Results aren’t the only thing that a successful athlete focuses on. It takes a lot of strength and determination to step out on the field each day and perform. A sportsman who is the prime example of displaying the ‘never say never’ spirit is Rohan Bopanna. The premier tennis player never gave up hope and finally achieved his first grand slam, 14 years after turning pro.
“As a sportsman if you don’t have the belief then you have no motivation to really go out there and play.”
Rohan Bopanna – Early Career
Rohan Bopanna, born on 4 March 1980, had a keen interest towards sports from a young age. He enjoyed playing many sports like hockey and football, besides tennis. He started playing tennis from the age of 11 and stuck to it because his father wanted him to pursue an individual sport. By the time he turned 19, tennis became his main priority.
Rohan debuted for the Indian Davis Cup team in 2002 and turned pro in 2003. Since then, he has been a mainstay in India’s Davis Cup Squad.
Rohan Bopanna – Acing Doubles Tennis
Rohan Bopanna, now one of India’s finest doubles player, made his mark in the 2007 Hopman Cup. He partnered with Sania Mirza to win the Mixed Doubles Title. Later in 2008, he won the Men’s Doubles title at the Countrywide Classic with partner Eric Butorac. After that he reached the semis and finals of many other tournaments but couldn’t get any headway in a major tournament.
The year 2010 was the defining year in Rohan’s career. He had partnered with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi in doubles since 2007. The duo, nicknamed the ‘IndoPak Express’ went on to win four Challenger titles in quick succession. However, it was only in the year 2010 that the pair broke into the Top 10 Doubles teams. In February 2010, the duo won their first ATP Doubles’ title by winning the Johannesburg Open. Later in June, they made it to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event for the first time in their careers at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships.
The unstoppable pair even beat the World No. 1 pair of the Bryan brothers in the quarterfinals of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. Rohan Bopanna and Qureshi reached the finals of the 2010 US Open. They lost in the finals to the Bryan brothers. Though, Bopanna earned his nickname of ‘Bofors’ (a big artillery gun) with his huge serves and quick fire aces throughout the tournament.
Bopanna and Qureshi were playing a much bigger role outside the world of tennis. The Indo-Pak pair were ambassadors of the ‘Stop War Start Tennis’ campaign. Their success at the world stage made heads turn and delegates from both the countries came to witness their US Open finals match.
In 2011, the duo paired up again for the Chennai Open but lost in the quarterfinals. The re-united pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes went on to win the tournament.
In the year 2012, Rohan played with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi. They won their first title together in Dubai.
A major controversy in Rohan’s career was triggered when he refused to pair up with Leander Paes for the 2012 Summer Olympics. This eventually led to two participating teams in the Games, with Paes partnering with Vishnu Vardhan.
Rohan achieved his career high ranking of World No. 3 in doubles in 2013. He partnered with Eduard Vasseling in Wimbeldon 2013. The pair went on to the semifinals but bowed out of the competition after a hard-fought match against the Bryan brothers.
The Olympic committee, settled on the controversial pair of Bopanna and Paes to represent India in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The duo couldn’t hit it off as they crashed out of the competition in the opening round.
Bopanna accomplished his dream of winning a Grand Slam title in 2017. After being ousted in the 2010 US Open finals, Bopanna made it to the finals of the French Open in 2017. The pair of Bopanna and Gabriela Dabrowski lifted the Mixed Doubles’ trophy at the Open. With this win, Bopanna became the fourth Indian to win a Grand Slam trophy.
“It was truly a personal goal, so there was no number to it. It didn’t matter how many years it took,” said Bopanna after the win. India’s premier tennis player went on to further say that his journey is nowhere near over. Rohan is still playing wonderful tennis and the 37 year old has plenty to look forward to. An inspiration to many, we can expect him to have a newfound sense of confidence in his future matches.