Hello everyone from sunny California! I hope you are all staying safe and doing your part to stop the spread of coronavirus.
I decided to stay on the west coast of the U.S. once it was announced that Indian Wells was cancelled. The days have pretty much been the same, but to be honest, I’m in really good spirits now. It’s been a bit of an adjustment, but I think it’s good to let loose, let your beard grow or whatever you want to do.
Tennis players are creatures of habit, so I still make sure to structure my day. Go to bed on time, wake up early, be productive in the morning. There’s a reason why some of the greatest minds of our time wake up early. I think structure is needed for your mental thoughts. Also washing our hands as much as possible. I’m a crazy fanatic when it comes to laundry and have been doing that twice a day.
I’m lucky because I have a small gym on the property where I’m staying and can access it every day. I have a little basketball court to run around on or can go for walks. Maintaining my physicality on a daily basis is key. You can always find a way to exercise, even at home. It’s not easy, but reveals a lot about your own character and lets you learn more about yourself.
Eating well is just as important now, but I’m letting myself be a little bit loose and sometimes have things that I wouldn’t necessarily eat while competing. I’ve been really good at making chocolate chip cookies lately!
I’ve been in contact with friends and family a lot during this time. With the sacrifices we make as athletes, it’s sometimes hard to be the best friend that you’d like to be for loved ones. Now is the chance to reconnect and really just listen.
The time off has been great in some ways because it’s given me perspective about what I want to do in the future, after tennis, and some things I want to do off the court. We now have a pause where you can let yourself be, put your guard down and let your mind wander. I have notepads lying around everywhere in case a thought or idea comes into my head and I want to explore it later with my agents or family.
I’m starting a course at Harvard Business School in a few weeks. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I loved being in school, but haven’t had the chance to experience it to the extent that I would have wanted to. Now I have the time to do something new and different.
I recently donated some ventilators to the hospital in my hometown of Haskovo to help those affected by the coronavirus. I’ve always been very aware of what’s happening in Bulgaria. I’ve been playing for Bulgaria all my life. I really appreciate the people and all the support throughout the years. This is not only a way of giving something back to my country, but deeply moves me and makes me feel alive.
In the future, hopefully I can have the right opportunities, right partners and the right structure to do the things I’ve always wanted to do, whether it’s in the medical field or education or something like that. I just know there are bigger things and I’d really like to not only be heavily involved, but give a part of myself for it.
For now, staying mentally strong is the most important thing. Hopefully we only have a little bit more of this to go. I hope everyone can get out of this safely. I’m sure that we’re all going to resume what we love doing soon, but health is the most important thing right now.
As told to McCarton Ackerman