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HometennisBopanna to end Davis Cup journey

Bopanna to end Davis Cup journey

Rohan Bopanna was still trying to let the news of his maiden call-up to represent India at the Davis Cup against Australia sink in.

By then, his elated parents, in typical Kodava style, were already busy planning a huge party for the near and dear ones to celebrate their young boy’s first big milestone.

This was in 2002 when a 22-year-old Bopanna, just about finding his way in the professional tennis world, went on to play his first Davis Cup match (a dead rubber) in Australia.

“One of the reasons my parents encouraged me in tennis was to see me play for India. Their dream was realised that day,” the 43-year-old recalls.

“Today they’re all here again. I don’t think any one of us expected me to be playing for such a long time. We have all collectively learnt so much from this journey,” he adds on the eve of his final Davis Cup match for the country.

India’s World Group II tie against Morocco on Saturday will mark Bopanna’s 33rd outing for the country in the format. Nicknamed ‘Bofors Bopanna’ for his torpedo-style serves, he has won 22 matches, including 10 singles over the years.

When asked about his most memorable of them all, he says: “The one in Chennai in 2010 against Brazil. We were 0-2 down and came back to win 3-2 to take India to the World Group play offs.”

Holding a reputation of never turning down an opportunity to play for the country, Bopanna, however, observes a lack of understanding of this tournament among the younger crop of players. 

“This is an event where things like world ranking take a backseat. It is all about heart, playing for your team-mates and the camaraderie. Tennis is very individualistic. So the young ones are still learning to understand this different set-up.” 

The pro from Karnataka admits that he had initially requested the tie to be held in Bengaluru. “It would have been a great experience to end there or anywhere in Karnataka. But maybe it’s an opportunity for us to inspire a new set of youngsters here in Lucknow who hopefully will watch us play and pick up a racquet. That will be the actual success of an event like this.” 

Talking about Bopanna, Indian captain Rohit Rajpal said the two-day affair will be an emotional outing even as they tussle to win points on the court.

“Rohan is an old friend and a younger brother to me. He has always been the core player of the Indian Davis Cup squad and an integral part of my think tank,” expresses Rajpal. 

His Davis Cup journey might be coming to an end, but Bopanna isn’t done yet. A decision that Rajpal quips he is partly to blame. 

“He wanted to quit playing completely two years ago and I said don’t do it because he still had a couple of good years left. Rohan was ranked 60 at that time and he broke into the top-20. Again, a few months ago, he said he wants to retire and I told him not to and now he is in the top-10. So we have this joke going on between us.. he asks me to keep saying ‘don’t quit’ every time he wants to so it works well for him.”

(Published 16 September 2023, 00:26 IST)

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