Former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov says he is grateful to be able to play tennis once again after recovering from the COVID-19 illness. The Bulgarian was one of the players who were infected by the novel coronavirus during the Adria Tour exhibition tour in the Balkan region in July.
He played his first match since then at the Western & Southern Open in New York where he scored a straight sets win over Frenchman Ugo Humbert on Sunday. Dimitrov won 6-3, 6-4 and came from a break down in the second set to win the match.
According to the Hindustan Times, the World No. 19 commented, “I said to myself, ‘I’ll give it a try’. Now I’m here playing a match today." “Honestly, I’m just purely thankful that I’m even able to just be here, to participate."
Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov says we are all equal in front of the virus
The Bulgarian also said recalled the difficult time he had while recovering from the illness and wanted others, including tennis players and other athletes, to know that everyone is equal when it comes to the virus.
“The first week was just tragic, coming out of it." “I started by just walking. I couldn’t really do any exercise, I could not lift weights, I couldn’t play tennis. So all I had to do was walk. I started actually crawling in the house, then walking outside, then slowly started to run a little bit each day”.
“I just kind of wanted to show a message that it doesn’t matter, in a sense, ‘who you are,’ how fit you are and how healthy you eat and so on. This thing doesn’t ask anybody (those things). We’re all equal”.
The 29 year old reached the semi-finals at the US Open in New York last year - the same venue is being used this year for the Western & Southern Open - which is usually held in Cinncinnati. Grigor Dimitrov is now through to the second round at the tournament and will meet Hungary's Marton Fucsovics. If he does win that match, he will meet either the No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem or Filip Krajinovic in the third round.