Shane Lambert looks ahead to the 2017 season and he expects a better year for Grigor Dimitrov and for Stanislas Wawrinka to be on the slide.
Grigor Dimitrov did not have a great season in either 2015 or 2016. The former junior No. 1, who turned 25 in 2016, actually appeared poised for a run at the Top 5 in one of the last two seasons following his 2014 Wimbledon semifinal run. While things did not work out that way for the Bulgarian, he remains a 25-year old player with immense potential. I think banking on him to succeed in 2017 is a good move to make.
Why his results have tapered off is an important matter to figure out for betting purposes. I will note that there is not much talk of injury with the Bulgarian. It could be that his poor post-2014 results have had something to do with his personal relationship with Maria Sharapova. Consider that Dimitrov scalped Stan Wawrinka twice on clay in 2015, just before the Swiss was to win the French Open. Then in July, Dimitrov and Sharapova broke up after two years and perhaps that caused some mental distractions for the Bulgarian or affected his focus.
But Dimitrov, for his problems, still finished the 2016 season ranked 17th so it's not like he's starting 2016 as an unseeded player in the big tournaments. Sky Bet price him at 10/11 for a ranking "under" 15.5 at the 2017 season's end (ie. ranked 1st to 15th). I see plenty of more upside to his current ranking of 17th than downside for sure. Furthermore, it's also telling that Dimitrov went from 40th on July 25th to his season-ending ranking of 17th. He appears to be a player that is in mid-ascension and if that's true then you would expect him to get back into the Top 10.
When I look at the current Top 15 I see some players that I think Dimitrov is clearly better than. Namely Gael Monfils, David Goffin, Nick Kyrgios, and Roberto Bautista-Agut. Against many other players in the Top 15, Dimitrov has a youth advantage. We might see the beginning of the end of Stan Wawrinka in 2017, for example (take the "over" on his ranking: 5.5 @ 10/11). Furthermore, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga may continue their slow slides downward.
In the absence of a revelation about a major physical ailment, it could be that Dimitrov simply lost mental focus in 2015 and 2016. That's something that can be regained and arguably he did regain it to a degree in the latter stages of 2016. Dimitrov is a tennis prodigy in an era where the blooming is a little late than normal. Could be that his upcoming seasons are where he plays his best. Accordingly, I think punters should take the "under" with Sky Bet for his end-of-2017 ranking to be less than 15.5 (ie. 1-15) at odds of 10/11 with full confidence. You could also take him at 4/1 to finish in the top 8 on tour with lesser confidence.
3.5-pt bet on Dimitrov to be ranked "under" 15.5 at end of 2017 season at 10/11 with Skybet
2-pt bet on Dimitrov to be ranked 1-8 at end of 2017 season at 4/1 with SkyBet
4-pt bet on Wawrinka to be ranked "over" 5.5 at the end of the 2017 season at 10/11 with Sky Bet