Rohan Bopanna happy to win Qatar Open in front of his daughter

Rohan Bopanna’s wife Supriya had to stand in the staircase and watch the Qatar Open final on Court No.1, as babies below two years were not allowed inside the stadium.

File Photo: Rohan Bopanna (in picture) says his priority to qualify for the Olympics individually.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Winning a title in the first tournament of the season is not a new experience for Rohan Bopanna, but the former world No. 3 was more thrilled to win this time in Doha on Friday, as it was the first time his seven-month daughter Tridha was in the stands.

That apart, the 39-year-old Bopanna was relieved that the Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy injections had made it so much better for his two knees in which the cartilege had worn off, leading to the painful brush of the bones.

"The first thing I did after winning the title, was call Dr. Madan Ballal in Bengaluru, who himself was a tennis player and was astonished with so much recovery. He told me that my determination to get better had also helped in the cure," said Bopanna, on a brief stop at his home on Saturday, before flying to Auckland for the next event.

Bopanna, who always travels with physio Gaurang Shukla, said that it was
important to be fresh and ready for the matches, and that he had felt much better and no stiffness in his knees.

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It was not all joy, as Bopanna’s wife Supriya had to stand in the staircase and watch the final on Court No. 1, as babies below two years were not allowed inside the stadium.

"It was too much to make the baby travel to Auckland, so we plan to have the family in Melbourne," said Bopanna, who had to endure multiple flights to avoid the escalating costs.

"It was the first time I was playing with Wesley Koolhof, but I had practised with him a lot of times in the past. We partnered because his regular partner Robin Haase was competing in the ATP Cup this week. I could also get entry because of his rank of No.18. It was the first time in Doha for me, as I was playing there after the Asian Games in 2006," recalled Bopanna.

It was near flawless tennis by the two, especially in the super tie-break of the final, when Bopanna said that he could not remember any unforced errors by any of the players.

Incidentally, owing to rain the previous day, the semifinals and finals were played on Friday. Bopanna was happy with the quality of the game in such a tough schedule, as the Indo-Dutch team beat the second seeds in the semifinals, after having negotiated the singles stars in the earlier two rounds, which included a quarterfinal meeting against Stan Wawrinka.

Bopanna will partner the 16th ranked Henri Kontinen of Finland in Auckland next week.

Even as he would love to partner Divij Sharan to prepare for the Olympics, Bopanna had to be practical to ensure entry in the big events with better ranked players.

"The goal is to make the cut for the Olympics individually when the entries are decided after the French Open. After that, me and Divij could play the grass court circuit," said Bopanna.

With his regular partner on the Tour, Denis Shapovalov of Canada opting to skip the doubles for the Australian Open, Bopanna has tied up with Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan, who had won the singles bronze in the Asian Games and had won the doubles title in the ATP 500 Tokyo Open.

More importantly, Bopanna is scheduled to join hands with six-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1 doubles star, Sania Mirza, in the mixed doubles of the Australian Open.

After being so close to a medal in the last Olympics in Rio, when Sania and Bopanna were up a set in the semifinals against Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram, the resolve is to go one better in Tokyo.

Bopanna was also hopeful of playing the Pune ATP event in February with Divij Sharan, if everything went according to plan.

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