“The moment I started expressing myself, I started winning,” says Rohan Bopanna

Rohan Bopanna spoke exclusively to Rupha Ramani on First Sports.

Rohan Bopanna recorded his 500th career tour victory during the Australian Open. He then secured the world No. 1 ranking for the first time. The title – his first in men's doubles – along with Australia's Matt Ebden followed on Saturday. His first men's doubles title at the age of 43. These stunning achievements made him the oldest world number one and Grand Slam men's doubles champion.

And to think that he is almost done with tennis in 2019. A flurry of defeats and injury concerns meant Bopanna was ready to quit. He told his wife via video message that he was done.

So what has changed? “Expressing myself helped me. I wasn't having fun on the court and I was forced to win. So after talking to my wife (Supriya) and coach (Scott Davidoff) they wouldn't let me quit when I was down. I really thank them for that. The moment I started to express myself more, I started winning again,” he said in an exclusive interview with First Sports.

Read | At 'Level 43', Rohan Bopanna tops and wins first Grand Slam Men's Doubles title

“If you go to tournaments and you don't win, you start to force the situation. It restarted faith. I thought we would try to finish the year well and then take it from there. Eventually, I began to focus entirely on myself and how I could help the partnership. For example, if I hit a serve and my partner missed a volley, I would come out and say, “Partner should have made that volley,” but now I look at it as “my serve wasn't good enough, maybe that's why he missed the volley.” I tried to change my outlook and that helped improve my mental strength,” he added.

It was a stunning homecoming for Bopanna. “When we landed, there were so many friends and family there to welcome us. It was beautiful and stunning. All my friends also came from Coorg. Even at the airport it was such a warm welcome. It's been really amazing, so I'm overwhelmed by the love we're getting and showered by every single one.”

After the end of the Davis Cup last year, Bopanna has the opportunity to focus on specific tournaments and the luxury of a free calendar. As the Indian team prepares to take on Pakistan in Islamabad, Bopanna is looking forward to relaxing at home, enjoying some time off with her family, tending to her academy and then focusing on the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships which will start on February 26.

Published: 31 Jan 2024 20:07:53 IST

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