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 3, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Other results: Nishioka lost in straight sets to B Schnur in Challenger. Kozlov lost to seeded french player Motet in three sets. Opelka has won two straight matches 76 in third in Challenger. Fritz has won two rounds in Challenger.

  • EquineAnn · January 3, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    I guess you could say he's on the ball in more ways than 1 then or that he's on a roll.

  • JG · January 3, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Tsitsipas looks like he is ready to break out as well, seems like the guys who practiced in Monaco have it together, including Dolgopolov.

  • Dan Markowitz · January 3, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    Hold on a second, Dolgo is the classic example of a player who’s fooled you once, twice and if you believe he’s going to be a top 10 or even 20 player again, you’re the fool for believing so. I love Dolgo, but something’s always upending him, injuries, apathy or the Russian mob possibly.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 3, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Wow cool photo Scoop.

    Dologo is back for blood until he collaborates with the gamblers to toss a few matches like he usually does. Then we’ll see how much “passion” he has. He couldn’t miss a ball, huh? How about the matches where he couldn’t put one in play

    I posted this before, not sure if anyone saw it, an odd Jared Donaldson YouTube video…

    It doesn’t seem like great training with Gambill but you be the judge

    Second, the way he talks about goals at the end is weird. He says his goal is to be No. 1 in the world and win a Slam yet that he “can’t control” whether he is in the top 20 or not. Huh? You can’t control your ranking? What kind of attitude is that? It’s bizarre.

  • Andrew Miller · January 3, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    A good off season can make a difference, especially for Dolgopolov, who likes Australia.

  • catherine · January 4, 2018 at 2:30 am

    Konta out in Brisbane. What’s with the WTA and injuries ? Not impressive. Plenty of activity in the off season and then back on court and – poof !

    Muguruza seems all over the place as well. Drifting a bit.

    Simona might be ok. She’s below the rader out in China. Not much in evidence elsewhere. And used to pressure, being Romania’s Favourite Daughter for forever.

  • Dan Markowitz · January 4, 2018 at 8:18 am

    I have another female player I like watching after seeing Osaka play last night. Geez, she hits the stuffing out of the ball, really goes for her shots. She definitely trying to hone in on the Serena look isn’t she coloring her hair the same gold tint. She’s not as big or strong as Serena, but she’s close, and she really hits the ball hard.

    How about Millman? Don’t you love this guy? Shoulder surgery, groin surgery and yet he beat Kyrgios last year at the Open and he’s beating Dimitrov in Brisbane right now. The guy looks like Jimmy Cagney, you dirty rat or the young Michael Keaton.

    Bad loss for Donaldson last night to Istomin. I know Dennis does well in Australia, but to lose in straights is not a good sign for the young American.

  • Dan Markowitz · January 4, 2018 at 8:26 am


    I checked out your Donaldson-Gambill training video. Thanks for posting it. What was wrong or bothersome about what they were doing? Seems like Gambill’s trying to get JD to look to be more aggressive and he’s doing drills with him to get his lungs to burn, his legs to burn, so he can build up endurance. Looked like a good training segment to me.

  • Andrew Miller · January 4, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Millman had a nice game. No asterisks for any of his shots, clean like Dimitri Tursunov.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 4, 2018 at 9:02 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Istomin is a world beater down under. His best tennis happens down under. Lots of bad losses so far this year for a lot of good players. Tough business.

  • Chazz · January 4, 2018 at 11:22 am

    This is really funny stuff at Hopman Cup between Federer/Bencic and Sock/Vandeweghe:

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 4, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Harry Hopman must be spinning mad watching this clowning. This is not the spirit of Aussie tennis, this is turning tennis into a WWF joke. As a purist traditionalist, this is blasphemy to the game. 🙂 No seriously, that was incredible fun to watch. Wish this would happen more. This is why Hopman is so special. You can see ultra serious tennis and then you get this magic. I saw a code violation in an earlier match, also several come ons and super serious tennis. Only Hopman Cup can show this kind of tennis magic we see here by Fed, Sock, Coco and Bencic. This is why Hopman Cup is one of my favorite events. When two greats like Fed and Sock play it two years in a row you know it's something very special and dear to their hearts.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 4, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Dan I guess I was thrown off because they never showed Jared winded. So if that is the goal, how about we see it.

    His comments were more bizarre than anything. Seemed like a bunch of excuses.

    The way that Fed character was clowning around in a match, does anyone think he will succeed? Ha. That’s what they say when Monfils or Kyrgios or these other guys do it.

  • Hartt · January 4, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Scoop, I just had a look at the posts you wrote about Stafanos Tsitsipas over the last couple years. I could only see the last few points of his match against Thiem, but it sounds like it was a terrific match. I remembered that you had written about meeting Stefanos and his father at the USO junior tourney in 2016 and how friendly they both were. I have paid close attention to Stefanos ever since.

    You made a statement on Sept. 10, 2016 that is looking better and better. “Felix is the type of shining and glowing talent that has the potential to be a historic player – that’s all I will say – Tsitsipas is right there too.”

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 4, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    I couldn’t have said this better…

    When two greats like Fed and Sock play it two years in a row you know it’s something very special and dear to their hearts.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 4, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Hartt, Tsitsipas was so impressive today. I'd say he is the most impressive of all the NEXTGEN players and will be the first to win a major. This guy is a special player and personality, he has the athletic part and the cool, the natural comfort for being in the battle. Nothing bothers him. Thiem survived but barely. No doubt Tsitsipas will win at least a 250 this year.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 4, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    No comments yet on the Thiem-Mladenovic relationship. Will Mladenovic ever win another match?

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 4, 2018 at 8:30 pm

  • catherine · January 5, 2018 at 2:07 am

    Serena Williams out of AO which is no surprise.

    Duke – as you seem to be social editor of this site I look to you for latest on Thiem/Mlad relationship – have seen nothing elsewhere. Obviously not in the loop 🙂

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 5, 2018 at 3:09 am


    All I can report is two crazy kids in love doing wonders for Austro-Franco relations!

  • Chazz · January 5, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Fritz into the Noumea challenger final against Rubin. Harrison into the Brisbane semis where he’ll face de Minaur. That should be a really interesting match. Harrison just beat Istomin and de Minaur took out Mmoh.

  • catherine · January 5, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Zverev loses – down to the MD in Hopman Cup. Two tired men – so it will be the women’s singles replayed 🙂

  • Hartt · January 5, 2018 at 8:51 am

    After he won a match a couple days ago, Thiem drew a heart with a K inside, so Dominic is very public about their romance.

    On the tennis side, he is in bed with a fever, so had to withdraw, So sad, the guy finally was doing well on a hard court.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 5, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Kyrgios looks dead serious now to win Briasbane and Melbourne. Excellent win vs a top form Dolgo. He's ready to make history.

  • Andrew Miller · January 5, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Scoop, hard to determine anything for Australian Open. Seen this show too many times!!!

  • Chazz · January 5, 2018 at 10:10 am

    Murray and Nishikori withdrew from AO. Are Nadal, Djoker and Wawrinka next? Rumors of Nadal having a nagging injury, Djoker not being ready and nothing from Wawrinka which might be a bad sign. Too early to know for sure, but this is setting up pretty well for another Federer slam run.

  • catherine · January 5, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Germany in Final of Hopman Cup !

  • Hartt · January 5, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Am looking forward to the final of Hopman Cup. Watched part of the Sascha vs Kokki match and all of the mixed doubles. Germany was fortunate to make it through – Sascha was well below par and he will have to play much better in the final or Fed will eat him alive.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 5, 2018 at 11:05 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Andrew, the clues are surfacing all over the place. Kyrgios, Fed, Dimitrov, Nadal, Sock the big favorites 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 5, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Zverev has not been super impressive since Cincy.

  • catherine · January 5, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Agree – Zverev has been misfiring this week. Angie has more or less got Germany there. Sascha seems to be in a bit of a slump and I can’t see Fed having a problem in singles or MD where he will be the pivotal player.

    Incidentally, it’s going to be a long flight back to Sydney for anyone playing there. Kerber and Bencic I assume.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 5, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Kerber vs Bencic is the key match. Winner of this could be favorite to win Aus Open. Fed will toy with Zverev. Could come down to mixed. Both Kerber and Bencic are very impressive this week.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 5, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    I think either Kyrgios loses in the first round or he wins it all. It can only go either way. If Nick doesn’t win, I’ll take Grigor.

    I give Thiem no chance simply because Mladenovic can’t give him the ‘Micaela effect’ that Jack Sock has recevied.

    On the women’s side, I am going with Svitolina.

  • catherine · January 5, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Scoop – you really do make incredible leaps – Angie’s played very well this week and so has Bencic but to pick either of them as favourites for the AO based on that is kind of ignoring all the other players, absent from Perth, who will be gathered in Melbourne.

    I haven’t a clue who’ll win BTW. GSs are so different.

  • catherine · January 5, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Duke – I would be with you on Svitolina if we’re naming names – she wants a GS.

    I’m not sure about Simona. She seems a little too comfortable, nothing’s worrying her. Everything is so nice. A champion shouldn’t feel like that. And I wish I liked her game more. I’ve been saying that for a while and I’m still looking for variety and real aggression from her and failing to find it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 5, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Kerber looks in top form and she can win again. Bencic at her best is also right there – ask Serena. I think both look highly motivated and driven and confident.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 5, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    This Grigor-Kyrgios match is a heavyweight showdown. Is it a possible preview of a Melbourne final? What a treat that would be.

    On the other side is Harrison v. DiMinaur – who saw that coming.

  • catherine · January 5, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Scoop – funny how things turn around – not long ago I was castigated for even mentioning Angie since she was clearly finished and now she is in the running for a GS and all sorts 🙂

    Seriously, she’s had a good week but let’s not overdo expectations. I’m sure she’s telling herself that.

  • Hartt · January 5, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    Catherine, Simona said she had many sleepless nights following her loss to Ostapenko at the FO. I don’t think she thinks everything is fine at all. She wants a Slam title, and wants it badly. Just like she wanted No. 1 badly – you could see how totally delighted she was when she finally made it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 5, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Catherine; You have to respect Kerber. You can never count out the great champions. She had a down yr last year. Great players have them especially on the womens side. Kerber has looked better so far in 18 than any pundit expected.

  • Andrew Miller · January 5, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    No crystal ball here on my end. I’ll go with a first time slam winner in Australia for the women and a first time finalist versus slam champion for men.

  • catherine · January 5, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Scoop – of course I respect Kerber, you know that.And she’s done everything right so far, glossy magazines excepted, I just think we shouldn’t pile on too many expectations right at the start of the year and after coming back from her lowest season.

    If she plays in Sydney she may lose but I don’t think that should be a concern – it’s the AO that matters. Obviously.

  • catherine · January 5, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Hartt – I’m going on Simona’s comments in a recent interview. I’m sure she cares about winning a Slam and doing well etc, she wouldn’t be playing otherwise, but she sounded, as I said, comfortable. Maybe it’s just her personality, she’s happy where she lives, in her personal life, tennis life and so on, very balanced. It’s possible she doesn’t need angst. But I wish she’d show a bit more adventurousness in her playing style. Still – that’s not her. She probably knows what’s best.

    Saw Radwanska not started 2018 well, out in Auckland.

  • catherine · January 6, 2018 at 2:55 am

    Re Angie’s appearance on glossy covers – I have a superstition about those features based on the ancient and notorious Curse of Hello! magazine, where the celebrity subject sees their career, marriage, fortunes etc go in the tank soon afterwards.

    Last cover Angie appeared on was Grazia I think in late 2017. And we know what happened next.

    Also, she’s glamourised past recognition, which sells mags but isn’t her.

  • catherine · January 6, 2018 at 6:24 am

    However, Angie beats Bencic 6-4 6-1 and this HC is going to the mixed I’d predict.

  • catherine · January 6, 2018 at 6:28 am

    Sorry – missed Zverev/Federer so it’s obviusly the mixed. Starting soon.

  • catherine · January 6, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Federer/Bencic get the job done.

    Angie should get Player of the Week, and then keep her powder dry and aim at W’don.
    I doubt she wants to be No 1 again.

  • Hartt · January 6, 2018 at 8:50 am

    I started to post earlier about Hopman Cup but my computer closed down for updates, so all that typing went to waste. Am very happy with the result, wanted a Swiss win, perhaps even more for Bencic than for Fed.

    I was up at an unearthly hour to see the last 2 sets of Fed vs Sascha. Roger was not amused with losing that first set TB and really went to work, totally dominating the youngster. Sascha’s level dipped a bit, but no one could have won over Fed in those last 2 sets, he was in full flight – great serving, net play, even some terrific drop shots.

    I thought Kerber played very well in her singles match and in the mixed doubles. Good to see her being more aggressive. Sascha got in her way a few times in the doubles, and made a hash of his shots – he should have left them for Angie.

    Anyway, a fun tournament, and Roger referred to coming back, much to the organizers’ delight.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 6, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Catherine; Glossy magazines means good exposure for the sport and Kerber. No expectations, just saying Kerber looks like she is back to the form of winning majors. Which does not equate to winning majors. Because a little luck always is involved.

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