At 43 years young, Rohan Bopanna is feeling relaxed yet determined going into his SIXTEENTH French Open campaign. Speaking ahead of a light practice session on court 12 with partner Matthew Ebden, Bopanna shares his thoughts on how he feels so grateful to have been able to play for the people of India over the years, why he isn’t playing mixed doubles this time, and much more. Excerpts below:
Q) You’re having a great season so far. Finals in Madrid on clay. How do you assess your clay form going into Roland Garros?
RB – The whole season has been pretty good overall. Some weeks are better than the others, obviously and especially with the short format. We had match points in Rome – one on the serve and one on the return. So we could have easily won that match as well. Having said that, it’s just about getting a lot of matches on this surface. It doesn’t come naturally to me especially, playing on the clay.
So it’s been nice, starting from Monte Carlo until Rome, we got a lot of matches in. It’s been good. Looking forward to starting the campaign here at Roland Garros.
Q) You were supposed to play the ATP 250 in Geneva last week but withdrew. All good?
RB – We have to enter tournaments two weeks before. There is no option to sign in on-site. So this gives us the opportunity to decide what we want to do. We wanted to take a call to see if we want to play more matches or come early to Roland Garros and prepare. Both Matt (Ebden) and me decided that it would be best to take a week off, and come to Roland Garros early and prepare here.
Q) You made semis here last year. Do you feel any additional pressure of defending big points going in this time?
RB – I have been defending points for over 10 a decade now (laughs). I wouldn’t be playing and sustaining at this level if I wasn’t used it. For every tennis player on the circuit, no matter which week it is, you will end up defending some points. I am here to enjoy every single moment and take it as it goes. It was a fantastic run last year, and I’ve always had great results on the clay. If you look at it, all my Masters titles and best results, they’ve all come on clay. Happy to be playing on this surface and being back again at Roland Garros – the clay grand slam.
Q) What about mixed doubles? Who will you be partnering this time?
RB – I am not playing mixed doubles here. I decided I will play just one event and focus on that. There have been times when I have not played mixed doubles, and this time I did not really go out there looking for a partner. I just wanted to take it easy, focus on men’s doubles and not think about mixed doubles too much.
Q) Loads of Indians will be tuning in from India to watch you play. What’s your message to the Indian fans?
RB – First of all, I am really happy that the telecast is going to be shown in the country. It gives a lot of young tennis players the opportunity to watch a big event like this and watch some Indian players performing at the highest level. So definitely a big thanks to Sony for telecasting all the Indian matches back home in India. And thanks to everyone for their love and support over the years. Obviously last year was a great run. So looking forward to similar support this year as well.