ATP Tennis 360

April 26, 2010 9:02 AM

Future champions: Olexandar Dolgopolov, jr

DOLGOPOLOV-JR-JAN05-SP0006-Medium-437x480.jpgThe most skilled player appeared in the Rome Masters qualifying rounds hasn't passed through to the main draw. But the Ukrainian Olexandr Dolgopolov jr, son of the ex Andrei Medvedev's coach, born in 1988 gave glimpses of his genius at work against Jan Hajek in the last round, before surrendering to his inconsistency and lack of concentration that often accompanies the purest manifestations of talent.

Dolgopolov jr this year has broken for the first time into the top-100: 131th ranked at the start of the season, he's now no.66 thanks to a series of exploits in the Challenger events in Morocco, with the finals lost in Marrakesh and Tangeri and the victory in Meknes. Earlier this year he had already given some glimpse of his perspectives in Brisbane, when he defeated the baby-prodigy Tomic and went one set up against Stepanek.

The long-haired skinny Ukrainian impressed for its bright style, highlighted by delighting backhands. Dolgolpolov's quick serves, with the ball hit in his ascendant phase, add varieties and unpredictability to his game and let him realize many easy points.

He shows stinging forehands, alternating strokes with no pace to sudden and deep acceleration. But it's from the ad side that Dolgopolov jr. shows the best of his game. For this reason, and also for his passion for motor car races, specifically rallies, he's been defined "the new Nalbandian".

He can play both two-handed and one-handed backhands. In the first solution, he hits, mainly down the line, with great anticipation and perfect timing. But suddenly, out of nowhere, he takes off the second hand to give life to backspin backhands skimming the netcord and bouncing long and low. His dropshot, then, is simply heartbreaking. With just his right hand on the grip, from his racquet he paints a slowed down stroke, apparently the ball travels in slow motion, floating in the air for a long long time (it seems a framing from a movie by Sergio Leone) and landing an inch over the net.

If the 21-years-old Ukrainian hasn't reached yet better results, it's due to his stuttering concentration (like in Genoa when he was 5-3 up in the third against the Belgian Darcis after a hard-fought battle but finished to lose the last four games) and an elbow injury he refused to have an operation for.

But the future is his. Without any doubts.

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