related stories
Roger Federer in the UAE as countdown begins to Mubadala World Tennis ChampionshipRafael Nadal not looking for a psychologist to gear up for 2012 Novak Djokovic adds ITF award to 2011 trophy haul
score centre
ATP seriesWTA series

Dubai has become every tennis player’s pre-season piece of heaven and among the host of talent present in the UAE prepping for 2012 is a player who has been dubbed ‘the next Roger Federer’ for the past three years.

Grigor Dimitrov, one of the brightest prospects on the ATP, spent a couple of weeks in Dubai - a city he refers to as his favourite in the world - unwinding from a tricky 2011 season and gearing up for the next one.

Since he caused a stir three years ago when he won the Wimbledon and US Open junior titles showcasing a stylish one-handed backhand, a swanky serve and an aggressive game, all of which resembled those of Federer, the tennis world has been waiting for Dimitrov to make his claims on the men’s circuit, and the 20-year-old Bulgarian is confident he will live up to the expectations sooner rather than later.

He ended this year at No.76 in the world rankings, a little off from the top-50 target he had set himself before the season, although he came ever so close and reached No52 in August.

Still, for someone like Dimitrov, who has been described by some to be 'ultra-confident' and 'super-talented', his 2011 season was less than ideal, where he had some excellent matches with some of the best players on tour but where he also fell short, like in his 6-4, 6-4 loss against Andy Murray in Bangkok, or his heart-breaking 7-6(4), 4-6, 4-6, 6-7(8) defeat to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Wimbledon, where the Frenchman crossed over the net to pull Dimitrov off the ground and shake his hand.

"Last season I would say it was not a good season," Dimitrov told Sport360°. "It wasn’t too bad, I had high expectations of myself and I wanted to play better but everything turned to be just a lot different. I was trying to reach a goal that I set before and I didn’t.

"I stopped the year a bit early so I had time to rest and I think that helps a little bit. It gives me also a better view of how I can structure the next year. “I had some good results but they were pretty inconsistent which didn’t make me very happy.

"I was losing close matches and everything was just not getting in the right way for me so I had to find a way to clean up all the stuff around me and I think I’m finally starting to get on the right track."

Dimitrov split with his coach last month and is currently in search of a new one but in the meantime he believes he has a number of areas to work on to improve his consistency. And does constantly being referred to as the mini-Federer help Dimitrov, or does it add extra pressure?

He said: "I think it’s great to be compared to the greatest tennis player of all time and all that, but I think it’s getting just a little overwhelming. It’s tough to compare a person like him to a guy who just started up.

"Personally I want to build up my own style and I want people to remember me the way I am not who I resemble or anything, but it’s nice to hear comments like that."