NEW YORK: Alex Dolgopolov dodged the weather and one of the tougher first round matches at the US Open to march into the second round of the year’s last major. Alex defeated David Goffin 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 on a day that saw rain interrupt things and the humid conditions made things heavy and uncomfortable.
“I started pretty well but it was tough in the heat and humidity,” said Alex. “I knew I’d probably give a few points to conserve energy if things went to four or five sets. It was really hot on court but overall I played good tennis. The temperature dropped a bit when the clouds came over and I was able to finish in three sets.”
The rain interruptions were frustrating because they invariably came when the momentum was with Alex. He had quite a few break points before the rain breaks and when he did have to come off court, it was a matter of then finding some spare space in the player areas. There were so many people around sheltering from the wet weather.
However Alex remained focused and on returning he was able to reel of consecutive games and he “was happy with that”.
Alex has quite a healthy following in the United States. He has won titles here. He is recognised on the street (as he explains in his video about playing ping pong in a park) and fans watching his matches are calling out encouragement when he is playing.
“I get a lot of support in the US; I’ve had good results here like in Washington and Indian Wells and that helps you to fight harder ion the court,” he said. “The Grand Slams are all very special because you get additional feelings here. I love it but they are also very tough. Like here at the US Open it is at the end of a few weeks of travelling so you have to be at your best at the end … but its good, more money, more points.
“In tennis it si the four Grand Slams and I like them.”
In the next round he will play the 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny and they have always had tough matches.
“He is really solid and not easy to play. He is solid from the baseline so I need to be focused and not give away free points,” said Alex. “For sure he can give you chances to play your best tennis and that is what I will have to do.”
The transition between grass and clay highlights the widest gap in surfaces for any player. Alex Dolgopolov is handling that change for the second time this year when he plays Hamburg and then Umag, having just finished with Wimbledon, and before heading to the hard courts of North America.
Grass would have to be the toughest surface to totally master for footing and movement. The lushness of the grass has everything going just that bit faster and reaction times have to be even quicker that they already are. As a result a player has to compensate and a lot of the basics go out the window.
It is firmly believed that playing on clay is the perfect surface to get someone back in the right groove. The surface allows for more timing and helps one get into a rhythm. With that in mind playing Hamburg after the grass season will allow Alex to back into a better rhythm with his movement and shots before heading to five events in North America, culminating in the US Open.
“I like the hard courts and last year I had some good results in America so I am looking forward to it again,” said Alex. “I played some good tennis at Wimbledon and that has helped to give me confidence for the second part of the season so I am excited about what is coming up.”
After Wimbledon Alex went home to get some down time and spend time with family and friends. One of his close friends was having a birthday so there was a two day celebration for that – one day for the party and the next to recover. It is important for any player to just be able to get away and let your hair down because that helps to keep you motivated and not become bored and stale with just non-stop practice or matches.
“We had fun,” he said laughing, “but after that it was back to work. I enjoyed the work that we put in and now I am really looking forward to the tournaments in America.”
While he has some points to defend, there is still room for movement to pick up quite a few points in an effort to boost his world ranking.
After Hamburg, Alex will be playing Washington where he defends his title, then the ATP Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati, Winston-Salem and finally the US Open, the year’s last major.
Once the hard court swing in North America is over there is a Davis Cup tie against Spain to be played before heading over to Asia and closing out the year once more in Europe with the indoor events.