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AITA to recommend Rohan Bopanna's name for Arjuna award

  • Rohan Bopanna has been playing the best tennis of his career and won his first ever Grand Slam title.
Tushar Varma
TOP CONTRIBUTOR
News
Modified 09 Jun 2017, 16:08 IST
Rohan Bopanna won the French Open with his partner Gabriela Dabrowski

What’s the story?

The  All India Tennis Association (AITA) has decided to send Rohan Bopanna’s name to the government for this year's Arjuna Award in acknowledgement of his Grand Slam feat. Bopanna, on Thursday, won his maiden Grand Slam title by winning the mixed doubles trophy at the French Open with Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski. 

"We will recommend Rohan's name for Arjuna today. We have recommended his name several times in the past but the previous committees did not give him the award. Now he deserves this honour. He should be given the award this time," AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee said.

When reminded that the deadline to send application has already expired, Chatterjee said, "We will still try to do it today. It can be done."

In a release, the AITA said, "This is a well-deserved victory. We wish him more success in the years to come. His victory will certainly be a morale booster for young and budding tennis players in the country. We are quite sure that this victory will definitely get him the Arjuna award which is long overdue, though AITA has recommended his name quite a number of times."

In case you didn’t know...

Bopanna became only the fourth Indian to win a Grand Slam after Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza.

The Indian won his first ever Major title with Gabriela Dabrowski, who became the first Canadian woman to win a Grand Slam trophy. Bopanna and his partner saved two match points in the match tie-breaker, and won after a nail-biting finish, with final score final score 2-6, 6-2, 12-10.

The last time he came close to a major title was in 2010 when he, along with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, played the US Open men’s double final but had lost to the Bryan brothers.

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It took Bopanna 14 years after turning a pro to achieve his dream of winning a Grand Slam trophy.

The heart of the matter

The 37-year-old has all along been an unwitting party to the various petty controversies that have engulfed Indian tennis over the years. The issues always stemmed from the acrimony between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, and Bopanna was invariably drawn in.  

After the selection fiasco leading up to the London Olympics 2012 (where Bopanna had refused to partner Paes and went to the Games with Bhupathi instead), he was literally ostracised by the national federation.

He was not considered for Davis Cup selection for nearly two years after and the Arjuna Awards committee kept throwing out his application without much consideration. 

Since then the ace Indian doubles player has been performing consistently well in ATP tournaments and Grand Slams. He was also close to winning an Olympic medal in Rio 2016 where he and Sania Mirza were just a set away from the bronze.

What’s Next?

After the statement by the AITA, it looks as if Bopanna will be awarded the Arjuna Award this year. He will become the 16th sportsman to be given this award for achievements in Tennis and only the 4th one in the 21st century after Akhtar Ali, Sania Mirza and Somdev Devvarman (2000, 2004, 2011 respectively).

Author’s take

This award has been long overdue for someone as talented as Rohan Bopanna. He has been a faithful servant of the game for India and has consistently delivered on the big stages.

Also Read: Interview with French Open winner Rohan Bopanna: "A country like India can produce champions for sure"

Published 09 Jun 2017, 15:58 IST
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