Olympics: Waiting to hear from AITA to confirm my partner, says Bopanna | Tennis News - Hindustan Times

Olympics: Waiting to hear from AITA to confirm my partner, says Bopanna

ByRutvick Mehta
Jun 08, 2024 08:13 PM IST

India’s world No.4 in individual doubles rankings has picked Sriram Balaji to pair with at the Paris Olympics

Rohan Bopanna has only a week’s breather at home between his French Open semi-final run and the next block of tournaments – the Olympics sandwiched between two Grand Slams.

Rohan Bopanna of India(Getty Images via AFP)
Rohan Bopanna of India(Getty Images via AFP)

For the former he picked a partner — N Sriram Balaji, whom he faced in the French Open third round — and conveyed it to All India Tennis Association (AITA) earlier this week, but is waiting for the federation to second his choice. AITA is set to call a selection committee meeting after ITF releases its Paris Games cut-off rankings list on June 10.

“I’m still waiting to receive an email from AITA to confirm who my partner is. I spoke to them and they said they’re waiting for ITF to confirm the rankings, and then they’ll tell us,” Bopanna said on Saturday.

As a top 10 doubles player, the world No.4 can pick his partner. Although AITA may not go against it this time, it wasn’t the case for the 2016 Rio Olympics when the then 10th-ranked Bopanna was made to pair with Leander Paes instead of his selection, Saketh Myneni.

“I mean, the top 10 pick was also there in 2016, right? But they overruled that. I would love to think it is up to me, but it is up to them actually,” Bopanna said. “I’ve been burnt too many times in the past... so, until I officially hear it from them, I don’t want to say anything.”

Bopanna did say he will look to play a couple of tournaments with the partner in the lead-up to the Paris Games. Clay events in Hamburg and Umag, Croatia in July are options.

“Right after Wimbledon we will play a couple of tournaments. That will help. We’ll at least get to play a couple of events and then go to Paris and try and do well at the Olympics. It’s a quick turnaround just to make this happen,” he said.

At 44, adding a couple of tournaments to a packed schedule that will see Bopanna play at Queen’s and Wimbledon on grass this month and jump immediately to hard-court Masters events and US Open after the Olympics with his tour partner Matt Ebden isn’t easy on the body. But that is something the Australian Open doubles champion is willing to do to give the Olympics another shot in his third appearance after no men’s doubles team featured in Tokyo in 2021.

“Thankfully we even have a team going this time. I don’t think in 2016, when we were playing in Rio, anybody thought I would still be in the top 10.”

‘Positive feeling going back to Paris’

The semi-final finish by Bopanna and Ebden at French Open was an uptick from their first-round exit last year. If not for the Australian’s physical issues in the second set — the pair squandered a 4-1 lead in the first set to lose 5-7, 6-2, 2-6 to Italians Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori — Bopanna reckoned they “had a genuine chance to make the final”.

Still, Bopanna said he will carry positives from the Roland Garros show when he returns to the same courts in July for the Paris Games, although no player would know how those clay courts will play at that time of the year.

“Going by the tennis I’ve been playing, I feel extremely positive going back to Paris and playing on that surface,” Bopanna said. “But I don’t know what the weather condition is, how the courts are going to play out; no one knows what Paris will be like end of July. That factors a lot, in terms of how the movement of the ball is.

“When it was raining (in the first week of this French Open), the conditions were extremely slow. By the time we played against Bala, it was hot and the ball was bouncing very differently.”

While that’s for later with another partner, the top-ranked ATP pair of Bopanna and Ebden has now entered four Slam semi-finals in a row in the fickle world of doubles tennis. They went all the way in Melbourne this year and fell one step short in New York last year.

“I don't think I’ve had this kind of consistency across 12 months in my entire doubles career,” Bopanna said. “It is down to communication, the constant ability to try and do well in these major events. Both Matt and me are focussing on making sure we play our best tennis in these major events.”

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