Dimitar Kutrovsky is 23 years old and currently ranked #565. Though he hasn’t played a full year of pro ball to get his ranking up to where it belongs, he’s the Bulgarian #3 player; and when the new rankings are released on Monday, he’ll be within 10 spots of the #2 position in his home country, behind only Grigor Dimitrov. A three-time ITA singles All-American, and one-time doubles All-American with Josh Zavala, “The Bulgarian Nightmare” – as he is now monikered – finished his college career as the winningest player in University of Texas history.
“Tar” (as doubles partner Jack Sock refers to him, among other names), plays a game that is veritably one-of-a-kind on the pro tour: primarily two-handed off both sides (though he can hit one-handed off either), his compact, versatile and all-court style of play packs a surprising punch for someone listed at 5′ 9” and 152 pounds.
(photo courtesy of The Austin Tennis Blog)
I first saw him play at the USA F3 in Weston, and his game caught my eye even though he was losing convincingly to Dennis Zivkovic at the time. Of course, that was the first of about three consecutive amazing comeback victories for the man from Sofia, Bulgaria, which also showed me that you can never count him out. As I said to coach Mike Wolf on the final weekend of the USA F4, every time I watch Dimi play, he shows me something more: ability, variety, intensity, strategy, heart – it’s all there. Mike further confirmed my suspicions by telling me that Kutrovsky goes about things the right way, with the right attitude, and thus sets himself up for success.
On a cloudy day last Friday, I was able to drag Kutrovsky away from supporting his friend and dubs teammate (in the third set, no less), telling him (only half-jokingly) that Jack’s already gotten enough press from my site, and it’s about time he got his own turn in the spotlight. I wanted to be able to know more about the personality of the player whose game I’d come to so admire. Happily, he not only agreed to abandon his friend in his time of need (haha), but he turned out to be a friendly, funny guy as well. Bonus. Here’s what he had to say:
Challenger Tennis: All right. First and foremost: “The Bulgarian Nightmare” – are you happy with this nickname?
Kutrovsky: Yeah. Yeah. Seems fitting. I like it.
Challenger Tennis: What makes you a “nightmare”, would you say?
Kutrovsky: The whole idea behind it was that I want to play in a way that when people see my name in the draw, they’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to play this guy.” So I’m kind of trying to work my way to actually make that happen.
Challenger Tennis: Aha. So, now you’re the Bulgarian #3 – have you heard from Davis Cup at all?
Kutrovsky: I’m actually going in two weeks. (Delinquent interviewer’s note: now it’s more like one week, as this conversation happened about a week ago. You might wanna check my math on that, though.) I’m going to go do the camp and then we’re going to go play against Belarus, so hopefully I can play. I know the guys that are in front of me. I think it’s going to be me and this other guy, if things go well. That’s the plan, hopefully. Hopefully I do well in the camp and show them I’m worthy of playing.
Challenger Tennis: Grigor is definitely playing?