‘It Is Crazy To See’: Kovacevic Among ATP Stars Wowed By Whale Sharks In Zhuhai
Earlier this season at Roland Garros, Aleksandar Kovacevic thrived when tasked with the opportunity of tackling Novak Djokovic, the now-24-time major champion, on his Grand Slam debut. The American showed impressive firepower against the record-breaking legend, taking the eventual champion in Paris to a third set tie-break when beaten 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(1).
Ahead of his ATP Tour debut in China on Thursday at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships, Kovacevic took some time to marvel at a giant of a different kind as he watched whale sharks during a day of thrills at a nearby theme park. Along with fellow main-draw competitors including Sebastian Korda, he visited the world’s biggest ocean-themed resort, the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom.
The 25-year-old Kovacevic is a nature-lover who integrated outdoors activities, including hiking and sky diving, into his training routines at the behest of his former University of Illinois college coach Brad Dancer.
“I used to go hiking a lot when I was training in California. I was in Sacramento, and there was not much to do around there, so I had to find ways to have fun,” he said. “We used to drive to some of the coasts and find some random places to hike, and it was always nice, but seeing things like this is almost a step above that.”
Sebastian Korda was among the group who spent the day at the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. Photo Credit: ATP Zhuhai Championships.
Kovacevic, who peaked at No.101 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in April, was raised in New York and has spent time living in Florida, Illinois and California. The World No.116, who will play Kimmer Coppejans in his first round match in Zhuhai, was astonished by the variety of marine life on display at the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom.
“It is wild seeing them in person. In our day-to-day lives, you forget that nature produces some of these amazing animals. It is crazy to see,” he said.
Kovacevic, who has posted strong results on the ATP Challenger Tour since turning professional in 2021, is no stranger to meeting champions. As a 10-year-old he hit with former US Open winners John McEnroe and Andy Roddick at a World TeamTennis Match in New York. the two-time All American collegiate player also had the joy of meeting Djokovic early in the champion’s career in 2005, before the opportunity to play him presented 18 years later.
After winning ATP Challenger Tour titles in Cleveland and Waco early in the season, and also winning a round as a qualifier in Miami, Kovacevic wants to finish the season strongly. Having reached the semi-finals in Seoul last September after coming through qualifying, he feels confident in his ability to succeed in Asia.
“This is my first time in China. I was in Korea last year and I actually like Korea a lot,” he said. “It has been amazing so far. The hotel, I think, is the nicest hotel I have stayed in in my entire life.
“Just overall, the hospitality has been great. The tournament site is great and this experience today has been great, so nothing but good things to say so far.”