Rohan Bopanna is through to QFs at Roland Garros after a high quality match against the 2nd seeds from Croatia Mektic/Pavic. Playing with Matwe Middelkoop from Netherlands, the 16th seeds saved 5 match points to make their way into the QFs. Rohan shares his thoughts on the match in this interview.
Q) What was going through your mind ? You were 1-3 and one point away from a break down, one point from 1-4 down. You didn’t lookout of the match, it was hard to say. This is not going to happen. Did you all get that feeling ?
You are down and down on break. Of course, at that point I’m not really thinking of okay now you’re down a break and okay this is a big point and what if I double break down. You are just focusing on and it’s easier said than done to be honest, but you know, after playing so many years you’re so tuned to just play that point at that juncture and you’re not really thinking whether I am 15-40 down or 0-40 down, you’re strategizing on whether it’s a deuce court or ad court and how that point is going to play and what the strategy is to that particular point. When I sit back tonight, I’ll think about matches and look at the videos what we could have done better and at this point it didn’t even strike me until you brought it up that we were facing a break point on double break. The biggest thing was to stay in it as much as possible. Middelkoop hit an unbelievable return match point down and he picked a great side and then next point, I anticipated him going wide and that was the thing. Today we played a solid match through the three hour period.
Q) In the first set, you hit that forehand down the line and then you high fived the crowd. They were definitely with you as there’s no Frenchman there. It looked so comfortable as if you are playing at home. Thoughts on that ?
The biggest thing is to enjoy the moment. Why you’re there and you are obviously there because you’ve been playing well. The moment is to just focus on each point, enjoy the atmosphere and enjoy the crowd. The crowd really love tennis and that really showed. It was a fantastic atmosphere and that forehand slap I hit running, if it was not my day, it would have probably gone out of the fence. Those are moments that you enjoy. It’s great that when you have so many people enjoying every point. That gives you that energy when you have somebody shouting in Kannada (Laughs on the phrase someone said in Kannada about Bopanna). Sometimes it can get to you, sometime you use it in a positive way. We definitely had more chances in the first set. We had three set points and then to lose that set and then come back, you know it’s not easy.
Q) Would you think it is your best win in many years ?
I would definitely say yes. Mainly because of the fact that I was able to maintain my fitness level for two and a half hours, that was I think very important as you don’t get to play that long matches. I am very happy with the way we played and personally for me, I felt that, from the first point to the last point, I maintained my intensity level and I pushed when it really need to. I was calm at times which I needed to be. I think those are something which I’ve learned from over the years and gotten better at it.
Q) How are you planning to go into the QFs match against Glasspool/Heliovaara ?
When you’re in the quarters, anybody who you play is going to be tough. Last weekend they beat the top seeds Rajiv Ram and Joe Salisbury so they have been playing really well and with a lot of confidence. We have to play our best tennis to beat these guys. When you’re at this junture everybody is playing well. Just because they are not seeded, it doesn’t mean it is a winnable match. We will have to play at a very high level.
Q) Can you talk about momentum shifts because in the first set you were hitting really hard whereas your partner was struggling to make the returns so what were the discussions that were going on ? Whereas in the later half of the match he was really on form.
The biggest thing is, just at the end of the day, to keep encouraging as a team because he is also a fantastic player playing at a high level. I’ve learned that there are times when you’re struggling and it doesn’t mean that every day is going to be a perfect day but that is the way you need to come together as a team, enjoy every moment and push each other even though we missed a couple of easy returns, easy plays. Let’s make them work for it. We constantly push each other and coming back from a set down, I think it was both of us coming together at that moment and believing in each other.
Q) That running forehand slap that you did I remember you doing it against Canada in the Davis Cup, where do you rank it in one of your favourites ?
It’s all very much up there. They are so spontaneous and you’re not really planning to hit that. It’s just that Middelkoop happened to move the other side and I got late and the only way was to go for it and maybe it was 40-0 as nothing to lose on that point. I just went and absolutely hit as hard as possible.
Photos from today’s match: