It's the first time that I am so well prepared: Rohan Bopanna on Australian Open
Rohan Bopanna lost the Sydney International final but hours later he was back in the Indian side for the Davis Cup and will now be the senior-most member of the team with the experience of playing 17 ties behind him.
Rohan Bopanna has every reason to feel "well prepared" going into the Australian Open as the Indian tennis star enjoyed a superb week at the Sydney International, where he reached the finals, and then won back his place in the Davis Cup side after spending almost two years on the sidelines.
When he was slugging it out with Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi against eventual champions Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, AITA's national selection panel in Mumbai was discussing the squad to take on Chinese Taipei in Indore from January 31.
Bopanna lost the final but hours later he was back in the Indian side and will now be the senior-most member of the team with the experience of playing 17 ties behind him.
His 17th final appearance in the very demanding ATP tour made him confident enough to think about winning his first Grand Slam title.
"It's great to go into a Grand Slam feeling confident. It's definitely been the first time I have been so well prepared, so hoping this Grand Slam will do good for us and we are confident as a team," Bopanna told PTI from Sydney.
The AITA had shut the door by banning him and Mahesh Bhupathi on disciplinary grounds in 2012 but Bopanna continued his ascendancy and went on to touch a career-high rank of number three in the world, only behind the great Bryan brothers, last year.
While serving the ban, Bopanna missed three Davis Cup ties -- against New Zealand, Korea and Indonesia, which was held in his home city of Bangalore.
So what this comeback means to Bopanna, having missed a rare home Davis Cup tie in between? The Coorgi wants to let bygones be bygones.
"I did miss playing in my home city, but I am sure that the opportunity will arise again one day, and I look forward to it. I am enjoying being in the present and what is gone is gone," Bopanna said.
Had they not knocked on the doors of the judiciary, Bopanna would have remained a pariah for AITA. Karnataka High Court stayed the ban, making both Bopanna and Bhupathi eligible for national selection.
At home, India will be a formidable force against Chinese Taipei. The courts in Indore have been tailor-made to the liking of Somdev Devvarman, India's best singles player.
The crowd too will also egg on the home players but Bopanna said it will be not be an easy job to beat the visitors.
The last time India played them was in 2009 and had recorded a close 3-2 win. Bopanna had lost both his singles in that tie, held at Kaohsiung.
"Chinese Taipei have strong players and will be a tough team to play against. (Yen-Hsun) Lu who is the number one player who has been in top 100 for few years now, Wang just qualified to the main draw of the Aussie Open, so will definitely be interesting and hoping for some home support and great performance by us, which will aid in us in pulling this through," Bopanna opined.
It was not-so-good start to the season 2014 for Bopanna after re-joining forces with Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi as they lost in the Chennai Open second round.
However they bounced back the Sydney International and went on to the play the final, which they lost to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic.
Bopanna is confidence personified as he goes into the first Grand Slam of the season.