Indian tennis doubles ace Rohan Bopanna’s brilliant run at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships came to an end when he and Marcin Matkowski went down fighting in the final on Saturday. The unseeded combine squandered a one-set lead to succumb to a 6-4, 3-6, 3-10 defeat to the fourth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in 1 hour 19 minutes.
Bopanna, who turned 37 today, was hoping to win his fourth title at this prestigious Middle Eastern ATP 500 event in six years. In 2012, he tasted success alongside his compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi. In 2014, he repeated it alongside Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and then came back next year to successfully defend the title with Daniel Nestor.
He seemed on the way to repeat that against the 2015 Wimbledon champions Rojer and Tecau when he and Matkowski broke the fourth seeds to grab the opening set.
However, the experienced pair soon regrouped and struck back to jump to a 4-1 lead in the second set, which they extended to 5-2 before wrapping up the set, 6-3. They did not let go of the momentum and quickly opened up a 5-1 advantage in the match tie-break as Bopanna and Matkowski struggled hard to keep pace with them.
The fourth seeds eventually closed out the deciding tie-break 10-3 to dash all hopes of the Indo-Polish pair.
Bopanna was aiming to win second title of 2017
Bopanna had already begun the 2017 season with a title at Chennai where he partnered Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. After a barren run in 2016 where he failed to find any success despite reaching a couple of finals, this has been an impressive turnaround for the former World No. 3.
The familiar conditions at Dubai brought out the best in the 37-year-old and he and Matkowski upset the second seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers in their very first match this year.
In the semi-finals, the Indo-Polish duo held their nerves to edge Leander Paes and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in a mouthwatering clash between two of India’s biggest doubles stars.
Bopanna will hope to build on this performance as the hectic ATP Masters season begins next week at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.