ROLAND GARROS – There’s very little like the sound of two hard hitters – top-10 players – smacking it at top velocity in a practice against each other.
And the sounds of Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev reverberated all around a mostly empty Court Philippe-Chatrier on Thursday.
We generally don’t keep score in practice sets.
But clearly Rublev was. He was absolutely disconsolate afterwards, slumped on his bench. Coach Fernando Vicente even had to head someone off who was coming over to say hello to him.
He needed a moment.
But he recovered. It’s only practice, after all.
Here’s what it looked like.
(Is it just us, or did Rublev … dye his eyebrows or something).
Flashback to 2015 with Rublev and Zverev
And here are Rublev and Zverev after a practice eons ago … in 2015 at the US Open.
Just babies, they were.
Zverev actually doesn’t look ALL that different.
But Rublev looks like a little boy. 🙂
(You get the sense he probably lost to Zverev in practice that day, too).
The Russian was 17 and ranked No. 198. He qualified, and lost in four sets to Kevin Anderson in the first round of the main draw.
Zverev had turned 18 a few months before. And he was ranked No. 81 for that US Open.
But he, too had to qualify. It was bad luck, really. Zverev had been in the top 100 for months – except that one week in mid-July, when his ranking dipped about 50 spots to No. 123. He had made a surprise run to the semis of Hamburg the previous year, at age 17.
And, rather than defend those points, he lost in the first round in 2015 to Tommy Robredo.
Zverev also qualified; he lost in the first round in five sets to countryman Philipp Kohlschreiber, ranked No. 29 back then.
Now, they’re both in the top 10. Life is crazy.