Would be happy to play with Divij Sharan whenever opportunity arises: Rohan Bopanna
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Would be happy to play with Divij Sharan whenever opportunity arises: Rohan Bopanna

Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan defeated Denis Yevseyev and Aleksandr Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-4 in the men’s doubles final to clinch the gold medal at the Asian Games 2018.

asian games 2018 Updated: Aug 26, 2018 08:18 IST
Avishek Roy
Avishek Roy
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Asian Games 2018,Divij Sharan,Rohan Bopanna
Divij Sharan (R) and Rohan Bopanna (L) pose for photographers during the medal ceremony at the Asian Games 2018.(AFP)

Rohan Bopanna has been on a roller-coaster ride in recent weeks. First, a shoulder injury threatened his Asian Games dreams and then floods in his hometown Coorg (on the Kerala-Karnataka border) added to his distress. On the podium after winning the Asian Games men’s doubles gold with Divij Sharan, Bopanna was sombre. The celebrations were muted as his thoughts were with those affected by the floods.

The 38-year-old pushed back emotions as he partnered Divij to clinch gold. The two were given the top billing but it was anything but a smooth sail. There were moments when they had to dig deep but each time they found a way out.

“To win gold for your country, it’s a feeling you can’t describe in words. For us, it was a first and that made it special,” said Bopanna as he dedicated the medal to the flood victims.

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Being India’s top-ranked players on the ATP doubles charts, Bopanna and Divij had communicated to the selectors that they would like to play together. The first-time pairing gelled well with Bopanna expressing willingness to partner Divij whenever the opportunity arises, starting with the upcoming away Davis Cup tie against Serbia (14-16 September).

“If we are asked to play together (in Davis Cup), nothing like it. It is not in our hands though. But we would love to play together whenever we get the opportunity. We have done well together, so why not? ” said Bopanna in an interview.

“It is good to play with someone you know and are comfortable with. We kept on backing each other throughout the week.”

Bopanna and Divij have often trained together. Bopanna was happy the way they negotiated the tough quarter-final and semi-final before prevailing over Kazakhstan’s Aleksandr Bublik and Denis Yevseyev in the final.

“These tough matches help you understand each other’s games and gave us confidence. It prepared us for the final. Divij has had a good year. He is a positive person on court. The format of no-ad scoring and super-tie breaks make things unpredictable. We played a couple of teams in the Challengers and ATP circuit, so it was never going to be easy. But we focused on one opponent and their style and came through.”

In the semi-finals, they came through a tense tie-breaker against Japan’s Uesugi K and Shimabukuro S 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 and cleverly switched sides (court) to rattle their opponents.

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“We had to switch sides because we wanted to break their pattern. That helps. When you are able to adapt and play on either side of the court, it’s a big positive for us. Credit to Divij as he said ‘let’s do it’ and we gave it a shot. It was the right move for that match and it worked,” he said.

While he was giving his all on court, Bopanna was in touch with family and friends in Coorg, trying to arrange for whatever help he could.

“A lot of emotions were going through when I stood on the podium and the national anthem played. I felt more than winning gold it would send a positive message to people in Coorg.

“I have been talking to my parents, friends and seen so many people going through hard times. I dedicate this medal to them and all those who are giving support and fighting through this calamity,” said Bopanna as he left for his next assignment, the US Open.

First Published: Aug 26, 2018 08:18 IST