Rohan Bopanna and the art of mastering the service game

The tennis star explains how he constantly tries to challenge himself in order to better his already rapid serves.

By Rahul Venkat

For many an Indian tennis fan, an uber-fast Rohan Bopanna serve, where the ball blazes through the air and thuds into the wall behind his opponent, is a sight to behold.

The doubles ace is renowned for his ability to conjure up a fiery serve, and power is something that comes naturally to him. However, he perfected his technique only later.

“I remember I was playing a Davis Cup match against Japan’s Kei Nishikori at Monte Carlo many years back (in 2008) and their coach Bob Brett spotted me,” Rohan Bopanna narrated in a webinar hosted by the All India Tennis Association (AITA).

The Indian tennis star, who beat Nishikori in five sets on the day, believed he was serving very well but when he visited Brett’s academy, the latter told him otherwise.

“He asked me to toss the ball closer to my body,” said Rohan Bopanna. “That small change made a difference and today, even the second serve is one of my biggest strengths.”

The serve is something he had worked very hard on since his younger days, hitting close to 300 balls in a day.

His strive for perfection is what drives him to constantly keep improving it.

“I believe that it is important to keep working on your strengths, and not just focus on improving the weaknesses,” the Indian tennis ace said. “I keep telling the youngsters the same thing.”

That belief is what prompted the 40-year-old to devise drills where he focuses on landing his serve in different sections of the court. “I love to keep targets for my serve and keep narrowing the areas where I want to hit,” he revealed.

“For me, it is not about hitting a wide serve or a body serve, it is about moving my targets around and trying to challenge myself to see how many balls I can land in each,” he pointed out.