Bopanna hopes to be fit in time for Asian Games

After three weeks of rest, Rohan Bopanna is back on the court and if body permits, he may well travel for the Rogers Cup Masters in Toronto starting August 6.

After three weeks of rest, Bopanna is back on the court and if the body can follow the mind, he may well travel for the Rogers Cup Masters in Toronto starting August 6.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

A tear in the serving shoulder may have disrupted Rohan Bopanna’s preparation for the hard court swing leading up to the US Open and, for a fleeting while, even threatened his participation in the Asian Games in Jakarta (August 19 to 25), but the 38-year-old is in an upbeat mood.

After three weeks of rest, he is back on the court and if the body can follow the mind, he may well travel for the Rogers Cup Masters in Toronto starting August 6.

“It is healing very well,” he said on Sunday. “I have started hitting again and on Tuesday I am going to serve and see how it goes. If I feel fit, I will go to Toronto but if not, will pull out and prepare for the Asian Games.”

In the company of Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Bopanna still has a shot at making the year-ending ATP World Tour finals, but Asian Games remains a priority, even if it entails, within hours of ending, another long journey back to the US for the last Major of the year.

“I believe we have a great chance to win a bunch of medals,” he said when quizzed about India’s chances. “We have a very strong team. So I am really looking forward. I know I am coming off an injury but I feel much better and will be fit.”

At the 2014 edition in Incheon, India won five medals (one gold, one silver and three bronze). Yuki Bhambri, who won two of those, is missing the event this time but Bopanna felt the good form of Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran augured well.

“They have been excellent of late and that's why I say India has a very good chance not just in doubles [Bopanna-Divij Sharan and Leander Paes-Sumit Nagal] but in singles too. Unfortunately there is no team event. We would have been tough to beat there.”

Missing Sania

The country will however be without Sania Mirza in the women’s section as she is expecting her first child. The former doubles World No.1 had in fact won the mixed doubles gold with Saketh Myneni and the doubles bronze with Prarthana Thombare in Incheon.

“We are all going to miss her. But she is going through a great phase in her life right now. I also feel Ankita [Raina], Karman [Thandi] and Prarthana among others are doing well. It is a new challenge for me to play with one of them in mixed doubles. I can hopefully use my experience to help them.”

The competition though will be fierce. Asian tennis is on the rise with the likes of South Korean Hyeon Chung joining Japan’s Kei Nishikori among the elite. In juniors, Chinese Taipei’s Tseng Chun-hsin and China’s Wu Yibing have won three of the last four boys’ Majors while Taipei’s Liang En-shuo clinched the 2018 Australian Open girls’ title.

“There are some very good players coming up and it is pushing others like us to do better. I feel that India is also a strong contender that way. Nishikori and Chung are doing so well that Asian tennis has picked up.”

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