French Open 2018: Rohan Bopanna and Timea Babos seeded seventh in mixed doubles
12 months ago, it was the most memorable mixed doubles campaign for India’s ace doubles player, Rohan Bopanna at the French Open. On a hot summer afternoon in Paris, he got to taste Grand Slam glory for the first time in his career when he and Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski came back from two match points down to win the title.
Bopanna will now face the pressure of being a defending Major champion for the first time. It is a new experience for the 38-year-old -- the only Indian in the mixed doubles draw -- and this time Dabrowski too is not with him.
The Indian and the Canadian parted ways at the end of last season and Bopanna paired up with Hungary’s Timea Babos. The two had a grand beginning to their partnership at the Australian Open where they made it to the summit clash against Dabrowski and Mate Pavic.
Bopanna lost that tight final in a match tie-break to his former mixed doubles partner.
Four months on, Pavic and Dabrowski are the top seeds at Roland Garros while Bopanna and Babos have received the seventh seeding. The latter kickstart their campaign against the Chinese-Australian combine of Shuai Zhang and John Peers.
Peers is the World No. 7 in men’s doubles and a former Australian Open champion while Zhang is a handy doubles player herself. On overcoming that challenge, Bopanna and Babos can face Alexander Peya and Nicole Melichar in the second round.
It gets tougher from the quarter-finals with the second seeds Ivan Dodig and Latisha Chan being their potential opponents. Chan is the current World No. 1 in women’s doubles and Dodig has reached the mixed doubles final in Paris in 2016 along Sania Mirza.
If the Indo-Hungarian pair can manage to surmount that challenge, the highest seeds they can face in the semi-finals are the third seeds Xu Yifan and Oliver Marach. There are a couple of other strong pairs in the third quarter of the draw, with one of them being the 2017 runners-up Robert Farah and Anna-Lena Groenefeld, seeded eighth this time.
It will be interesting to see Bopanna square off against them again, a year after narrowly denying them the title.
If Bopanna and Babos can hold their nerves and smash all these obstacles, the duo of Dabrowski and Pavic could once again be standing on the opposite side of the net in the final. Having said that, the top half is loaded with multiple Grand Slam winning doubles players, and things could get tricky for the top seeds even before they reach the final.