Federer, will be playing in the last-32 of a major for the first time.

"He's still young and he has definitely potential to be one of the top players, but it's a very long way for him," said Djokovic.

"A few tournaments don't change much."

Dimitrov has been long-touted as a Grand Slam title winner in the making, but his progress was stunted by the huge expectations on him.

A former Wimbledon and US Open junior champion, he broke into the top 100 in January 2011.

But it wasn't until almost two years later that he made the top 50.

Now working with Swedish coach Mikael Tillstrom, Dimitrov has worked on his physical fitness and reached his first final at Brisbane in January where he lost to Andy Murray.

He is one of a host of names – along with the likes of Milos Raonic and Jerzy Jancowicz – mentioned as the natural heirs to the likes of Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Rafael Nadal who he pushed to three sets in the Monte Carlo quarterfinals.

"It's much more competitive and more difficult for the younger players to make a breakthrough than six, seven, eight years ago when I was coming up," added Djokovic.

"So the game evolves like everything in life, and it just gets harder and harder.

"I remember when I was coming up on the tour I didn't see as much professionalism from some lower-ranked players in terms of daily routines, what they eat and drink and how many hours they sleep, recover, this and that."

Dimitrov, who is seeded 26 at Roland Garros, has reached the third round untroubled.

His first round opponent, Alejandro Falla, retired after the first set with an injury before he breezed past Lucas Pouille, the world number 324.

Djokovic has been a straight-sets winner over David Goffin and then Guido Pella, losing just four games in that second round clash.

"I didn't have so many sets to fight on and in a way that gives you an extra boost in your level of energy coming into the match," said Dimitrov.

"Anything can happen in the match. I'm playing against the No 1 player. It's a pleasure but also you have to do everything from yourself and do the best thing you can."


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