The ITF Junior Circuit caught up with world No. 1 Alexander Zverev from Germany to find out more about the 16-year old.
ITF Junior Circuit: Tell us about yourself and how you got into tennis.
Alexander Zverev: My parents play. My parents were both Davis Cup and Fed Cup players, obviously my brother plays, so I kind of watched them play every single day. One day, when I was I think one year and five months old, I just picked up a little racket, and I was starting to push the ball all over our apartment, and since then they took me out on the court. I enjoy it still, I enjoyed it back then. So, yeah – that’s how I started playing.
How old were you when you properly started playing?
Always… I think I kind of played every day, 30 minutes, one hour, since I was five years old. I wanted to play. My dad, my mum were always working in the club, and they were finishing late, and I was like ‘Come on, let’s go, let’s play a little bit’, and they would still be playing with me when it was 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening.
Have you just got one brother?
One brother [Mischa], yes.
And obviously he plays tennis… how is that having someone like that? Is it an inspiration, or is there rivalry there?
No, there’s no rivalry, except when we play each other but that doesn’t happen very often. It helps me a lot, because he’s been through it, he’s been through all the steps, and now he’s a professional. I hope he gets better now after his injuries, and I really think he’s going to be Top 100 in a couple of weeks, a couple of months.
I guess it’s good to have somebody who has been through that, that you can call on for advice and experience…
It’s not only my brother. It’s also my dad, my mum, they all have been through that, so I’m the last person in the family, unless my son or my brother’s son or something… It’s easier and nicer for me now.
And do you play any other sports? Do you have time?
When I’m in Florida. I spend a lot of time in Florida, in the Saddlebrook academy during the wintertime. I love basketball and golf.
Do you support a basketball team?
Yeah, I support the Miami Heat.
What about golf?
No, I don’t really. I love playing it, but I don’t really like watching it!
What’s your favourite tournament?
I love the Australian Open, I love Australia, love the people. And then of course I love Milan, because I won it, but the organisation is very nice, the people are very nice, how they do the tournament… they really do it with a spirit that they do it every year, they try to do it better and better and better. They listen to the people, what they think they can do better, and they try to improve it.
What’s your favourite surface?
Probably either hard court or clay, it depends.
How do you enjoy playing in a team?
I love doing the team thing, because you’re not alone on the court, you’re kind of with a team. I played hockey before, field hockey, so I like the team things, it’s something different, something special.
And presumably in the future, the Davis Cup would be something you’d like to do?
If they take me, I will play!
Tell me about your character. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I guess if my brother reads this he’s going to laugh, but, I don’t know… I like to win more than anybody, I guess…
Are you quite determined and focused?
I’m more the all kinds of guy… I like to have friends, I like to talk to everyone, I don’t really have anyone who I hate, or anyone… I don’t know if somebody hates me! I don’t mind people around me.
Do you have any weaknesses?
Mentally? It’s a tough question… I don’t know.
What would you say has been your biggest achievement in tennis so far?
Biggest? I won Milan. I was in the finals of a futures when I was 15… the one in Florida, Bradenton, last year in November.
So you’re based in Florida for the winter then?
And in the summer?
Hamburg in Germany.
What do you do when you’re not playing tennis?
I pretty much play tennis all the time!
Are you into music, books or films?
I’m more of a sport guy. I like the different sports, I like different games, I like to compete. As I said, I love basketball. So, if I had a day off, I’d probably get even more tired from doing something else than practising.