LONDON (Reuters) - With his knees looped over the yellow handrails of a moving London Underground train, Grigor Dimitrov raised some curious glances from fellow passengers as he hung upside down from the horizontal bars this week.
“Feeling silly!” he tweeted to his 200,000 plus followers as he headed for Wimbledon’s All England Club.
What the Bulgarian now hopes is that he will be able to show off his gymnastics skills to a wider audience come men’s final day on July 12.
“If I win I will roll upside down on the court. So if I get to that point, every one will get to see my acrobatics live!,” Dimitrov told Reuters in an interview as he broke down in laughter.
“I got bored on the tube. Then I just decided to take a funky photo. It was a good way to distract myself.”
There will be no monkey business from Dimitrov, however, over the next two weeks as he attempts to become the first Bulgarian man to win a grand slam singles title.
The man who once reveled in being called “Baby Fed” — a nickname he picked up for owning a graceful style of play akin to 17-times grand slam champion Roger Federer — came into his own during a stellar 2014 season.
After winning titles on three different surfaces — on outdoor hard in Acapulco, clay in Bucharest and grass at Queen’s Club in London — he ambushed 2013 champion Andy Murray at Wimbledon to reach his first grand slam semi-final.
Having fallen two wins short of hoisting the most famous tennis trophy in the world, he is ready and primed to improve on his 2014 showing.
“Obviously reaching the semi-finals was one of the biggest highlights in my career so far. I’m excited to be back on the grass at Wimbledon,” said the 24-year-old, who could run into world number one Novak Djokovic in a repeat of last year’s semi.
“Last year I had a great run so why not repeat it and why not get a step further. The only thing I can do ... is fight the battles. If I do that in a good way and a good manner I think things will happen for me,” added the 11th seed, who is coached by Lleyton Hewitt’s former coach Roger Rasheed.
“I’m the only one who puts the pressure on me. I just focus on myself and work hard so that I get better and better every time I step out on court.
“We have created our vision for the tournament so we hope everything goes according to plan. We’ve worked a lot and hopefully it goes well and the body holds up well.”
Dimitrov has already enjoyed the adrenaline rush of lifting a trophy at Wimbledon, having won the junior title in 2008.
But what he really wants is to follow in the footsteps of players such as Federer and Stefan Edberg, who graduated from being boys’ champions to holders of the gilded Challenge Cup at the All England Club.
“I remember winning it as a junior on Court One. It was a great experience for me because I always wanted to win that title and I won it,” added Dimitrov, who had never stepped on a grasscourt before arriving at Wimbledon as a precocious 16-year-old junior in 2007.
“The first thought when I was lifting the trophy was that I want make it to the top. I want to win the real thing. Last year I was pretty close, to get to that point, to be able to fight for it. So I am really excited for doing even better this year.”
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Toby Davis