Typically when Grigor Dimitrov sprints to and hurdles over the net, he's doing it for fun – do not try it at home, kids – not because he's scared for his opponent who has suddenly collapsed to the court. But the Bulgarian was in the latter position on Friday evening during his quarter-final match against Kyle Edmund at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp.
The two were tied 4-4 in the third and final set when Edmund let out a shriek and fell to the ground, grasping his right ankle. Instinctively, Dimitrov raced to the net and hurdled over it, as if he had done it before, or a few times in the past.
Leaning over his opponent, he consoled Edmund, grabbing his arm and seeing if he was OK. A few seconds later, Dimitrov was helping Edmund off the court and walking him to his chair, Edmund's arm wrapped around Dimitrov's shoulders as the crowd applauded the sportsmanship.
“It was just such an instinct for me that I didn't think, 'Okay, I'm just going to go around the net, or I'm going to go that post or this post'. It was just like such a natural instinct for me to go and jump over,” said Dimitrov, who also trains on track hurdles, which are of similar height to the net.
“It's tough, obviously, what happened. Little unfortunate, that's for sure. But, I mean, I would have reacted like this whoever I was playing against. So this is just my instinct, my reaction, to do that right away. I hope he gets better.”
An ATP World Tour trainer re-wrapped Edmund's ankle, and play continued during the quarter-final, which Dimitrov won 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4 after taking the final two games. In the semi-finals, the Bulgarian will face Aussie Nick Kyrgios for the third time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
Edmund appreciated his opponent's quick actions. “It's good to have someone like that. But he's always been like that, Grigor. He's been a good guy on and off the court,” Edmund said.
The Brit thought the majority of ATP World Tour players would have done the same for their opponents as well.
“It's good that someone is concerned about you, but as tennis players you generally are... Most people would have done that, but it's nice to see him get up and help me to the chair,” Edmund said.
Edmund was also optimistic that he would be feeling fully healed in time for his next tournament, the Sydney International, which starts on Sunday.
“The ankle got extended a bit too much and that was it really,” he said. “But I've obviously done it twice before. This is my third time. So from the past, the next morning it's a bit tender but then, after a day or two, it settles down. Basically, it's just a rolled ankle. That's what it is.”