Staged at the Arena Armeec Sofia, the ATP 250 event in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia has been in the calendar since 2016, with Roberto Bautista Agut, Grigor Dimitrov and Mirza Basic lifting the trophy in the first three editions. Right from the start, all eyes were set on Grigor Dimitrov, by far the most accomplished Bulgarian male player ever and the only who is currently ranked in the Top 250! Dimitrov decided not to play in Sofia in that inaugural season, taking a break after an early loss to Roger Federer at the Australian Open and skipping the first two weeks of action in February.
The home fans were very excited when he announced his participation in the last year's edition, defeating David Goffin in the final to win the title before skipping Sofia again this season due to a shoulder injury. Recently, Novak Djokovic's uncle Goran has been appointed as the tournament director of the Sofia Open and he announced some big names for the 2019 edition that will take place between February 4-10 next year.
The organizers have already signed Karen Khachanov, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Nikoloz Basilashvili, Fernando Verdasco, Gael Monfils, Roberto Bautista Agut and Stan Wawrinka but Grigor has decided to skip Sofia once again, calling it a 'private event' that has not improved the state of tennis in Bulgaria in the last couple of years.
Instead of that, Dimitrov calls the Federation to organize more Futures and Challenger events (there was only one Futures held in Bulgaria in 2018, and no Challengers), addressing that as the right way to get more players involved and improve the level of the men's tennis in his country.
"For the moment it does not look very good (the chance to play in Sofia), we decided to play Rotterdam and Acapulco, I know it may be a disappointment, but I do not see why there should be pressure for me to play in a private tournament," Grigor told bTV. "I do not see why there should be so much pressure on me to play a private tournament, they'll see me again, why do we have to do a private tournament if we can do more than that?" To give a chance not only to ATP players but also for ours, for the Bulgarians, and why not do more Futures and Challengers in Bulgaria? "If there is help provided, let's help in the right way."