Alejandro Davidovich Fokina: Boxing's loss is tennis' gain

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina's father, a boxer, didn't want his son to pursue boxing and Fokina took to tennis as a two-year-old and went on to win the Wimbledon boys' singles title years later, the first Spaniard in 50 years to do so.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina won the Wimbledon boys’ singles title in 2017 to become the first Spaniard in 50 years. However, the Wimbledon triumph, the highlight of his emerging career, was as unexpected as they come, according to Fokina.   -  Getty Images

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is one of the many former junior Grand Slam winners who are playing at the ATP Chennai Open Challenger here.

When he won the Wimbledon boys’ singles title in 2017, he became the first Spaniard in 50 years to do so and was billed as one of the successors to the big hitting list of Spanish tennis legends. Only 19, Fokina has time on his hands to meet those expectations.

From a boxer father to being miserable on grass when he started off, Fokina has an offbeat story.

“I first picked up a racquet when I was two years old. It was bigger than me,” an exhausted and drenched Fokina, who beat Renta Tokuda in three sets in very humid conditions (the mundane in Chennai), told Sportstar.

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His surname doesn’t easily suggest a Spanish connection. Born to a Russian mother and a Swedish father, Fokina is one of the many more talents with mixed heritage representing Spain due to residence. Another being 18-year-old Nicola Kuhn.

His father, Eduard Davidovich, a boxer, was not keen on him following in the same footsteps. “My father didn't let me join boxing, maybe he didn't want me to hit faces.”

And the boy from Malaga started hitting balls instead.

The Wimbledon triumph is the highlight of his emerging career and it was as unexpected as they come, according to Fokina.

“I wasn’t expecting to win at all. The first time I went to grass, I must have fallen at least 40 times. So that surface wasn’t my best,” he said.

But there wasn’t a tinge of that uncertainty in his 7-6 (2), 6-3 win over Axel Geller in the final.

Out of the many who reach the top in the junior circuit, only a handful make it big as a professional.

Denis Shapovalov won the Wimbledon boys’ title a year before Fokina is now one of the best youngsters on the circuit.   -  AP

 

Denis Shapovalov, who won the Wimbledon boys’ title a year before Fokina, is now one of the best youngsters on the circuit and the Spaniard hasn’t been able to break into that handful yet.

“There was pressure after winning at Wimbledon. There were suddenly more eyes on you and there was fear of not doing well. For at least a month, I couldn’t play like myself.

But I had to pick myself up because when you’re a professional player, you’ve to get used to playing in big stadiums in front of huge crowds. And you have to do that so many times,” said Fokina, among whose myriad body tattoos is one which says ‘Tomorrow is far, do it today’.