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Rohan Bopanna counting his blessings as he preps for US Open

The Indian doubles star has teamed up with world No 12 Ivan Dodig for the last major of the year
By Deepti Patwardhan

It hasn’t been the best of seasons for Rohan Bopanna, who is yet to win a title in 2021. But the Indian doubles star sounds relaxed going into the US Open, the last major of the year. One of the reasons has been that his family- wife and daughter—have been travelling with him during the US hard-court season. It’s a respite after almost a year of ‘bubble life’ on the tennis tour.

The other reason is that he’s still playing to get a full schedule despite the pandemic making it more and more difficult to squeeze into elite tournaments. Bopanna, who had started the year ranked No 38 in the world, has dropped down to 48.

“Lot of guys ranked in 40s and 50s haven’t been able to get into these tournaments,” Bopanna told Olympics.com. “Where I am ranked, to be able to play the entire hard-court season is a blessing.”

Bopanna has played the Washington 500 event and the ATP 1000 Masters events in Canada and Cincinnati in the lead up to the US Open. At 41, he will also be the only Indian male player to compete at the US Open, which began on Monday. Bopanna has teamed up with Croatia’s Ivan Dodig, ranked 12 in the world, for the Grand Slam.

“I had played with him few years ago. We made the finals of the Canadian Masters (in 2017),” said Bopanna.

“This time, right after Wimbledon, he asked my coach whether I was available to play the hard-court season. To be playing with someone ranked 11, 12 and a doubles specialist is a good opportunity so I was happy to take it. Also when playing with someone focused on doubles, it’s easier to schedule practices and plan the entire tournament.”

The 36-year-old Dodig is not only one of the more experienced and crafty players on the doubles tour, he’s also fresh off Olympic success. Dodig and Marin Cilic won the silver medal at Tokyo 2020. They lost the all-Croatian doubles final 4-6, 6-3, 6-10 to Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic.

Bopanna and Dodig didn’t have the luck of the draw as they resumed their partnership in Washington in August. The pair came up against two outstanding singles players Frances Tiafoe and Nick Kyrgios in the very first round.

“Also all the matches we lost were in match tie-breaks,” added Rohan Bopanna. The veteran Indian though hopes he’s got enough matches under his belt to make it count at the last Grand Slam of the season. He also arrived in New York a week before the start of the Slam to get used to the court conditions and heat and humidity that stifles the city this time of the year.

Bopanna-Dodig will open their US Open campaign against Australia’s James Duckworth and Jordan Thompson.

Sania Mirza is the only other Indian to feature at this year’s US Open. She will be competing in the women’s doubles with CoCo Vandeweghe and in the mixed doubles with Rajeev Ram, an American of Indian origin.