Bopanna: 'Need to strengthen Indian tennis system'

There is tension all around, especially among Indian players, as the new rules makes it harder for players to enter ATP tournaments.

Rohan Bopanna has skipped the ATP Tour tournament in New York but will play the ATP500 event at Dubai later this month.

Out of the circuit for a week, owing to the high cut-off at the ATP event in Rotterdam and unwilling to take the long flight to New York for a week before Dubai, Bopanna is looking to make a significant contribution to the growth of Indian tennis.

"The cut-off for Rotterdam was 58 for doubles. Even on site wait-list was high. We were getting into New York, but did not want to travel to US, and come back to Dubai the next week. We are going to US in any case, after Dubai. So, we decided to take this week off. I have been playing continuously from December, from the Oil tournament in Hyderabad", said Bopanna, even as he expressed concern about the status of world tennis.

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There is tension all around, especially among Indian players, as the new rules makes it harder for players to enter ATP tournaments. Dozens of players have already written to the All India Tennis Association (AITA) urging ITF revert to the healthy tournament structure.

"I was shouting at a player in my academy for not knowing the rules when he said that he could not get into a draw of four for qualification. I had never heard a four-player qualifying event. But, that is the new format. It is bad. The system is discouraging people from playing tennis’’, said Bopanna, quite aware about a petition that has already gained more than 10,000 signatures, seeking urgent changes to the current confusion.

Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan won the doubles match of the Davis Cup tie against Italy.   -  AFP

"At this stage, we need to strengthen the Indian system. We need to have good events for juniors and other players. We can have the Masters, like the ATP year-end championship. We are trying to work out a strong tournament structure in consultation with the national federation’’, Bopanna revealed.

Many good players are reduced to competing in the qualifying events or not getting any chance to play at all amidst the dramatic reduction of events all around.

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Apart from addressing the current crisis in the tennis world, Bopanna is also busy with a project to benefit players in the long term.

"We have tied up for tennis at 'The Sports School' in Bengaluru. It is a big project for many games, with schooling, hostel etc. We have seven tennis courts with floodlights. We plan to conduct tournaments apart from training players to make the best use of the facility", Bopanna remarked of the projext that will launch in a few weeks.

Even though he had picked up tennis late, and did not have any great success in the earlier years of his career, Bopanna understands the importance of good basics at an early age and wants to make a significant contribution to strengthen the foundation of Indian tennis.

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