From Champion of Peace to World No. 1 in doubles, Bopanna's tennis journey goes on and on

January 26, 2024
Rohan Bopanna has carved a niche for himself by the dint of his talent, hard work and longevity.

Mumbai, Jan 25 (IANS) In the annals of Indian tennis, which has been dominated by the likes of Ramanathan Krishnan, Ramesh Krishnan, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna has carved a niche for himself by the dint of his talent, hard work and longevity.

He is the oldest first-time world no. 1 at the age of 43, achieving the top ranking in men’s doubles earlier this week. He has further extended his aura by reaching his first final in the Australian Open 2024.

Bopanna is the fourth Indian to win a Grand Slam title after Paes, Bhupathi and Mirza and has now joined the list of star tennis players who have also been awarded the prestigious Padma Shri Award on Thursday.

Initially, a singles player with a boom service, which had earned him the nickname ‘Bofors’, Bopanna has played tennis for three decades making a name for himself on and off the court.

The player from Karnataka has so far won one Grand Slam title — the 2017 French Open alongside Gabriela Dabrowski in mixed doubles — and reached three finals in men’s doubles and mixed doubles combined.

Born on March 4, 1980, in Bangalore, Karnataka, to M.G. Bopanna, a coffee planter in Kodagu district, and Malika Bopanna, a housewife, Bopanna started playing tennis at the age of 11 because his father wanted him to pursue the sport.

Though he also enjoyed sports like hockey and football, by the age of 19, tennis became young Bopanna’s calling as won his first ITF Junior singles title in 1997 at the age of 17. In 2002, he was selected for the first time to represent India in the Davis Cup.

After gaining experience in both singles and doubles at the junior and senior ITF levels, Bopanna, known as ‘Bops’ in the Indian tennis circuit, turned professional in 2003.

The right-hander with a single-handed backhand, became a prominent topic on the front page of newspapers around the globe because of his men’s doubles partnership with Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi.

For several years, the pair gained prominence as the ‘Indo-Pak Express’ and made an early impact when finished runner-up in the 2010 US Open. Their message of “Stop War, Start Tennis” a decade back had earned Bopanna and Qureshi a reputation as peace ambassadors.

Though their partnership lasted from 2003 to 2014, they reunited as a pair for a few events in 2021, the ‘Indo-Pak Express’ won five ATP doubles titles and reached the final of the 2010 US Open.

Bopanna, along with Qureshi, was honoured with the ‘Champion for Peace’ by the Monaco-based organization, Peace and Sport in 2010.

In all, Bopanna has won 24 career doubles titles in all and has finished runner-up in the ATP World Tour Finals in 2012 and 2015, and represented the country in two Olympic Games, reaching the mixed doubles semifinal in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

–IANS

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