Alexandr Dolgopolov returned to Ukraine after safely escorting his mother and sister to Turkey. He is ready to defend his country amidst the unfortunate chaos.

Alexandr Dolgopolov
Alexandr Dolgopolov

The former World no. 13 spoke to Jon Wertheim this week and discussed his situation when the news regarding the Russia-Ukraine tension broke out.

“I just felt I had to do it,” he explained. “I couldn’t watch on TV. In the first days, I was watching something like 23 hours of news and sleeping one hour a day. I almost wasn’t eating for a few days. For the people here—obviously, some left, but many are still in the country—why shouldn’t I be, as well? I’m young, sporty, and I have weight in Ukrainian society as a famous person. I can send messages, speak to the press, gather money. If I need to fight, I’ll fight, but there are many useful things I can do here.”

Alexandr also drew similarities between the lives of a professional athlete and an armed soldier.

“You’re strong if you were on the highest level of a sport like this. You need to give up many normal-life things to be at the top, so I think any tennis player on the elite level is strong. You’re just changing the thing you do and are just concentrating on different things, on being safe, on surviving. Your mind twists and it’s like you just live hour by hour and minute by minute. It’s like the world has stopped here and it’s just fighting and surviving.”

Alexandr Dolgopolov urges Russian citizens to “take a stronger position”

Alexandr feels that the people of Russia need to stand up to their aggressive government and their policies. According to him, only saying “I am against war” is not enough in this extreme situation.

“The problem is that it’s not a war between armies; you can see hundreds of videos of [the Russian military] killing people with their hands up or in cars. It’s getting to be a genocide of a whole nation. For this, you cannot say, ‘I am against war.’ All of us are against war. Of course, we’re against war. This is said everywhere in the world, every time, but once it gets to a magnitude like this, you have to take a stronger position and condemn what the government and army is doing.”

Dolgopolov, who has had to start learning from scratch about fighting like army men said that Russia, with such a behavior, should be boycotted by other nations of the world and they shouldn’t be welcomed anywhere.

“Right now, every Russian is sitting at home thinking that this won’t touch them…On Russia’s national TV, they speak of invading other countries. They’re speaking of nuclear war. The information they give to their people is crazy. If the government has 70% approval with this kind of information, they should be blocked form the free world and shouldn’t be dealt with. They should feel like they’re not welcome anywhere.”

Alexandr Dolgopolov’s tennis career

The 33-year-old retired from Tennis last year. Alexandr reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2011. He has a decent win percentage of 52.4 with 221 wins and 201 losses.

He has 3 titles to his name and had accumulated prize money of US$ 7,125,771. His 3 titles were at Umag in 2011, Washington in 2012, and Buenos Aires in 2017. Alexandr finished 8 straight seasons in the Top 70 between 2010 to 2017.

He defeated 21-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal on two occasions. The first was during the 2014 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells in the third round while the other instance was in 2015 in round one of the London/Queen’s Club.

His only doubles title win came in 2011 at the Indian Wells with Belgian Xavier Malisse. They beat Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in the finals.

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