Newspaper article International New York Times

A Playing Style That Fits His Health ; Dolgopolov's Aggression and Unusual Shots Help Manage Genetic Disorder

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Playing Style That Fits His Health ; Dolgopolov's Aggression and Unusual Shots Help Manage Genetic Disorder

Article excerpt

Alexandr Dolgopolov is one of the most watchable players on the ATP Tour and the best Ukrainian player in a generation.

Combining unconventional shotmaking and graceful, almost balletic footwork, Alexandr Dolgopolov is one of the most watchable players on the ATP Tour and the best Ukrainian player in a generation.

His breakthrough came with a run to the 2011 Australian Open quarterfinals. He reached No. 13 in the world the next year, and this year he has beaten Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka and is ranked No. 22. His accomplishments seem even more impressive, given that Dolgopolov has Gilbert's syndrome, a genetic disorder.

"You can't really manage it," he said of Gilbert's, in which the liver does not properly process bilirubin, a substance produced by the breakdown of red blood cells. "Now and then, it just hits me and I have to go to the hospital for a week or two. It's something I've had to live with."

Gilbert's varies in severity, and many patients, estimated as 5 percent of the population, do not even realize they have it. At its worst, it can result in extreme fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite and weight loss.

"You feel weak, you sleep too much, and even then, you still feel constantly exhausted," said Dolgopolov, 25, who lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Wednesday in the second round of the Monte Carlo Open. "The whole time, all you want to do is sleep. And then on the court, after a few rallies, you're really tired, so it's tough to play. You can play just one or two points, and then you need to relax to get your energy back. It's nothing deadly and it occurs just a few times a year, but it's tough to play at a high level with that going on."

Dolgopolov first learned he had the condition when he was 12. He was already one of the brightest talents in his country, but initially, it looked as if Gilbert's would curtail his career before it had begun. …

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