Article Contributed by Varunya Chandrashekar
“That was a huge serve mixed up with a solid volley”
Rohan Bopanna, the Indian men’s doubles tennis sensation is an inspiration to many. With a career high ranking of no. 3 in the world and four ATP Masters doubles titles under his belt, he is one of the finest tennis players this country has produced. He is an Olympian, a U.S Open men’s doubles runners up and has been a Davis cupper since 2002. The list goes on. His appeal in the Indian subcontinent is phenomenal.
Recently he lifted the Monte Carlo ATP Masters silverware along with his partner Pablo Cuevas. Troll Tennis got the chance to interview the man himself. Here is Bopanna’s take on tennis and beyond!
Congratulations for your win at Monte Carlo. What does this win mean to you and what impact will it have on rest of your season?
The win does help in my confidence for upcoming tours but does not take a lot of pressure off me prior to the clay season where I have to defend a lot of points.
At 37, getting the wins for India and going strong at ATP. How do you make this happen?
Hard work and determination will get you very far. I have always focused on my goals and worked hard towards making it happen. The last few months I have worked really hard on my strength, diet and on staying fit. I am also enjoying the clay courts much more these days.
What was the eureka moment in your life when you realized that tennis is what you want to pursue all your life and build your life around it?
I can’t remember the exact moment but there was this time when I realized that playing tennis is what I love. Being able to do what you love is a blessing that I never ever would have thought of ignoring.
What was the thing in your life that probably made you question your decision to pursue tennis life long, if there was any such moment?
I had a shoulder surgery in 2006 and that was when I realized that an athlete’s life is dependent on his/her ability to recover post a surgery or a setback and get back on court to being a winner again. Knowing that I had decided to be an athlete also meant that I knew my career could be cut short with a freaking accident. This makes you wonder if it’s logical to stay as an athlete throughout your life.
Tell us about the support system behind you.
My family, friends and my wife have been the best support system I could ever ask for, who never fail to give me the much needed encouragement when I am on tour. My wife is wonderful with her honest feedback.
Was your choice to quit singles influenced by the success you received in doubles?
Yes, definitely. My rankings were significantly different in singles and doubles. At the age of 30 I had to decide which path I had to take.
There is a common mindset that “singles is more difficult than doubles and India can only produce good doubles players”. What do you think about this?
We have a stronger track on doubles wins than singles ever since Lee and Mahesh won their grand slams in the late 90s. That doesn’t reflect too badly on the system, but yes, I do believe we lack singles talent which can be due to lack of the grass root development programs in our county and lack of focus on personal fitness.
If you could share one advice with the youngsters striving hard to be professionals, what would that be?
Focus, work hard and have a lot of discipline.
What is the most memorable day on tour, something that had an impact on your life, besides winning titles?
In 2010, when Aisam and I were at the U.S Open finals, everyone across the globe named us as the ‘Indo-Pak Express’ with a lot of excitement. People were looking at us as an example of peace across the borders and as international brand ambassadors of peace. That journey was very special with the Pakistan and Indian ambassadors coming together and cheering us on the day of finals.
If you had to ask your fans one question, what will that be?
How can I be a stronger role model to everybody?
What is that one quality you want people to remember you by?
Committed to excellence and being honest.
If you could summarize your tennis career in one line, what will that be?
Persistence and hard work pays off.
The last times! When was the last time
-you cooked for your wife?
Maybe last year when I made some breakfast for her.
-you met a fan you got scared of?
I love all my fans.
-you did something for the last time?
Bungee jumping at Macau in 2012.
-you lost to someone in a game apart from tennis?
In poker it happens often.
-you wore a t shirt on the wrong side?
not happened so far.
-you asked someone for an autograph?