Alexandr Dolgopolov: Sometimes I Hit Winners From Everywhere, Sometimes I Struggle [Interview]
First Milos Raonic, now Alexandr Dolgopolov gets a huge win. The 22-year-old from the Ukraine just stunned Robin Soderling in five sets to make the Australian Open quarterfinals.
He now plays Andy Murray set for Wednesday.
If you are not familiar with the freaky game and background of Dolgopolov (his father played on the pro tour, he use to practice as a kid with Thomas Muster and Marc Rosset), here’s a primer straight from the kid himself during his post-match presser today/tonight.
Q. There were not too many people looking at you when you were playing four years old in Monte Carlo Country Club with Medvedev and others. What is the memory from there to today?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Well, I had a lot of good times, you know. I was on tour all the time when my father was a coach. Then I started to play myself.
It’s a lot of work. Now I’m happy something’s paying off and I’m getting my goals together and getting up there.
Q. Why didn’t you pick up your father as a coach if he was such a good coach to bring Andrei No. 4 in the world?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Actually, he was coaching me until like 19 years old. Like only a few years he’s not coaching me. It was a pretty tough time. We got a bit tired of each other because I always see him. It’s pretty tough relationship, like father and coach.
So we decided it’s better, and everybody’s happy now.
Q. Your current coach is an Australian, Jack Reader. How did you get involved with him and what’s he done for your game?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Well, my manager met us like two years ago. He’s done a lot of my physical and mental, you know. I’ve got a lot more solid, consistent in the game. Maybe not so much in the tennis.
I was playing really well, but he just gave me the right way to play, got my game together.
Q. What are your thoughts on today’s game? You’ve made it to the quarterfinals. What were your expectations and thoughts on today’s game?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Well, I started not really well. I was serving really bad. I mean, with a player like that on the baseline, he’s really good. So, I mean, the first set I was struggling, and a break down in the second.
I came back somehow and started to play better and better with every set. I’m really happy I’m through to the quarterfinal.
Q. There was some medical treatment in the third set. Did you notice that and try to make him run a bit more?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Yeah, I think he got something, tape on his leg. I went to the toilet break, so I didn’t really see that a lot. I was just trying to stay focused and play my game.
Q. We don’t know your next opponent yet. If it’s Andy Murray, what sort of match would you expect with Andy Murray?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: For sure a tough match because he stays in the rallies, he really sees the ball good. It’s tough to play winners with him. I mean, a tough, physical match. I need to play really solid to beat that kind of player.
Q. You’re a cosmopolitan player: Ukrainian with an Australian coach and an Italian manager, Corrado Tschabuschnig. Why do you have an Italian manager?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: There’s a lot of nice people in the world, so you just meet them all over.
I’m happy with my team now and I’m doing well.
Q. Is he here?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: He’s not here now. He’s been on the other slams, but not here now. Maybe he’ll come for my match if I win another one.
Q. When you were very young and when you were touring with your father, what are the players that you remember meeting?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Well, for sure Thomas Muster was playing with me like the most, and Marc Rosset; they were playing the most with me. But I met pretty much all the players.
When there’s a kid on tour, all the players try to play with him. I had a nice time.
Q. Anyone you liked in particular?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Well, I don’t really remember it much, you know, because the first time we were traveling, I was like three, four, five years old, yeah.
And the second time I was like 10 years old. I was practicing already. I remember a few players. But not really much.
Q. Is this the best win of your career?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Yeah, for sure. I think it’s like two matches in a row I win five setters. I feel well physically and really happy I got some wins against those kind of players, you know.
Q. If it is Andy Murray that you play next, what do you like about his game? What is going to be tough for you?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Well, for sure he doesn’t give you any cheap points. I just watched the first set. He had like two unforced errors. It’s really tough to play him. He has a good serve.
If you start to play slow, he starts to bring up the rhythm and play winners. If you risk too much, you miss. He’s an uncomfortable player to play.
Q. Did you expect a little bit more from the world No. 4?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Not really. He was playing, I mean, well. I was just trying to stay in there. Probably I was doing good on the return, so that helped me win the match. Because he was serving well, and I was returning a lot, like 215. I saw the speed sometimes. I was guessing well reading the serve.
I can’t say he played bad or something else. I was just trying to play my game.
Q. On the ATP website, I saw one of your hobbies is computer programming.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Yeah, that used to be. But now I don’t have any time to do that. We did one game. We actually finished it. I mean, the game is done, but we didn’t have time. I’m not into it now anymore.
Q. What was the game?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: It was an online game, a Russian game. I was into it because I used to play them. But then I tried to make my own. We didn’t really finish it.
Q. What sort of game was it?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: It’s like an office game. You know, you have your character and you like evolve him. You have fights there. Just like an online life.
Q. You will play in the coming weeks in Buenos Aires and Acapulco if I am not wrong. Why these tournaments, and what do you expect from both cities, both tournaments?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Well, I’m more comfortable on clay because still sometimes my legs hurt, and I don’t want to be staying on hard too much. I’m used to clay more. I think I can do good results there.
You know, I have a bit of a problem. I need visas. I’m not sure I’ll make all the tournaments I want, but I’ll try to go there.
Q. Who else is in the same management company with you with Tschabuschnig? Because you are the strongest, but there are more.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: There’s Viktor Troicki is pretty good, then Marcel Granollers, Igor Kunitsyn. Quite a few players. Ivan Dodig.
Q. What do you think about this new generation of players, Tomic, Nishikori, Berankis?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: I played pretty much all of them, and I think they’re all pretty good. I think they’re all going to be top 50 players. They all have good games. Everyone has something. They just need to grow up and get their game more consistent.
Q. Some of us know your father, but we don’t know your mother. Where is she and what does she do?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: She just helps my sister studying, doing nothing much. Just family.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: In Kiev. She used to be a gymnast.
Q. You seem very relaxed. Do nerves come into play now?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Not really. I started pretty bad today, but I can’t say it was the nerves or something. I just was not in the match. My body wasn’t listening to me.
I mean, I’m trying to get used to playing. That’s my goal, you know, to be top 20, top 10. You need to beat those kind of players to be there, so…
Of course, sometimes you have nerves. Like on the match points I didn’t play too good, but I was too close. So, I mean, that’s normal, I think.
Q. You played Andy Murray in the Davis Cup a few years ago. What do you remember about that match?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: I remember I was expecting more.
Q. More from you or more from him?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: No, more from him, because he played not too fast. I thought he has a really big pace. I didn’t play those kind of players in real life. I just saw it on TV. TV makes it look much faster.
When I came out there, I just realized I’m playing faster, hitting the shots, but I make too much unforced and he was just overplaying me. I wasn’t consistent enough to even win a set.
Q. Do you like playing counter punchers like him?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Well, I mean, you have to play everybody. I just try to do my game and make him struggle with the shots, break some rhythm.
But he’s, for sure, a tough player to play.
Q. Do you see similarities between his and your game? The way you talk about his game, it sounds as though you’re talking about your own.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Yeah, it’s a bit similar. I think he’s also trying to play uncomfortable for the player, first of all. For sure he can hit some winners. So it’s pretty close game, I think.
Q. What would you say is your best quality as a tennis player, and what as a human person?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Sorry. I don’t really understand the question.
Q. What is the best quality of yours as a tennis player? Outside of the tennis court, what is your best quality as a person?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: On the tennis court, probably I play relaxed. You know, I enjoy the tennis. I don’t get tight too much. I play really freely. Sometimes it pays off. I have fun. I try to fight every point, do the right things.
Q. In terms of strokes?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Strokes, I try to also do all the strokes, play different shots. I can’t say I have a best shot because sometimes I play winners from everywhere, and sometimes I also struggle and you can’t really explain it.
One match I serve 15, 20 aces, and today I served 23% in the first set. I’m trying to make my game more consistent.
And off the court, probably I try to be honest with all people.
Q. If you could beat the No. 4 in the world, do you feel confident you can beat the No. 5 in the next round?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Well, I think every match is different. I’m very happy I won today. But, I mean, the day after tomorrow is going to be like a completely different match.
I need to, you know, forget about this match and go into the next round. I mean, it’s a good run, and you can make it even better.
Q. You say you try to be honest. Were you surprised when you got a letter from the Tennis Integrity Unit or not?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: I wasn’t really surprised because I knew some guys, you know, like Russian guys, they got those letters. They were asked some questions. I wasn’t really surprised of that. I just had a few questions to answer, so…
Q. Tipsarevic the other day said that these letters come mostly to the Russian players and eastern European countries and he thinks it’s not fair. Do you agree with that?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: I don’t know. I don’t ask the other players do they get them or not. It’s really like each player’s business what he gets. If it’s like that, probably those countries are more poor. Maybe more players are involved in some kind of something. I’m not really informed to comment that.
Q. You’ve been out here since December 5. Have you been in Adelaide training?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Yeah, I’ve been for like 10 days in Adelaide. Then I came to Melbourne to practice with the Aussie guys playing in the playoffs.
Q. Then Brisbane obviously, and Sydney.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Then I went to Brisbane a week before the tournament.
Q. Do you think that’s helped you, that extra time to get used to surface?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Yeah, for sure, because I don’t really like the heat. I got used to it more here.
Q. When you’re not playing tennis, what do you like to do?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Not really, I don’t like to watch sports. I don’t even watch TV when I’m off the court. I just like to relax with my friends, drive my car.
Q. Which is what?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: A Subaru.
And here’s his ATP personal bio: “Began playing at age three…Nickname is Dolgo…Mother, Elena, was an ex-gymnast who earned a gold and silver medal at the European Championships…Father, Oleksandar, was a former ATP pro and coached Oleksander Jr from a young age until 2008…Also has a younger sister, Maria…Speaks Russian and English…Hobbies include car racing, driving his Subaru STIL and making internet games, which he is paid for…Favourite surface is clay…Ambition is to be ranked No. 1…Identifies his father as the most inspirational person in his life for helping become the tennis player that he is…If he wasn’t a tennis player he would be Rally Car Driver as he loves to race…Made Davis Cup debut in September 2006 (0-2 overall).”
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