On paper, Bulgaria is the favorite, our advantage is that you don’t know our players, said the coach of the guests with a smile
The Bulgarian national tennis team is fully ready for the match against South Africa in the Davis Cup tournament, captain Valentin Dimov assured. Bulgaria will host the World Group II match of the World Men’s Team Championship on Friday and Saturday (September 16-17) at the Bulgarian National Tennis Center in Sofia. Our national team has been training at the Boris Garden complex since the end of last week.
“The mood in the team is quite good – said Dimov during today’s official press conference. – We started our training camp on Sunday. The most important thing is that everyone is healthy. They are in good athletic shape. We have been watching the training of the South African team for several days. We also use the center court which has had a lot of improvements and looks great. Everything is fine and we are ready for the game.”
The winner of the match between Bulgaria and South Africa will qualify for the playoffs to enter World Group I in 2023. The Bulgarian coach is sure that the big bet will not negatively affect the players, but on the contrary – will be an additional incentive.
“I wouldn’t say that there will be additional tension – said Valentin Dimov. – When the guys are on the court, they don’t think about what the outcome of their victory will be, they only think about how their game will be. Also, the boys are professionals and are used to handling such situations and playing under pressure. We will come out fully motivated to do our job to the best of our abilities.”
Together with the captain, the leader of our national team, Dimitar Kuzmanov (No. 162 in the world ranking), participated in the meeting with the media. Apart from him, the team includes Alexander Lazarov (#332), Alexander Donski (#587) and Pyotr Nesterov (#877). Gabriel Donev (#895) and young talents Yanaki Milev (18 years old), Iliyan Radulov (17 years old) are also included in the training camp at the special invitation of captain Dimov throughout the week.
“The preparation is going according to plan. We have everything we need, provided by the Bulgarian tennis federation – shared our first racket Kuzmanov. – As the coach said, all the boys are healthy, which is the most important thing. The other important thing is that there are more juniors than before the Paraguay game. This makes me very happy, because for them it is an invaluable experience. We have been trying to monitor the South African team since they arrived because we don’t have much information about them. Especially for their singles players. But I think we’re already getting the insight we need.”
Regarding the upcoming fight itself, Miko stated:
“We have a difficult and tough match ahead of us, because Davis Cup matches are always like that. In them, tennis qualities are not the most important. Other factors are important, especially psychological ones. The most important thing is the desire and the fight on the court, not what qualities you have or your place in the rankings. So we are absolutely all preparing for a tough match, which is also very important for us.”
Only three tennis players have been recorded in the composition of the guests from Africa, of which only the doubles specialist Raven Klaassen (No. 73 in the world in doubles) has experience at the professional level. In singles, captain Christo van Rensburg will rely on two of the most talented players in the US college league – Philip Henning and Leighton Cronje.
“Thank you for the warm welcome,” Van Rensburg addressed the Bulgarian media. – First of all, I must tell you that we eat very well. The cuisine here is great and we’ve already visited several notable places with impressive menus. People are very friendly. I am very glad to see my old friend Paul McNamee here. We played against each other many years ago.”
The captain of the South Africans defined the Bulgarian team as the favorite in theory, but suggested that they will rely on the element of surprise:
“Tennis is a very interesting sport. If we talk on paper, Bulgaria is the favorite. But when you have college players who are unranked, that can actually be an advantage because others don’t know them and don’t know what to expect from them. Also, the matches are in a two-out-of-three-set format, and this shorter format pretty much evens out the power.”
The first rocket in the RYUA team, Philip Henning, shared:
“This is my fourth Davis Cup match with the national team and I’m very excited to be here. I haven’t played on a clay court in a long time, maybe four years. So it took me a while to get used to it, but it feels good now. It is an honor to represent my country again. Obviously, Bulgaria’s first rocket Dimitar Kuzmanov is an elite player. He has achieved a lot. To be honest, I don’t know much about the other guys on your team. For sure I have two very tough singles matches coming up, against very strong opponents. They will probably be the highest ranked tennis players I have ever played against. But I can’t wait to fight them to the end.”
The match between Bulgaria and South Africa opens on Friday with two singles matches, the first of which starts at 13:00. On Saturday, the doubles match will be played first at 11:00, followed by the return two singles. The draw will be made tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. on the central court at the National Sports Center.