Rebuilt veteran Dustov (UZB) reminds rivals of his enduring class
Farrukh Dustov (UZB) is the unseeded danger man that nobody wanted to draw in the Indoor Tennis Singles at the Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games - and on Tuesday, the imposing Uzbek demonstrated why.
The 193-centimetre tall Dustov had just crashed into the world’s top 100 two-and-a-half years ago and felt he could be careering towards the summit of the sport when he injured his right wrist when diving for a ball during a 2015 Davis Cup match.
It led to nine dispiriting months out of the game while he recuperated.
He had to completely remodel his game because of the ligament damage to his hitting hand and is now on the comeback trail at age 31.
Unranked but still hopeful of regaining his place among the world’s elite, he will have to do it with a playing style he has had to develop to protect his wrist.
Though this imposing figure laughed that he was effectively an old man in comparison to most of the field at Ashgabat 2017, there was a youthful spring in his step as he ground down a sprightly Jeson Patrombon (PHI), who is seven years Dustov’s junior, to prevail 7-5, 6-2 on the Main Court.
It was not easy for the man from Tashkent, who had to save three set points before taking the first set in 58 absorbing minutes.
After that, it was plainer sailing for the former world No.98, who is the only player in this tournament to have experienced life in the top 100, albeit briefly.
“I’ve never seen these guys in my life but they are fighting like real underdogs and you have to play good to force errors from them. The standard has really risen while I was away," DUSTOV said.
"I’m the old man of the tournament for sure - but all my career I never played a lot of tournaments each year so I’m not so tired of playing tennis. Could I still get back to the top? Everything is possible - you just have to believe. Age is only a number."
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