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Alexandr Dolgopolov: Running Man

Dolgopolov© Getty ImagesAlexandr Dolgopolov has a 7-9 record on grass-courts (.438), according to the FedEx ATP Reliability Index.

Alexandr Dolgopolov is a flashy and talented performer.

But at 5’11”, don’t be deceived. The 24-year-old Ukrainian has highlighted time and again he has the ability to strike powerful winners from nothing.

His fitness level also ensures that he is capable of recording match wins on multiple surfaces.

As part of Compeed’s Form & Fitness series, Dolgopolov gives his insight on switching surfaces, his off-court work and takes part in our ‘Which player on tour’ quickfire.

Do you find adjusting to a different surface tricky?
Of course, it is tough to see the distance of the ball. Footwork is especially important when you change to grass.

Technically, when you move from hard or clay courts what adjustments do you make? 
I guess you start sliding a bit more on clay. You can perhaps give more air to the ball on clay, as the ball is slower. I think it is easier to go from hard to clay, as it is slower. You just need to hit with topspin and try to be aggressive, because the ball stops and an opponent has an advantage if you play slower.

What do you need to do when you play on grass courts?
I wouldn’t say you need to be aggressive on grass courts, but you do need precision. You need to be able to put the ball in places where it is uncomfortable for your opponent. I wouldn’t say you need to hit harder, but maybe you need to slow the pace down as the ball bounces really fast. If you are solid, then you can push more to the net. Footwork-wise, you need to stay lower when you strike the ball. Slide less and sit lower. It is definitely a big adjustment.

At this stage of the season, what physical work are you undertaking?
I don’t do a lot of gym, as I am pretty light. My ball is flying pretty fast. I don’t have many injuries with my upper body, so I do more running and footwork exercises. I need to run fast and move fast. I do a little bit in the gym, but not at every tournament. It’s mostly cardio.

How does this differ from your work in November and December?
I do twice the work in the off-season that I do during the season between and at tournaments. We just plan to do a little work between tournaments, but during events I don’t like to do a lot and just play tennis.

What do you like most about the grass-court season?
It is fun to play it. You can improvise. You don’t need to be in your best shape, as you can mix up your game. Serve, hit a few winners and win a match. Sometimes that is fun to do.

What advice would you give to a junior on improving their game on grass courts?
The return and the serve is the most important areas to play well on grass courts. If you return well and force your opponent to play a lot of balls you could have bad bounces, low bounces. It is tough to play on the baseline. If you serve well, you then stand a chance of winning. 

Which player on tour do you think…
Is the most flexible? Novak Djokovic, no… Gael Monfils!
Has the best footwork? Roger Federer.
Has the best balance? Roger Federer.
Is the quickest? David Ferrer.
Has the strongest core? Rafael Nadal.
Has the greatest muscular endurance? Andy Murray.

- COMPEED is an official supplier of the ATP.

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