Bopanna and Jeevan bag doubles title

Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan came out on top and scripted history by winning the first-ever all-Indian final in an ATP event.

R. Ragu

Rohan Bopanna (right) and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, the doubles winners.   -  R. Ragu

It was Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan who came out on top and scripted history by winning the first-ever all-Indian final in an ATP event, after beating Divij Sharan and Purav Raja 6-3, 6-4 in 63 minutes in the men’s doubles final of the Chennai Open.

Bopanna came out all guns blazing in the first game, but his serves were not as good as they usually have been. His backhand returns compensated for that and helped his team win a lot of points, though.

It was the worst possible start for Sharan and Raja, after Sharan’s reliable serve was broken as early as in the second game. Sharan’s serve wasn’t as good as it had been throughout the tournament. He was broken twice at crucial times in the match.

However, the pair did show some fight, and even broke Bopanna’s serve to make it 3-2. That game also included one of the highlights of the match — at 30-40, Raja lobbed thrice but Jeevan managed to have a reply every time to stay alive, and finally managed to win the point with a forehand winner.

Bopanna had a lot of winners off his backhand, and those also helped him to tackle the natural advantage Sharan had of being a left-hander.

Local boy Jeevan, too, upped his game for the final, and he didn’t let Bopanna feel that he was partnering a World No.100 player. It was commendable considering this was Jeevan's first ATP final, and that too in front of a vociferous home crowd. He had a solid, if not spectacular, serve and was quickly near the net to take advantage of any loose shots.

In the second set, Sharan and Raja played some wonderful tennis to break Bopanna’s serve and take a 2-0 lead. This was the only time Bopanna/Jeevan found themselves under some pressure in the match. The pair broke back, first Raja's serve and then Sharan's, to take a 4-2 lead and change the game on its head. After that, it was all about solid tennis for the duo and without much effort, Bopanna and Jeevan took the set 6-4 and with it the title.

Speaking after the game, Bopanna said, “I think both the teams had their chances today. We just took our chances better and that made the difference." He also said that winning the title was a positive start to the season, considering that he hadn’t won any title in the last season. “Hopefully I can build on this.”

Jeevan said, "We played some really smart tennis, as we knew we were up against a very good team. I personally hope I can be consistent going into the season."

Purav Raja said that Rohan Bopanna made the difference in the final. "Rohan returned very well and hit at least two winners in every service game. The game we play and the strategies we use allows us to cover 70-80%, and today Rohan hit the other 20%. So good luck to the other teams doing that."

Divij said the week has been good for them, and now they will focus on the Australian Open. "It's been a great week for us. I came back after an illness, so I wasn't really sure how we would manage, but we played well to reach the final. Now we are looking forward to the Australian Open."

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