Former ATP player Dolgopolov pledges to defend Ukraine

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Former tennis player Alexandr Dolgopolov said on Wednesday he returned to Ukraine to defend the country after undergoing weapons training.

The 33-year-old, who has won three ATP titles and reached a career-high No.13, said he was in Turkey with his sister and mother when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

“I have already started practicing shooting, and I was very lucky that a former professional soldier taught me for 5-7 days,” Dolgopolov wrote on Instagram.

“Once I found a few guys who were planning to go to Ukraine from the US…we started our journey. I took bulletproof vests for us and our army, I flew to Zagreb… and I drove through Europe, and I entered Ukraine from Poland, and finally, I am in Kyiv.

“This is my home, and we will defend it!” With all those who stayed! I will stay in Kyiv until we win and after.

Dolgopolov also posted a photo of a gun and military gear on Twitter, with the caption “before it was rackets and ropes, now this.”

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Former tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky enlisted in Ukraine’s reserve army last month, while boxers Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko joined the territorial defense battalions.

Former Ukrainian world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and his brother Vitali, now mayor of Kyiv, have also vowed to take up arms against invading Russian forces.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” designed not to occupy territory but to destroy its neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it considers dangerous nationalists.

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