Bopanna: Indian players will benefit from more Challengers

Speaking after an unveiling of his portrait at the KSLTA in honour of his French Open mixed doubles victory, Bopanna said last week’s tournament in Pune and the ongoing one here proved that Indian players can step up if they get to play more Challenger events.

Rohan Bopanna and his wife Supriya Annaiah at the unveiling of life size photograph of the doubles player in honour of his mixed doubles Grand Slam victory at the French Open 2017.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

India’s No.1 doubles player Rohan Bopanna believes nothing can prevent Indian players from stepping things up if they have access to more Challenger events. Speaking after an unveiling of his portrait at the KSLTA in honour of his French Open mixed doubles victory, Bopanna said last week’s tournament in Pune and the ongoing one here proved that.

“At Pune there were two Indians in the final and here we are seeing Sumit Nagal and Yuki Bhambri play so well. Yuki has a great chance to be in the top 100 again. So the more Challengers we have in India, the better. If each State can have a Challenger and a Future then definitely we will produce a lot more players.”

Reflecting on his own season during which he won four titles and finished runner-up thrice even while playing with multiple partners, Bopanna said: “The key thing I learned especially with the partner changes was to completely focus on my game and not really worry about who I was partnering…to focus on my strengths and the way I play.”

In spite of forging a successful partnership with Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, he will pair up with Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin for the upcoming season.

“The challenge that I had with Cuevas this year was that we didn’t really practice much. He played singles so we only played matches. So I decided to find someone who was focused on doubles.”

Bopanna has played before with Roger-Vasselin before – most recently at Wimbledon 2017 – and with a fair amount of success.

“I always like to choose someone who gives me the chance to play my game freely. He doesn't have any major weapons but he is a solid returner. And he helps me a lot at the net. He gives me the freedom to be aggressive.”