“The way we played today showed what we are capable of” – Bops / Middelkoop after winning the ATP Tel-Aviv Open

Rohan Bopanna and Matwe Middelkoop shares their thoughts on winning the ATP 250 Tel Aviv Open. Here are their results below.

Tel Aviv Watergate Open ATP 250, Israel

[R1] (1) Rohan Bopanna (IND) / Matwe Middlelkoop (NED) d. (WC) Hamad Medjedovic (SRB)/ Yshai Oliel (ISR) 46 76(4) 10-6

[QF] (1) Rohan Bopanna (IND) / Matwe Middlelkoop (NED) d. Denys Molchanov (UKR) / Franko Skugor (CRO) 46 76(5) 10-5

[SF] (1) Rohan Bopanna (IND) / Matwe Middlelkoop (NED) d. Sadio Doumbia (FRA) / Fabien Reboul (FRA) 46 76(3) 10-8

[F] (1) Rohan Bopanna (IND) / Matwe Middlelkoop (NED) d. (3) Santiago Gonzalez (MEX) /Andres Molteni (ARG) 62 64

Excerpts from the interview.

Thoughts on the 1st title as a team?

Matwe Middelkoop: It feels really good. It shows that you are on the right path and this gives you the extra cherry on top. The way we played today showed what we are capable of and I think that’s the most important thing for me. We showed that we have something, the chemistry on court. The way we play. It’s a great mixture of all different kinds of tennis put in one game. We still have some big tournaments to go and I’m really hungry for more.

Before this match, all of your matches had identical scores 4-6 7-6 and then the super tie-breaker…

Rohan Bopanna: The number of messages I got this week that I don’t want you to be playing another super tight break. The first goal was to try and win the 1st set at least to revert that trend and then take it forward. There are a lot of people following this and unfortunately can’t get to really watch these matches so they follow live scores. So it is even worse to follow the live scores I think. But having said that, I think those close matches and pulling through those, having more court time, you’re trying to come through and fight some close battles.

We were a couple of points away from losing those matches. So, sometimes these weeks make a huge difference for confidence and I think that’s what really helped us this week and playing really good in that final. We were striking the ball extremely well today and that put a lot of pressure on them. We are really happy to get our first title together.

Thoughts on doubles being secondary priority in global tennis?

Rohan Bopanna: To be honest, it’s a catch 22 situation vis a vis the amount of media time doubles could be shown. Majority of the recreation players play doubles. They might play a set of singles but otherwise majorly it is doubles. So everybody loves playing it. So I think the more it’s shown, automatically the interest comes. I understand it’s hard. I know when teams are splitting playing with different partners. It’s hard for the tournaments.

Still I think if more doubles is shown then the interest will automatically pick up and that is where there is a missing link, which I think can change for the better

Thoughts on playing in this Arena in Israel?

The seating here is very intimate in terms of being able to see the reactions of the crowd and feeding from the energy. I am really happy to be playing in Tel Aviv – it was the very first time for me. So so happy to be in this country, to be honest.

What is the schedule after this?

Oct 3: ATP 500 Astana, Kazakhstan

Oct 10: ATP 250 Gijon, Spain

Oct 17: ATP 250 Antwerp, Belgium

Oct 24: ATP 500 Vienna, Austria

Oct 31: ATP 1000 Paris, France

On the crazy point in the middle of the first set!

Rohan Bopanna: We have to go and watch this because the point was so crazy. Sometimes you forget how the point even started and how we ended up on the other side of the court. That is what makes doubles so much fun. Usually, it’s very quick points – so suddenly when you have such a long point, it really makes it exciting.

Thoughts on your prior experience in Israel?

Matwe Middelkoop: This was in 2002 when I was 17. I was playing futures in Israel – Ramat Hasharon, Ashkelon and Jaffa. Those futures were very tough as you had to win 4 qualifying matches to make it to the main draw – it was almost like having to play a grand slam before you could play your first main draw match. 

I remember my first point as I was playing an opponent (Arnaud Le Cloerec) who had qualified and played for his first point 15 times already and lost. So I knew that I was tight trying to win my first point but I knew that Arnaud would be even more tight haha. Eventually I ended up winning. 

So I will never forget my 1st ATP point that I won in Israel and that is my special relation with Israel. So to come back many years later and win an ATP title with Bopanna here – that caps it.

Thoughts on Israeli Tennis Legend – Jonathan Elrich.

Rohan Bopanna: I have known Jonathan for 20+ years having him coming to India to play the Challengers back in the day. He broke into the ATP Circuit much ahead of me but we always had a great friendship. I have shared so many dinners with him, so many stories. Tennis has this great friendship even though we are from different countries. It is lonely on the tennis circuit and so it is nice when you have great friends like that.  

He has inspired so many players. Back then – Israel had a great crop of Tennis players coming up. They were always travelling together as a team. Even in places like Uzbekistan – playing futures, challengers and so on – these guys were there. 

I have a wonderful bond with Jonathan and to see him have such a beautiful career and to finish it off here at home. Not many have that opportunity. It was unfortunate that he could not play but having said that, it is fabulous that he could finish his career here at home and I wish him the best for the future.

Matwe Middelkoop: I started in 2015 on the doubles circuit and so I have not been on the circuit that long. Before that, I always used to watch doubles on TV and always used to see Ram / Elrich and they were winning so many titles. 

So suddenly in 2015 when I was starting my own career and meeting him – I was so nervous. During our first practice, all his volleys I was like – how does someone do this. He was so helpful, giving tips and helping out and so on. Fast forward to now: We are still talking and we had some good chat before he was supposed to go onto the court. 

To say farewell in your home turf is a big opportunity and so big thanks to him and thank you for the wonderful career.

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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