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Know your Indian Olympian: 10 things to know about Rohan Bopanna

Rohan Bopanna
Rohan Bopanna (R) in action at the ATP World Tour Finals in 2015.
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 09 Apr 2016, 12:09 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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Rohan Bopanna has been one of India’s top doubles exponents for a while now. From reaching a Grand Slam final to winning ATP Masters titles to breaking into the top 5 of the world rankings, the 36-year-old has done it all. He has also made an impact in India’s Davis Cup campaigns.

The currently 11th ranked player made his Olympic debut at the London Games and looks to have a good chance to have a top-10 ranking on June 11, 2016 – the cut-off date for Rio Olympic qualification.

Here are 10 things you need to know about Rohan Bopanna’s achievements:

1. Rohan was born on March 4, 1980 to coffee planter MG Bopanna and homemaker Malika Bopanna in Coorg, Karnataka. He has an older sister, Rashmi who now lives in Mumbai.

2. His parents were passionate about tennis and it was because his father wanted him to play an individual sport that he took up tennis at the age of 11. But it was not until he turned 19 that Bopanna started pursuing the sport more seriously. In between, he did dabble in hockey and football.

3. Armed with a gigantic serve, the 6’3’’ player, who turned pro in 2003, was always expected to be more comfortable on the faster courts. Even though he did not quite get his desired success in singles where he reached a career-high ranking of 213 in 2007, it was the doubles circuit where Bopanna found his true calling. After reaching two ATP finals in 2006, it was his partnership with Pakistani Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi that gradually started becoming a force.

4. They reached their first final at Mumbai in 2007 but finished as the runners-up. They started excelling on the Challenger circuit soon, capturing four consecutive titles that same year. Though Qureshi was his regular teammate, Bopanna achieved his milestone maiden ATP title alongside Eric Butorac at Los Angeles in 2008.

Also read: Rohan Bopanna announces launch of his tennis academy

5. It was only in 2010 that Bopanna and Qureshi, popularly named the ‘IndoPak Express’, started making waves on the elite ATP Tour. In their banner year, the duo won their first team title at Johannesburg, apart from reaching five other finals. One of these came at the sport’s highest stage – the US Open – where they went down to the top-ranked Bob Bryan/ Mike Bryan in two tie-breaks.

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That year, he also played a vital role in taking India back to the Davis Cup World Group when he won the decisive singles rubber against Ricardo Mello of Brazil.

6. Bopanna/Qureshi’s spectacular run made them a challenger for the biggest titles and helped Bopanna break into the top 10 in June, 2011. That year, they won three ATP titles, the most significant of which is the Paris Masters crown – the first title at such a high level for either of the two players.

7. Bopanna united with Mahesh Bhupathi in 2012 in a bid to boost India’s Olympic medal chances. Despite having their hopes at the London Games dashed by the French pair of Julien Benneteau/Richard Gasquet in the Round of 16, they were successful otherwise on the Tour. They were crowned champions at Dubai and the Paris Masters, besides making final appearances at the Cincinnati Masters, the Shanghai Masters and most importantly, the ATP World Tour Finals.

8. Bopanna’s partnership with Bhupathi was sporadic in 2013 yet he managed to add two more titles to his resume with Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Colin Fleming. With Vasselin, he reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon, losing to the Bryan Brothers in five sets. That catapulted him to his career-best ranking of 3 and made him the highest-ranked Indian at that time.

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9. The Indian reunited with Qureshi in 2014 and won at Dubai. However, this time, their partnership did not last long. In 2015, Bopanna teamed up with the former World No. 1 Daniel Nestor and triumphed at Sydney and Dubai.

10. It was, however, his alliance with Florin Mergea of Romania in mid-2015 that brought out the best of Bopanna again. The pair reigned supreme at the Madrid Masters and Stuttgart, besides reaching the finals of three other tournaments which included the ATP World Tour Finals. They began the 2016 season with a final appearance at Sydney.

Other things you need to know about Rohan Bopanna:

1. Bopanna is a well-known foodie. When the tennis ace is not globe-trotting in search of trophies, the Bangalore resident loves to come back home to his native Coorg and indulge in the local delicacies. His love for food led him to even co-own a restaurant called ‘Cirrus’ in Bangalore.

2. His favourite film is ‘Sholay’ while his favourite book is Andre Agassi’s autobiography, ‘Open’.

3. He grew up idolizing the six-time Grand Slam champion Stefan Edberg. From the current generation, he admires Roger Federer and he is also a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar.

4. During the 2010 US Open, the Indian and his then partner, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan started the ‘Stop War, Start Tennis’ in an effort to promote peace through sports. Their endeavour was soon recognized and they were awarded the prestigious ‘ATP Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of Year’ prize in 2010. Besides, the Indian was also named a “Champion for Peace” by the Monaco-based neutral international organization ‘Peace and Sport’.

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5. Rohan is involved with a number of charitable causes one of which is his close association and support for the not-for-profit organization, ‘GoSports Foundation’, which nurtures young talent. He donates to the organization a part of the profit that is generated by selling the ‘Stop War Start Tennis’ merchandise.

6. This year, he celebrated his 36th birthday by inaugurating his tennis academy in Bangalore.

Published 09 Apr 2016, 11:59 IST
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