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January 1, 2023

Grigor Dimitrov

Gergana Topalova

Alexandar Lazarov

Isabella Shinikova

Dimitar Kuzmanov

Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Team Bulgaria

Press Conference


1-6, 7-6, 10-6

Team Bulgaria - 3

Team Belgium - 2

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference of Team Bulgaria. First of all, congratulations to the team. First win of the whole tournament as a team and also very exciting and very convincing way today. How does it feel for you now, Captain?

CAPTAIN DIMITROV: I wouldn't call it convincing way (laughter). I'm joking. No, it's great. I think it's great for the whole team, great for the nation, for each one of us, and gives us a very a nice boost of confidence for whatever is ahead of us.

I'm just proud of the team, really. What can I say? Happiness in the sense that everyone really delivered their efforts and their way of doing things. We really came together when we really had to. Glad that we had that win today.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Grigor, if I could ask you, obviously you had some bad luck with injuries in the competition, but how nice was it that every member of the team got some time on court? What do you think the very strong performances say about the depth of Bulgarian tennis?

CAPTAIN DIMITROV: Well, I think everyone, as I said, we all have, as players, we all have some sort of pains and like little injuries here and there, but I'm very pleased that everybody got to play.

I think that was, in a way, that was one of my main wantings, in a sense, that I just want everybody to get out there on the court and experience just that vibe, that way of competing and being in a team in such a format. It's also a historical one. I mean, I'm happy that everybody was able to, again, in a way, to participate and give their all.

When it comes to the sport itself, I mean, what can I say? I haven't lived in Bulgaria for a really long time so it's very hard for me to see or make any further judgments on that. But all I can see from everybody out here is their way of competing, their way of dedication, and in a way also what they're made of, what their goals are and all that. I'm always very interested, in a sense that I'm very interested in a sense like what everybody is doing in order to improve and what are their goals, what is their next step. There's also a reason why they are here as well.

I guess if there is any more further questions than that they should go towards them.

Q. Gergana, if I could can ask you, obviously you pushed a very good player, a top player to three sets today. What positive lessons you will take from that match?

GERGANA TOPALOVA: I think it's the first time I played a player that is in the top 100. I think it was a great experience for me.

I thought that the level, it's not that much different and that I have the game to make it also there. So I think I can only take positives from this match and just keep working on the things that I saw need a little bit improvement. I hope this year it gets better.

Q. Alexandar and Isabella, the way you stepped up in the match tiebreak at the end there, did you say anything before the match tiebreak about how you were going to approach it?

ALEXANDAR LAZAROV: There were a lot of nerves, for sure. After we lost the first set I wasn't really positive that we can take it to a decider, but we started playing better and better. After we won the second-set tiebreak, saving a match point at 6-5, we just said to each other to play one point at a time, no pressure, whatever happens happens. I'm just happy we got the win at the end.

Q. Grigor, was it your intention to have everybody play during the week at the start, or did that just naturally develop? It looked like you had a lot of fun. It looked like everybody was actually enjoying it even though there is pressure competing for your nation. Is that how you sort of take away from this, it was just a lot of fun as well?

CAPTAIN DIMITROV: Well, it's fun when you have to play a super-tiebreak I guess to win the tie, but until then, I think it's just very different. You can always look at it from so many different perspectives. For me, I really wanted everybody to play. That was my main goal. I can say that now with all honesty.

Of course circumstances were, I mean, they were changing with each day. Everybody was feeling a little bit different, especially when, you know, when it came down to our bodies and things that we kind of struggled with. But, I don't know, I really enjoyed it. It's very hard for me to watch tennis for are some reason. I don't know why (smiling). It's much easier to be a tennis player than being from the outside.

It's how it is when you care. It's as simple as that. I've taken this role on board and I've taken it fairly serious to be here. And every day being able to watch also all the matches and kind of see from the outside, which also gives me some sort of an idea what I need to do and what I may improve in my own game or some sort of different approach.

I mean, I'm taking a lot of positives out of those days, for sure.

Q. Gergana, how do you rate that performance today amongst your career?

GERGANA TOPALOVA: I think it's one of the best matches I played in my career so far. I think I played a really good first two sets. The third set she was just more solid and I started making more mistakes. So I think that's the difference.

But I'm really happy with my performance today. I think it's such a positive start for this year. Just I hope it gets better.

Q. I know the crowd wasn't massive out there but they really got behind you in that. Did you feel that? How exciting was that?

GERGANA TOPALOVA: That was so exciting to have so many people watching this. I thought no one would come, because it's New Year's and it was a 10:00 a.m. match. I mean...

CAPTAIN DIMITROV: It was only a couple hours after New Year's Eve.

GERGANA TOPALOVA: Yeah, I'm so happy and I want to say thanks to everyone who came out to support us today. I think it helped to have someone behind your back supporting you.

THE MODERATOR: Isabella, you actually played the most for your team in all the matches, two singles and one doubles today, who brought the win for your team. How would you wrap it up your experience in Perth?

ISABELLA SHINIKOVA: My experience in this event it was really amazing. I have to thank Grigor for the confidence to put me on the deciding match today. I'm really proud of myself that with Alex we play really good. We was like team, the fight experience was really good, and we fight until the end and it's really important for me, because I'm really happy that we did it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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