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Dolgopolov back on track on clay


 

Originally published on: 18/04/12 00:00

Alexandr Dolgopolov has had a difficult first three months of the year, his season interrupted by illness and injury, but the world No.21 is hoping that his problems are now behind him. Dolgopolov’s favourite surface is clay and he has made a good start to this week's Monte Carlo Masters 1000, winning his first two matches.

“I started [the year] really well, I was fit,” the 23-year-old Ukrainian said. “Then at the Australian Open I had some issues with my health. I had some tough matches there, but still it was good enough. Then I got a bit of a knee injury, so I didn't play for three weeks. Then I got sick in Ukraine. I had a bit of trouble with my health for a month. It's tough to get back.”

Returning to the surface on which he learned to play the game has helped. “I pretty much practised for 90 per cent of my time on clay. We don't have hard courts [in Ukraine]. They’re not very popular in Europe, especially in Russia and Ukraine, so I practised on clay mostly. Plus it's easier on your legs. I feel really comfortable on it. Even if I'm losing, it's comfortable for me to move and to stay on that surface.”

Dolgopolov lost to Flavio Cipolla in Casablanca last week in his first match of the year on clay but is through to the third round in Monte Carlo after victories over Juan Ignacio Chela and Bernard Tomic. “I feel comfortable on the surface, so I think I'm really ready enough for the clay season,” he said.

The Ukrainian has an unorthodox style and believes his game is well suited to clay. “I can vary the game, play drop shots. I like to play on the baseline. If I'm healthy enough I feel great on the clay. I move well."

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