Author: Zac Milbank , The Advertiser
RISING Ukrainian star Alexandr Dolgopolov has been earmarked as the one to watch in at Memorial Drive
Set to team up with dual US Open winner Pat Rafter as an honorary Aussie, Dolgopolov looms as the tournament’s X-factor when he clashes with veteran American James Blake, Swiss star Stan Wawrinka and Frenchman Michael Llodra.
“Dolgopolov is going to be the most charismatic out there,” WTC co-director Roger Rasheed declared.
“And he has got the bigger game out of the four there. He’s got a whole load of different facets to his game and he’s quite unique as a tennis player.
“So he’s probably going to be the toughest player to counteract over the three nights.”
Dolgopolov, coached by Adelaide’s Jack Reader, also has plenty of weapons in his kit bag, giving fans plenty of reason to see him in the flesh.
“He’s quite flamboyant as a person,” said Rasheed, who coached Lleyton Hewitt.
“He obviously liked as a young kid to go for his shots and he would have hit a lot of winners while he grew up.
“Now he plays like there’s no rhyme or reason to him, which can make it difficult for the opposition because you can’t read the way he plays.
“That will make him quite entertaining for the fans.”
Rasheed stopped short of declaring Dolgopolov could match his quarter-final finish in this year’s Australian Open, but he said the WTC’s three-set format would suit the 23-year-old in the lead-up to the first Grand Slam tournament of 2012.
“Three-set tennis is best for him because when you are a bit loose and go up and down through five sets, the opposition has got time to work through you,” Rasheed said. “But he’s definitely a threat of causing upsets because of the style that he plays. No doubt the rest of the field, when they check out who is in their section, will take a look at where he is positioned.”
Expect Blake and Wawrinka to give Dolgopolov plenty of opposition in the singles, while doubles specialist Llodra could be a handful when four players are on court.
“Blake’s a guy who has been in the top 10 and, while he is at the back end of his career, he is so talented and gifted,” Rasheed said. “Stan is a very steady, consistent player, which allowed him to make the quarter-finals of the Australian Open this year.”
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