On a chilly Friday night at the BNP Paribas Open, Indian doubles star Rohan Bopanna and his Australian partner Matthew Ebden took on the American tandem of Jack Sock and John Isner in a highly anticipated semifinal clash. For most of the match, the teams exchanged booming serves and deft volleys, with both sides struggling to break the other’s serve. At the end, after Isner pushed a forehand wide, Bopanna and Ebden chest bumped and embraced at the net, having triumphed 7-6(6), 7-6(2).
Although there were no service breaks through the course of the match, Isner and Sock had their chances, manufacturing nine break points. Bopanna and Ebden stood firm on each of these, saving all of them. That was the story of the match – Bopanna and Ebden played the bigger points better than the American pair. Once they got to the tiebreaks, Isner and Sock blinked first, and Bopanna and Ebden took advantage of their opportunities.
When asked how they handled the pressure points, Ebden said, “we just respected [Sock and Isner], and we knew what to expect. They play really well in these conditions especially.”
Recognizing that Isner and Sock had strong serves, Bopanna and Ebden also took calculated risks. Although this led them to double fault nine times, Bopanna and Ebden also won 84% and 54% of their first and second serve points respectively, allowing them to stay level with the American pair.
The match ended at around 10 p.m. local time, but the crowds stayed for the match, cheering loudly for Bopanna and Ebden despite the fact that they were playing an American doubles team who were the defending champions at the tournament. Afterwards, Bopanna apologized for defeating Isner and Sock. The crowd, however, feted him with cheers, appreciating the talent he showed through the course of the match. Bopanna won the hearts of many fans during the semifinal clash.
“What he is doing at the age of 43 is just so remarkable,” marveled one fan as he watched Bopanna put away a volley at the net. “I would give everything for a net game like that.”
After the match, another young fan walked away triumphantly, having secured Bopanna’s autograph. “I did not know much about him before this tournament, but he’s such a nice guy,” said the fan. “If his doubles final is scheduled at the same time as Alcaraz-Sinner, I will go watch Bopanna.”
These fans will not have to wait long to see Bopanna and Ebden in action again. They take on Netherlands’ Wesley Koolhof and Great Britain’s Neal Skupski in the final on March 18, 2023. This is already the third tour final for Ebden and Bopanna, who first teamed up to play doubles this season.
Full Match Replay Available on TennisTV – https://www.tennistv.com/videos/3113846/indian-wells-2023-sf-isner-sock-bopanna-ebden