Rajeev Ram, the man who ended Sania-Bopanna's gold medal hopes, could have been playing for India instead of USA
Rajeev Ram was on the brink of representing India, only for NRI regulations to prevent him from doing so
India’s hopes of a gold medal in tennis ended as Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna bowed out of the Mixed Doubles tournament after losing to the American pair of Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram in the semi-finals. However, India’s hopes of a medal are still alive as they now take on the Czech pair of Lucie Hradecka and Radek Stepanek in the bronze medal play-off.
India had made a good start to the match and had taken the first set 6-2 but the Americans fought back to take the second set by the same scoreline and later won the tiebreaker 10-3 to reach the final. Venus Williams might be the superior player in terms of stature but her partner Rajeev Ram played a pivotal role in their victory as his groundstrokes and execution of volleys were brilliant after his serve was broken in the first set.
Ram is actually of Indian origin, having been born to Indian parents and soon after the match, he stated this in an interview: "I will be the most hated person in India today. I am a first generation American having been born in the US in 1984.”
Many people might know that the 32-year old has Indian roots, but what many don’t know is that he was on the verge of representing India in tennis.
Ram was born in Denver to Indian parents who hailed from Bangalore and soon moved with his family to Indianapolis and pursued his schooling there. He completed his college at the University of Illinois and in between also played in junior Grand Slam tournaments, finishing as runner-up in the Boy’s Doubles tournament at the 2002 US Open.
Ram actually wanted to represent India in professional tennis but having spent all his life in America, he wasn’t able to get an Indian passport and it was difficult for him to give up his US passport as his parents were living there.
Ram eventually turned pro in 2004 and has represented USA ever since. He has won a total of two Singles titles and nine Doubles titles. Ram has been better in the Doubles format compared to Singles as he has reached two Grand Slam semi-finals with the most recent one coming at the Wimbledon.
Ranked 24th in Doubles currently, Ram has reached at least the quarter-finals of every Grand Slam and will also receive his first ever Olympic medal at the Mixed Doubles tournament. He has partnered with a number of players throughout his career with his most successful partnerships coming with South African Raven Klaasen, having won 5 titles and having made the semi-finals of this year’s Wimbledon championships.
His highest ranking in singles has been 56th and he currently ranks 114th. He has never made it past the second round in any Grand Slam Singles tournament.
Ram is already confirmed of his first Olympic medal and will be hoping to take the gold home when Venus Williams and himself take on compatriots Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock. The 32-year old has been in sensational form at Rio and provided he keeps this form going, he could well be a player to look out for at future Doubles tournaments, and he might even win his first Grand Slam at the US Open.