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Alexandr takes a leap of faith

While most of the world’s top-100 players spend their off-seasons working out in fully equipped gymnasiums, Alexandr Dolgopolov hits the rocks, sand and surf of SA beaches.
3 January 2012, by World Tennis Challenge

Reece Homfray   |   The Advertiser

It’s pre-season for an international tennis star – Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov – done Port Elliot style.

Welcome to “Camp Dolg”.

While most of the world’s top-100 players spend their off-seasons working out in fully equipped gymnasiums, Alexandr Dolgopolov hits the rocks, sand and surf of the beach.

It’s unorthodox but ultimately effective, with the 23-year-old Ukrainian rocketing to No. 15 in the world rankings this season.

Dolgopolov and his Adelaide coach Jack Reader rented a house at Horseshoe Bay in December for their annual training camp ahead of the Australian summer.

The Advertiser photographer Simon Cross was invited to a typical training day with the pair which involved plenty of hard work but not a dumbbell or bench press in sight.

“From Horseshoe Bay you can jump straight down on to the rocks, into the water then be back up for a hot shower,” Reader said. “It’s perfect.”

Dolgopolov, who stands a nimble 183cm and 73kg, scales the rocks at Port Elliot like he has scaled the ATP rankings in recent years.

Since Reader took over as coach in 2009, Dolgopolov has gone from a top-300 player to top-20.

“We do various exercises on the rocks, running and climbing which is really good for your core strength,” Reader said. “And you’re using your whole body and balance.”

If the rocks are for strength, the water and sand are for fitness.

“We do strides in the water to lengthen the muscles and there’s no stress on the joints,” Reader said. “And because the water is fairly cold it ices him down a bit.

“On the sand is soft impact running and a lot of changing directions. Last year we had a few back niggles and a lot of guys are getting them now so this is running without the hard impact.

“I devised it from growing up running around on the sand dunes.

“A lot of country kids are fit and strong because that’s what they do.”

Dolgopolov started his 2012 campaign with a 7-6, 6-2 win over Alejandro Falla, from Columbia, in the first round of the Brisbane International played on Sunday.

After the tournament he returns to Adelaide to contest the World Tennis Challenge with Australian Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter before heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open.

Melbourne Park is the scene of Dolgopolov’s greatest Grand Slam result where last year he reached the quarter-finals.

“I’m happy with where he’s at. It’s been about building his base fitness and we’re slowly upping it but he needs to play matches now,” Reader said.

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