Rohan Bopanna, serving big at 43

Rohan Bopanna, serving big at 43

Over the last week, during his speeches and press conferences at the Australian Open, Rohan Bopanna dished out the term “perseverance” quite a few times. Capturing his first men’s doubles Grand Slam title and scaling the peak of the rankings at the age of 43 exemplifies that in the case of a man who simply kept at it. Around three years ago, when Bopanna contemplated quitting, the 2017 French Open mixed doubles champion could have been content with a professional career that lasted more than a couple of decades, and earned him over 20 titles on the tour — though without the major trophy in men’s doubles — and plenty of memorable Davis Cup moments. And even after he chose to carry on, Bopanna, as his partner Matthew Ebden put it, could’ve looked at just a few more decent seasons of doing what he loves.

Rohan Bopanna (R) and Australia’s Matthew Ebden celebrate after victory against Italy’s Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori during their men’s doubles final match on day 14 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 27, 2024(AFP)

Bopanna, however, sought greater things from his tennis and body. The skills, hunger and that booming serve were all there, polished with age.

Bopanna’s resurgence isn’t just a tale of personal glory and tenacity but also a lesson for younger Indian tennis players to keep trying and fighting hard, no matter how long it takes. Long since the chest-bumping days of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, and the pathbreaking trail of Sania Mirza, Indian tennis has seen players burst onto the scene and wither away quickly, with either their body, mind or heart giving up.

Bopanna’s incredible feat over two decades after turning pro was a triumph of all three and may just be the boost Indian tennis needs.

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