“Hope Indians back home get to watch matches like this” – Bopanna after defeating World No. 1 team

Indian Legend Rohan Bopanna continues his impressive run at the ATP Miami Open Masters in Florida. Rohan spoke to us after both his R1 win and also the big win over the World No. 1 Doubles team in R2. 

[R1] Rohan Bopanna (IND,30) / Dennis Shapavolov (CAN,72) d. Marcelo Arevalo (ESA,26) / Jean-Julien Roger (NED,24) 67(5) 62 10-3
[R2] Rohan Bopanna (IND,30) / Dennis Shapavolov (CAN,72) d. (1) Nikola Mektic (CRO,3) / Mate Pavic (CRO,1) 63 76(3)

Excerpts below.

This is a huge win for Indian Tennis – A win against the World No. 1 team. Thoughts on the match?

We played very well right from the beginning. We served really well which put a lot of pressure on them. We started returning well together as a team which makes a huge difference in putting that pressure on opponent service games. The level in the 1st set was extremely high and I was playing really well as well. 

It set the tone for the second set. We had a lot of break points in R2 but credit it to our opponents who played well on those big points. Once we went into the tie breaker, we once again dominated from the very beginning. 

What were the key moments that were decisive from your perspective?

The biggest thing was playing very smartly on those big points. There are many times where if it’s a deuce point or something – Denis Shapovalov is usually the one returning. In the first set, Denis straight away said that I should return and I was seeing the ball extremely well today. I managed to hit a great return winner on the deuce point. 

On my service games, I mixed up things quite a bit. The big serves, kick serves and so on which helped against these guys who are extremely good. 

Really happy that we got here. 

You played against the same team in Dubai last month and lost in a super tie-breaker. Did that play any role in preparation for this match?

I have played against them numerous times. I played last year against them with Divij Sharan and this year in Dubai with Aslan. It was my first time with Aslan and so our communication was not at its best. So I took away some pointers from there. 

Denis and I were talking that Joe Salisbury needs to buy us dinner since he is going to be World No. 1 now since these guys lost today. 

Today was a big moment not just for Indian Tennis but for Indian Sports. However, very few get to see it in India on TV. You voiced your thoughts in the past – is there any way this can be influenced to ensure more people get inspired?

It is extremely disappointing that not many Indians in India can watch this match. For a country of the size of India, we have only 2 Indians playing at this premier tourney. I really think that only if these matches are shown, can it inspire the next generation to pick up the sport. 

I have said it over and over again and I have stopped speaking about it because I have spoken to a couple of sports ministers back in the day as well – it will make a huge difference for people back home to see us represent them on the biggest stage.  

Your win means your good contacts Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram become the World No. 1 team for the first time in their career. Any thoughts on that?

They have been playing together consistently for a couple of years now. They are a very solid team and congrats to them. Big congrats to Joe as becoming World No. 1 is really special – hopefully Joe takes us out for that dinner!

QF match is a tough one against Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupsi. Thoughts on this match?

They are currently the team to beat on the circuit. They have won 3 titles this year and we have lost to them twice already. It will be another tough match .

We will have a day off tomorrow to relax, practise a bit and get ready for the match the day after.  

Thoughts on the R1 win against Jean-Julien Roger and Marcelo Arevalo?

We started well and were up a break right away. On my service game at 2-1, a couple of loose points got us down to 0-30 and then to 0-40. We were able to get it back to deuce but then Denis received a tough volley and we gave the break back. 

We were pretty even in the return games. They had a small window again when I was serving at 3-4 15-40 down but we were able to get through that. Tie break was really close and it was just one point which separated us. 

At the beginning of the 2nd set, we decided to switch sides on returns. Denis asked me for this and I had done it many times in my career for different partners – I think that was the key aspect which changed things. It got our opponents thinking. We just started playing so much better overall which pulled us through. 

What were the key moments that were decisive from your perspective?

In addition to the switch, getting that early break in Set 2 and not letting it go. Then breaking them twice to go into the tie-breaker gave us the momentum and we were dominating from the get-go in the super tie-breaker as well. 

You and your opponent Jean-Julien Roger go back a long way now. You have played against each other about 30 times over the past 2 decades. You both know each other’s games in and out. Are there any game plans involved in such scenarios?

There is a game plan involved but it is only so much. Roger brings in tons and tons of experience. It’s about hitting the right spots at crucial times. The margins are very small these days. 

When you spot a weak link in opponents, you need to hit that spot accurately which makes a big difference. As you said, it’s always tricky playing an experienced opponent like that. 

Thoughts on Ash Barty`s retirement – it took the tennis world by surprise. 

I listened to her interview. It’s tough that Tennis is not going to have her. I played one mixed match with her. Everybody knows how talented she is. Congratulations to her on a wonderful career and I just wish her the best for her future. 

Thoughts on Ramkumar Ramanathan – he reached another doubles final in Switzerland with Purav Raja. 

He has been playing really well. Ram and Purav have played together in the past as well and it’s nice to see them back playing together and playing in the finals. These performances help Ramkumar to keep improving his doubles ranking, get closer to the ATP 250s and hopefully make it to the Grand Slams soon after that. 

Match Photos

Practice Photos

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