Dominic Thiem said last week that he’d love to quarantine with good friend and fellow Austrian Dennis Novak. In an Instagram Live on Sunday, 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev revealed that he actually is spending this time with another player: Marcelo Melo.
On paper, Melo and Zverev have little in common. The 36-year-old Brazilian turned professional the year after Zverev was born. The 22-year-old is a German singles star, while Melo has long focussed on doubles, in which he has reached the top of the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings.
But despite Melo being 14 years older than Zverev, they are great friends, joined at the hip whenever they’re competing at the same tournament. Now they are quarantining in Florida due to coronavirus concerns. Zverev told the story — albeit tongue in cheek — of how they became friends.
“It was 2015 Rotterdam. He was in the locker room by himself. He’s always in the locker room by himself. He never had that many friends. I was this new guy, I was 18. Everybody kept warning me [about] him. I was like, ‘Nah, he looks like he’s okay,’” Zverev recalled. “I was like, ‘Hey buddy, you want to have lunch?’ He was so happy, because finally somebody wanted to become friends with him, and I took him on. Every stranded puppy needs a home, so I take care of him.”
As Zverev got a kick out of the story he was telling, Melo pulled out a picture of a young Zverev, perhaps from that lunch.
“Okay everybody saw the picture, put it away!” Zverev quickly said.
The pair took some questions from fans, including one asking whether Zverev or Melo’s doubles partner, Lukasz Kubot, hits more double faults.
“Oof, this is a very difficult question,” Zverev said. “Lately me, nobody makes more than me.”
“Don’t say that, you’re not that bad,” Melo said as they both cracked a laugh.
Zverev also spoke about how Roger Federer was his idol, and Dwyane Wade was his favourite basketball player. But perhaps his most important thoughts came on getting through this current pandemic.
“It’s a very weird and difficult situation but I hope everybody is staying safe, I hope everybody is enjoying themselves at home,” Zverev said. “The more we follow rules now, the quicker we can go back to doing the things we love doing: watching live sports, doing fun activities and stuff like that. The more we follow the rules, the quicker the whole situation will solve itself and that’s why we don’t do anything, we don’t go out, we do nothing. We basically work out and stay at home and that’s it.”