Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Rohan Bopanna was quite upbeat after winning his first Challenger doubles title in nearly two years — in Thailand with partnering Pakistan’s Aisam Qureshi — that, he reckons, would pave the way for his return to the big league.

The Indian Davis Cupper had recently won his maiden Tour event title in Los Angeles with Eric Butorac of the US, apart from reaching the finals of other Tour events in San Jose and St. Petersburg.

The 29-year-old returned to Delhi from the Challengers in Thailand on Sunday, in his attempt to expedite his visa for Morocco, as he is scheduled to play a Tour event in Casablanca after a week of rest.

“It was great to win the title with Aisam. I had been playing the Tour events more and very few Challengers. In fact, after the four Challenger titles on the trot with Aisam in 2007, this was my first Challener title,” Bopanna said.

“We are so comfortable with each other that it helps us pull it off at the crunch, especially in the super tie-breaks. We should have won the finals against the Ratiwatana twins easily. They were serving 15-40 at 4-4 and at 5-5 in the second set. It was three breakpoints twice in a row. However, we were lucky to win the quarterfinals againt Purav Raja and Ashutosh Singh. They were tight while serving for the match. We saved five matchpoints to win that, and were very confident after that match,” recalled Bopanna.

The Indo-Pak combination had lost two Challenger finals by the end of 2007, in a season in which the duo had reached the final of the Mumbai Tour event. Bopanna has eight Challenger titles from 17 finals.

Rising above politics

“We have been playing together for so long, that we don’t look at each other as an Indian or a Pakistani. In fact, everyone in the circuits know both of us so much that nobody is surprised to see us play together despite all the tension between the two countries in recent times. Of course, there is a light-hearted joke at times,” said Bopanna.

Bopanna seemed quite pleased with his singles form too as he had qualified and won a round in the Bangkok Challenger, but said that he could not play the qualifying event the following week at Korat as he was still busy with the doubles.

“I should have won that singles match against Tsung-Hua Yang in the Davis Cup against Chinese Taipei. But the conditions were not to my liking, as it was slow and high bouncing. Anyway, there is a lot of difference from playing a dead rubber and a live one,” said Bopanna, who had lost in the third-set tie-break against the World junior champion then.

Ready for Chennai

Chennai could see Bopanna at his best, and he is getting ready to pull his weight against the Australians in the Davis Cup tie to be staged from May 8 to 10.

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