WORLD Tennis Challenge organisers hope Ukrainian tennis star Alexandr Dolgopolov will become an honorary Aussie after teaming with dual US Open champion Pat Rafter in Adelaide next month.
Coached by Adelaide’s Jack Reader, the world No. 16 has started his pre-season training in SA in the lead-up to January’s Australian Open. But before that he’ll play the WTC at Memorial Drive from January 10-12 for Team Australasia with Australia’s Davis Cup captain Rafter.
Dolgopolov has good memories of Adelaide after he used the city to prepare his assault on this year’s Australian Open where he reached the quarter-finals.
“Of course it was a great start in Australia last year and the confidence carried on,” he said.
“I’m remembering what happened here last year and I’m happy to be here again.
“I feel tough in the heat so it’s good for me to be here for one month when a lot of players come in from the cold.
“It’s pretty tough in Australia and most players don’t take that into account.”
After an interrupted 2011 season, Dolgopolov is aiming to stay injury-free to have a crack at the world’s top 10 next year which starts at Melbourne Park.
“My work is to get as fit as I can and find my best form then we’ll see,” he said.
“It depends on the draw and some on luck but I hope to do at least what I did this year (at Australian Open) and maybe something better.”
Reader, who left Warradale Park to coach Dolgopolov on tour in 2009, said the 23-year-old was ditching the underdog tag after dropping more than 300 ranking spots in two years.
“The underdog we’re getting rid of slowly unfortunately because it’s always nice to be the underdog because everyone loves you,” Reader said. “When I first met Alex he was a little bit lost and frustrated with tennis but together we started to enjoy it a lot more. If you enjoy your job you’re always going to do better.”