SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria, a nation with a proud female tennis tradition, hailed Grigor Dimitrov’s maiden ATP tour title and praised the player for becoming an inspiration for young talent in the Balkan country.
The three Maleeva sisters - Manuela, Katerina and Magdalena, who took turns to feature in the world’s top six in the 1980s and 1990s - made the women’s game successful in Bulgaria.
Dimitrov became the first Bulgarian male player to win a tour title after fighting back to upset Spanish top seed David Ferrer 2-6 6-3 6-4 in the final of the Stockholm Open on Sunday.
Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski was among those to congratulate the 22-year-old Dimitrov.
“The Prime Minister expressed the hope that (Dimitrov) will become an inspiration for many young talents in Bulgaria,” the government’s press office said in a statement.
“Grigor’s success in an incredible achievement for our sport,” wrote Standart newspaper.
Trud daily praised Dimitrov for answering his critics, who had said he was not stable enough at crucial moments, in the best possible way by producing a remarkable comeback, and called him “a prince”.
Dimitrov, who became hugely popular in Bulgaria after winning junior titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2008, climbed to a career-high ranking of 22 in the world after his win in Sweden.
His girlfriend, Russian world number three Maria Sharapova, wrote on her Twitter account: “Wow! What a special moment.”
Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Clare Fallon