My confidence is high: Rohan Bopanna

DETERMINED: Rohan Bopanna, who sweats it out at the SDAT Stadium in Chennai on Monday, says he is not perplexed about playing singles in the Davis Cup after a gap. Photo: R. Ragu

DETERMINED: Rohan Bopanna, who sweats it out at the SDAT Stadium in Chennai on Monday, says he is not perplexed about playing singles in the Davis Cup after a gap. Photo: R. Ragu   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

Trust, it is said, forms the basis of any partnership. And Rohan Bopanna discovered this in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open. Playing the third seeds, Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, Bopanna was witness to partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi reeling off a succession of stupendous volleys that decided the match in favour of the Asian pair.

What Bopanna began with his huge serve — expelled from the body with a towering action — Qureshi concluded at the net, a pattern of points that, superadded to other variables, took the duo right up to the final at Flushing Meadows.

“Aisam's volleying was inspirational,” said Bopanna on Monday, interacting with the media in his novel role of a star attraction and in the city four days in advance of India's Davis Cup tie with Brazil.

“This entire year was a transition period for us. We started thinking seriously about doubles, put our heads and our games together and started getting good results. We were combining well and knew it was only a matter of time that comfort with each other would translate into wins.”

The duo began the year on a high note, winning in Johannesburg, making a couple of finals on clay, in Nice and Casablanca, but the formalisation of their joint venture, or at least the competitive seriousness of the combination, came to view in Wimbledon, via a quarterfinal showing.

Successful season

A successful hardcourt season followed. A final and semifinal was attained in New Haven and Washington respectively (the latter being the site of their ouster of the Bryan brothers, Mike and Bob) and then was initiated their dream run at the U.S. Open.

“It was a huge moment for me to play the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Aisam had already played the mixed doubles final there, so I was the nervous one. But as soon as I hit the first ball, everything was fine.

“We lost the match, all credit to the Bryans for that — they played the big points really well, but we are going to take only positives from the U.S. Open,” he said.

An immediate goal for the two is making the cut for the year-end Masters event. To that end, both Bopanna and Qureshi, in conjunction with their physical trainers, are ensuring their bodies last the duration of the year, and then some. An alliance between an Indian and a Pakistani has also been the perfect ingredient for public forums to go to go town on the ‘peace and harmony' angle.

Main job

Bopanna, however, stated that his main job is to play tennis, its adjunctive benefits, although welcome, are besides the point.

“We are ambassadors of goodwill and sport, which is nice, but there are a hundred different issues to be dealt with. Anyway, Aisam doesn't have a choice because there aren't too many Pakistan tennis players to choose from,” he grinned.

The 30-year-old took a moment to thank veterans Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi for their invaluable inputs, saying that since they had charted a path to success, it was easier for someone like him to follow the trail. Asked to comment on why India failed to produce quality singles players, Bopanna said it would be wiser to cherish what the country had rather than lament what was absent.

“To play tennis 30 weeks a year and employ the best coaches takes a lot of money. We need more sponsors and more tournaments in India,” he said.

Drained and dripping after a session under the Chennai sun, Bopanna said he was neither worried about the weather nor perplexed about playing singles, in the Davis Cup, after a gap.

“My confidence is high and I'm hitting the ball cleanly. That's all that matters.”

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 4:06:39 PM |

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