Bopanna to partner Divij Sharan next year

The pair, which won a gold medal at the Asian Games, will team up at the Maharashtra Open, before heading into the Australian Open.

Rohan Bopanna, left, and Zeeshan Ali, right, pose with Sunil Jain, Director, IWTT, after unveiling the Tabebuia Wheelchair Tennis trophy on Wednesday at KSLTA.   -  Special Arrangement

Rohan Bopanna is all set to partner Divij Sharan, starting with the 2019 season. The pair will team up at the Maharashtra Open, before heading into the Australian Open, the first Major of the year. It is a doubles combination that has already seen success, with a gold medal at the Asian Games.

"I'm going to be playing with Divij from next year," Bopanna said here on Wednesday. "We're going to be playing together from Pune itself; then a tournament before going to the Australian Open and then we have the Davis Cup as well. It's always nice to play with someone from your home country."

Bopanna is ranked 37 and Sharan 39, a state of things that ensures the pair will be able to enter major tournaments.

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"If that was not the case we wouldn't have been trying to partner with each other," smiled Bopanna, who was speaking after unveiling the trophy for the Tabebuia Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament.

The 38-year-old from Coorg was confident of India's chances against Italy in the Qualifiers for the Davis Cup Finals, to be played in Kolkata in February.

"It's always nice to play a home tie. Italy will be very, very tough. They have four or five players in the top 100," he said.

They have been a solid team. Fabio Fognini is a strong player; they have a couple of other great players too. It's been a while since we played at home but hopefully we can get through."

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Bopanna started the year with a doubles ranking of 18 but, due in no small part to injury, has slipped to 37. He was not unduly worried, though. "It's been a tough year, not only in terms of finding a partner and getting used to a partner but also injury," he said.

"At Wimbledon, getting hurt was not easy. I was almost not going to play the Asian Games. When you miss a lot of tournaments — I was defending a few points at the Toronto and Cincinnati Masters — it's not easy. I completely missed the hard-court season and went straight to the US Open. I'm not worried about my ranking because I know that if I'd had a full season it would have been different. I'm glad to be fully fit again and playing."