Breakfast with Nadal and Djokovic is a side event for Koolhof at ATP Finals

For tennis player Wesley Koolhof a special week is ahead. The double specialist plays the prestigious ATP Finals in London for the first time and is in select company of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

โ€œ We‘re here with only eight singles and sixteen doubles. We have breakfast in common areas and say hello to each other more often than usual. It’s a little more intimate,โ€ he says.

โ€œ Djokovic and Nadal I don‘t speak so often. Yeah, if you see each other at the gym. And those aren’t really dialogues, not at least… It‘s nice to have an exchange of views with them, but I don’t care about that anymore.โ€

Successor Rojer, Eltingh and Haarhuis?

The focus of Koolhof is, of course, on obtaining the unofficial world title in the O2 arena. Together with his Croatian partner Nikola Mektic, he was already in the final of the US Open and the semi-finals of Roland Garros earlier this year.

After Jean-Julien Rojer, Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis, Koolhof can become the fourth Dutchman to win the ATP Finals. โ€œI know, that would be nice. Jacco and Paul won in 1998 and 1993, and Rojer not so long ago, in 2015.โ€

The video carousel below shows the World Cup titles of Jacco Eltingh, Paul Haarhuis and Jean-Julien Rojer, as well as a documentary by Mart Smeets from 1998 about Eltingh and Haarhuis.

The best eight couples of the year can participate in the ATP Finals. Koolhof: โ€œThere‘s not really a team out there, it’s close together. If we survive the pool phase, fun things can happen.โ€

Chemistry with Tsitsipas

With one of the top players in the single game, Koolhof has a further contact: the Greek defender Stefanos Tsitsipas. The two train regularly with each other and occasionally play a tournament together.

โ€œ Almost no more, now that I‘m probably playing with Mektic. He occasionally asks me to play it in, but then it has to fit my schedule. It’s still fun to do. We lie well together and that also applies to our coaches. That chemistry remains.โ€

On Twitter, Stefanos Tsitsipas recently posted images of a training with Koolhof.

Koolhof is the world top in doubles, but of course also closely follows the transactions in the single game. โ€œYou know that singleplay is more important. We hitchhike on their success. But the doubles are also very attractive to look at.โ€

Few games win from Djokovic or Nadal

Doubles specialists are generally players who lack the single game (Koolhof was stuck in the 462nd place in the world ranking), but that does not mean that they cannot compete with a Djokovic or Nadal.

Koolhof: โ€œLast year I played a set against Tsitsipas and I‘ll grab some games. But I have to play at the tops of my ability to keep up. I think I get two games per set on average.โ€

In doubles, it’s a different story. โ€œIf I played Djokovic and Nadal, it gets exciting. But I should win. They may be the better tennis players, but we have our fast net game, tactics and anticipation.โ€