Dimitar Kouzmanov hung on, taking a set off Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in their match on February 3, but his 3-6, 6-2, 3-6 loss leaves Bulgaria with no representative in the second round of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open, the first ATP Tour tournament played in Bulgaria in 35 years.
Kouzmanov, ranked 287th in the world, follows Alexander Lazov (394 in the ATP Tour rankings) in exiting the Sofia Open in the first round. The two players were by far the lowest-ranked in the Sofia field and were granted wild cards by the tournament organisers. Another Bulgarian player, unranked Alexander Lazarov, had been granted a wild card for the qualifying rounds, where he lost to Romania’s Marius Copil.
Kouzmanov and Lazov were also granted a doubles wild-card, but lost in the first round on February 2.
Despite its timing on the week after the first Grand Slam of the year, the Sofia Open did secure several notable names – Roberto Bautista Agut, Viktor Troicki, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Andreas Seppi are the top seeds, all of them ranked in the top 30 before the draw (Seppi dropped two places to 31st in this week’s rankings).
The big absentee, however, is Bulgaria’s own Grigor Dimitrov, 18 months removed from his brief foray into the ATP Tour top 10 following a Wimbledon semi-final appearance and currently 28th in the world.
Dimitrov, who reached the final of the Sydney International warm-up event to the Australian Open (losing to Troicki), appears to be skipping this month’s European indoor tournaments altogether. After several years of appearing in the ATP Tour 500 series tournament in Rotterdam, Dimitrov will miss it this year, choosing instead to play in the Delray Beach Open in Florida as preparation for the Acapulco Open (a tournament he won in 2014) later this month and the two Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami in March.