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Dimitrov relishing being ATP Cup playing-captain


Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria hits a return during his men’s singles match against Radu Albot of Moldova at the ATP Cup tennis tournament in Sydney on January 5, 2020. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

Grigor Dimitrov Sunday said he was relishing the opportunity to be a playing-captain at the innovative ATP Cup after steering Bulgaria to two wins out of two.

The majority of teams at the 24-nation event have standalone skippers, mostly leading former players such as Boris Becker and Marat Safin.

But the Bulgarians chose to bestow the honour on Dimitrov and the former world number three has thrived in guiding his inexperienced team.


“My dad was the one who taught me how to play tennis, and when I was chosen to be a captain, he was, like, ‘Oh, now you’re going to see what is it to be on the other end’,” he said after whipping Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-2, 6-3 in Sydney.

“And I really did and I am. But I’m enjoying it. I never thought I could do the whole double role, but I took this on board.

“I wanted to give something back to the boys and just make sure that they learn. That’s it. That’s all I want, to kind of give whatever I can from me to them. So I think things are good so far.”

It was Dimitrov’s second successive win after he battled back to down Britain’s Dan Evans 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in his opening clash on Friday.

Bulgaria won that tie 2-1 and beat Moldova by the same score Sunday to leave them in a commanding position in Group C.

The 24 nations are split into six groups across Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth with the top eight from the round-robin going onto the knockout phase.

Dimitar Kuzmanov gave Bulgaria a winning start by overcoming Alexander Cozbinov 6-1, 7-5 before Dimitrov returned to play doubles with Alexandar Lazarov, falling to Albot and Cozbinov in two sets.

“I know I have to not only believe in myself now but I need to believe in the players that are with me,” said Dimitrov, who suffered the first major injury of his career last year when he struggled with a shoulder problem.

“My only goal was, and I’m honest on that, was just to put them together, to make sure we practise together, to make sure they learn something from me.”


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