Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev are some 13,500 kilometres from their home nation of Germany, and they’re soaking up Perth’s summer sunshine while Europe is in the midst of winter.
Despite those contrasts, the Team Germany duo is right at home in the West Australian capital, where their on-court highs are enhanced by unique experiences off the court.
In 2018, the Germans enjoyed a first surfing lesson at Trigg Beach; this visit, they were excited to visit Rottnest Island.
— Angelique Kerber (@AngeliqueKerber) December 31, 2018
Such experiences only seem to enhance their tennis.
Kerber’s debut appearance in Perth last year delivered the former No.1 with four singles wins, including in the final against Switzerland.
“It’s great to be back,” says the world No.2, whose only loss in Perth came when Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic claimed the live mixed doubles of the final.
“I have great memories of last year, playing the finals here and I’m excited to be back this year and hopefully we can do a little bit better.”
If the 14 straight match wins that Kerber collected in Australia last year are an indication, that’s a realistic objective.
Finding form and confidence in her Hopman Cup appearance, Kerber immediately claimed the Sydney title and was a semifinalist at the Australian Open.
Memorably claiming her first Grand Slam title at Melbourne in 2016, the 30-year-old believes that the Australian swing brings out her best.
“I love the country, I love Australia,” she enthuses. “I’m always looking forward to coming back.”
Zverev’s bond is equally strong, especially in Perth where he is competing for the fourth year running.
Fresh from his biggest career victory at the ATP Finals, Zverev was the first player among the Mastercard Hopman Cup 2019 field to arrive in Perth, doing so before Christmas.
“This is a place that I really like, that’s why I come here so early every year and kind of do my tennis preparations here,” says the 21-year-old.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m happy to be in Perth and playing inside this beautiful arena. I’m ready to get going.”
The top seeds at Mastercard Hopman Cup 2019, Kerber and Zverev respectively aim to continue an unbeaten run against Alize Cornet and Lucas Pouille as Germany meet France today.
Kerber holds a 3-2 winning record against the world No.45 Frenchwoman but has lost their last two consecutive matches – most recently at Montreal last August.
After a three-set win against Garbine Muguruza in a clash of two former No.1s on Sunday, Kerber takes confidence from her unbeaten singles record at RAC Arena.
“It’s just the beginning and I’m quite happy about how I played,” she said after a hard-fought win over the Spaniard.
“For sure there are still some matches to come here but I won everything already so it’s not so bad.
Zverev also required three sets to defeat Spanish veteran David Ferrer but based on rankings, the world No.4 will start favourite against 32nd-ranked Pouille in their first competitive encounter.