Alexandr Dolgopolov Jr is one of the most exciting players to emerge on the tour during the last couple of years, with his unorthodox and flamboyant style winning him a number of fans around the world. His style of play constantly baffles opponents.
He has a quick first serve which wins him a lot of free points, but it’s his ground game which can be spectacular. He constantly uses the slice on both the backhand and forehand side and he’s capable of hitting incredible winners from almost anywhere.
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His high risk style usually results in a glut of unforced errors, but when he’s switched on he’s a real threat to the top guys and a real delight to watch. His upbringing in the game gave him the kind of start most tennis plays can only dream of.
Like a number of players his parents were also athletes, with his father Oleksandr playing pro tennis for the Soviet national team and his mother competing as a gymnast.
As his father played on the tour the young Aleksandr travelled with him, picking up the game at around 3 years old and having the privilege of hitting a few balls with Agassi, Becker and Courier on a fairly regular basis.
He had a fairly unspectacular first few years of his career, spending most of it learning the ropes on the Challenger Tour and playing a few Davis Cup matches for Ukraine. His father had been his coach until 2009, with the then 20 year old decided he wanted to find his own way in the game and hired Jack Reader to be his new coach.
2010 was a year of real progress, making a few main draws by battling through qualifying and testing his game against some big names. Impressive wins against Andreas Seppi in Madrid and Mischa Zverev in Monte Carlo showed significant progress, but it was his performance at the French Open that really put him on the map.
After beating Arnaud Clement in the first round he downed the 12th seed, Chilean Fernando Gonzales, in straight sets to claim the biggest win of his career. He eventually lost to the in-form Nico Almagro in the third round, but it was plain he had some real ability.
He had a decent run on the grass as well, reaching the semis in Eastbourne and losing narrowly to Tsonga in a five set epic at Wimbledon.The following year got off to a great start as he reached the quarter finals of the Australian Open, beating Soderling and Tsonga before losing to Andy Murray.
A few decent showings on the clay in South America were followed by a third round loss in Indian Wells and a fourth round showing in Miami before heading back to Europe.Four defeats in a row on the European clay were blamed on a bout of pancreatitis, before his form picked up a little in Nice including a shock win over David Ferrer.
He followed that up by reaching the third round in the French Open, matching his performance the previous year. The grass season was a bit of a write-off, with just one win in four matches. He had considerably more success on the clay in Umag, winning his first title after beating Marin Cilic in a close three set final.
He reached the top 20 in April that year, and had a decent run to the fourth round of the US Open where he was unlucky enough to meet Novak Djokovic. An incredible first set ended with Djokovic winning an epic tie break before sealing the match in 3 sets.
2012 has been fairly up and down so far for the Ukranian, with two final appearances in Brisbane and Costa do Sauipe the undoubted highlights. He has been struggling a lot with his health this year, largely due to him suffering from the hereditary condition Gilbert’s Syndrome.
It’s an illness which causes extreme fatigue and affects his liver and blood, and unfortunately for someone in his profession it is worsened by extensive travel.
His diet is extremely strict and he often requires an intravenous drip to combat the condition, and unfortunately it’s not something that’s going to go away. Hopefully he’ll learn to manage the condition well enough that he can compete more regularly as he’s undoubtedly one of the most exciting players at the top of the game.