Former Ukrainian tennis player, Alex Dolgopolov has opened up on his decision to return to his homeland to join the military to help fight off the Russian invasion.
Dolgopolov, 33, conducted a chilling interview with Sports Illustrated from the outskirts of the capital city of Kyiv and was forced to stop speaking several times because of ‘disconcerting noises’, with the bombardments continuing.
The violence inside his homeland convinced him to enlist with the territorial defense, and he has insisted that he may have to engage in firefights.
‘Maybe I’ll be killed,’ he said. ‘Maybe I have to kill. What can I say? This is war.’
Dolgopolov admitted that, so far, he has been lucky, adding: ‘I can’t tell you how it feels when you’re getting shot at.’
Earlier this month, he shared a photo of his equipment and weaponry on social media alongside the caption, ‘Used to be rackets and strings, now this.
Despite Russia’s attempt to advance on Kyiv, the former athlete said that he did not consider using his impressive earnings and reputation to shirk away from taking to the frontlines.
‘It was a hard decision as in “dangerous”, but not hard as in “difficult”,’ he said.
He then added: ‘We traded a racket and strings for a gun and bullets.’
The 33-year-old adept with weapons after training with a former military marksman, saying: ‘I may not be perfectly ready, but I’m comfortable with weapons now.’
Dolgopolov famously defeated Rafa Nadal in 2014, has won titles in both singles and doubles and reached a high of No 13 in the world during his time in tennis. A persistent wrist injury forced him to retire, and he took up a career in business.