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ATP World Tour tennis comes to the Bulgarian capital of Sofia in the spring at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open.
ATP Sofia, also known as the Garanti Koza Sofia Open, is not only Bulgaria’s only ATP World Tour event – it’s the first ATP World Tour event ever to be played in Bulgaria. A Grand Prix Tour event called the Sofia Open was played on indoor carpets from 1980-1, with Per Hjertquist and Richard Meyer claiming the titles, but Bulgaria has not hosted professional men’s tennis since 1981 until the Garanti Koza Sofia Open was first played in 2016.
The Garanti Koza Sofia Open is staged on indoor hard courts at the Arena Armeec Sofia, Bulgaria’s leading sports and entertainment venue. The Arena Armeec, home of Bulgaria’s national volleyball team, has a seating capacity of up to 14,000 and has hosted events including Olympic qualification volleyball matches, the European ITF Taekwon-do championships, Cirque du Soleil and the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
ATP Sofia forms part of the European indoor swing which follows the Australian Open, as the top players move from the sunshine of Melbourne to wintry Europe with events in Montpellier and Rotterdam as well as Bulgaria.
The Garanti Koza Sofia Open was formerly held in Zagreb, where Croatian players Goran Ivanisevic (1996-7), Ivan Ljubicic (2006) and Marin Cilic (2009-10, 2013-14) were among its champions and the Bulgarian fans hope for a similar measure of success for their homegrown players.
Bulgaria has a proud tennis tradition including former top-10 WTA Tour players Katerina and Magdalena Maleeva, while in recent times Tsvetana Pironkova has reached the Wimbledon semifinals. Grigor Dimitrov, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2014, is the most successful Bulgarian male player in history after becoming the first to be ranked inside the top 10 and has won several prestigious ATP World Tour titles including the 500-level event at Queen’s Club.
The popularity of Dimitrov plays a key role in the attractions of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open, but the event also draws a strong field as those top players who prefer to avoid the February South American clay-court swing look for tournaments where they can tune up their hard-court games for the forthcoming 500 events in Rotterdam and Dubai.
Featured matches from the Garanti Koza Sofia Open are broadcast live from Bulgaria so you can follow all the best action online via mobile, computer and tablet as the ATP World Tour competes in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia in early February.
Formerly known as the ATP Zagreb
The ATP World Tour travels to Croatia at the end of January for the ATP Zagreb Open. The event, currently referred to as the PBZ Zagreb Indoors, is the first indoor tournament on the ATP calendar. The Dom Sportova in Zagreb hosts the event, which comprises of a men’s singles and a men’s doubles draw. The PBZ Zagreb Indoors is classified as an ATP World Tour 250 Series event.
Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia, and is situated in the Northwest of the nation. It hosts over one million residents, and is also gradually gaining popularity as a tourist destination. There are a number of major sporting venues in the city, such as the Arena Zagreb and the previously mentioned Dom Sportova. The Dom Sportova is most commonly linked with ice hockey, but is transformed into a tennis court for the ATP Zagreb Open. The centre court here can seat up to 6,400 spectators.
The ATP Zagreb Open was initially run in 1996 and 1997, before disappearing from the scene for nine years. The singles event was won by home favourite Goran Ivanisevic in both of these years. The former world No. 2 also partnered fellow countryman Sasa Hirszon in 1997 for a doubles title success.
In 2006, the ATP Zagreb Open returned to the professional tennis schedule, and Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic maintained the home nation’s unbeaten streak for another year. Ljubicic finished as the runner-up the two following years, as Marcos Baghdatis and Sergiy Stakhovsky respectively became the first international entrants to win the singles draw.
Croatia once again dominated between 2009 and 2011, with Marin Cilic winning the title twice, and Ivan Dodig lifting the trophy in 2011. In both 2010 and 2011, Germany’s Michael Berrer was defied in the final.
The 2012 ATP Zagreb Open was won by Mikhail Youzhny. The Russian enjoyed a terrific week in the Croatian capital, partnering with Marcos Baghdatis to lift the doubles title too. The home nation didn’t have much to brag about for a change, as top seed Ivan Ljubicic and defending champion Ivan Dodig both made early exits.
The ATP Zagreb Open is one of the newer tournaments on the ATP World Tour schedule, but it has established itself as a regular event. Matches here are often fast-paced and full of action, in large due to the hard indoor RuKort surface. Competitors here have the chance to make their mark in an up and coming competition. In addition to this, the overall prize pot of 450,000 Euros will be enticing for the vast majority of entrants.
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