Dimitar Kuzmanov will arrive at the Wimbledon qualifiers today fresh from victory at the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament, which celebrated its 20th year in existence by showcasing more global stars of the future.
The Bulgarian number two saw off Englishman Marcus Willis 6-4 6-7 12-10 in the final to claim his first win on grass, while his 31-year-old opponent took the opportunity to announce a return to the ATP Doubles Tour next month, with the hope of getting the chance to play Gram Slam tennis once more.
In the woman’s final, China’s Qiang Wang beat Nadia Podoroska of Argentina 7-5 6-4 to claim her second triumph at the annual Liverpool tournament, having also won in spectacular fashion back in 2016. Both women’s finalists will head to the Old England Club with some pedigree. Wang is currently coached by former Wimbledon Champion Pat Cash, with the Australian trying to help his client-who was once ranked as high as 12th in the world-regain her best form of her.
Podoroska, 25, went deep in the French Open two years ago, reaching the semi-final stage at Roland Garos after competing at the 2020 Summer Olmypics in Tokyo, earning her the WTA Newcomer of the Year award.
This year’s International Tennis Tournament was held over three days at Liverpool Cricket Club, drawing superb crowds leading up to Saturday’s finals.
Tournament Director Anders Borg said: “We have had a spectacular three days of grass court tennis here in Liverpool with some wonderful performances by all the players. It’s great for everyone to be able to enjoy live tennis and we wish all our participants good luck in Wimbledon.”
Norwegian Borg is the mastermind behind the Merseyside event, which started in 2002 and has been held in various locations around Liverpool. Borg’s vision of bringing big name Tennis stars to the area has been a success. Previous competitors include US Open champion Emma Raducanu who won the junior event as a 12-year-old back in 2015.
Former world number one Novack Djokovic, David Ferrer and Caroline Wozniacki – another former world number one – have all figured in Borg’s pre-Wimbledon tournament on their journey to super stardom.
Speaking to ECHO about the aims and success of the event, Borg said: “I thought it was one of the best events that we’ve ever had. Our woman’s final could have been the WTA final in any tournament. They gave an outstanding performance on Saturday. Our aim was to bring tennis a little bit out to the people. I was working full time in London as a derivatives trader at the start and I wanted to do something that compelled my passion for tennis, so I set up this exhibition event to give the players as much grass court practice as possible prior to Wimbledon.
“When I came to Liverpool I figured this must be a perfect venue. I had been to Liverpool many times before as an Arsenal supporter and most of the times I’d left disappointed but I still wanted it to be there!
“Our philosophy is to give the up and coming players a chance to play against more established players. So every year we are focusing on good junior talent. It’s our aim to get them before they get famous and I think now people are coming up here now to check out who the future of tennis is.
“We’ve finally received some recognition nationally and internationally. All the players are raving about the tournament. It is really important for Liverpool City Council to maybe get behind us a little bit more in terms of being proud of having an international warm-up event to Wimbledon in the city every year. This is a prestigious sport played all over the globe and Liverpool is on that map. It’s something that the city should be proud of.”