Earlier this season in Paris, Aleksandar Kovacevic thrived when tasked with the opportunity of tackling the ultimate “whale” in men’s tennis, Novak Djokovic, in his grand slam debut.
The American showed impressive firepower against the recordbreaking legend, taking the eventual Roland Garros champion to a third set tiebreaker when beaten 6-3 6-2 7-6 (1).
Ahead of his ATP Tour debut in China on Thursday in Zhuhai Championships, Kovacevic was marvelling at the size of a whale shark during a day of thrills at a nearby theme park.
Along with fellow Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships competitors including Sebastian Korda, he visited the world’s biggest ocean-themed resort, the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom.
The 25-year-old is a nature lover who integrated outdoors activities including hiking and sky diving into his training routines at the behest of his former 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.”
Kovacevic, who peaked at No.101 on 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,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 2001, is no stranger to meeting champions.
As a 10-year-old he hit with US Open champions John McEnroe and Andy Roddick at a World Team Tennis 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.