The pair of Rohan Bopanna and Matwe Middelkoop pulled off a sensational win against the former world number one pair of Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah at the ATP 500 Citi Open quarter-finals, winning from two match points down. The eventual scoreline was 7-6(10) 4-6 12-10.
Speaking after the match, the pair share their thoughts on the match, the brutal DC conditions, their camaraderie, and much more. Excerpts below:
That was a really tough match. It was so hot out there. How much were the conditions a factor when you’re playing those long, gruelling sets?
Rohan: We’ve been here since Thursday, Friday, we’ve been playing in these conditions. It’s been pretty warm to be honest. It is definitely hot – there’s no question about it. But I think that’s why we come to a tournament and prepare early because it’s extremely important to get used to the conditions and get used to the courts.
And once you’re in the match, you’re not really focused on the heat. You’re just so focused on playing the points and the matches, so that’s not something that is in the back of our mind. Of course it’s tiring, no doubt. We had a long first set. It’s not easy. But you try to make sure you have the fluids, you’re eating something. All of this factors into the end of the match.
I guess you’re used to these kinds of conditions in India. Would you compare it to that?
Rohan: Not necessarily. Because the last time I was in the summer of India was 20 years ago. I’m always in Europe. So everybody says, “yeah, you’re used to it,” but I’ve never been there (he and Matwe both laugh).
I’m always in Monaco, Barcelona playing during summer, or in March we’re in Miami. So I left India long back during our summers. Actually the last time I was in the summer was during the 2020 pandemic. (more laughter)
And Matwe, I guess it doesn’t usually get that hot in Holland, but it’s the same thing – you’re usually touring all over the world right?
Rohan: As you can see (points to Matwe’s shirt) this is his shirt, sweating, and you can see mine is –
Matwe: It’s totally dry! (points to Rohan’s shirt). We got back to the locker room, he can just fold it and put it back
So you just don’t sweat that much, Rohan?
Thankfully, I don’t, yeah. It’s one great thing for me that I don’t sweat. So it helps a lot.
Both the first set tiebreak and the super tiebreak had a lot of ups and downs, back and forth. You also faced match points. What was going through your mind in those moments?
Matwe: On match point down?
Matwe: We are used to that kind of pressure. You are up, you are down, they have match point, they’re serving. It ain’t over till it’s over. We had that kind of pressure at Roland Garros when we were five match points down, and I don’t know, serving for the match. So this is not something out of the ordinary.
And I had to face a match point, and they had a double fault. But I was ready because I hit a forehand down the line and it was in as well. We’re used that kind of pressure. And in the end I knew that if he goes line on my backhand I would go line, and I made that last match point. But there are so many points in between that. We stayed like a team. We compliment each other. You know, it’s not easy out there. It’s hot. I try to give him some energy, he tries to give me some tactics and we both work like a team and I think that shows in the result today.
On that energy front – you give a lot of energy, Matwe, you’re very demonstrative. Rohan, how would you compare Matwe on that energy level to some other partners? He can get pretty amped up sometimes…
Rohan: That’s his biggest strength, which really helps me a lot of times….his strengths are being aggressive, and as a player, his returns are his strengths, so he puts me in great positions at the net.
That’s one of the reasons we decided to play together. You try to find these small strengths. You kind of know every player out there – what their strengths, everything they bring in. So that’s a big positive thing to constantly come through these close matches.
I know you said we were match point down – for us, it is to play that point. It’s still that one point – there’s still a long way to go. Yes, when I watch another match from the outside – I’m like “oh, 9-8, big point.” Yes. But the situation when you’re on the court, you’re just focusing on that one aspect and playing the point. Even if you’re 7-0 up, it’s still 100% focus. So I think that’s something over the years, it’s in-built in us to play the point and not worry about the scoreboard pressure.
You guys have played a lot together this year. Now you’ve reached the semi-final stage here. How much are you guys saying you have to win a title together this year? Is it more like you’re saying to take it point by point, match by match? Or are you guys really wanting to bring home a title right now?
Matwe: Of course it goes point by point, match by match. But there’s a reason why we stay together because our end goal for this year is to go to the Turin Finals, and I think we have the capability to do so.
You said we’ve played a lot this year together, well – this is just our 6th or 7th…our 6th tournament together. And we’re still growing.
So you feel like it’s still early stages…
Matwe: Beginning stages. Imagine if we stick together and we can play more and more and get to know each other more. I think we can only grow as a partnership.
Rohan: Of course titles is a big thing to win
Matwe: Of course
Rohan: But the consistency is the key. We want to be consistent at every tournament. Make sure we’re challenging every team out there, pushing everybody there. I think that is very very important. The biggest end goal, like I said – is of course lifting the trophy – everyone who is playing the tournament is looking to do that. But overall it’s about playing good tennis. Winning and losing is part of the game, so we just have to find the right balance.