From the first steps to opening the tennis academy: a fantastic career of Indian tennis player Rohan Bopanna
Today, India boasts of several professional athletes who represent it in various competitions. Apart from cricket and hockey, for instance, tennis is also popular among the locals. Those interested in it may have heard of notable names like Sania Mirza, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Leander Paes… But have you heard anything about an Indian tennis player like Rohan Bopanna? No? Then this article is for you – the incredible story of the 40-year-old athlete, from his first steps to making his own tennis academy.
Who is Rohan Bopanna?
Rohan Bopanna is a famous Indian professional tennis player who was born on March 4, 1980. His highest ranking in the ATP world rankings is No. 213 in singles in 2007 and No. 3 in doubles in 2013. He has been a member of the Davis Cup team since 2002, partnered with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi for second place in doubles at the US Open in 2010, and won the French Open mixed doubles title in 2017. By the way, his partner, Gabriela Dabrowski, became the fourth Indian player to win a Grand Slam title. It should also be noted that most of Rohan’s appearances in professional tournaments have been in doubles.
Bopanna collaborated with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi in doubles in 2007. The duo, nicknamed the “Indopak Express”, won four Challenger titles reasonably quickly. However, it wasn’t until the 2010 season that the pair made it to the top ten doubles teams. In the same year, they reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, finished second in the US Open and five ATP Tour events, and won the European Open.
Rohan is a grass-court fan, his favourite tournament is Wimbledon, and his beloved player is Stefan Edberg.
Childhood and first steps in the sporting career
Rohan started playing tennis at 11 because his father wanted him to play an individual sport. He did enjoy other games like hockey and football, but by the time he was 19, tennis had become his top priority. His father, M.G. Bopanna grows coffee and his mother, Malika Bopanna, is a housewife. Both his parents are ardent supporters of Rohan’s career. They live in Coorg, a Kodagu area in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, which is a six-hour drive from Bangalore. He also has an elder sister who lives in Mumbai.
As a child, Rohan was idolised and deeply influenced by Stephan Edberg. He made his Davis Cup debut for India and Australia in September 2002 and turned professional in 2003. He completed his education at Sri Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain College, which is part of Jain University.
Start of career
Bopanna specialises in doubles play. In 2001, he won his first career doubles ‘Futures’. In January 2002, Rohan made his ATP Tour main event debut with doubles in Chennai’s appearance. In March and September of the same year, he managed to win one single “Futures” each. In January 2003, Bopanna received a special invitation to the Chennai tournament and played in the singles main event for the first time. He lost in the first round to Zeljko Krajan of Croatia. In February, Bopanna played his first matches for India in the Davis Cup qualifying round. In August 2003, Bopanna won his Challenger Series tournament in Denver with Pakistan’s Aissam-ul-Haq Qureshi. Later that month, smog won the singles “Futures” in Indonesia.
Between 2004 and 2005, Bopanna won one “Futures” in singles and three in doubles. In January 2006, he reached the ATP tournament finals for the first time, playing the doubles event in Chennai along with Prakash Amritraj. In June that year, Rohan was able to qualify for Hull to play in the first round against world number one Roger Federer. Their match ended in a 6-7(4), 2-6 defeat for Bopanna. In the autumn, he reached another ATP doubles final in Mumbai in a duo with Mustafa Ghose.
In July 2007, Bopanna notched up a winning double at the Challenger in Dublin, winning the singles and doubles events. The singles title was Rohan’s last career title in an individual event. In 2007, he won four more doubles Challengers, which he co-conquered with Aissam-ul-Haq Qureshi. In late September, the Bopanna/ Qureshi duo reached the finals of the ATP Mumbai tournament. In January 2008, at the Australian Open, Bopanna made his first prominent doubles appearance in a Grand Slam tournament and reached the third round in an alliance with Rajiv Ram. In July the same year, Bopanna and Qureshi reached the doubles final of the Newport tournament. In August, paired with American Eric Butorac, he won his first ATP tournament title with a win in Los Angeles. In October, he reached the final in St Petersburg with Maxim Mirny.
2009-2012. Finals in the USA
Bopanna reached the finals in San Jose in February 2009 together with Finn Jarkko Nieminen. That season he and Qureshi shared three more Challenger Tour titles. In February 2010, Bopanna and Qureshi paired up to win the title at the Johannesburg tournament. They won two Challenger titles in the spring and reached the ATP Tour finals in Casablanca and Nice. At this year’s Wimbledon, they reached the quarterfinals. In July, after playing against Christophe Vliegen in Atlanta, he managed to get the final. He ran the same result in August at a tournament in New Haven, paired with Qureshi. At the US Open, Bopanna and Qureshi managed to reach the final, losing to American duo Bob and Mike Bryan 6-7(5), 6-7(4). This result placed Rohan in the top 20 of the world doubles rankings. Before the season’s end, their duo managed to reach the finals once more at a tournament in St. Petersburg.
At the 2011 French Open, Bopanna and Qureshi reached the quarterfinals. In June, they managed to win the doubles title at the Hull grass tennis tournament. They were one step away from repeating last year’s performance at the US Open, finishing in the semifinals. In October, Bopanna and Qureshi won a Stockholm tournament before winning their first Masters in Paris in November. Towards the end of the season, the Bopanna Qureshi pair made it to the year-end tournament but lost all three of their group matches and were eliminated.
In early March 2012, Rohan, together with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi won the doubles event in Dubai. In August, the duo represented India in the Olympic Games held in London. They lost to France’s Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet in the second round. After the Olympics, Bopanna and Bhupathi were able to reach the final at the Masters in Cincinnati. In October, they reached the final of the Masters in Shanghai, and in November, they could win the Masters in Paris. At the final tournament of the year, Bopanna and Bhupathi managed to reach the final, losing to Spaniards Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.
In February 2013, Rohan was in a duo with Briton Colin Fleming to win the tournament in Marseille. In the spring at the Masters in Rome, he paired with Bhupathi to reach the final. In the summer, playing in the Wimbledon tournament with the Frenchman Edouard Roger-Wasslin, Bopanna could get the semifinals. On July 22, 2013, Rohan reached his highest doubles ranking of third place. In October, Bopanna and Roger-Vasslain won the doubles draw at the Tokyo tournament. In January 2014, Bopanna, resuming their partnership with Aissam-ul-Haq Qureshi, managed to reach the Sydney tournament’s final. At the end of February, they won the tournament in Dubai, and in May, they reached the final in Nice.
In 2015, Bopanna started competing with renowned doubles player Daniel Nestor, and they took the title at the Sydney tournament in January. They next take the trophy in February at a tournament in Dubai. In April, having changed his partner (Romanian Florin Merja), Bopanna reached the Casablanca tournament’s final. In May, Bopanna and Merja managed to win the Masters in Madrid. In June, playing on grass, they could win the doubles title in Stuttgart and reach the final in Hull. At Wimbledon, Bopanna and Merja were one step from the decider, reaching the semifinals. At the US Open, the pair reached the quarterfinals. Taking on Bopanna and Merja at the year-end final, they managed to get the final, lost to the Bryan brothers.
At the start of the 2016 season, Bopanna and Merja reached the final tournament in Sydney. They next come to the last bout in May at the Masters in Madrid. At the French Open, they reached the quarterfinals. In August, Bopanna took part in his second Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In the men’s doubles competition with Leander Paes, he lost his opening match. He was one step away from medals in the mixed doubles competition (with Sania Mirza), reaching the semifinals and losing there and the third-place match.
At the start of 2017, Bopanna paired up with compatriot Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan to win the home tournament in Chennai. At the Australian Open, he managed to take his first career Grand Slam title. Bopanna was able to succeed in the mix, where he was paired with Gabriela Dabrowski. In the final, they outlasted Anna-Lena Grönefeld and Robert Faroux 2-6, 6-2, [12-10]. In April, Rohan was able to win the Monte Carlo Masters, partnering with Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. In August, he reached the final at the Masters in Montreal, paired with Ivan Dodig. In October, Bopanna won another title together with Pablo Cuevas at a hall tournament in Vienna.
At the 2018 Australian Open, the Indian tennis player lost the final to Gabriela Dabrowski and Mate Pavic, 6-2, 4-6, [9-11], in a mix with Hungary’s Timia Babos. At the French Open, he managed to reach the quarterfinals in a duet with France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Their duo also performed at the US Open.
In January 2019, along with Divij Sharan, he won a home tournament in Pune, with their duo outplaying Luke Bambridge and Johnny O’Mara in the final in two sets.
In January 2020, Bopanna was able to win the Doha tournament in alliance with Wesley Kolhof.
It should be noted that Rohan Bopanna has not only distinguished himself in the sport during his long tennis career.
Rohan Bopanna was nominated for the title of World Champion in 2010 by the Monaco-based organisation Peace and Sport for his efforts in breaking down political barriers (but of course, with the help of sport).
Also recognised internationally for his Stop War Start Tennis campaign, Bopanna was awarded the renowned Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year award in 2010, along with his loyal partner Qureshi.
Their fans have also recognised the duo as winners of the World and Sports Image of the Year award.
But that’s not all. In 2005, Rohan Bopanna was awarded the Karnataka government’s Ekalavya Award for his achievements in the court.
Rohan Bopanna donates a portion of the profits made from Stop War Start Tennis to the GoSports Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works to improve sportsmanship in India. In his hometown of Coorg, he is working to create funds for a school of opportunity that meets children’s educational needs with physical disabilities. Rohan also supports the Coorg Institute of Dental Sciences, which aims to provide low-cost dental treatment and has several free health and information camps.
He is also a member of the Defenders of Peace club, a group of more than 90 renowned members of the elite, set up by Peace and Sport, an international organisation from Monaco under the high patronage of His Highness Prince Albert II. This group of top-level champions wants to turn sport into an instrument of dialogue and social cohesion.
Rohan, who is married to a lovely girl Supriya Annaya, currently resides with her in Bangalore, where he is also the co-owner of a trendy restaurant.
Being happily married, one can expect the couple to decide to have children of their own soon.
Own tennis academy for Indian athletes
One of the most significant achievements of Rohan Bopanna is the opening of his own tennis academy for young Indian athletes. He aims to give them something that the Hindu himself didn’t have in his childhood. He also has a particular hostel which is next to the tennis courts. It was created so that the rising stars don’t have to spend half their time travelling and have all the essentials in quick reach. Of course, the academy is the tennis player’s pride, and he hopes to raise more than one tennis legend there.
As you can see, Indian tennis player Rohan Bopanna has achieved a lot in his sporting career, from winning titles to opening his academy. Any journey is not an easy one, but thanks to people like this, it becomes clear that anything is possible in this life. Any one of us who would say that Rohan is a legendary Indian tennis player who has done the simply impossible in his career would be unequivocally right. We can only wait and hope to see the young Indian stars nurtured by this amazing man.