Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Casual tennis fans were at least awakened to catch a glimpse of Alexandr Dolgopolov's explosive talent and long-forgotten potential. The pint-sized Ukrainian stands a shade under six feet and weighs about a buck 57, according to ATP World Tour profile. It's hard to believe those measurements are not exaggerated, even with the kind of power he can generate with his sinewy arms and legs.
In January 2012, Dolgopolov reached as high as No. 13 in the rankings, but had fallen prey to his usual inconsistencies and penchants for trying to create winners from low-percentage shots. He was only ranked No. 55 to begin 2014.
His conquest of Rafael Nadal in the third round at Indian Wells reminded all tennis fans of what an unusual and entertaining talent he is. He can lean and whip his body into serves that routinely top 200 kph, and his quickness allows him to throw his entire body into a shot.
He's a surprisingly graceful and powerful combination who choreographs unusual body leans and balances, as if he were both the source and extension of the shot. He can glide and leap into his backhands and cut flat power as if he were Novak Djokovic.
At least this happens when everything is working. He also hits silly, inexplicable shots and throws away easy opportunities. He nearly gave away the Nadal match, and he struggled early against big-serving Milos Raonic. In the semifinals, he couldn't serve to save his life against Roger Federer, only 39 percent on first serves and getting out-aced 7-2.
Right now, Dolgopolov has brought up his ranking to No. 23 through better power efficiency and desire. It's etched on his face. He had a great tournament, all things considered.
Best of all, tennis fans are treated to his exciting style of tennis. He can serve, return and play with charisma and flair. Winning sure helps validate this success, and may continue to bolster his confidence.
Just how far can the Dog Man climb in the next few months? Can he keep it up at Miami and then wreak havoc on clay? As long as his new traveling companion is Consistency, there could be more big wins.