Rohan Bopanna replaced Saketh Myneni in the first reverse singles on Sunday. Myneni had not recovered fully from his draining match on Friday which had seen both players succumbing to severe cramping.
Bopanna won 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 against Korea’s Hong Chung in an inconsequential match with the tie already sealed in India’s favour.
On the face of it, Bopanna does not even have a singles ranking while his Korean opponent Hong Chung is 665 in the world. But given his huge serve and that grass is his favourite surface, it was not imprudent to expect the world number 14 doubles player to prevail. Doubles is largely serve and volley. Grass, after all, is all about the same.
Bopanna showed his intent in the opening game in which he had three aces with serves regularly hovering in the vicinity of 200 kph. But as the match wore on and he conceded two breaks in the very first set, it appeared that Bopanna was largely going through the motions.
It was actually quite the small guy against the big guy contest. At 5’7” and 23 years, Chung has far less court coverage and experience as compared to his 6’3”, 36-years-old opponent.
Down 1-4 in the second, the man form Bangalore did look to dig in his heels and came back to level the set. He broke Chung at 4-4 to earn the chance to serve out the match at 5-4. And he served big again with two aces to pocket the second 6-4. By now Bopanna seemed to have shaken his cobwebs and kept more balls in to wear down the nerves of the younger man across the net.
A backhand cross-court return got Bopanna the break at 2-2 in the decider. That shot topped a slew of good backhands and suddenly the Indian seemed to shift gears even as the Korean looked to be wearing down in the humidity. Bopanna has the ability to serve both corners of the court with the same short toss. That makes anticipation extremely difficult and Chong did not have any answer to the booming delivery once Bopanna got into his rhythm. He comfortably served out the set and the match 6-4.