Former Ukrainian tennis star Alexandr Dolgopolov admits "interesting thoughts" cross his mind when he is sitting in a trench while the 120 millimeters shells are being fired their way. Dolgopolov, who turned 35 in November, officially retired from pro tennis in 2021.
When the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, former world No 42 Dolgopolov joined the front line to defend his country. By now, Dolgopolov - who is serving as a drone operator - has gotten accustomed to pretty much anything.
In an interview with The Daily Mail, Dolgopolov shared that he once contracted a concussion after "the blast went right through me." "You really feel them go through your body when they land. After it exits you know there’s about 20 seconds when the shell is flying towards you.
So you hear the exit and you are waiting to see the arrival. With the 120 millimeters, they say that if it lands less than eight meters from you there's a chance that, even if the debris don't hit you, there will be a rupture of your organs because of the blast.
You have interesting thoughts sitting there and you can’t do anything. You think, should I leave the trench, maybe you could reach the car, which is for sure the worst decision you can make. This one eventually was close enough to give all three of us there heavy concussions, the blast went right through me.
But you know they don't have unlimited shells so you know it is going to end, firing non-stop is expensive. Once they stopped, we went out and continued to work," Dolgopolov told The Daily Mail. Dolgopolov: Just recently we lost a really good guy Since there are no signs of the war ending anytime soon, the war will very likely hit the two-year mark in 2024 February.
Reflecting on his new life, Dolgopolov admits it is not as happy as it once was and underlined that seeing people lose their lives is a brutal thing. ‘We lost really good guy just two weeks ago. A nice guy, a Georgian.
He actually took a loan from the bank to come to fight for Ukraine. So that was a painful loss for us, he was 25 years old. So yeah, the longer it goes, the more people you see dying around you. So yeah, the longer it goes, the more people you see dying around you.
For sure I'm not as happy as I as I used to be, life is more stressful. I used to be a really easygoing person, always smiling and joking. We still joke but you pay the toll of the war, it's mentally exhausting, you pay for it," Dolgopolov said.