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January 7, 2020

Dimitar Kuzmanov

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


6-0, 6-3

Team Bulgaria - 1

Team Belgium - 0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations. Did the emotions you showed on the court sort of speak for how you feel right now?
DIMITAR KUZMANOV: Yes, undescribable. So emotional. So special. Living my dream every day here. Just enjoying. It's just a dream for me every day.

Q. If I would have told you a few weeks ago that you would come here to the ATP Cup and win two matches, what would your response have been?
DIMITAR KUZMANOV: Well, you know, coming here, having a chance to play on this big stage after so many years of competing on the tour, of course not on so-high level, but fighting, I'll believe you. I'll believe you, because I knew I had the chances.

I knew I had the qualities to be here. It was just a matter of time and about grabbing my chance, taking my chance. I received it when we were announced to take part of this tournament, and I was really looking forward to show what I can and show I have been practicing for all my life.

I'm happy that I'm grabbing my chances and showing what I can.

Q. The other day you were speaking about how important this is for Bulgaria back home. Now you guys are one win away, either with Grigor or the doubles from winning the group and advancing. How special do you think this is for your country?
DIMITAR KUZMANOV: As I previously said on the previous interviews, as you remember, what is happening right now in Bulgaria, it's something that happen in 1994 for the World Cup. As a small nation, we didn't have big success in other sports for a long, long time, talking about team competition.

So now the emotions back home are just on fire. The whole country speaks about us. All the news, starting with us. People staying up late, going to sleep late, waking up early to watch us.

We are making them so proud. Doesn't matter the outcome of today's match. We were discussing this even before, because we heard a lot of things, especially when Britain beat Belgium a few days ago, and we knew that there are many possibilities to finish the tournament either first, second, or third, because just things turned around so fast, and the only way to advance is to win today against Belgium.

But we were talking all these days that we had to keep enjoying since day one, because no one was expecting to beat Great Britain the first day. We did it. Then we managed to stay focused and fight with the pressure against Moldova, and today I managed to keep up as well the first match.

It's a big pressure for Grigor now, as well, believe me. As playing captain, all the pressure now is on him because he has to win that tie. It's a big pressure, and it's probably also one of his most important matches because he's so passionate. I have never seen him like this before. He really loves to play for his country. He's also a playing captain, and it's not easy for him, as well.

So I give him a big credit, and I'm going back there on court just trying to support him. As I said, we are not thinking about points, money, group stages, quarterfinals, teams. We don't care. We're just here having fun and fighting for every ball, as I did from the beginning until the end. Doesn't matter the result. So that's what we are going to keep doing.

Q. Have you gotten any particular calls or heard that you have been spoken about by anyone in particular back home that stands out?
DIMITAR KUZMANOV: What do you mean?

Q. Has anyone from home, whether someone, a celebrity or anything like that, reached out to you guys?
DIMITAR KUZMANOV: Yes. As I told you, the whole country is just blowing. All the celebrities, all the people, the ministry of sports, the politics, the spirit back home is insane. It's so good for the nation.

Making all the people proud not only in Bulgaria but here, as well, all the Bulgarians living in foreign countries. As you saw, many people come here to support us from Australia because a lot of people live here. They travel from all the other cities.

We are just, as I told you, we are making them proud, making us proud, and making our country proud. It's special.

Q. Let's go back to the match for a second and that moment -- I know you said it was unbelievable and all that, but on that moment when the last point was won and you were flat out on the court, when you were in that position, what was going through your mind?
DIMITAR KUZMANOV: First of all, when I broke him on 5-3, there were some thoughts coming to my head what happened the day before, the day before against Moldova when I was serving for the match, had three match points in a row. Then he broke me. Then I had another game to close the match, and it was really, really tough.

But as I said, since I came here, I'm learning every day on and off the court. As I experienced those emotions, those feelings, and had to deal with all the mental pressure two days ago, today I felt much more confident. When I was standing to serve on 5-3, I was just focused on my game plan and not as much as what's going to happen if I win or lose this game, what I'm going to do after the last point.

These emotions just come into you, and I was crying out. Since the last point -- even the point before, as you saw, I was fighting like crazy, I was running. I said to myself, Today I'm not going to give any point for free. If I have to die on the court, I die on court, but I'm going to fight. Doesn't matter the result.

And at the end it paid off. That's what happened. I played a great game with the great serves and stayed so concentrated and so relaxed until the very last point and it paid off.

Q. Were you shocked or surprised with the score in the first set?
DIMITAR KUZMANOV: Actually, not really, because I give myself credit of what I show on the first set. I was playing unreal, no unforced errors, high percentage of first serve, not giving a single, no unforced errors.

I was following the tactic we built before the match really clear. I was really concentrated on what I had to do from the first until the last game except the game he broke me in the second set. That's where I did some stupid mistakes due to unfocusing and not following the game plan we had.

Also, I played him three years ago in Challenger Tour, even though after the first set he retired, but I knew how he was playing. I knew how I had to do, and I think also his game suits me really well, and opposite to him, my game to him is really hurting, so it all went perfect today, no doubt.

Q. You were also saying a moment ago this is a result of all the work that you have put in. Do you think, and I know this is a difficult question, but do you think a match like that, a result like that, could be the spearhead of turning things around in your career, looking at this year and then beyond?
DIMITAR KUZMANOV: Yes. I agree with you. And as I said also on the previous interviews, this competition gives players like me the stage to show what we can and show that the difference between the top players and the rest, let's say in the top 300 players, is not big.

So I'm really happy that this event happened, because not only for our nation but other nations, as well, showing the fans and the people different players and showing that everyone can play high level of tennis. So we need that stage.

Definitely for me so far is turning really well. Two wins already. Great match against Norrie in the first day. Every day I'm playing better and better, feeling better on the court, better outside the court, better in this environment of great players. Just the air.

Doesn't matter if I win or lose, being here, for me it's like school. I'm learning every day since day one, since day one. And I feel my game changing unconsciously, really. Unconsciously changing not only the game but my mentality, as well, and I really, really happy to be here and it's a great tournament.

Q. Before Grigor made a name for himself and put Bulgarian tennis back on the map, there was Manuela, Katerina, you know, the family. Did you ever have any sort of contact with the Maleeva sisters? I know one is in Switzerland and all that.
DIMITAR KUZMANOV: Yes, I did, and I still do because my mother is an ex-tennis player. She was in the generation of Maleeva sisters. So she was No. 4 when they were playing.

We had a really strong Fed Cup team back then. So my mother was part of that team, and she was also great player. She used to play with Chris Evert and Navratilova.

So I'm coming from a sports family. She's already 12 years in a row Fed Cup captain, so I know all the Maleeva sisters pretty well. I know their mother. Yeah, I'm just into tennis for a really long, long time.

Q. Remind me who your mum is?
DIMITAR KUZMANOV: Dora Rangelova. Yeah. She just keeps her family name.

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