Tennis Prose



Dolgopolov’s Beast Mode Is Back


It’s been a few years since we saw Alexandr Dolgopolov threaten the top guns in the major events but the highly talented Ukrainian was very impressive in yesterday’s dominant blowout of Horacio Zeballos, 61 62 in Brisbane.

After the win Dolgopolov noted his rediscovered passion and intensity, almost boasting that he “was flying around the court.” And by the end of the match, the confident 29-year-old flexed his muscles again, saying “I felt like I couldn’t miss a ball.”

It’s been a while since we last saw Dolgopolov at his best, pushing peak Djokovic to his limits, or beating the likes of Nadal at Indian Wells. Although Dolgopolov won his first title in five years last year in Buenos Aires (def. Nishikori), he has been a non factor on the ATP Tour, bordering on journeyman status.

Currently ranked 38 after finishing 2016 at 62, Dolgopolov has clearly regained his zest and hunger to be an elite player. The lackadaisical, going through the motions attitude are gone now, replaced by a fresh new spirit, and an enthusiastic bounce in his step, inspiring the former star to regain his lost status.

Back in 2012 when Dolgopolov was ranked 13 in the world, he appeared destined to be a major ATP star and a mainstay in the top ten. Instead, Dolgopolov became more of a sideshow type player, exciting to watch but hopelessly unable to find the level of consistency in his results to challenge for majors titles and Masters 1000s. The semifinal in Cincy in 2015 was his best result but it’s a lot less than what many tennis observers expected.

Now it appears Dolgopolov is driven to alter his image as a spectacular court artist who just can’t win the big one. He said his off-season training was the best of his career because he had no injuries to slow down his progress and hard work. This time he was able to train at high intensity through the entire block.

The results are showing now. Dologpolov, wearing his new Diadora kit, looks super fit, as if he could play fifteen sets. And he’s as quick as a cat on the court and when he arrives at the ball, the power kill shots are just exploding off the strings. Dolgopolov’s demeanor is all intensity and speed and you get a sense he wants to destroy everybody. There is no time to waste now.

In the first round in Brisbane, Dolgopolov dispatched world no. 26 Diego Schwartsman 64 76. And if Nick Kyrgios isn’t ready for a war, he could get blown out as well.

Keep an eye on Dolgopolov, who looks as good as ever, if not even better.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · January 6, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Federer clearly loves Hopman Cup. As most all tennis purists do because it is a very special event. It's also good to see Bencic back in top form, as she has struggled with bad results and injuries since beating Serena a few years ago. Zverev has lost his mojo and confidence.

  • catherine · January 6, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Scoop – the thing about publicity is that it feeds back on itself: the more you do the more reaction you get and the more you have to deal with the turbulence. Can become overwhelming. What’s good for the sport might not be entirely good for the individual.

    Serena and Federer are experts at handling publicity and they’ve both been used to it from an early age. The only time Serena lost control a bit was before the 2015 USO and the result was a missed Grand Slam.
    She’s never done that again.(not done the GS either)

  • catherine · January 6, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Hartt – several people noticed Zverev poaching Angie’s shots in the doubles – I think he’s just immature and inexperienced – impetuous. Angie was probably seething inside but she didn’t show it. She’s played a lot of Fed Cup tennis, doubles and singles, patchy results (nerves ?), but a good team player, so she knew what to do. Sascha obviously didn’t.

  • Hartt · January 6, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Yes, I expect Angie was very annoyed. Sascha gave her credit for getting them to the final, he should have stayed out of her way. It was worse because he did not even make those shots.

    I like Sascha as a player, but think you are right – he is still immature and impetuous. Hopefully he will mature. I tend to give players the benefit of the doubt until they are about 21 – by then I think they should have grown up. 🙂

  • Hartt · January 6, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Simona Halep’s season is off to a good start with titles in both singles and doubles in Shenzhen. It is a shame they had to move it to a facility where there was no coverage – Simona fans were very upset, and I think they have a point.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 6, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    I disagree Catherine. Tennis transcending publicity is a good thing. A lot of players want it. These players arre insulated and live in cocoons anyway. There are no tangible consequences to doing a fancy photo shoot. It's a new, unique experience for players to enjoy. I don't understand how you can determine Kerber doing a fancy schmancy photo shoot for a glossy magazine is a detrimental activity? Only in that it takes away from time on the court but most top players enjoy and need the release.

  • catherine · January 6, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Scoop – well, it’s a complicated subject, and of course people vary in their ability to deal with fall out from publicity, in any field.

    There are indeed ‘tangible consequences’ to doing photoshoots and other off-court activities and Angie referred to those herself a while ago as being ultimately distracting and hard for her to incorporate into the rest of her competitive life, playing, practising etc. I believe her. And also, in previous conversations we’ve had about this, I mentioned Barbara Rittner’s comment that Kerber was an ‘introverted person’ who found stress from outside difficult to cope with, as she would. That those things had an impact on her performance last year – absolutely no doubt.

    Internet publicity also produces consequences. I don’t waste much time browsing social media etc because most of it seems just trivial and pointless, but I have seen some unbelievably offensive comments on twitter – do players read those ? Do they mind ? What effect does a stream of abuse have on someone’s view of themselves ?

    Publicity’s a two edged weapon – much more so now than in past years.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 6, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Catherine; I'm sure Kerber is an alpha female and she could care less what people think. "Be the best, f*** the rest." "People are gonna talk, might as well give em something to talk about.' 🙂 Bottom line is it's a good thing to be well rounded and to experience and try new things. I strongly feel that Kerber is on her way to her next major title.

  • catherine · January 6, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Scoop – everyone cares what people think about them. Every single one.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 6, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Ryan Harrison gets Kyrgios tonight and then has to go to New Zealand to face a pumped-up Stevie Johnson. It will be a chore to win either match.

    How about Noah Rubin over Fritz in New Caledonia. I saw Noah get a w/o over Kevin Anderson a couple years ago in Delray.

    Speaking of Anderson, he was 3-0 against Illes Simon before the Frenchman got him yesterday.

    Tricky first-round draw for Ostapenko vs. Makarova in Sydney

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 6, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Johnson is pent up frustrated too, having lost badly this week to De Minaur. Rubin also beat Moutet in three sets on the way to the final. Some people, who shall remain nameless, were writing off Rubin in the later months of last year. A win like this vs Fritz in a loaded draw is a career changing win for Rubin, who evidently is back to full health again.

  • Chazz · January 6, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Fritz is once again disappointing. The bracket shaped up perfectly for him and he couldn’t finish the deal.

    I don’t know if anyone saw the Harrison-de Minaur match, but de Minaur in my opinion will be the Shapovalov of 2018. Second time I have watched the Aussie. He was 2 point away from beating Harrison in straight sets. He is going to be a thorn in the side of many top 100 players. He is so quick and makes incredible shots. Harrison was even saying wtf was that? after some of his shots.

    Kyrgios-Harrison will be a good match to watch, there is some bad blood between the two so there could be some tension.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 7, 2018 at 1:00 am


    Excellent point. Kyrgios is mates with Kokkinakis, obviously, and Harrison went nuts at Kokk in a heated Cincinnati qualifier and said that Warinka should have punched Kyrgios. No doubt that’s the kind of thing Kyrgios remembers and with the crowd on his side, he should thump Harrison – who will probably crumble when facing such adversity.

  • catherine · January 7, 2018 at 1:54 am

    The Other German wins in Auckland. Julia G beats Wozniaki in SS.

  • catherine · January 7, 2018 at 2:18 am

    Julia’s won the last 3 tournaments she’s entered. So much attention on Kerber, Julia gets forgotten but she’s got a good game, a nice dropshot and has a cool analytical way with her. I’ll never forget that takedown of CoCo last year in Zhuhai.

    But no, she’s not going to win the AO 🙂

  • catherine · January 7, 2018 at 2:51 am

    According to the DTB Kerber will win the AO.
    You see about expectations ?

  • Hartt · January 7, 2018 at 11:31 am

    I finally had the chance to watch the highlights of de Minaur vs Raonic and Harrison. I was very impressed and have added him to my young guns to watch list. He is just a couple months older than Denis and reminds me of the young Canuck in several ways. Both are relatively small by current ATP standards, both are very quick, are aggressive and neither is allergic to the net.

    Am looking forward to seeing more of the Aussie in the coming months.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 7, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Chazz; I agree, DeMinaur is capable of ANYTHING. There is no limits on what he can achieve. Yes he is that impressive. Not sure what it is that has sparked so many teenagers to be showing such good results in ATP main draws, maybe it's Felix. Felix was the first one to breakout at 14.

  • Hartt · January 7, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Scoop, whatever the reason for so many teenagers doing well right now, it is very welcome. We need new faces to keep things fresh, and I hope that several of these youngsters will have great seasons. Of course, topping my list are Shapo and Felix. Would love to see Felix make the top 100 this year.

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