STOKE PARK, June 30, 2017
The jokes were continuous and the power-hitting on full display on Thursday at The Boodles, as 20-year-old Alexander Zverev and fellow youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia put on the show of the tournament so far. The World No. 12 from Germany eventually emerged victorious, winning 7-6, 6-7, 10-2 after a tight battle.
“It was great,” Zverev said after his win. “Obviously before it gets all serious at Wimbledon it’s great to come out here, enjoy your time on court with a great crowd, and with Thanasi who’s a great friend of mine. So it was an enjoyable match.”
Kokkinakis – the subject of much of Zverev’s bantering – shared the sentiment.
“It’s good fun playing a close mate,” the 21-year-old said. “I’ve known Alex for a long time now, and he’s been doing some great things in the sport, it’s always fun to play him. I think the match went on a bit longer than most of us were expecting, but yeah, it’s good to get another match on the grass.”
The rising star – still on the comeback trail after two years of injury – now turns his attention to Wimbledon.
“I have cool memories,” he shared. “I played junior doubles with another close mate, Nick [Kyrgios]. I’ve grown up playing with him for so long and then to win that junior doubles with him, that was great.”
“Wimbledon is so classy, an unreal atmosphere to play in. I think the fans are pretty knowledgeable as well there, which helps. And there’s so much history, so it’s cool. Obviously you’ve got the strawberries and stuff, too!”
“I’m trying not to now, but I know when I go out there I will put a lot of pressure on myself,” the NextGen star admitted. “I say there’s no pressure on me, but when I go out there I’m going to go and fight hard, just take it day by day. And hopefully I’ll come out healthy.”
Zverev reached the third round at SW19 last season and will be seeded No. 10 this year, but is being cautious about his expectations.
“I have to look at the draw first,” he stated. “Before the French Open I won the Rome Masters. But then played against Fernando Verdasco in the first round, who was a very tough opponent, and I lost. Now I feel very comfortable, very confident on grass. So hopefully I can do well at Wimbledon, as well.”