The Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Europe Zone Group III event got off to a sunny start on Wednesday at the Bulgarian National Tennis Centre “Carlsberg” in Sofia.
The format of the week-long tournament sees the 13 competing nations initially split into four round-robin pools, with the leader in each pool advancing to the play-offs on Saturday to decide which two teams gain promotion for 2013.
Bulgaria gave the home fans something to shout about in Pool B as they defeated a young and inexperienced team from Albania. In fact, the hosts only dropped five games all day as they romped to a comprehensive 3-0 victory.
Dimitar Kuzmanov, ranked No. 717, got Bulgaria off to a quick start as he demolished Davis Cup debutant Rei Pelushi 61 60 after only 40 minutes on the Centre Court. That result paved the way for Grigor Dimitrov, the only Top 100 player appearing in Sofia this week, to seal the tie, and the Bulgarian No. 1 duly obliged.
Watched by over 1,000 cheering spectators, Dimitrov took just 54 minutes to sweep aside Flavio Dece 61 61 and push Bulgaria into an unassailable lead. The world No. 94, who was making his first appearance in the competition since 2010, stretched his impressive Davis Cup win-loss record to 12-3.
“I’m very happy with the quick victory,” said Dimitrov. “I’m satisfied with the crowd reaction, people on the stands encouraged me until the last point. The brand new Bulgarian National Tennis Centre is a smart venue and I hope it’s the right place for the new (Bulgarian) tennis prospects.”
Bulgaria’s No. 3 and No. 4 players, Todor Enev and Petar Trendafilov, completed the whitewash win by defeating the same Albanian pair, Dece and Pelushi, 60 62. Albania will now meet Georgia on Thursday with Bulgaria taking a day off.
In Pool A, Andorra fought back from losing the opening rubber to overcome San Marino 2-1. Diego Zonzini gave San Marino an early lead, but a singles win for Jean-Baptiste Poux-Gautier drew Andorra level before the same player teamed up with playing captain Jordi Vila-Vila on the doubles court to seal victory.
Macedonia clinched a 3-0 win over Armenia in Pool C, although the scoreline could be deceiving as two of the rubbers went to three sets, including the battle of the No. 1s when Macedonia’s Tomislav Jotovski came from a set down to battle past Ashot Gevorgyan 36 62 60.
In Pool D, which is the only group with four nations, Greece began their campaign in confident fashion with a comprehensive 3-0 triumph against Malta, while Norway also cruised to a 3-0 victory over Iceland.
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