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Australian Open 2019: “Rohan Bopanna and I support each other a lot,” says doubles ace Divij Sharan

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110   //    16 Jan 2019, 01:41 IST

Rohan Bopanna (left) and Divij Sharan
Rohan Bopanna (left) and Divij Sharan

For India’s Divij Sharan and Rohan Bopanna, the new year couldn’t have started on a better note. After their gold rush at the 2018 Asian Games, the two decided to join forces for the 2019 season and their outing in their first ATP tournament together culminated in a title win at the Maharashtra Open.

For the 32-year-old Sharan, the achievement was all sorts of special. Not only did it help him end an ATP title drought for 15 months, this was also his first ATP trophy earned at home. Speaking from Sydney before they made their journey to Melbourne for the first Slam of the year, Sharan’s voice oozed the confidence and the positivity such a blazing start gave them.

“It feels pretty great to come through some of those really close matches and to win a title to start the year with. That’s probably the best start you can ask for into the new season,” said the southpaw.

For Bopanna and Sharan, the journey wasn’t an easy one. They had to save multiple match points in the quarter-finals against the pair of Leander Paes and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela. One round later, they had to work equally hard against Simone Bolelli and Ivan Dodig to register yet another hard-fought win.

However, those ordeals prepared them well for the final which proved to be a breezy affair for the all-Indian duo. They dropped seven games en route to delighting the home crowd with the triumph.

Sharan attributed it to their ability to remain totally alert in the summit clash and making use of all their opportunities.

“We sort of improved in every match. The final wasn’t a cliff hanger like it was for us in the quarters and the semis. The conditions were different.

“When we started from the word go, I think we just were able to take whatever opportunities came our way. We played strong on our service games.”

A title puts any player in the best frame of mind ahead of a Slam. Divij and Rohan are no different. Having got acclimatized to the Australian conditions at Sydney and now at Melbourne, the two are raring to go.

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The 15th seeds, who face the unseeded yet dangerous Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round, are looking forward to making a deep run at the Australian Open.

“Winning any tournament gives you a lot of confidence. To start the year like this was great. The main goal now is to do really well at the Australian Open. Getting a couple of matches under the belt and the title ahead of that was definitely a big boost for us.”

As for Sharan, having Bopanna by his side has been a boon. Not only has he been a good teammate, the 38-year-old has also been of immense help in crunch situations. Bopanna’s expertise and vast experience has been a big reason why they have found success so quickly on the court and has also been the very secret to their sizzling chemistry.

“It’s obviously great to play with Rohan. He has got a lot of experience. Both of us are very positive and we support each other. We had some very close moments in our matches but we did well to play the points and not think too much about the situation.”

Despite the euphoria, the pragmatic Sharan is aware that they are still in their early days. Playing more matches is the only way forward and all they need to do is to stick to each other.

Sharan is optimistic that with a few more matches and some sharpening of their tools, they can create a stir on the Tour as a team.

“We need to figure out how small things can improve ourselves to play well together as a team. In our practice sessions, we’ll have our coachwork it out for us. As we play more matches, we hope to sort of pick up finer points.

“I think after a few months we hope to really settle down and be comfortable in terms of play and how to play which points in which situations and all. It does take some time. Still, this is the best start we could have had and we are very positive,” he signs off.

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