Grigor Dimitrov beat Henri Kontinen of Finland in straight sets on No.1 Court to win the boy’s singles title and become the first player from Bulgaria to lift the prestigious title. And it felt pretty good, he said after his 7-5, 6-3 victory. “I didn’t expect it. I’m proud I could fight through the match – it was the biggest court with the most people I’ve played on. Perfect.” His opponent, the Helsinki born but Florida based Kontinen, ousted the favourite and top seed Bernard Tomic in the semi-finals in what was the biggest upset of the boys event. As such, the 17-year-old arrived in the final with a giant-killing reputation but still very much an unknown quantity having never gone past the second round in his previous Grand Slam appearances.
Nevertheless, Dimitrov, also 17 and seeded nine, was favourite, having not dropped a set en route to the final and having removed third seed Cesar Ramirez of Mexico in the quarter-finals.
Close friends and doubles partners – they lost in the first round here – the two finalists displayed very different approaches to the game, the Finn playing a classical grass court game against the more modern baseline style of the Bulgarian.
And in the blustery conditions following a delayed start, it was Dimitrov who always looked to be more in control, although he had to stave off two break points in the third game. “We were both nervous and maybe I was a bit lucky in the first set,” Dimitrov said afterwards.
What followed was an excellent display of serve and volley from Kontinen and assured baseline tennis from Dimitrov, although the Bulgarian’s right shoulder required the trainer’s services for a problem picked up during his semi-final victory over Filip Krajinovic.
“The injury was quite serious,” Dimitrov revealed: “And I must thank the Japanese who gave me the therapeutic necklace. It helped me. The trainer was just relieving the pain.”
Whatever the problem, it did not seem to affect his movement or service action as he was rarely extended in the first set. He was able to increase the pressure on his unseeded opponent, raising the ante in the ninth game when Kontinen had to dig deep to hold serve.
With double faults and unforced errors mounting, it was not surprising that two games later, after 27 minutes of play, Dimitrov broke to claim the first set thanks to Kontinen’s sixth double fault of the match.
The two protagonists approached the second set with caution and for a brief moment Kontinen gained the advantage with a forehand pass down the line (confirmed by Hawk-Eye) to go 3-2 up.
But Dimitrov, runner up at the last year’s Orange Bowl, came storming back in the next game and levelled when a pass down the line hit the net cord and sailed over the Finn’s racquet for a winner.
Following some more treatment to his shoulder at the next changeover, Dimitrov returned to the attack and broke for 5-3 with another pass down the line leaving the incoming Kontinen stranded at the net.
With the title now well within his grasp, Dimitrov was not going to let the opportunity pass and he sealed the match at the first opportunity, a cross court pass attempt by Kontinen just nicking the net cord and skipping wide.
“I wanted to win it so much” he said. “It is a great tournament. To win Wimbledon is great, especially as I heard the winner gets a wild card into next year’s senior event.”