By Jane Voigt
Key Biscayne, Fla. — Alexandr Dolgopolov had never beaten Tomas Berdych, and he didn’t do it today either. However the Ukrainian had Miami fans on his side from front to back.
“I heard they were quite loud and it’s great,” Dolgopolov said. “I think every player enjoys when he’s supported by the fans, so I’m thankful for that.”
When writing about entertainment value Dolgopolov rates high, and that’s why these fans watching on Stadium Court had his back. He hops, jumps, and grimaces, a bundle of inner complexities he categorizes as perfectionistic.
“I think because even when I’m playing well and someone tells me I’m playing well, if I’m not happy with something, I won’t say that I played perfect,” Alex said. “It’s tough for me to say that something is perfect.”
Alexandr Dolgopolov at the 2013 Citi Open. Photo credit tennisclix.com
He was anything close to perfect today against Berdych who closed the match 63 76(3), and has yet to drop a set moving into the semifinals tomorrow.
Up a break in the second set, Dolgopolov’s concentration skipped the light fantastic in part because of poorer serving and in part because of lapses in concentration.
“The first match I played really well. The the second was bad for me,” he said. “I was not feeling well physically. Then with Stan [Stanislas Wawrinka] I played well again and was feeling good. Today, again, I was really tired and disconnected. I had my chances, but I gave away too many points.”
Dolgopolov had some insight into why his performance today was less than expected. And why he didn’t win the second point with match points to his favor.
“I played good and bad and all around the place, but overall I wasn’t very terrible,” Alex said. “I’m happy with that because walking on the match I wanted to sleep and I was completely somewhere out there (twirling his hands around his head).”
At the end of 2013, Dolgopolov finished outside the top 50 for the first time since 2009. Over the last four weeks his ranking rose from No. 57 to No. 23, the biggest mover on the ATP Tour. He posted his career-best win in Indian Wells, defeating the No. 1 seed and player in the world, Rafael Nadal. Including the Spaniard, Dolgopolov has defeated two additional top 10 players: David Ferrer and Stanislaus Wawrinka. Reaching just over the top-10 line, the list expands to include Milos Raonic.
“That I can still compete in the way I was feeling today, and even though I was disconnected a little bit, so I can still compete with a player like Berdych,” Dolgopolov began. “That’s great for me. I don’t have too much emotions now. I just want to get away from from the ball and the court and the tournaments for some time.”
With his higher ranking Dolgopolov can afford to pick and choose tournaments instead of playing one after another in order to earn points.
“I was No. 54 when I arrived at the South American swing. I needed some points, even small points. Now, for sure, I can change my schedule. I can go for bigger tournaments. So, I think that’s what I’ll be doing.”