March 25, 2014 by Parveer Mann
For someone who previously lacked consistency, Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov has put together quite the month. His 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over current Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka is just the latest triumph in a stretch that has seen him elevate his game and retrench himself in the game’s top 20.
No Indian Wells hangover
Before his underwhelming loss to Roger Federer in the semis, Dolgopolov was probably the best thing going at this year’s BNP Paribas Open. He was moving exceptionally well, hitting loose and seemingly chasing down every shot hit his way. The most obvious example was his three set thriller over Rafael Nadal, an opponent he had never won a set off.
It was arguably his best showing ever on tour and one that we have seen glimpses of in the past. Throughout 2011 and 2012, he was someone always around the top 20 in the world before taking a little dip in 2013. However, there have been issues that have kept him back in recent years, primarily inconsistency and a hereditary condition that can cause fatigue. That’s why it was encouraging to see him carry over that strong play into this week in Miami.
The match against Wawrinka was very similar to what we have seen all this month from Dolgopolov. His uncanny ability to irritate his opponent early and then the ability to keep patient in the third set before seizing his opportunity. On this occasion, it helped that Stan was still nowhere near his peak (as we’ve seen all tournament) but the ability to close out that final set so impressively is another sign of Dologopolov’s remarkable month-long run.
Positive light for Ukraine
It is not lost on me that this month’s success for Alexandr Dolgopolov is magnified due to the crisis in Ukraine. Tennis unlike team sports allows for unbridled nationalism and in this case Ukrainian tennis players have provided a little hope for all Ukrainians. Along with Elina Svitolina and Sergiy Stakhovsky, Alexandr Dolgopolov’s success helps Ukrainians to take pride in their country beyond politics. Here’s a short video of Dolgopolov and other ATP players recently voicing their support for the people of Ukraine.
Next up for Dolgopolov will be a matchup with Tomas Berdych on Thursday.