Russia's newest top-ranked player
Alex Bogomolov Jr.'s fine season concluded in the middle of November, but he received more good news Thursday: His switch from the U.S. to Russia in the tennis world became official.
The Davis Cup committee ruled that Bogomolov Jr., a longtime U.S. resident, can represent the country of his birth against Austria in February, so he won't have to wait longer before making the change. His dad, a prominent coach who worked with the likes of Grand Slam winner Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Grand Slam finalist Andrei Medvedev, lives in Russia.
As quickly as you can say Shamil Tarpischev, Bogomolov Jr.'s nationality was altered on the ATP's website, and even better for him, instead of the U.S. No. 4, he's now the Russian No. 1, ahead of the slumping likes of Mikhail Youzhny and Nikolay Davydenko.
In an interview last week during the ATP World Tour Finals, where Bogomolov Jr. collected the most improved player award, the 28-year-old said he had no regrets about wanting to represent Russia -- and the mini furor it created. He was first approached by Russian officials, he added, "a couple of years ago."
"I'm going to do the best I can for my family," Bogomolov Jr., who soared from 166th to 34th in the rankings, said. "That's my main priority, my [son] and my family."
The U.S. colleagues he spoke to about his decision were supportive, Bogomolov Jr. said, mentioning Sam Querrey in particular.
"With the US guys, I really took the time and effort to speak to a lot of them," Bogomolov Jr. said. (Frequent Russian Davis Cup member Dmitry Tursunov didn't make any comment about Bogomolov Jr. returning to the challenger circuit, as was previously reported in this story.)
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The point was made that Bogomolov Jr. essentially slapped the USTA in the face. Here was, after all, the governing body that helped him during his formative years.
Bogomolov Jr. is "appreciative" of the USTA's help but claims he's been on his own for a while, including when he was battling a serious wrist injury.
"Me and the USTA have not really worked together for 10 years," Bogomolov Jr. said. "They helped me when I was 14, 15, 16 years old, but since then I haven't received one phone call, I haven't gotten one wild card or any help with coaching. Nothing for 10 years, and I didn't ask for anything.
"I'd been doing my own thing, being in debt, being on the surgery table on my wrist. I was doing this myself. But I'm very appreciative of what they did when I was a junior, because that sort of built the foundation along with my dad's supervision as well."
As for next year on the tour, Bogomolov Jr.'s task is to back up the 2011 season: He upset Andy Murray, reached two semifinals and four other quarterfinals. Recent history has proved that fast risers one season can fade as quickly in the ensuing one (think Tobias Kamke or another German, Andreas Beck).
"I have to become a natural beast who competes and who fights," Bogomolov Jr. said. "Even if players beat me, I want them to say, 'Damn, that was one of the toughest things I had to go through in my life.' That's the mentality I'll hopefully keep for next year and maybe even keep it up a notch."
London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter.
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