Rohan Bopanna faces partner conundrum

Kirti Patil
Tuesday, 2 January 2018

“We play the whole year to make it to the finale, but since this year Asian Games are also scheduled, it will be a tough call though,” said Bopanna.

PUNE: Two years down the line after the Rio Olympic Games, Rohan Bopanna may again find himself in the midst of a conundrum of choosing a playing partner if he decides to play in the Jakarta Asian Games, dates of which clash with the first week of US Open.

Boapanna had endured a high drama after he chose not to play with Leander Paes at the Rio Games asserting his right to pick partner by being ranked top 10 in the world. He was eventually forced to play with the Atlanta Games bronze medallist Paes, who wanted to compete in his seventh Olympic Games.

Asked whether he foresees similar situation now, given that 2018 in an Asian Games year, Bopanna first brushed aside saying “it is still a long way off”, but added that he would have to look at the schedule first.

“It is a catch-22 situation to decide between US Open or the Asian Games in Jakarta since the two events are clashing with each other,” said the World No 10 ranked Indian doubles specialist.

Bopanna, who is defending French Open Mixed doubles champion, said though there was enough time to decide, but he could sacrifice the season’s last Grand Slam if he was assured of making the season-end finale at London.

“We play the whole year to make it to the finale, but since this year Asian Games are also scheduled, it will be a tough call though,” said Bopanna, who is pairing with Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan at the season-opening ATP 250 Series Tata Open Maharashtra.

Bopanna, who moved up eight places on Monday when the ATP updated the rankings, partners Edouard Roger-Vasselin, on the Tour, but the Frenchman had decided earlier on on have an extended break.

“I needed to play this week and since this tournament still stayed on in India after moving out of Chennai, I was happy to partner Jeevan, with whom I won the doubles title last year in the corresponding week,” said Bopanna.

“Ideally, if we are doing well in the beginning of the year and we have already qualified pretty much there, then I can take that decision that I can skip a Grand Slam. I have to do either, if its the same week,” Bopanna said of his pairing with Roger-Vasselin.

“I am happy that Jeevan has decided to focus on Doubles and it works fine for me,” said Bopanna, who would have to make a choice come August before the Indian tennis team for the Jakarta Asian Games would be decided.

The Asian Games are scheduled in Indonesia from August 18 to September 2, while the US Open will be played from August 27 to September 9.

Asked what will be his preference, Bopanna said, “Still a very long way to go. Sometimes it all depends on how rankings are placed, are we seeded or not. Its somewhere there with the US Open. I have to make that decision later on in the year.

“At the end of the day, its not only the Grand Slams we are fighting for, we are also fighting for London Masters (season-end finale),” he said

Asked how important it is for him to play in such multi- disciplinary events, representing the country, Bopanna said, “Its an individual sport. Winning a medal for country is very prestigious irrespective of the event. A Grand Slam is also as big for a tennis player. Its catch-22 situation. Its not a win-win situation. I have to sacrifice one of the two.”

Bopanna at Asian Games
Rohan Bopanna had opted out of the last two editions of the Asian Games 2010 Guangzhou and 2014 Incheon as he chose to defend crucial ranking points in 2014 and was in London for the season-finale in 2010 as an alternative.

In fact both Bopanna and Leander Paes missed out on the last two editions of Asian Games. In their absence India won men’s doubles gold in 2010 thanks to Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh and a silver in 2014 through Saketh Myneni and Sanam.

India also won the mixed doubles gold with Sania Mirza and Myneni finishing on top of the podium.

Choosing partners
“Edouard’s focus only on doubles helped me make that decision. It always makes a difference. If you want to focus on Master series events and Grand Slams it’s better to play with a doubles specialist. Even scheduling wise.

“Like Cuevas in February was playing a lot on clay in North America and it was easier for me to play in Rotterdam or Dubai. Even getting visa for North America takes 2 or 3 weeks,” he said.

Bopanna said by winning the French Open Mixed doubles title with Gabriela Dabrowski, he achieved a personal milestone but he has his sight set on bigger things.

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