Soon India will have a Slam winner: Bopanna

Updated: 01 August 2010 07:13 IST

After an unprecedented five Indian tennis players competed at this year's Wimbledon men's doubles event, Rohan Bopanna says the day is not far when the country

Soon India will have a Slam winner: Bopanna

New Delhi : After an unprecedented five Indian tennis players competed at this year's Wimbledon men's doubles event, Rohan Bopanna says the day is not far when the country gets its first Grand Slam winner from the younger crop of players.

Apart from seasoned pros Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, Bopanna himself, Somdev Devvarman and Harsh Mankad competed at this year's Wimbledon.

Paes and Bhupathi have 22 Grand Slam titles between them and they are the only Slam winners from India in men's circuit.

"To have so many players from India competing at the highest level is a real boost for the sport. It shows how we have grown over the past decade and that there is no dearth of talent in the country. Hopefully sooner rather than later we will win a Slam title," Bopanna said.

The lanky Karnataka player is also confident of taking the doubles load in the Davis Cup in case both Paes and Bhupathi are not there.

"I am always ready to perform for the country at the highest level and take up doubles responsibilities at the Davis cup. However, I can't identify my partner as yet," he said.

Bopanna's optimism comes from his improved show on the doubles circuit, where he is ranked 35 in the world.

He, together with Pakistan's Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, reached the first ever Grand Slam quarter-finals at the Wimbledon.

Before that, they won an ATP 250 event in Johannesburg and ended runners-up in France and Morocco apart from winning a Challenger tournament in Jersey and making the finals of the Italy event.

Hence, they, as a team, are ranked 15 in the world. The Coorgi says he and Qureshi did not expect to reach that stage of the Wimbledon.

"In all honesty, I would have to confess that, we were not well prepared. Though grass courts are our favorite surface, we had not played a grass court tournament for quite a while leading up to Wimbledon.

"However, we do play well as a team, have confidence in each others abilities and that teamwork coupled with a lot of hard work during Wimbledon carried us through," he said.

The Indo-Pak pair drew a lot of attention for the slogan they carried on their shirts -- 'Stop War, Start Tennis'. On being asked how the idea came about, he explained,

"Aisam was already a champion for peace, an ambassador for this cause under the patronage of the Prince of Monaco, through this neutral organisation called Peace and Sport.

"They approached me and believing that sport can be a catalyst of peace, I decided to join the group of 47 elite athletes and be the first Indian to be the Champion of Peace. Given the message, it was Aisam's coach Robert Davis who came up with the slogan 'Stop War, Start Tennis'."

Bopanna, known for his booming serve, though says media has the habit of paying too much attention on their nationalities.

"The only part of the society, that has been making a hype about our nationalities has been the media. It has been wonderful playing with Aisam, having known each other for over 14 years now. We both complement each others games and complement each other as friends off the court as well."

Before tying up in 2007, Bopanna and Aisam were not even in the top-100 but have galloped to top-40 after that. Out of all the success, Wimbledon quarter-finals is what they savour the most.

"Personally our favorite moment would have to be qualifying for the quarterfinals at the Wimbledon. We have had other amazing moments, like the run at the 2008 Australian Open, winning four Challenger Titles in a row in 2007, but then again, the Wimbledon does stand out."

He misses playing singles but is candid enough to admit that doubles was the only way to remain in the game.

"Yes, I do miss playing the singles circuit. But looking at my career practically, playing the doubles circuit has helped. Playing the doubles has helped my career move forward, it provides the necessary funding and opportunities to continue playing Tennis," he said.

Topics : Tennis Andy Roddick Lukas Dlouhy Rohan Bopanna Leander Paes Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi Maria Sharapova
Related Articles
IPTL: UAE Royals Beat Indian Aces 30-20 to Top Japan Leg
IPTL: UAE Royals Beat Indian Aces 30-20 to Top Japan Leg
Anand Amritraj Gets Support From India's Davis Cup Team
Anand Amritraj Gets Support From India's Davis Cup Team
Tennis Ace Boris Becker to be Present at Kolkata 25k Marathon
Tennis Ace Boris Becker to be Present at Kolkata 25k Marathon
Show Comments
Advertisement