“We were serving really well. I think we were in the game all the time.” – Rohan Bopanna after his R2 win at Roland Garros

Rohan Bopanna is through to R3 at Roland Garros. Playing with Matwe Middelkoop from Netherlands, the 16th seeds are looking in good shape after having two easy wins under their belt. Rohan shares his thoughts on the match and his success on the tour this season in this interview.

Q) How did you feel like playing today ?

I think the biggest thing is it is the most easy on the body. That’s one of the biggest advantages playing on clay. It takes a less of a toll on the body. I think that automatically everything gets better, you know, because you’re feeling physically so much better. I have enjoyed playing on this surface a lot and I adapted my game to the surface. I think what has helped me is understand the court better, the surface better and use my strengths, my serve and my forehand and even me such a strong version playing in the surface area.

Q) Decision on playing mixed doubles as you were not sure before ?

I think it’s just because I’m feeling so much better overall. I decided okay and I’ve had a good feel of tournaments coming here and I’m enjoying playing at this place. She asked me if I was available and I said she’s a good partner and we can get seeded as well. Let’s give it a shot and pick it forward from there.

Q) Any plans of retirement ?

If you had asked me in 2019, I might have said yes because I was physically not in great shape. My knees were really bad. Now of course, doing all the Iyengar yoga and everything has really helped me. But looking back from last year to this year, to be honest, I’ve really pushed myself a few times much harder off season. I spent a few weeks in Bangalore at the academy with the guys and I really pushed myself to see how it goes and it went off really well.

All the stuff I was doing off court, the fitness, the yoga, everything came off well and I wanted my yoga teacher to travel here but unfortunately he couldn’t get his visa. I thought it’d be nice for him to be on the road, it just helps me in my game. It’s at this juncture that whatever small things I can change, adjust to be fully ready to play in a match here. If I want to go more, I go more. But then if I’m feeling fine, I just stop at that. I don’t really just go overboard. I think that comes with a lot of experience being on the road to manage the body and understand where to push.

Q) Building on this, last year when you hardly had a win for the first five months, were you having any double thoughts on the future ? Given when like hardly any events and then you attributed here yoga towards your transformation but beyond that, what do you think changed in your game having probably one of your best years in the last 5 years ?

I will take that call when I am not playing the big tournaments. If I am just struggling to get into a masters event or just trying to play a challenger or a 250 event then maybe yes. But if I am playing the big events, I have worked so many years to play at this level. So today, when I’m at this level, why should I stop ? That is the main thing. Every athlete works fully to his potential to play at the highest level and when he is at the highest level, there is no reason to stop. I’ve been really enjoying it and I’ve been playing with different partners. I’ve been just focusing on myself, trying to build and then get the best of the partnership. If I don’t play a full calendar then I’ll think about it. But if I’m enjoying the traveling, my wife and daughter can travel. My daughter gets to watch me play. She’s watching me today. Every time I go on this side, she’s sitting and constantly looking at me. It gives a big smile for her you know. It’s good to have them around.

Q) Thoughts on this match ? What were the crucial aspects from your perspective ?

I think a good start was very important. The conditions today were favoring us a little bit more. Fabrice has a big game. Getting that early break and we were serving really well. I think we were in the game all the time. Middelkoop is an extremely good returner. We just stuck to our strengths and we didn’t do too much to go for big winners or aces. That is not the game because sometimes you know the serve needs to be placed better if you play percentage. I think today playing percentage helped in our favor.

Q) Ramkumar made his main draw win yesterday. Any thoughts on him ?

Excellent to see him. He was really enjoying and I was watching him out there. Playing great tennis. I keep telling him that. I was the one who’s kept pushing him to try and find partners and somehow get into the grand slams. I am really happy that he got his first win. I think that just gives so much more confidence. Also going forward in the singles, it gives him more confidence. I told him there’s nothing to lose and play freely.

Q) We have the Bangalore based company Infosys sponsoring ATP Hall of Fame. I think that’s the first time an Indian company is sponsoring an ATP event. Are you looking at playing that ?

I think it’s really good that an Indian company has taken that initiative to come and be the main sponsor for a tournament. I played at Newport in the past. I’ve done well in singles there and played the doubles final there with Qureshi back in 2011. I’m really glad that they’re taking the initiative and hoping that they have couple more tournaments they can support in India. That’ll be nice and I think it is needed in India and it can be done. This is the future on how Indian players will get better to have ournaments at home.

Q) You have a couple of kids from your academy Maruri sisters and Renthil Pranav who are doing really well. Maruri played in Europe as well. Thoughts on that ?

These kids are slowly understanding what the standard is, of not just playing in India, but now also traveling outside. The biggest thing is I keep telling the parents is lot of discipline required from them as well. Everybody is looking at they’re good in India so that means they can achieve the best. That’s not the goal they picked up tennis but to do well in the rest of the world. There is so much more to go. We keep pushing them in the academy as much as possible constantly, even though there are times it is hard for their kids but this is the only way. I see day in and day out the juniors at the big events how they were training and how the coaches are training and this kind of helps me send feedback to the coaches back home and they also really need to understand that it’s a process and nothing happens in one night. It’s like education. I mean you want to be a doctor and it takes years and years of hard work. It’s a similar thing in tennis. That is something I think parents and coaches need to understand.

Photos from the match

Indian based in the Alps region. Works for an IT firm during the weekdays und auch lernt Deutsch. On the weekends, he can be traced somewhere in the Mountains or on backpacker trips. Is a Social Worker / Activist with a deeper interest for Indian / Swiss tennis from the past year.

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