Bopanna-Sharan's instant success opens possibility of ATP partnership
By Bharat Sharma
Palembang, Aug 24 (PTI) A golden start to their international partnership at the Asian Games has opened the possibility of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan teaming up on the ATP tour sometime in future.
Bopanna and Sharan defeated Aleksander Bublik and Denis Yevseyev of Kazakhstan 6-3 6-4 in a 52-minute final to claim India's first tennis gold of the ongoing Games.
Bopanna and Sharan, who only play together for their employers Indian Oil, have shown at the Asian Games that they could achieve significant success together, if not as much as the legendary pairing of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes.
For now, they are well settled with their respective partners on the tour but as Bopanna asked, "why not in the future?"
"In the future if it does happen, why not? But right now, we both have settled partners. We both have known each other for a long time and we get along really well," Bopanna, who competed in his first Asian Games since 2006, told PTI.
"And that is very important for a pairing (to get along well). We combine well as a team so I don't see why not (in the future)," he added.
It was a maiden gold for both Bopanna and Sharan at the Asian Games. Their performance in the final was clinical and with every tough match, they kept improving.
"That is how you win a tournament. You need to go step by step. There is no point playing your best tennis only in the first round and not after that. Divij and I playing for the first time, that too in an event like this. It took time for us to understand each other and that was the key," said Bopanna.
The pairings that played against the top seeds had little to lose, so they came hard at them.
"We have been playing constantly at a high level, but we did not take it for granted that we are going to come here and win. We had close matches and fought hard together as a team. Not only us, the whole team (physio and captain Zeeshan Ali)," he said.
"We were playing two matches in a day most times. That is what helps when you are playing Davis Cup or a team event like this. You get the backing of the entire team," added the Bengaluru-based player.
Sharan felt they pulled through a high-pressure campaign.
"When teams were playing against us, they had no pressure. But we delivered every time. And today also we got one break each in the match, some close games as well, you lose a few deuce points and the game can be completely different. We were on it all the time," he said.
Bopanna and Sharan not only got constant crowd support from other Indian athletes including the bronze-medallists from Sepaktakraw, they also gained a lot of Indonesian fans.
The tournament also served as a comeback for the 38-year-old Bopanna, who had not played since Wimbledon.
"After Wimbledon, I had been away from the tour from six weeks, not knowing when I will be playing. Every week I was trying to come back but kept pulling out. So coming into the Asian Games, it was not easy to just start winning matches," he said.
"But I believe in myself when I come into tournaments. I was practising in my own academy. This is really special for me. This medal especially goes to the people of Coorg. They are going through tough times (after the floods) and in Kerala also. Hope this can cheer them up," added Bopanna