The first time, and chance, pairing of Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan put together a giant killing run, including a win over the top seeds Dodig/Melo in the finals, to lift the ATP 250 Adelaide International title. They share their thoughts on their run below:
Q) First tournament of the year, first tournament together. A great way to start the season.
ROHAN BOPANNA: Thank you so much. You know, that’s the beauty of playing with somebody for the first time: the expectations are less. We were playing really freely. Ram has been a dear friend of mine for a few years. I’ve been watching him grow as a tennis player. Part of theDavis Cup team. We spend a lot of time together. That really helps. The camaraderie off the court makes a big difference when you play on court. Especially in the close matches, you can push each other, you can say how you feel on the court. That think really helps. I think that’s what this week helped us, couple close matches, close points. We were serving well. Put a lot of pressure on the other teams.
Q) I understand you made the partnership just two days before. Can you explain those two days, how you were communicating, how did it happen, the partnership?
ROHAN BOPANNA: I think when I landed in Dubai from Bangalore, I got a text message from Roger-Vasselin saying he got into the ATP Cup. Obviously I had to find someone to prepare with had Adelaide. Thankfully for me I knew Ram was coming to Melbourne early to prepare for his Australian Open qualifying. So I requested him that he wanted to come to Adelaide and play a week of doubles.
Anyway, since he was not really doing anything in terms of playing matches, this was a good opportunity to at least play one match for sure. I think it worked out well for both of us. He got into the singles here as well. He got five doubles matches. Couldn’t have asked for I think a better week for both of us.
Q) Winning with an Indian after a long time on foreign soil, is that anything special to you?
ROHAN BOPANNA: I mean, winning with an Indian is special always. We are just a handful of players playing tennis from the country, really trying to get ourselves competing at the best tournaments across the globe. Anytime I play with somebody from India, it’s really, really special. I think it’s my fourth title with an Indian.
I’ve seen Ram play for so many years, part of the Davis Cup, a lot of the ATP matches. I’ve seen him grow as a player. He’s got tremendous potential. Of course, his serve is his biggest weapon. Every time I play with somebody serving that big makes it easy for me at the net.
Thankfully we both were really serving well. I really felt Ram’s serve today in my ear, so I know how hard it comes through (smiling). Having said that, very happy to have won this title in the first week of the year with Ram.
Q) Can you talk a little bit about Ram more, what he has done last year in challengers. How do you see him this year?
ROHAN BOPANNA: I think what has changed is the belief in himself. I think that has really changed from last year, especially end of the year. Ram was playing some good tennis. I understand that he’s serving well, he’s volleying well, but now he’s starting to believe he can do well at tournaments, qualify at big events. I saw him in Washington. He qualified at the 500 there. He was playing a good match against Stevie Johnson. Even at the Davis Cup matches he’s been playing well.
I think it’s just a matter of time for him to string a few matches together, to break back into the 150, 100 again. I think he’s playing really, really good tennis.
With the way he serves, every time he plays aggressive, I think he’s a different player. It was really nice to see that side of him this week. I think it’s the first time in his career he was playing the ad side. I think that was a really big advantage for Ram.
Everybody thinks his forehand is actually his big weapon and his backhand is weak. This week I realised his backhand is also extremely strong. He just needs to start trusting that side of his game. I think he has a tremendous potential to do well this year.
Q) Ram, can you sum up your feelings, talk us through this week.
RAMKUMAR RAMANATHAN: Yeah, like he said, when Igot into Adelaide I was going to play with Bops. Like he said, we were on the same flight on the 28th from Dubai. It’s a great feeling to play with Bops. Like he said, when you know somebody well off the court, it makes a huge difference when you play. You can say whatever you want.
He said the feeling is the same, we understand each other better. I played with Bops in Davis Cup, too.
Obviously that helps that one time.
Yeah, it was a good feeling. We are confident about both our tennis, like the way we played and the way we combined. Even before the matches started, we were really confident, we were in a good frame of mind. We always knew the break was coming when we played because we were serving great. I don’t think we lost serve all week, all of the tournament.
Also the singles match, I got into the qualies. Obviously that also helped in our semis because it was the first time we both played there. I had a feeling for that Court 1. Everything matters.
For me to start the year like this, it’s a great feeling. Like he said, every match counts. It was so much better for me to come here. I was not going to get into Melbourne ATP. It ended up playing six matches and winning the tournament here.
I enjoyed every bit of it on court, which is why I could play so well. Also I look up to Bops as a senior player. I have a lot of respect for him, which also makes me focus even more.
(Indiscernible) everyone there on the bench, having put together whatever it is, the feeling is so good. The vibe is very good. All these things make a huge difference.
Q) The final itself, to play such an event for you at this stage of your career without any nerves, how did it happen?
RAMKUMAR RAMANATHAN: There was nerves, but I was laughing through the match. I was trying to keep my emotions in check, trying to play with the flow.
But obviously there was tension. There’s always tension when you play any match anywhere. But I think I handled it pretty well.
I would love to play more with Bops, whenever we can. Hopefully I get my ranking better, and like this I can play more tournaments with him.
(Indiscernible) tries to come see my matches, tries to tell me what to do, tries to help me out with whatever he’s learnt. That is amazing. Today after the match, we went to court, we worked on the returns a little bit. All these things matter big-time.
I was very confident today. Even though I didn’t start well returning, but eventually I got a feel. Bops also returning the backhand on big points makes a huge difference.
Q) Can you talk about your 2021 season?
RAMKUMAR RAMANATHAN: I mean, the Manama title was a big tournament for me. After losing six
challengers, I think six challenger finals, to win that tournament gave me a big boost. It didn’t come by luck or anything, I would say. I built it up. I was playing good all the last few months. It came in Manama. You never know when you’re going to win because it’s a matter of few points. I was very, very happy to win that tournament.
I’ve been focusing a lot on every match, trying to focus on each detail, whatever I get, trying to focus on my weapons. I just have to keep playing well, try to stay healthy. Hopefully I’ll play well in the coming weeks.
Like Rohan said, the belief is very important. I need to believe more in myself and keep going for it.