Alexandr Dolgopolov: Dolgopolov’s immense talent has been on display for years now, though it seems the 24-year-old Ukrainian is starting to pull together all his abilities. He was 34-25 in 2012, winning a title in Washington over the summer and making the finals at Valencia at the tail-end of the year.
Strengths: Apart from Roger Federer and Andy Murray, no one plays as much of an all-court, varied game on tour as Dolgopolov. The spins, chops, angles and differentiating speeds that Dolgopolov throws at his opponents can be disarming, while also possessing some top-notch strength on his forehand side. Couple his mixed game with quick feet and the Kiev native is one of the hardest players to hit through on court.
Weaknesses: Dolgopolov can get in trouble from the baseline, particularly on his backhand side. While his speed and mixed paces help him counter an opponent’s attack, he oftentimes is unable to finish a point from behind the baseline with raw power. A tendency to play from behind also gets “Dolgo” in trouble, dropping an opening set and having to battle back into the match.
Opportunities: Dolgopolov wowed crowds in Melbourne in 2011 with a quarterfinal run that included five-set wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and then-world No.4 Robin Soderling. He fell in the quarterfinals to Andy Murray that year, but after his five-set loss in the third round to Bernard Tomic last year, Dolgopolov could be primed for another run on the courts he loves at Melbourne Park. His 2011 quarterfinal marked his only appearance in the final eight in 17 tries at majors.
Threats: Dolgopolov continues to battle consistency. Case in point: He was a finalist in Valencia to close 2012 before losing in the first round of the Paris Masters to world No.75 Igor Sijsling. Dolgopolov must approach each match with the fervour of a final to get through the dangerous floaters. If he makes it into week two, he’s a threat to any top player- including the Big Four.
Craig Tiley, Australian Open tournament director:
“Dolgopolov makes you beat yourself. He’s got the consistency to pull off some upsets as he’s proved before.”