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Moldova anthem gaffe mars ATP Cup in Australia

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ATP Cup organisers were left red-faced on Friday by playing the wrong national anthem for a player from Moldova, a small landlocked country in eastern Europe.

The embarrassing gaffe occurred ahead of the opening singles tie in Sydney of the heavily-promoted new team event as Moldova’s Alexander Cozbinov faced Belgium’s Steve Darcis.

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Tournament officials told AFP the Romanian anthem was played instead.

“At the start of the Moldova v Belgium match we mistakenly played the wrong national anthem for Moldova,” the ATP admitted.

“We are sincerely sorry and have apologised personally to Team Moldova.”

Cozbinov, who lost in three tough sets, played down the mishap.

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“I think putting on the wrong anthem for us is not a big deal. But it wasn’t that hard to pick the right anthem,” he told AFP.

“Moldova and Romania have the same flag so probably that’s why they made a mistake. Hopefully next time it’s going to be the right one.”

His opponent Darcis said he was not aware of the mistake at the time.

“I didn’t know, I was just surprised that they were not so much into it,” he said. “I believe it’s bad.”

Moldova, bordered by Romania and Ukraine, was one of the last countries to qualify for the inaugural team event being played in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

They are spearheaded by world number 46 Radu Albot, who broke new ground in 2019 by becoming his country’s first ATP Tour title winner at Delray Beach.

He is joined by Cozbinov, ranked 818, Egor Matvievici and Dmitrii Baskov in a group that also features Britain, Belgium and Bulgaria.

The ATP Cup has 24 nations split into six groups across the three cities, with eight teams emerging from the round-robin to compete in a knockout phase in Sydney until one country is left standing.

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