6th seeds Rohan Bopanna and Matt Ebden started with a solid 6-4 6-2 win over Chris O’Connell & Aleksandar Vukic. After a close first round exit it Cincinnati, the pair seemed in high spirits and are looking to enjoy the last Grand Slam.
ITD caught up with the pair after their first round win to get their thoughts. Excerpts below –
ITD: Great match. You only lost seven points on serve the whole match. Four in the first set, three in the second. When it’s a number that low, is that something you guys are even aware of?
Rohan Bopanna: Actually, the exact number, no. Just (found out) only when you told – at least me. But I think we played a very solid match. Especially when you’re holding service games like that, it puts a lot of pressure on the guys serving. And I think from the first game, we had some chances on their service game. And we had a few break points to break early. We didn’t convert that. And after that I think we just got better.
It’s the first match of a Grand Slam, always tricky – because you don’t get too much court time on the match court. So it’s tough to adjust and find the rhythm. Once we got there, I think it was pretty comfortable
Matt Ebden: Yeah and one of those seven points, I missed a smash I thought I would have made. (To Rohan) Remember that one I spiked and it went long?
So yeah, that’s good then. Yeah, not keeping track of that (service points lost) so much, but more keeping track of maybe like, we didn’t face a break point. I’m more aware of that.
So that’s perfect. Like (Rohan) said, we created chances. We didn’t get the first one or two or whatever, and that happens, that’s normal. But we just kept creating them, and like (Rohan) said, we just stuck with it. And then we got more and more chances, and we got them sooner or later, so that was good. Because those guys are good players, I know them well.
Australian players, obviously mainly singles players. Vukic played in college, he knows how to play doubles. O’Connell coming up, he won Futures and Challenges in doubles also. So, you know, potentially very dangerous. You don’t want to be playing tie breaks with those guys or be in a third set late because it can get tricky, so we did well just to get the set, get the job done, get the breaks in a second. Two sets and we’re out of there and rest up for the next round.
ITD: How have you both felt about preparations coming in? Obviously it was a tough loss in Cincinnati. Rohan, did you just come straight here after that? How long have you been in New York practicing.
Rohan Bopanna: Yeah, I came straight after Cincinnati. Sometimes, depending on how I feel and I get some rest on my body, I feel much more refreshed, especially at big events like this. So yeah, I mean we played a tough team there in Cincinnati. Both Toronto and Cincinnati we lost in super tiebreaks which were extremely close. Could have easily gone our way. But we have been playing pretty sharp and good to start with a good match this week.
Matt Ebden: Yeah, same thought. I mean, even thinking back to Toronto and Cincinnati. Okay, we lost quarter final and then a supertiebreak, but we lost serve once in both those tournaments. That’s all. , but we didn’t, we lost serve once in both those tournaments. That’s all. And he hit two doubles actually (laughter).
Rohan Bopanna: And he played Wintston as well
Matt Ebden: Yeah I played one extra tournament, but even our matches, we lost two super tie breaks.
We lost 10-8 and 10-7. Could easily have gone the other way – you know we’re a minute break, down a minute break, up a minute break. But overall the level is good. We created chances to break. We broke twice against Shelton and Eubanks – they didn’t even get to break point once. Een the tournament before. We didn’t face a breakpoint first round – didn’t get broken, second round we got broken only once.
So in two tournaments in a few matches we’re playing well on our serve and we’re creating chances. It’s just, unfortunately, one or two points sometimes. We’ve got to try and pull that our way more. Every time, let’s say, if you want to be number one. The Bryan’s were always good at that. Making sure you pull those ones out.
But it’s about execution on the big points, you know. Big, big shots and game on the big points. So we’re trying to improve that, of course. And yeah, I went and played one extra tournament. I had some rest after Wimbledon so I still felt good to go and practice and play in Winston Salem on the way here.
Bops rested a bit and got ready for the slam. So, yeah, we’re here and we hit the ground running. A few days of practice here and yeah, we’re ready.
ITD: When you have these kind of close matches a lot I guess the belief is still there, in terms of big picture expectations, right? What kinds of expectations do you both have for this tournament?
Rohan Bopanna: No, absolutely. Because the format is very different, right? I mean, comparing ATP and the Grand Slams, we play with No Ad scoring – super tiebreak in the third set. Everything can turn around quickly. A majority of the matches end up going to third set super tie break there.
So it’s a very different scoring system here. So that kind of also changes a little bit of a different style, especially as a team, if you’re playing well. It’s not just about winning one point straight away. It’s combining well together as a team. And that’s what makes a difference when you’re playing the Grand Slams.
And I think that’s where today we were very solid and it showed on the court automatically.
Matt Ebden: Yeah, I mean the goal is always to win the tournament. I think it’s no secret. That’s what we want to do. But it’s a long two weeks and a long draw. Lots of tough teams. We just have to be ready for the next match. But yeah, of course that’s the goal.
ITD: And Rohan, one last question. In terms of the match load here. I know in the French Open you elected not to play Mixed, but you did play Mixed in Wimbledon. So was that just a one off? What’s the thinking when you think about playing both or just playing men’s?
Rohan Bopanna: Yeah that was because obviously I knew playing on clay is a lot more physical on the body. So it gives long matches the main thing is we had played the whole season on the clay from Monte Carlo, so I decided, let me just focus on men’s.
And since the grass court season is so short, it gives us that extra time. So that was mainly the thinking behind that. And yeah here I’m playing with a girl from Indonesia, Aldila Sutjiadi, and you know I’m looking forward to playing my mixed.