Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australian Open Day 10: Dolgopolov

Curtain Call

Player: Alexandr Dolgopolov
Age: 22
Nation: Ukraine
Current Ranking: 46
Notable Conquests: Robin Soderling (4th seed, Sweden) and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (13th, France)
Today's Result: loss to Andy Murray (5th, UK) in four sets

Photo via Technorati Sports

This was a break out performance for Dolgopolov. His take down of Soderling qualified as the tournament's first big upset. This was, in fact, Dolgopolov's first Australian Open. Not bad for a rookie! We'll see him again.

Of course, the big story is Ferrer's upset of Nadal. Whenever there is discussion of leg injuries where Rafa is concerned, there will be rumblings as to whether it's the beginning of the end. The answer to the obvious question is yes, his career will be shortened by injury. The story is not over. He'll be back. He'll win plenty. But it is hard to imagine Rafa playing into his 30s. There will be a price to pay for playing with such glorious, unrelenting fury.

The lesson here is that we should enjoy him while we can. Really, is there a more gratifying athlete to watch in the world? And he is so gallant. He could have just taken a walkover today. But no, he respects his opponent too much to deny him a match. He gave his countryman full credit for the victory as well, not wanting to diminish it by playing up his own injury.

Nadal's not finished by any means but someday, he'll walk away before we're ready for it. That will be a very sad day for the sports world.

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