Are Sofia Open 2019 tennis tournament surprises really surprising?

Daniil Medvedev
Photo: BGNES

The attractiveness of a tennis tournament is not measured by the rankings of the players in it. This is a conclusion that can be made after the end of the fourth edition of the Sofia Open – a men's ATP World Tour 250 series tournament.

Indeed, the highest placed in the tournament were outside the Top 10: Russian Karen Khachanov –11th, Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas – 12th, Russian Daniil Medvedev – 16th, Spanish Roberto Bautista Agut – 18th. The rest of the participants are among the first 100 in the world, as one immediately sees the names of Fernando Verdasco, Gael Molphis, Stanislas Wawrinka, Robin Haase, but also of other players who have left lasting impression with their performance in the last few seasons.

Fans of the sport know that these players are the ones who can bring surprises. In Sofia, for example, in his first game, the number one player, Hachanov, was defeated by young Italian Matteo Berrettini, who in the first round defeated another strong player – Denis Istomin, an ethnic Russian from Uzbekistan. The question is if this was actually a surprise as Berrettini reached the semifinals after winning over Verdasco but then lost against another "surprising" semi-finalist, Márton Fucsovics from Hungary.

One of the names that attracted guests to Arena Armeec in Sofia was that of Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 20-year-old young tennis star and this year's Australian Open semi-finalist was ranked number two in the tournament and was considered a favorite for the title. However, at the quarter finals, highly-experienced Gaël Monfil reminded him of what the game was about and eliminated him in two sets.

He even said goodbye to Sofia with a special message written in Bulgarian in his Instagram: "Life is a series of greetings and farewells. I'm afraid it's time to say goodbye again!" The participation of Tsitsipas will be remembered for something else, too. For his matches, a dozen buses full of his compatriots and fans from Greece arrived and showed true love towards him, including during his early loss. This made analysts comment on some outbursts of the audience towards Grigor Dimitrov- from “Hosanna” to “Crucify him!” But this is not something new.

Gaël Monfil, in turn learned a lesson from Daniil Medvedev in the semi-final. The Russian played almost flawlessly throughout the week (February 3rd to February 10th) and finally triumphed with the cup. In the final match on Sunday he did not leave a chance to Márton Fucsovics, who performed very well during the whole tournament.

Speaking about the Bulgarian participation, one can point out it finished at the start of the first round. The players with wild cards in the main draw – Dimitar Kuzmanov and Adrian Andreev lost against Robin Haase (Netherlands) and Matthew Ebden (Australia). The participation of the third Bulgarian – 22-year old Alexander Lazarov will also be remembered, as he entered the main scheme after two victories in the qualifying round and played a good match against Fernando Verdasco.

English: Alexander Markov

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