Brisbane: Big things are expected of Grigor Dimitrov this year. If the experts are right, the Bulgarian could be a major player in 2015.
The 23-year-old has been one of the most talked about players in men`s tennis for the past few years, even though he did not make much of an impression at the grand slams until last season.
Before then, he was best known for being Maria Sharapova`s boyfriend, and for his nickname "Baby Fed", the label he inherited after winning junior Wimbledon in 2008 because he has a similar style to Roger Federer.
But 2014 changed all that. He reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open then the semi-finals at Wimbledon and finished the year ranked in the top 10.
All of a sudden, he is being tipped as a future grand slam winner, possibly as early as this season.
"Well, that sounds very nice," he told reporters at the Brisbane International on Wednesday.
"But, you know, tennis is action. With the talk you`re never going to go any further than what it is.
"I need to prove that, and I think the most important thing is I need to prove to myself. Only then I can say, `yeah, I won a grand slam.` Until then, we can just have our presumptions."
If Dimitrov`s first match of 2014 is any guide, it`s going to be a roller coaster year. He beat Jeremy Chardy 3-6 6-4 7-6(8) to reach the quarter-finals but only after a tense struggle at the Pat Rafter Arena.
He saved two match points in the deciding set tiebreaker, the first with a 208 km per hour (129 mph) ace, the second when his French opponent double-faulted.
"Sometimes your game is not there, so you need to sort of count on something else. You cannot focus on one thing in particular, you`ve got to be ready for whatever is on the other side," he said.
"I think today was a great example. Even though I wanted to play my game and my rhythm, against players like that it`s never easy. You have to pull something else out of the bag."
Dimitrov faces Martin Klizan next before a possible semi-final clash with Federer but is already looking ahead to bigger and better things.
"There is always possibility for everything. I think the first step is definitely top five. From there you can sort of see the end, and that`s the top," he said.
"In order to do that, you need to win slams and big tournaments. That`s just proven. There is no other way. There are no shortcuts."