Late last year, as I was assembling my 2010 Players to Watch list, I came across the name Evgeny Donskoy on the stevegtennis.com Young Guns spreadsheet, alongside names like Grigor Dimitrov and Henri Kontinen, so I had to check him out. But the Donskey Boy hadn’t had the greatest of years, which is maybe why he could only manage a half-smile in all of his old photos.
Though he started off 2009 ranked #514 and even reached a career high 384th on the 9th of November, by the end of the year he had only been able to gain nine meager rankings spots over his position at the start of it, finishing #505 in the world.
But this year, I feel like Donskoy’s time might finally have come. The former Top 20 junior in the world turned in a high-quality 41/24 2010 campaign, including a run to the semifinals of the Ortobello Challenger in which he beat Robin Haase, Andreas Haider-Maurer and Federico Del Bonis along the way. As a result, his cut his ranking nearly in half, from #505 to #259 in the ATP list, up 246 spots. The power baseliner has a big serve that is often clutch and gets him out of trouble, but is also sometimes wayward and gets him into trouble. Oh, tennis.
Perhaps his most well-known run this year happened at the St. Petersburg Open, where he made it through qualifying and then beat Day One Player To Watch Andrey Kuznetsov in a close 7-5 7-6(2) contest.
He faced off against Mikhail Youzhny in R2, and… well, let’s go to the video now!
Actually, before I summon the A/V nerds, I just wanna say that one of the more difficult things about profiling up-and-coming players on the Challenger Tour is finding actual videos in which they’re featured. And even when you find them, they’re not ideal. Such is the case for Evgeny Donskoy. You’ll have to stick around to the end of this St. Petersburg highlight vid from two months ago, but then you’ll get to see a couple of Donskoy points. In the interim, I hope might just be entertained by Benny Becker highlights/interview and a funny Dmitry Tursunov misspelling that actually comes closer to what I feel his name really should be. Roll it!
I remember watching this match, and – if you’ll recall (or even if you don’t) – the youngster gave Misha all he could handle in the early going, taking the first set 6-3 before going down 3-6 2-6 in the next two. After that match, Mikhail was all impressed, saying in an article with Eurosport Russia that Donskoy was one of the most promising young Russian players. “Somehow, if a person is not included in the 20 years of age among the 50 or 100 strongest tennis players in the world, we all immediately think he’s weak level,” saluted the elder Russian. “Evgeny has proven to be a very good player, and in the future he’ll add.”
Though I can’t embed it, the bottom of this article has a nice little video newscast featuring Tursunov-Lu and Youzhny-Donskoy match highlights followed by interviews with Dima and the Youzhual Suspect (of course, the real highlight is the Google-translated headline). But you get to see a couple of different Donskoy points in that one.
You can also watch an entire Donskoy vs. Starace match from the previous year here, if you’d like: