“I support only the underdog. I give mental power. Keep fighting. Never give up.”
Kabulov could be heard Tuesday supporting Mariam Dalakishvili of Georgia on Court 7. Later in the afternoon, Viktoryia Kanapatskaya of Belarus and Selma Stefania Cadar of Romania received his passionate support in the first round of the girls’ doubles on Court 13. Kanapatskaya and Cadar could be seen laughing between points and covering their mouths with their hands as they were getting ready to return.
On Monday, Kabulov, a delivery and logistics worker from California who was born in Pavlodar in northeastern Khazakhstan, cheered for Ukrainian junior qualifier Daria Snigur. Over the weekend, it was Ukrainian 15-year-old Dasha Lopatetskaya and Karolina Muchova and Marie Bouzkova from the Czech Republic. In Week 1, he got behind another Georgian, Nikoloz Basilashvili, the overwhelming underdog who took a set off Rafael Nadal in Ashe, and Elina Svitolina, who fell to Anastasija Sevastova.
“I think he’s, like, walking around and yelling for everyone,” Sevastova said after the match. “He can yell for everybody. I don’t care. It’s okay. I heard it in the Ostapenko match yesterday. It was the same cheer, so … he likes to cheer.”
His cheers — loud, enthusiastic and somewhat repetitive — have received largely positive reviews. Most people are entertained by his cheering, even though he has received glares from chair umpires who have asked him, in the nicest way possible, to save his cheering for the conclusion of points.
“They enjoy, they’re laughing,” Kabulov said of the reaction from players. “More support. Psychology punch for the opponent. Tennis is mental game.
“Some people support, say ‘Good, good.’ I support after points. Another game a referee say, ‘Hey, stop, not in between.’ If opponent lost, sometimes coaches cry, goes to referee, security, ‘We lost because of this guy.’”
Kabulov has been at the US Open every day from the start of the US Open Qualifying Tournament, which was free to attend. Once the main draw started on Aug. 27, he’d only buy a ticket for Arthur Ashe Stadium if there was a young, relatively unknown player facing a star. If there were no players from small countries scheduled to play in Ashe that day, Kabulov would either buy a ticket for Louis Armstrong Stadium or purchase a grounds pass – both options allowed him access to every field court, plus Court 17 and Grandstand.