Bopanna: 'Focussed on achieving big things in 2017'

Rohan Bopanna has not won a title in 2016, and off-the-field drama has only compounded his woes but the doubles specialist refused to dwell on the past.

Rohan Bopanna interacts with kids at a function to announce a partnership between Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy and EduSports at the KSLTA Stadium.   -  Ashwin Achal

Rohan Bopanna is keen to put a forgettable 2016 behind him. The tennis player has not won a title this year, and off-the-field drama has only compounded his woes.

The doubles specialist refused to dwell on the past - on matters like his twitter spat with compatriot Leander Paes. “There is no point in discussing these negative matters now. We should concentrate on achieving big things in 2017," Bopanna said, at an event to announce the partnership between EduSports and Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy here on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old cited the example of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make his point. “Look at Modi, he has taken a bold step by enforcing demonetization. He has shown us the way forward,” he said.

Bopanna, who recently split with Florin Mergea, is confident that he is moving in the right direction with his new partner, Argentinean Pablo Cuevas. “Cuevas’ priority is definitely singles. I’ll play as per his schedule. Wherever Cuevas (World no. 22 in singles) wants to play in the singles section, I will join him and we will compete in doubles,” he said.

The experienced campaigner is expected to start the season at the Chennai Open (Jan 2017), before moving to Sydney (Apia International) and Melbourne (Australian Open).

Shortly after the Australian Open, India will host New Zealand in a Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 1 first-round tie. Bopanna believes that the singles rubbers hold the key. “To make it to the World Group, you have to have two strong singles players. Four out of the five points come from singles. In 2011, when we qualified for the World Group, Somdev Devarraman and I played singles. Hopefully Saketh (Myneni), Yuki (Bhambri) and Ram (Ramkumar Ramanathan) can beat the top guys now,” he said.

Should Bopanna figure in this tie, the matter of his doubles partner - so often a subject of controversy - will crop up again. Asked who he would like to pair up with, Bopanna replied, “If we have three singles players, that leaves us with only one specialist doubles player. Team selection is left to the federation,” he said.

The World no. 28 stated that he is open to playing with Sania Mirza in mixed doubles. “It is something that both Sania and I are open to doing. But, she is performing well with Ivan Dodig now. Their combined ranking will get them a better seeding, because my ranking has dropped. This makes a difference when choosing partners.” he said.