OFF COURT: World No 20 gets his kicks from racing cars
ALEXANDR Dolgopolov is a man of many talents and he will gear up for his first match on the ATP Malaysian Open after learning about the death of his race car driver friend yesterday.
The Ukrainian's unorthodox game has attracted massive following but tennis is not the only thing he is good at.
Dolgopolov is also a thrill-seeker who seeks the adrenaline rush of drag and other car races. The 24-year-old has been competing in championship racing for the last four years.
When asked about his passion for car racing, Dolgopolov was emotional with his answer.
"I like racing but today (yesterday) is not a good day to talk about it because my friend just died six hours ago. Yes, it is a big hobby but after this, I'm unsure whether to continue racing," Dolgopolov told Timesport yesterday.
"I love cars and I have been going to championships for the last three to four years... I am pretty serious but it's also dangerous."
Besides tennis and car racing, the World No 20 who has a 27-19 win-loss record this season, used to create Internet games.
"I used to design Internet games but that was a long time ago when I used to play computers. I do not have the time now but maybe in the near future, I might re-start this hobby.
"I created browser games, which involved characters for fights to get into the next level. It was mainly to keep office people occupied during their free time," said Dolgopolov, who turned professional in 2006.
Dolgopolov arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday but without his luggage and had to shop for clothes.
However, the minor hiccup will not affect the fourth seed, who received a first round bye, when he starts his campaign in the second round either on Wednesday or Thursday.
He will face the winner of the first round clash between American Rajeev Ram and Colombian Alejandro Falla.
"I have good memories about Kuala Lumpur after first playing here two years ago. I did shopping and also ate a lot.
"As for my target this year, I am playing in my first tournament in three weeks. I have some time off and haven't been practicing too much so I will take it one match at the time.
"I believe I have a good chance as I'm seeded here," said Dolgopolov, who made his first title breakthrough in Umag last year.
Commenting on his unorthodox but all-court playing style, he said his father, former professional Oleksandr Dolgopolov helped him develop his unique game.
"I lived on the tour at a very young age with my parents, travelling frequently and practising with top players but it was my dad, who taught me every shot and also ways to make a perfect game.
"That is why I can pretty much play any shot on court. It is fun when you can try different stuff and enjoy the game," said Dolgopolov, who started this season by reaching the final in Brisbane before winning in Washington.
Dolgopolov's mother, Elena, was a gymnast, who won medals in the European Championships but he was not interested in following her footsteps.
"I picked up tennis after watching my father coach others and naturally, I liked it straight away so I did not think about picking up other sports," said the Kiev-born, who reached a career-high ranking of 13 in January..
On his future goals, Dolgopolov hopes to make the top-10 next year. "My initial plan was to finish in the top-10 this season but it's not going to happen as there are not many events left. But I will try to finish the year with a good ranking to get ready for the new season."