WATCH—Match point from Alexander Zverev's win over brother Mischa in D.C.:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alexander and Mischa Zverev have done pretty much everything on tour together, and on Thursday they got to add a new milestone to their list: a main draw ATP singles match.
"I almost had tears in my eyes because this feels so special," Mischa said.
Though he lost two qualifying matches to 30-year-old Mischa, the younger Zverev scored the win, 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the quarterfinals.
"Who can say that you played your brother in one of the biggest tournaments in the world? It was unbelievable," Alexander said. "I hope this is not the last time."
None of the active famous brothers on tour have played each other in singles on the ATP tour, largely because one or both are in doubles (including Bob and Mike Bryan, Neil and Ken Skupski, Jamie and Andy Murray or Christian and Ryan Harrison).
Alexander is nearly 10 years younger at 21, and 39 ranking spots higher at No. 3. While Mischa was playing on tour alone for most of his career, his younger brother was always close by. Even when he was just a toddler, Alexander got to tag along, learning the ropes and gaining valuable experience.
Mischa said he saw greatness in Alexander even when he was just a one-year-old.
"Back then I was very young and I was naive, and I said my brother is going to be the best, no matter what," Mischa said.
WATCH—Post-match interview with the Zverev brothers at the Citi Open:
Alexander, the defending Citi Open champion, made his ATP debut in 2014 as a 16-year-old, followed soon by his breakthrough in Hamburg. That year, Mischa had wrist surgery as his ranking creeped toward the 1,000s. He took on a full-time mentoring role for his little brother.
"He did so well [in Hamburg]. That gave me so much positive energy and so many emotions came up even though I was at my lowest point in my career, and he was at the highest," Mischa said.
It took Alexander just three years to crack the Top 5, while Mischa hit his career-high of No. 25 last year after over a decade on tour. Alexander has eight career titles already, winning his first in 2016. Mischa won his first earlier this year in Eastbourne.
"It was always my dream to say that, OK at least I have one title," Mischa said, before crediting his brother for his success. "It was him being young and naive sometimes but just overly positive and believing in himself but also in me. It helped me to also become young and naive, and just train hard and follow my dreams."
Their trajectories and career stories have been opposite, and so are their game styles. The left-handed Mischa is one of the last serve-and-volleyers left in the modern era, while Alexander is largely a baseliner, boosted by punishing returns off both wings.
Mischa didn't use his net skills as much as usual on Thursday, falling behind a break at 4-3 and promptly losing the set. In the second, he had three break point chances to push to a third set, on top of a brief rain delay further frustrating a rattled Alexander. Alexander relied on his serve to bail him out, and then pounced on his break point in the eleventh game before closing it out, somewhat routinely.
Nothing was routine about their post-match behavior, though. They embraced on the same half of the net, signed autographs side-by-side and walked off to do press together.
"It's family in the end," Mischa said. "It doesn't matter what happens on the court."
ATP & WTA Washington D.C.
Catch all the action from the Citi Open with live coverage from three courts on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, July 30th at 2:00 PM ET. All matches also available on-demand.