BENGALURU -- Julian Ocleppo has a flight to catch in three hours. He's ranked outside the top 300 in singles, traveled for 32 tournaments last year, earned $9303 (Rs 6.65 lakh) in prize money so far this year, and doesn't mind the grind of a tennis journeyman's calendar.
It's not the only kind of life he's known. Julian has a window into the ritzy side too. You could almost picture him in a tweed suit and wing-tipped shoes, leaning against an Enzo Ferrari.
Julian's mother Dee Ocleppo is married to American fashion czar Tommy Hilfiger, whose eponymous label and its readily-identifiable red, white and blue logo brought the preppy look to masses worldwide. Julian has walked the ramp for the Hilfiger brand at Milan and done a bunch of photo-shoots but he prefers the grime over the grease paint. "They're two very different worlds," Julian, who lost in the singles semifinals of the Bengaluru Open Challenger to eventual champion James Duckworth, tells ESPN, "It is fun to be part of the fashion universe and wear those fancy clothes at times. But my focus is tennis."
Born to Italian parents, Dee and Gianni Ocleppo, who reportedly met through 18-time women's singles Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 Chris Evert, Julian always had tennis kicking about inside him. A former top-30 player himself, Gianni got his son to pick up the racket as a child and he's never had the urge to abandon it since. He's touched a career-high doubles ranking of 167 and won three ATP Challenger doubles titles in 2018. "Life on the tour is tough," says Julian, "Constant travel can be difficult but it is part of what we do as tennis players and over the years I've learnt to adapt to different places quicker."
His parents divorced in 2003, when Julian was just six and his older brother Alex, eight. Dee married Hilfiger five years later and together they have an 11-year old son, Sebastian. An accessory designer with her own fashion line of high-end handbags and moderately-priced shoes, coats and purses, Dee owns plush homes and condos across America together with Hilfiger, they whoosh around the world in their private Challenger jet and are every bit the extravagantly lavish, real-estate flipping couple.
Julian, who lives near Turin in Italy, though talks of luxury with a strict sense of economy. "It's part of my mom's life...the luxury... We meet during the holidays... Christmas, Thanksgiving. Tommy comes over to watch me play in tournaments sometimes. He's supportive of what I do. Otherwise, we don't really meet or speak much."
Training under Alessandro Motti, a former No. 91-ranked doubles player, Julian knows he has a lot of ground to cover in the sport to get ahead. "My dad has been such a huge part of my dream," he says, "I think what I need to get better at is my mental game. The top-level tournaments like the Grand Slams are a completely different beast. When you see guys like (Roger) Federer and (Rafa) Nadal, you realize you need to be inhuman to be as good as them."
After his maiden pit-stop in India, Julian is now in Bergamo, Italy to try his luck in this week's Challenger. The grandiose of any other life isn't tempting enough to sway him. "Tennis is where I belong...It's who I am and where I want to remain."