New Zealand draw Grigor Dimitrov’s home country Bulgaria in Davis Cup

Grigor Dimitrov could decide to help Bulgaria reach Davis Cup World Group I, deciding to play in New Zealand in February.

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Grigor Dimitrov could decide to help Bulgaria reach Davis Cup World Group I, deciding to play in New Zealand in February.

Despite being seeded, New Zealand have been handed an incredibly tough draw for their Davis Cup Group I qualifiers next year.

In February, New Zealand will host Bulgaria, the winner will qualify for World Group I in September and the loser will be relegated to World Group II.

It will be the first Davis Cup meeting hosted in New Zealand since the 3-1 win over Venezuela in Auckland in March 2020.

The team have been drawn for home games since then, but due to the situation on the New Zealand border, they had to be moved overseas.

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Tennis NZ CEO Julie Paterson said it would be great for the team to play at home again after three years away.

New Zealand Davis Cup captain Kelly Evernden has said he doesn't think the New Zealand players work hard enough physically.

Carlos Leiva

New Zealand Davis Cup captain Kelly Evernden has said he doesn’t think the New Zealand players work hard enough physically.

“We’re really happy to have had a draw at home,” Paterson said.

“Out of the last three games, two of them were at home but had to be kicked out of the United States (against Uruguay and South Korea). So we are absolutely delighted to be able to organize a home game and to keep that momentum going summer of tennis we’re going to have in december and january so that’s pretty exciting.

Paterson said they would begin researching possible venues for the meet.

“We’re working through this now and trying to figure out what this process is going to be.

“We will keep everyone involved in our decisions as we move forward.”

To say it will be difficult for New Zealand to win is an understatement.

World number 23 Grigor Dimitrov could make the Bulgaria squad but as he hasn’t played in a Davis Cup tie since 2016 he is unlikely to make the trip.

But with Dimitar Kuzmanov ranked 169th in the world, plus two other players in the top 350, they are unlikely to need him to beat a New Zealand side that were beaten 5-0 by Finland at the weekend. last.

Bulgaria don’t have doubles players to match New Zealand, but it’s in the four singles matches they should dominate, although Tennis NZ and Rubin Statham can bridge their differences.

In the draw against Finland, Davis Cup captain Kelly Evernden had Ajeet Rai, who is ranked 684th in the world, as his No. 1 singles player, while the other singles players were Kiranpai Pannu (ranked 717) and Isaac Becroft (1019).

Not only did New Zealand fail to win a singles match, they also failed to win a set and only Rai’s 6-4 6-3 loss to Otto Virtanen could be called competitive.

Evernden was candid in his comments about the squad after the game, admitting they were outplayed, particularly by Emil Ruusuvuori.

“The reality of what needs to be done for our guys, seeing a guy who’s ranked in the top 50 in the world, firsthand and up close and personal, they realize that no matter what they think of their ranking, 500 or 600 in the world, that’s a far cry from the level they see,” Evernden said.

“He’s a scary guy right now and they’re playing the best point they can and they’re not progressing and it’s over and over and over again.”

Evernden also questioned the motivation of the New Zealand players.

“I don’t think they work hard enough physically,” he said.

“I don’t think they have the mental toughness to compete at the level that these guys compete day to day.”

How much improvement can be made over the next five months is debatable, but Paterson said there will be the usual post-draw review of what happened in Finland.

“We’re giving everyone a little break, for Kelly to go home and also for a few days off,” she said. “Then there will be a review of the tie and that will help us with our planning for the next meeting.

About Jermaine Chase

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