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Level 43, not age 43: Rohan Bopanna after Aus Open win

Rohan Bopanna's win with Matt Ebden at the Australian Open 2023 is wowing sports fans the world over.

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India’s tennis star Rohan Bopanna has made history, becoming the oldest man in the Open Era to win a major men’s doubles title on Saturday 27 Jan, teaming up with Australian Matthew Ebden to win the Australian Open.

The 43-year-old Bopanna and Ebden overcame Italians Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori 7-6(0), 7-5 to clinch the crown at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Bopanna, who was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government for becoming the oldest first-time World No.1 in men’s doubles only days ago, completed his mission to win his first Grand Slam men’s doubles title.

Bopanna and Ebden were dominant on serve throughout the one-hour, 40-minute clash, winning 80 per cent (40/50) of points behind their first delivery and not facing a break point to cap a dream week.

Bopanna, who won his first Grand Slam title, the mixed doubles title alongside Gabriela Dabrowski at the French Open in 2017, and Ebden produced their best tennis at the crucial stages. They found great depth on return in the first-set tie-break to storm ahead before they gained the crucial break of the second set in the 11th game. The second seeds Bopanna and Ebden won all seven tie-breaks they played at the hard-court major.

The Indian-Australian team bumped chests following match point, a celebration associated with Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi and also American greats Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan before they sunk to the ground. Bopanna and Ebden then returned to their feet to soak in the roars from the crowd.

“Fine wine” is a term being bandies about on socila media today, referrring to Rohan’s age.

This marks the first time Bopanna has won a major men’s doubles title, having lost in finals at the US Open in 2010 and 2023. The 43-year-old is the third Indian man in the Open Era to win a major men’s doubles title, joining Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. He will also become the oldest No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings on Monday.

Ebden, 36, has now won two major men’s doubles titles, having won Wimbledon in 2022 with Max Purcell. He is the 28th Australian man to win the Australian Open men’s doubles crown.

Bopanna is overall the fourth Indian to win a Grand Slam title after Paes, Bhupathi and Mirza and is now on the list of the star tennis players who have also been awarded the prestigious Padma Shri Award on Thursday.

Born on March 4, 1980, in Bangalore, Karnataka, to M. G. Bopanna, a coffee planter in Kodagu district, and Malika Bopanna, Bopanna started playing tennis at the age of 11 because his father wanted him to pursue the sport.

Though he also enjoyed sports like hockey and football, by the age of 19, tennis became young Rohan’s calling as won his first ITF Junior singles title in 1997 at the age of 17. After gaining experience in both singles and doubles at the junior and senior ITF levels, Bopanna turned professional in 2003.

Minutes after winning his first men’s doubles title in a Grand Slam at the Australian Open here, becoming the oldest player to win a Grand Slam title, India’s Rohan Bopanna said he does not feel 43-year-old and thanked his team especially American coach Scott Davidoff and physio Rebecca for keeping him fit as fettle to take on the challenge of playing at this level.

“You’ve (learned) how old I am. But I’ve changed it a little bit and I say I’m at level 43, not age 43 now,” said Bopanna in his address to the spectators after winning the title.

The Indian tennis star thanked his Australian partner Matthew Ebden and said it would not have been possible without him.

For Rohan Bopanna Australian Open will no doubt go ont o hold a special place in the heart.

Calling the tournament a ‘home slam’, Bopanna, who had a fantastic season last year, thanked his fans, family and support staff for their untiring work to keep him going.

“We had a fantastic season last year and for me to win my first men’s doubles Grand Slam here at the Asia Pacific Grand Slam, it’s totally, totally a Home Slam.

“So, thank you, thank you guys for I thank Craig (Tiley, CEO, Tennis Australia) and Tennis Australia and his entire team for conducting such a wonderful tournament,” said Bopanna.

Bopanna also thanked his coach and physio for making this day possible.

“Tennis is such a great teacher and no better teacher than Scott Davidoff who has been with me for over a decade. And Rebecca, the one who keeps me young keeps me moving, my physio. Thank you so much for you know to making sure I do all the right things every day and it’s wonderful having you part of the team. So really, really, thank you,” said Bopanna.

Rohan also thanked his family, in-laws particularly, who were in the stands.

“The last time they came I actually won my mixed doubles title. So, I don’t know why they’re not coming more often. But thank you,” he added, thanking his wife Supriya and daughter Tridha for their support and love.

 

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