Rohan Bopanna Mahesh Bhupathi

Doubles Great Bhupathi On Bopanna Becoming Oldest Grand Slam Champion

Rohan Bopanna Mahesh Bhupathi

Coming out in praise of Indian doubles star Rohan Bopanna for being crowned the oldest Grand Slam champion after lifting this year’s Australian Open title at the age of 43, tennis great Mahesh Bhupathi termed the feat ‘mind-boggling’.

Speaking to ANI on the sidelines of the RevSportz’s Trailblazers 2.0 Conclave on Friday, Bhupathi, who formed one of the world’s greatest doubles pairs with Leander Paes and had 12 Major titles to his credit by the time he hung up his racquet, said he hoped that the big-serving Coorgi will produce more such performances and keep “India’s flag flying high”.

“I think Rohan has done incredibly well…for him to put in such an effort and win at 43. Mind-boggling and super proud…we hope that he stays in the game and keeps India’s flag flying high,” Bhupathi told ANI on the sidelines of the event.

Storming to the final of the year’s first Major on the back of some sizzling wins along with his Australian partner Matthew Ebden, the pair dominated on serve throughout the title clash, which spanned about an hour and forty minutes, winning 80 per cent (40/50) of games with their first delivery and not facing a break point to top off a fantastic week in Melbourne.

The duo defeated Italy’s Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori in straight sets 7-6, 7-5 in a thrilling final.

It was Bopanna’s second career Grand Slam title and his first in men’s doubles. His previous Grand Slam victory came in mixed doubles with Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada at the 2017 French Open.

On encouraging returns in singles by rising Indian tennis star Sumit Nagal, Bhupathi said the 26-year-old has ‘potential’ to be a real deal in the sport going forward but needs to work on the ‘variables’.

“He always had the potential. He always believed that he was a top-100 player. I believe he could be a top-50 player. But a lot of variables there, he needs to keep working at it and build on the momentum. He’s having a good run,” the doubles stalwart added.

Earlier, in January, Nagal’s campaign at the Bengaluru Open ended in the last-four stage, as he fell to a hard-fought 7-6(2), 6-4 loss to Italian Stephano Napolitano in the semi-final.

Meanwhile, Spanish tennis legend and 14-time French Open champion, Rafael Nadal, withdrew from the ongoing Indian Wells Masters on the eve of his first-round match, saying he was “not ready to play at the highest level”.

However, Nagal will be the Spaniard’s replacement at the tournament, becoming the first Indian to reach the main draw of an ATP Masters 1000 event since Prajnesh Gunneswaran in 2019 in Miami. (ANI)

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