While ATP and WTA stars coming together at the United Cup may be new, many of the crosstour friendships among the 16 competing teams have quite a long history.
Team Croatia’s Borna Čoric and Donna Vekic have known each other for so long that they can hardly remember their first meeting.
“I don’t remember much because I think it was almost 20 years ago, but basically we’ve known each other since we started playing tennis,” the WTA No. 67 Vekic told ATPTour.com in Perth this week. “We’ve been together for our entire career.”
Coric has some fond memories of their early years together in their homeland.
“I remember her. We were playing under 10 in Zagreb,” the Pepperstone ATP Rankings No. 26 smiles before teasing her teammates about her younger self. I was. “I didn’t like her very much back then. She was very nervous and very arrogant at the time, but now she’s changed. So I’m here with her and the whole team. I enjoy spending time with you.”
“I don’t remember being arrogant!” Vekic laughed in response. “We’ve been friends for a very long time and I think it’s probably been the last few years that we’ve gotten even closer than we used to. We’ve been together almost every week on tour. [over the years] So it’s good to have close friends. ”
Team 🇭🇷 is ready!! Week pic.twitter.com/hO74XIy2Cq
— Donna Vekic (@DonnaVekic) December 28, 2022
That mutual support has helped Coric and Vekic overcome difficult challenges in recent years, and in early 2021, they underwent surgery within three months of each other. Coric returned to his ATP Tour in March 2022 after a year due to a shoulder injury. , Vekic’s knee surgery in February 2021 resulted in a three-and-a-half-month absence and a longer battle to regain his pre-surgery form.
These difficulties made subsequent successes in 2022 all the more rewarding for the pair. Coric clinched his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati in August, while Vekic defeated top 10 opponents Maria Sakkari and Alina Sabalenka at the San Diego Open in October. After that, he pushed world No. 1 Iga Swirtek to No. 3. Advance to the final.
“I’m happy to see her doing well,” Coric said. “She had a very difficult year with her knee and I had a very difficult year with her shoulder, so it’s great to see her doing well as well.”
“It’s great to be successful together, but at about the same time, we went through a very difficult period in our careers,” Vekic added. 19th in the Hologic WTA ranking. “My knee surgery, his shoulder surgery.
Coric’s barnstorming run in Cincinnati had many highlights, as he defeated five top 20 players in a row including Rafael Nadal, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Stefanos Tsitsipas to clinch the title. Vekic was in the stands to cheer on his compatriot during his second-round victory over Nadal, but her memory of the weather-stricken match has little to do with Coric’s on-court exploits. No relation.
“I couldn’t wait for the rain to come. I wanted to go home and sleep!” Vekic joked. “But it was a great win for him.”
That positive atmosphere looks set to carry over into the 2023 season, as Coric and Vekic prepare to lead Team Croatia’s United Cup bid alongside WTA No. 38 Petra Martic. Vekic will face Argentina international Maria Karl on Saturday, while Coric will open Group F against Francisco Cerundro.
“We feel great here,” Vekic said. “The atmosphere is great. I was in Perth once 10 years ago and I’m really happy to be back.
The two will also team up for Sunday’s mixed doubles match at the RAC Arena, but Coric admitted that preparing his on-court combinations will require hard work on the practice court.
“We have to go to the practice court now and play doubles because we haven’t played doubles in a long time,” he said. “She thinks she’s the same [Vekic] To be honest… I probably played doubles [together] We played a few times when I was 16 or 17, but we hadn’t played together in a long time, so it would be very interesting if we had to go on the court and play. ”
If Coric and Vekic pair up for Sunday’s doubles, they definitely want their respective games to be more in sync than their fashion sense. was exchanged.
I think our fashion is still way ahead of your fashion 💁🏼♀️💃🏼 https://t.co/5T9FYNdSlk
— Donna Vekic (@DonnaVekic) September 7, 2022
“We’re in the comfort zone this week,” Coric said, referring to the standardized Team Croatia kit. “I can’t afford to miss it, so I can’t say anything bad.”
“I can still make fun of his hair!” Vekic retorted with a laugh. Coric seems to have already prepared for that possibility.
“That’s why I do [keep] wearing my hat! He said.