INDIAN WELLS – Roger Federer has sought out rising star Alexander Zverev to practice with for a long time now; the old man always likes to scout out the up-and-comers early on, to see what they bring.
Two years ago, when Zverev was just 17 but already playing nearly a full ATP Tour schedule, he made his first visit to Indian Wells.
He lost to veteran American Michael Russell in the first round of qualifying. He was ranked No. 136; Russell checked in at No. 179.
But the kid stuck around after the loss, and one of his practice partners was Federer:
Last year, Zverev was inside the top 60. He defeated Gilles Simon and Grigor Dimitrov before being one botched routine volley away from upsetting Rafael Nadal to reach the quarter-finals.
This time around, still 19, Zverev is now ranked No. 20 and a far more formidable practice partner for Federer.
Here’s what they looked like this week in the desert.
Have they changed? Judge for yourself!