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Blood Simple 08/31/2010 - 10:55 PM

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by Pete Bodo

NEW YORK—What kind of a man does it take to receive a kick second serve at ad-in (after multiple deuces) from the No. 12 player in the world and No. 10 seed at this U.S. Open and return it with a drop shot, the way Alexandr Dolgopolov did while facing David Ferrer here today?

Well, a brave one. Or maybe an incredibly gifted one. Or someone who's just plain dumb.

Then again, maybe it takes a guy who's feeling so ill he knows he can't string together more than two or three shots without feeling dizzy and incapacitated—a guy who's had a rare blood disorder from birth, one which is sometimes activated when he crosses a string of time zones and usually winds up forcing him to take intravenous medication and pills, and demands a severe change of diet (eliminating fried foods, salt and gassy beverages, among other things) coupled with a few weeks of utter rest.

I have to admit, I was having fun with all of the obvious options while watching Dolgolopov at work on Court 7 against Ferrer, and the truth, when I learned it, was—and I don't mean to be callous—a buzz-kill. But let me tell the story from the start.

Dolgopolov is a 21-year-old from Kiev, in the Ukraine. His father, Oleksandar, is a former ATP-grade player from back in the days of the USSR. He had scant opportunity to travel outside Russia and thus retired at around the age of 24, shortly after the son named after him was born (the younger Dolgopolov has since officially changed his first name to Alexandr, having grown irritrated by people who insisted on calling him "Olek"). The elder Dolgopolov became a coach and helped develop the former Top 5 ATP pro and French Open runner-up Andrei Medvedev. At the age of 3, his son was swinging racquets and rollling balls while his father trained Medvedev, and one thing led to another.

I've been hearing a lot of good things about Dolgolopov, often with a liberal use of words like "amazing," or "unbelievable," or "insane." He's up to No. 45 now, and so far this year he's beaten a pile of good players, including Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Gonzalez and Alberto Montanes. He was a semifinalist at Queens Club, and at Wimbledon he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round, 10-8 in the fifth. Dolgo played Ferrer a few weeks ago in Cincinnati, losing 6-4 in the third.

So I made a point of catching his re-match with Ferrer in the company of Eban Harrell, a buddy who works for Time magazine, here from London on a busman's holiday. Court 7 was sparsely populated when we flopped down onto the hot aluminum bench shortly before the match started. Dolgopolov was dressed in a regal purple jersey with short white sleeves, and sporting a hairdo that a WTA pro might envy: a subtle headband swept back his long hair, which was collected in the back in a pony tail, above which was a separate, substantial bun.

Dolgo has a light, confident tread; he walks with his chest flung out, bathed in what appears to be an air of entitlement. In fact, with his sharp, feminine features and hair-do, he rather resembled a Medici, or one of those other Renaissance personages vain enough to commission a portrait by a Da Vinci or Michaelangelo.

The impression was probably heightened by the manner of his opponent. Ferrer, dressed in conventional tennis whites with red trim, has a purposeful walk. He keeps his head down and his back is slightly hunched. This is a guy who's on his way to do something, although it's hard to imagine it being anything important. Honey, would you go down to the store to pick up a quart of milk?

Dolgopolov opened the ball with a quick hold, and you don't know "quick" until you watch this kid. His service motion is ultra-fast. It begins with an odd, subtle flinch and knee bend and he immediately flings himself into the shot, feet simultaneously leaving the ground. Blink and you miss it all.

On his groundstrokes, Dolgo generates incredible racquet-head speed, and still finds time to adjust in myriad ways to the flight of the ball; it's as if he's loathe to allow the stick to travel the same path twice. Guys as nimble as him rarely have such a varied repertoire. Ferrer, for example, is so fleet that his legs do most of the critical work. He has solid, reliable strokes, but they're pro forma. Dolgo is unpredictable and explosive in a way that Ferrer is not, and nobody—but nobody—is so precariously perched on the cusp of abandon when he unloads.

By around the fifth game, it was also obvious that Dolgopolov is also shockingly careless. He'd paint the line with one atomic forehand, then drill the next one into the fence. He appeared to have no plan beyond hitting the crap out of the ball. Not that this wasn't entertaining. Au contraire. We happened to be sitting near a gaggle of Desperate Tennis Housewives from New Jersey, and after Dolgo hit a screaming forehand winner from 10-feet behind the baseline, one of them simply cried out, "Good God!"

Ferrer, softly hissing 'mos, 'mos, after each winner, broke Dolgo twice from 2-2 to win the first set, with plenty of help from the opponent. By that time I was already toying around with headlines: Entitled, but Clueless? The Contortionist? In the second set, I kept track of how many rally strokes (points following the serve and return) were played in each point. I had a grand total of four by the time the score climbed to 30-40 (fewer than one stroke per point), although the five-stroke exchange that yielded the break for Ferrer ruined the percentage.

Of course, any time you can keep Ferrer from turning a match into a rallying contest you're onto something, even if it isn't always good. Dolgo's exuberant, let-it-roll strategy is highly appealing when it's matched against the steady Ferrer, who plays with all the joy of a graverobber. Refusing to submit to baseline torture of the kind Ferrer likes to inflict is a somewhat principled stand, and if it's executed at a sufficiently high level, it can bend a guy like Ferrer, who's obsessed with consistency and rhythm, right out of shape. But Dolgo was simply too erratic. At one point late in the second set, Eban turned, a puzzled look on his face, and said: "This is stupid."

And it only got worse, but for one last glimmer of genius from Dolgopolov. At one point late in the third set, he hit a drop shot. Ferrer, scrambling forward, dug the ball out and lobbed over Dolgo's backhand side, causing him to leap as if to hit a backhand overhead. But at the very last moment, he flattened the face of the racket and, still airborn, lightly flicked a lob of his own over Ferrer's head for a clean winner.

103750500 When it was over (Ferrer won 2-2-3), I felt like I'd just sat through the worst tennis match I'd ever had the misfortune to witness, featuring some of the must radiant, gorgeous shotmaking I've ever been lucky enough to see.

I was pleased to find that Dolgopolov speaks English well. "It's quite tough, my style," he told me. "I need to really play the ball perfect. When I don't feel it really good, I lose easy matches. . ."

Well, we've heard that kind of thing before. But he went on. "I felt pretty good in the last tournament, I just had some health problems starting in Toronto. I couldn't pull out of the tournament, that made no sense, so I had to deal with it.

"I have this problem from birth—some blood problems. Sometimes, I don't feel so well, especially when I change time zones a lot: Australia, Europe to the U.S. . . That's why I don't like to fly. Sometimes it affects my game, and I just have to deal with it. I couldn't have the usual [medical] treatment before the U.S. Open Series because I played Umag and then had just five days before I came to the U.S."

"And what exactly is that treatment?"

"They do intravenous blood stuff. They just put some medicine in, and I have to take some pills and change my diet, take some time [two weeks] off."

I had to ask, what is this disease officially called?

"I don't really want to say a lot. . . I just have it. It affects my stomach. I feel ill all the time. I don't want to eat. So for four tournaments now, I couldn't play my game. "In Cincinnati, I felt a lot better. I was more consistent in my game. Here in New York, I didn't even practice before the tournament. I practiced today for 20 minutes, just to hit the ball. I'm feeling really bad.

"So today I risked what I could, got a few games, but pretty well that was the maximum of what I can do. I couldn't run. I couldnt serve. I was feeling dizzy. I just had to go for it because the more I played the worse I felt. So I just play like I could, and with David you have to play really soild, because he's running so good, and he's getting all the balls back. I couldn't let him play a lot."

I felt badly for the guy. I reminded him he still managed to pull an impressive number of rabbits out of his hat.

"Well, it's my style, too. I don't wait for the other guys. I don't run like crazy on the baseline. I like to play a lot of risk—attacking tennis, serving fast, going to net, drop shots. . .And now, with my health, I don't have a choice. I can't imagine running and working out points."

So there it is. And I thought I'd more or less heard it all. I need a drink, almost as badly as Dolgopolov must. But I, at least, can drink whatever the hail I want.


57
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Posted by creig bryan 08/31/2010 at 11:09 PM

Simple blood.

Keep Smiling

Posted by Jamaica Karen (Pinky to Take Over the World) 08/31/2010 at 11:15 PM

Oh this is sad but funny at the same time. I guess no one is here. Everyone is over at Crisis Centre trying to pump up Gaba for the upset. I wonder if he will be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat tonight? Doubt it.

Posted by jb (FOOPs unite!) 08/31/2010 at 11:15 PM

oh my. i've been watching dolly this spring, now i'll be watching him even more closely.

thanks pete!

Posted by Scoreboarding 08/31/2010 at 11:20 PM

Jamaica Karen,
I think most people are frazzling over Nadal. I've only seen a handful of newly converted Gabashvilli fans :)

That's a strange disease Dolgopolov describes.

Posted by CWATC 08/31/2010 at 11:31 PM

That's really too bad. Only seen him play once so far but was very impressed.
Hope his health will allow him to keep improving.

Posted by Ryan 08/31/2010 at 11:47 PM

This post feels like the written equivalent to rubber-necking at a car wreck.

Posted by Arun 09/01/2010 at 12:03 AM

What CWATC said.
I'm impressed with Dolgopolov and looking forward to great things from him already. Will follow him even more closely.

Pete: I really love it when you write about these unheralded players.

Posted by nina 09/01/2010 at 12:10 AM

Thanks Pete! Hope everything will be all right with Dolgopolov

Posted by Tic 09/01/2010 at 12:16 AM

Judging by the symptoms described, it is possible that Dolgo suffers from thalassemia (the same thing Pete Sampras has).

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 09/01/2010 at 12:34 AM

Pete this is the best post from you in quite a while. I love Doglo (need to think up another nick) since the clay season where he played fairly well against Nadal. I hope his blood disease doesn't derail him. A lot of people think he looks like Martina H.

His match against Ferru at Wimbly was great as he kept digging and would not give up.

Posted by tina (Happy "Serbia Day") 09/01/2010 at 01:00 AM

Angel - a nickname that's appeared on here is "Dolly" - which is easy for me to remember as that's my fictional daughter's name - and possible future dog name though my 16-yr-old George shows few signs of his advanced age.
But I can relate, nevertheless.

Posted by ezan 09/01/2010 at 01:12 AM

Keep them coming Pete. Juicy stuff!

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 09/01/2010 at 01:16 AM

tina I can't stamd that nickname. I think AM started it.

I hope Dolgo has a bright future even if he hangs around the top 30.

Posted by petewho 09/01/2010 at 01:52 AM

Why couldnt it be somone with no talent like Fish or Blake that has this ?

How unfortunate for both him and tennis , he was the only original thing I've seen since in quite while.

Posted by Fern 09/01/2010 at 02:09 AM

Tough for Dolgopolev with that illness ... saw him player a few matches on clay earlier this year, a very interesting, original talent. Prefer the "Dolgo" nickname, "Dolly" sounds a bit demeaning, IMHO.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/01/2010 at 04:08 AM

petewho-----Why would you wish this or any illness on anyone else? Maybe in the sight of heaven should be asked to carry this burden, Mr Scrooge.

Posted by nina 09/01/2010 at 06:22 AM

"Why couldnt it be somone with no talent like Fish or Blake that has this ?" Is it some kind of sick joke?

Posted by petewho 09/01/2010 at 07:04 AM

Yeah lose the Dolly , its is more than little demeaning - esp with his fashion accessory ( soccer players where this too sometimes ) so not entirely unheard or a hint at some cross dressing , though I think a tennis kilt for Murray would be a good idea - and distraction if worn tradionally - hehe

Posted by petewho 09/01/2010 at 07:57 AM

No joke Nina.

Fish pretty much is self a confessed waster , as evident by his recent change of diet.

Blake was always considered an overachiever at best ,who had one good match with Agassi that got the ol Yanky doddle dandys wetting their panties.

whats difficult to understand about that ?

Posted by Christopher 09/01/2010 at 08:17 AM

petewho-- I'm not a big fan of Blake's tennis, but it's hard to argue that he didn't make the most of this talent. And, of course, Blake has already HAD his fair share of debilitating illness and major injury problems, to put it mildly.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/01/2010 at 09:05 AM

Slate has a feature on wooden racquets and composite racquets and how today's players would fare with wooden racquets:

http://www.slatev.com/video/could-todays-tennis-pros-win-wood/

Posted by tina 09/01/2010 at 09:10 AM

Well, if people find Dolly demeaning, they can always call him Alexandr or Dolgopolev and type his name out. Or find a new nickname. For me personally, when I scan over "Dolgo", part of my brain thinks it sees "Delpo" - the wishful thinking part, I suppose, as I truly miss Juan Martin.

I don't know - we could call him Vitamin D? Or Type A?

I sometimes have to get intravenous stuff, too - but I'm glad I don't feel ill "all the time".

creig bryan - it's great to see your Keep Smiling tag on here. :)

Posted by petewho 09/01/2010 at 10:03 AM

Chris- Blake reached no 4 in the world ( most top 5 players usually win a slam ) though there are exceptions like Bjorkman .

My point is that ( my little dolgo :) ) , can do a lot more , with far more variety than any American since the fab 4 ( agassi, pere , jim and mikey ) ,

Hes breake from the mould of players who all have look the same , pretty act the same and usually - for the better part have games that " manufactured " the same.

Hes more cut from the oldskool mold that creates the most memorable players i.e. players whose personality seemed to extend and transcend beyond the boundaries of their games , while reflecting their pesonalities within it ( even mynamesake had this )

From courier cramped style to Petes hang dog - son of BEEP - serve , they all had it until Fed came along with a little bit of everything , but not much of one thing.
You can debate this all you want , but Fed is not really exception , but rather very very good at everything .

Any way, Dolgo has the unbalanced balance that makes him more interesting to watch IMO than just a generation of clones who all do everything the same.

In the past it was the way where the guy who utilised their wepaons the best , dominated - and to be honest that was a lot more exciting than the same shades of gery we have now.

If it wasnt for the quality of Nadal / Fed - esp the rivalry it brought , Tennis would be dead , because Murray , Djoker and Delpo sure as hell dont do anything better or are any more appealing than likes of those bygone heroes like Andre , Jim or Pete at their best.

Posted by Kombo 09/01/2010 at 10:05 AM

While Ferrer's a grizzled competitor and deservedly won the match, I like Dolgopolov's game more. If he learns from experience and keep improving, he'll be fun to watch.

I'm looking forward to Murray vs Lacko. I don't pick him to win, but Lacko plays a crisp game that could keep the contest interesting, if he's game for the duration. Hopefully Lacko's feeling good and brings his A-game, otherwise Murray will just paste him.

Posted by petewho 09/01/2010 at 10:12 AM

Murray will use his Scottish charm to put him to sleep with his " mean " variation of Nadals game.

If onyl he wore a tennis kilt, with BARRS Irn-bru logo on the back on it .

Posted by Carrie 09/01/2010 at 10:13 AM

Enjoyed this article Pete. I have liked what bits I have seen of Dolgo play when I have managed to catch it on the Direct TC court feeds, etc. He has a fascinating game to go with his rather interesting looks (agree that he does have kinda androgynous looks that you could see in paintings of a Renaissance aristocrat).

It is too bad to hear about his disease- I hope he is able to rise more in the rankings despite it.

Posted by Ross (FOE) 09/01/2010 at 10:27 AM

Thanks, Lady Julia. You bring a lot of interesting gifts here and to TW.

Posted by Ross (FOE) 09/01/2010 at 10:40 AM

Alex will be back today in doubles--last match on Armstrong (available @USO live).

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 09/01/2010 at 10:55 AM

Generally speaking, giving a player a nickname is rather a term of affection providing it isn't obviously downright insulting or used in a derogatory manner. Dolgopolov is
quite an interesting character and certainly has the game to attract the public's attention. I wish him every success.

Posted by sisu 09/01/2010 at 11:05 AM

Ross - "Thanks, Lady Julia. You bring a lot of interesting gifts here and to TW."

Totally agree with you Ross. Really appreciate your perspective and thoughtful opinions ladyjulia!

Posted by CherryNYC 09/01/2010 at 11:19 AM

Morning all -- propped my eyes open to watch a bit of Rafa -- highly entertaining match. Not used to the Darth Vader look on him though.

Wonderful story about Dolly (I like the nickname..)

Posted by Christopher 09/01/2010 at 11:43 AM

"Blake reached no 4 in the world (most top 5 players usually win a slam ) though there are exceptions like Bjorkman"

petewho-- This is simply incorrect. If you look over the players who made it into the top five over the last 20 years you will find that the vast majority have not won a slam. Not even close. Just in the last decade (for year-end rankings), we have Murray, Davydenko, Soderling, Ferrer, Ljubicic, Coria. etc. It's not unusual.

My larger point was that it's particularly odd to "wish" injury on Blake simply because he's already suffered far more in this department than most. Can't think of any other current players who have come back from breaking their neck.

Posted by RobinDAMAN 09/01/2010 at 11:58 AM

Thanks for the post Pete. A good one.

I've been fascinated by Dolgopolov for some time now, I think ever since he gave Nadal some small trouble earlier in the year.

I feel REALLY bad for this guy, I hope his health is ok :/

I'll definitely be solidly behind him from now on.

Posted by petewho 09/01/2010 at 12:37 PM

A rush of blood , I dont wish ill on any one ( if you knew my own history you know why ) but I simply am frustrated with the blandness of the tour .

Blakes not the worst culprit of this by a long shot , but he was never going to be real threat in the same way someone with talent and charisma to boot might be.

As soon a Fed leaves Tennisis going to be in helluva state for personalities - you almost wish McEnroe was 40 years younger then.

Posted by Kwaku 09/01/2010 at 12:52 PM

Nice post Pete, thanks a lot.

We say Nalby for Nalbandian etc., but the meaning of Dolly can indeed be demeaning, so I'll change it for Dolgy. I liked Dolly, but ok. And I like the player since I saw him play with Rafa not so long ago.

petewho et al.,
When I read "most top 5 players usually win a slam" I immediately thought that could not be true, so thanks Christopher for checking. But I did not need to check. My point is that checking is not necessary if you have some basic understanding of the combinatorics and probabilities involved. I often recommend the book "Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences" ("El hombre anumérico" in Spanish) when I see these things.
A side point is, petewho, that you seem to invent "facts" too lightly. Shame on you.
And again wishing anybody illness, shame on you. Saying "Why couldnt it be somone with no talent like Fish or Blake that has this?" is not only logically close to magical thinking (as if there is a given illness that has to be assigned to one person or another) but also morally disgusting.

Pete, your post was a total fiasco, because "if you step on court, you're fit to play" (who said that? -the question is not rethorical, I think it was Fed but I'm not sure).
Of course I'm kidding. My point is: doesn't that statement sound uncompassionate and even cruel in the case of Dolgy? Well, for me it's the same in every case. Who can judge to what extent a tennis player's accomplishments (or a person's in general) are attributable to grace or hard work, to talent or will? To what extent his will is his own merit or part of his given nature? To what extent a players health or fitness is a gift of nature or his merit to take care of himself and put in the work? And to what extent his putting in the work is his merit or his nature? To what extent saying "I was sick" or "I was injured" is an excuse or a justification or a legitimate explanation? So let's give people the benefit of the doubt and let them talk about the elephant in the room. Federer having so few injuries is his merit or his luck? Rafa's fighting spirit is his merit or his luck? To what extent a player's accomplishments are due to talent or fitness or mentality, and to what extent those are his merit or his luck? I have no clue, and I DON'T REALLY CARE, because I just admire the miracle of animal coordination and neuronal and muscular agility and will they display, and don't dizzy my brain trying to assign merits or excuses.

Well, if the last paragraph was cumbersome, badly written, repetitive, recursive and even self-contradictory, that's good, because that's how it usually gets with those matters, and that was part of my point: don't go into that and just admire their achievements. Stop the gossip "he's a bad loser" because you simply cannot judge. Just admire what's admirable in this life while it lasts.

I'm sorry Dolgy has that sickness and I think it's perfectly legitimate to talk about it in terms of explanations (which are not excuses) and human sympathy. I wish him the best. And I also wish to make the point that we apply that same standard to any other player with any other ailment, big or small.

By the way, Delpo deserves his wrist injury because of his playstyle.
Yes, I'm kidding :-(

Posted by Kwaku 09/01/2010 at 12:54 PM

petewho, we cross-posted.
It seems I misunderstood you (like others) and thought you somehow wished the illness went to Fish or Blake (whom I like a lot, btw.)
It seems that's not the case, so my apologies.

Posted by Kwaku 09/01/2010 at 01:07 PM

Somehow related: yesterday I heard Rafa was asked (and I'm not quoting! just as it comes from my fallible memory) what his best weapon was: his shots, his head, or what.
And he answered: the shots are much more important than the head! If you have great shots and no head, you can still do well; but if you have great head and no shots, you can do nothing! And he laughed.

I knew it, of course, but he put it very well.
Sometimes I wish common sense were more common.

Posted by Kwaku 09/01/2010 at 01:12 PM

And Pete, nice try, but by the time you said "I have to admit, I was having fun with all of the obvious options" I already knew the previous paragraph was for real and feeling for the guy.
Good plan, bad execution, as they say. (But I don't blame you, this is just a blog ;-)

Posted by Kwaku 09/01/2010 at 01:22 PM

(or maybe I misunderstood your intentions --were you trying that we thought that paragraph were inventions you were entertaining? I admit to having reading understanding issues sometimes.)

Posted by Bratislava guy 09/01/2010 at 02:34 PM


Dolgopolov is the poster boy for druggies in tennis, the kid's father has been souping him up and juicing him up since he was 13. No wonder he's got blood problems, with all the EPO, CERA, and hi-tech steroids he's been on.

Mark my words if anybody tests positive in ATP it is going to be Dolgopolov.

Posted by Kwaku 09/01/2010 at 03:38 PM

I have marked many words by many people saying so and so tennis player is taking substances (mainly Nadal) and those words have basically never been true.
So my experience predicts your words won't be true either, mark them or not.

Posted by temes 09/01/2010 at 04:28 PM

Donald Young is chip and charging...is this what it has become to?

Posted by temes 09/01/2010 at 04:29 PM

Sorry wrong thread. lol

Posted by JJB 09/01/2010 at 04:36 PM

I agree that we sometimes rush to judgment that people "deserve" their injuries such as Nadal with his knees. It's never been proven that anything he's done causes the tendonitis. There's a good chance he was born with bad knees and was destined to have trouble since the day he took his first step.

A player's fitness and stamina, however, are a much different story. The stamina is a function of the time and hard work, or lack thereof, devoted to conditioning. This is why I have low tolerance for players like Djokovic, Monfils, Baghdatis, Bartoli, Kanepi, etc. to name a few.

Posted by embug 09/01/2010 at 04:42 PM

Watched all Dolgopolov's matches in Toronto. He'd lose the first set, then win the next two. Except against Berdych. He won the first and lost the next two. Alexandr was flamboyant and versatile. He hit flat forehands, and looped them. Had a consistent backhand slice, good volleys, the nerve to hit a drop shot off a serve, and a serve that rocketed off his racquet before you knew it, as you said Pete.

He also annoyed his opponents with the hangdog behavior, after every point. It was hot in Toronto and I didn't know anything about his unnamed blood disorder -- and I hope the juice story isn't true. Against Phillipp Pestzchner Dolgo, which is his 'official' nickname according the ATP website, the kid hypnotized the German into believing he'd retire after, well, the next point, then the next point. But Dolgo spun the ball, looked as if he'd fall over between points, and once another one began he ran like Wiley Coyote -- his eyes pealed on the yellow fuzzy object of desire.

Berdych had more than a few looks up to his box after Dolgo whizzed a few winning shots by the big man. Berdych had a smile on his face, but he wasn't having fun. Yet, he broke in the third and got the 'w.' Top ten, versus a hopeful kid that might not have a lot of desire to win. I hope not. If he could tame the wild side, we'd have an entertaining youngster. But I've been waiting for Gulbis to come around for years, too.

Phillippe lost and didn't shake Dolgo's hand at the net, which didn't bother the kid. He signed some autographs and away he went with his thin-as-a-rail girlfriend.

Posted by Foot Fault 09/01/2010 at 06:22 PM

sounds like Dolgopolov suffers from chronic pernicious anemia. If so it's surprising he's able to stay on the tour at all, much less stay in the top 50.

Posted by Swiss Bliss 09/01/2010 at 06:56 PM

Last night was quite shocking. Nadal was taken to two tiebreakers by a player ranked #93 in the world. That does not bode well for his US Open run.

Posted by Mickey 09/01/2010 at 08:15 PM

Great post, Pete. I am glad D. is still able to play the game at the pro level. Wish him best luck.

Posted by A_gallivant 09/01/2010 at 08:17 PM

Well that explains the scoreline because I really was expecting a more competitive match between he and Ferrer. He's still one to watch for me though.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 09/02/2010 at 03:55 AM

Well this thread has really turned into something I was expecting. If Dolgo was juicing I would expect him to be a bit bigger than he is.

I don't think he is top 10 material but I like the fact he can trouble some of the bigger guys. Once again I hope he can manage his illness and stay on the tour.

Posted by Kwaku 09/02/2010 at 07:01 AM

embug, nice post.

JJB, fair enough, but still not my position. Djokovic's problems with breathing are another very clear example of someone with lots of chances to just have been handed a bad hand. Even the extent to which a person can have the will to walk the extra mile into their conditioning is not clear to me (I guess I'd have lots of trouble with the philosophy of freedom or, more practically, being a judge when judgement must be made). Luckily in tennis there is no need to judge! So I stick to admiring the admirable (of what there's tons!) and be happy with it.

Swiss Bliss, don't be so sure. I heard Gabashvili played very well, and first rounds are often like that (and not even straight-set affairs). Rafa served better than ever (at least faster), and his main issue prolly being his backhand still has time to improve before the big challenges (semifinal, if he gets there of course). Count off Rafa at your own peril :)

Posted by Tennis Racquet 09/02/2010 at 07:40 PM

Wow, Dolgopolov has really shined through. Great article Pete.

Posted by Klaus 09/03/2010 at 04:14 AM

"He was a semifinalist at Queens Club, and at Wimbledon he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round, 10-8 in the fifth."

Pardon? He was a semifinalist in Eastbounre ;)

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