23 Jan 2018

Zakharov more serious, but still funny


News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Martin SidorjakAlexey Zakharov (RUS)

There is a new, more mature 17-year-old Alexey Zakharov playing at junior tournaments this year, but that doesn’t mean the Moscow native has lost his sense of humor.

At the Australian Open on Tuesday, Zakharov was all smiles and laughing after he won his second round singles and doubles matches. In singles, the 12th-seeded Zakharov ousted Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic 63 64.

Zakharov played confident tennis, posting 33 winners to just 10 for Hardt. In a new strategy, Zakharov is making the net his new favorite spot, and won 27 of 33 points when there. He won six of the nine points when he served and volleyed.

Last year, he played all the junior Grand Slam tournaments for the first time with his best showing here at the Australian Open, reaching the quarterfinals in singles and doubles.

“I have to defend my points and I feel the pressure, but these courts I like to play on,” he said on Tuesday.

Zakharov started playing tennis aged six because his two older sisters played. Nowadays, he spends less time in Moscow in order to improve his game.

This season he's continuing to train at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy and is there on a more full-time basis than last year. His dad, a retired businessman, is pretty much his constant companion, while his mum mostly stays at home.

He finished his high school education last year and is currently pursuing a university degree in Moscow for physical education similar to Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov. He takes homework on the road and when in Moscow goes to take tests.

The world according to Alexey Zakharov

You say your dad travels with you and is at the Mouratoglou Academy when you are there. It sounds like mom doesn’t travel much. Is that right?

Alexey Zakharov: My dad is always traveling with me so I see him every day. No, no, he’s not a second coach. He just loves to travel. Mom she can't fly because she’s afraid on the plane, so she’s never really going to tournaments with me. But if it’s Roland Garros or Wimbledon, she can take a train from Moscow - Moscow to Paris, and Paris to London. She flew before but after one flight when there was turbulence for like three-hours she stopped. She had enough. I’m not afraid and I don’t know any other way to come to Australia. By boat or I can swim with sharks and dolphins.

You’re a very young uncle. Are you a good uncle?

Alexey Zakharov: Yes, I’m an uncle to one boy, Stefan, and he’s five-years-old and he starts to play tennis. I wish (I could give him lessons) but he lives in Rotterdam because his dad is Dutch. When they come to Moscow we do some practice together. But we most of the time we FaceTime. I’m a good uncle and I buy him presents.

Would you like to be the most popular or the smartest junior on the tour?

Alexey Zakharov: (laughing) One year ago I would say popular, but this year I say smart. I want to be smart. I change myself from last year. Last year I was always - I was a kid last year. Now I’ve become more smart and older. Smart, definitely.

Tell us the three best things about yourself?

Alexey Zakharov: I think I’m - it’s tough to say about myself how I’m good at stuff. I can say I’m smart. I can say I am funny. And I’m not angry - yes, calm.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would you change?

Alexey Zakharov: I don’t know. I like now who I am. I don’t want to change anything.

When you were a younger boy did you always think you’d be a tennis player?

Alexey Zakharov: (laughing) No. No. When I was little I liked cars. My dream when I was five or four, was to be a car trader, to buy-and-sell cars - big cars, expensive cars - like Ferraris. But then they show me tennis and I forget about this. I don’t have a license yet. In April, because in Russia you can’t drive before you are 18. No, no, my first car won’t be a Ferrari. It’s too expensive for me.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Alexey Zakharov: You know, I visited a lot of the world. I was everywhere, but I wasn’t in South America and I wasn’t in India. I really want to go to India. I don’t know why, but I really want to go. I think it’s a different world. Something inside me wants to go to India. I like Indian food - it’s spicy and I like that.

Are you a music fan?

Alexey Zakharov: Oh yes, yes, I really like music. When I have free time I am writing songs. In the summer I did one song with my friends. Music, I think, is second in my life after tennis. I spend more times with my headphones than my racket. I like this culture. I rap. I don’t need talent for this - I just read the text I have on my iPhone. We are doing this just for fun. I don’t have talent. I like rap and hip hop.

If you won the $10 million lottery ticket what would do with the money?

Alexey Zakharov: I will save my $5 million so I’ll give it to the bank because I’m a guy who likes to spend money very fast and, oh, that’s what I don’t like about myself and that is what I would change. I like fashion and spend a lot of money for this. Right now, this is sports clothes, but when I’m in the city I like to be in nice regular clothes. I think I would buy a house in Miami because I think it’s the best weather and I don’t like winter. In Moscow, it’s winter from October through March. So that would be $1 1/2 million because Miami is expensive. And I’d buy one car for me and one for my girlfriend, but I don’t have a girlfriend right now. And, maybe, some watches, but that’s not millions.

If you could talk to your pet what would you ask the pet?

Alexey Zakharov: Before I had two dogs (Jackson and Ruble) but now I only have one. We lost Ruble last year. I love animals, but I don’t like cats. When I’m traveling and I see a zoo, me and my dad are always going there. Last year, my dad and me, we went to the Melbourne Zoo and the Sydney Zoo, and then we went to Singapore for holidays for five days and we went to the Singapore Zoo. Jackson is a German Shepherd. If I talked to Jackson I'd ask if I am spending enough time playing with him and does he miss me when I am playing tennis? I love Jackson. He’s very smart.



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