Rohan Bopanna, Rajeev Ram upset with Bartoli’s comments

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli recently said that doubles events should be cut and the money could be given to players competing in the Challenger events instead.

Purav Raja with Alison Riske and Stephen Amritraj on the Instagram chat show.   -  Special Arrangement

Rohan Bopanna expressed his displeasure at former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli for her uncharitable remarks on doubles tennis.

He was speaking in the Instagram chat show Chai with Raja that was hosted by Purav Raja and featured Stephen Amritraj, world No.19 Alison Riske and doubles stars Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Rajeev Ram.

Bopanna was understandably upset about Bartoli’s comments on the need for doubles events to be cut and the money given to players competing in the Challenger events. She had felt that the doubles players were making a lot of money for doing much less than the singles players while affording to carry six-member teams with them.

“She doesn’t know enough facts. She has played doubles and made a lot of money. She needs a cup of coffee. That will wake her up’’, said Bopanna.

Indian-American Rajeev Ram, who won the doubles title at the Australian Open this year with Joe Salisbury of Britain, pointed out that doubles was getting only 19% of the total prize money and that it could be marketed better.

Except for that hot subject, it was an otherwise lively show in which Alison and Amritraj were the run-away winners for their sharp answers and entertaining exuberance.

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“Stephen was firing away at the start and they were on a roll. Alison made a pretty good effort’’, said Bopanna.

Quite understandably, Aisam Qureshi who had reached the US Open final with Bopanna, was the most popular, as the comments poured from the adoring fans, but he was not worldly-wise or have the memory to answer both tough and easy questions. He playfully pleaded, “should we skip this section’’, before he sportingly attempted to answer questions like the price of oranges in Amritsar.

“It was an unbelievable experience. It was a life-changing tournament. To reach the final, with my closest friend Rohan Bopanna, was special. With the UN, UNICEF awards, the whole world knew about us. It was the highlight of my career, and I can never forget. I am thankful to Bopanna’’, said the 40-year-old Aisam, talking about reaching the Grand Slam final in New York in 2010.

He was impressed with the efficiency of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and gave him seven out of 10. He picked Shoaib Akhtar ahead of Shahid Afridi for better contribution to Pakistan cricket.

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Stumped at being asked about the number of marriage proposals that he received, Aisam said that his wife was standing next to him, and escaped diplomatically saying “everybody is going for 100, let us go for it’’.

Aisam admired Marcelo Rios, the former world No.1 from Chile, for his talent, and wants to be “more explosive on court’’ in 2021.

He is engaged in charity work, for which Novak Djokovic had given him a shirt for auction, Aisam stressed that “if you cannot eradicate hunger, there will be no peace in the world’’.

A remarkable player who had made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon last year, and has beaten many top players, Alison said that “a great training programme’’ could make Indian women players better.

Alison closes her matches with an Indian style namaste, and said that it signified “gratefulness and peace.’’ 

“I do it after all my matches, to thank all the people, for the atmosphere,’’ she said.

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Rajeev Ram said that he was happy to win the semifinals of the Rio Olympics mixed doubles with Venus Williams, against Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna, but wanted the Indian pair to win the bronze.

Rajeev picked Leander’s match against the Bryan twins, Bob and Mike, at the US Open, in partnership with Radek Stepanek, as a striking performance.

When Raja said that it was the penultimate show in the series, Bopanna countered saying “you and I have no job for the next two months. Let us keep ourselves entertained’’.

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