Rohan Bopanna reflects on ‘special’ Asian Games gold

The Arjuna awardee would have loved to be present for the felicitation function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan but is compelled to fly to China for a tournament.

Rohan Bopanna (right) attributes the Asian Games success to his camaraderie with Divij Sharan.   -  AFP

The reward is satisfying, especially after a long wait, but India’s Rohan Bopanna isn’t able to savour the moment as he tries to make up for lost time.

The 38-year-old would have loved to be present for the felicitation function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan — he has been chosen to be conferred the Arjuna award — but is compelled to fly to China for a tournament. “Since I have lost a few weeks on the circuit, I am headed to China tonight to play in the Chengdu Open,” said Bopanna when contacted by Sportstar on Friday.

Yet, six weeks out of the circuit after retiring from Wimbledon in the second round of doubles, Bopanna clinched the Asian Games gold in Palembang, Indonesia, alongside doubles partner Divij Sharan.

‘Extremely happy’

“The Asian Games gold was more special, especially because of the fact that I had a tear on my Latissimus Dorsi (shoulder muscle) and was out for six weeks. To come straight back to competitions like the Asian Games and the US Open, I was extremely happy with my performance,” said Bopanna, who had made it to the quarterfinals of the US Open, after enduring a long flight from Indonesia.

Rohan Bopanna in action for India in the Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against Serbia. Photo: Special Arrangement

 

Bopanna was, in fact, in the reckoning for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. He is reconciled to the fact that his turn may come later. “It has been a long wait for me to get the Arjuna award. It truly means a lot. I was heart-broken last year, when I did not get the award. So, [I’m] really happy to get it this time. I can surely keep trying in the future for the Khel Ratna, with more meritorious achievements,” he said.

Good camaraderie

Bopanna was particularly pleased to have won the gold with Divij. “Personally for me, it is a great feeling to win my first medal in the Asian Games. Gold makes it extra special. Playing with Divij was a lot of fun. For me, getting along with the partner is the most important aspect. I believe that the camaraderie that we share is what got us through those tough matches, especially the semifinals against the Japanese, when we came back from a set down,” said Bopanna.

He tried hard to win the mixed with Ankita Raina but the duo lost to the eventual champions in the quarterfinals. “When you go to an event, you want to win everything. It was great fun playing with Ankita. We did come close to winning a medal. We gave it our best, and unfortunately came up short,” he said.

The Davis Cup World Group tie against Serbia, when Bopanna lost the doubles with Saketh Myneni, was hard to digest, but he chose to look at the silver lining. “Serbia was always going to be tough, away on clay. We surely could have performed better. The doubles was a good chance to win a point. Looking ahead, we are in the World Group next year with the new format. So, the upcoming tie with be crucial for us. The loss against Serbia did not put us back into the zone,” said Bopanna.

With four big events lined up in the season, Bopanna stays focussed to play his best.

“Edourad (Roger-Vasselin) and [I] have an outside shot for the London Masters. With two ATP 500 and two ATP 1000 Masters left, I still believe that we have a great chance to qualify for the year-end championship,” said Bopanna.

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