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Zane Khan Discusses His Hit With Roger Federer In Miami

By Scoop Malinowski

Sometimes even the greatest player of all time, Roger Federer, is short on hitting partners and has to settle for a teenager.

Enter Zane Khan, a top American junior who reached the Orange Bowl and Kalamazoo 16s finals. Khan, 17, explained how he got the chance to hit with Federer.

“James Blake set it up. He was the one who gave me the wildcard into Miami Open qualies. So I emailed him a day after he had no one else for Roger Federer to hit with,” said Khan by telephone interview. “We first hit on Saturday and then Roger invited me to hit before the final (vs John Isner).”

Khan lost in Miami Open qualies first round to veteran Marcel Granollers 62 63. Making the transition from ITF juniors to ATP is a major step. Khan has been hitting this year with quality ATP players like Feliciano Lopez, Guillermo Garcia Lopez, Taylor Fritz and Nick Kyrgios. Of Federer’s shots, Khan said, “he takes the ball early, his balls are deep with pace, his slice is very good, he has good volleys and a good serve.”

The highlight of hitting with Federer? “I had to hit serves halfway into the court. He wanted to get his returns ready for Isner. That was something new for me. I never did that before. I think I did a good job.” He sure did – Federer trounced Isner in the final 61 64.

Were there any surprises of being on the court with the greatest champion in the history of the sport? “I didn’t know what he could do. I wanted to see how he played, what he can do. That was the first thing. And then – he’s really such a nice guy too.”

Readers of should be familiar with Zane Khan as I first wrote about him when his passion and intensity and baseline consistency fueled him all the way to the Eddie Herr 12s final. Two years later he won the Eddie Herr 14s. This past November he made the quarters of the Eddie Herr 16s.

The good results have been steadily increasing. Orange Bowl finals in December. Winning a set off ATP 175 Yosuke Watanuki, age 20, in the first round of Indian Wells Challenger, 63 26 26.

And pushing ATP top 50 Reilly Opelka this past weekend to 46 54 in practice sets in south Florida. Opelka “stopped, he said he was tired. He’s just getting over the flu.”

Khan said his own injury issues – feet and hamstring – have subsided and he’s gearing up next to “go play Futures in Italy and French Open juniors. He is currently ranked outside 2000 in the ATP but according to one coach in South Florida, “Zane is hitting the ball really well right now. Really well. His breakthrough can come at any time, in the next month or next two years.”



1 comment

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 9, 2019 at 8:38 am

    Incredible to see Zane hitting with Federer. I got there early on Sunday for the final and saw Federer hitting on stadium from the press box. On the far side of the court I noticed in a few seconds it was Zane, with his hat on backwards and his strokes. Hope a little of the Federer greatness rubbed off on him. This anecdote made me think of how young Tomic declined the chance to hit with Lleyton Hewitt and how young Donald Young declined a chance to hit with Nadal in Majorca. Two of the most unintelligent decisions made by tennis players I can think of.



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