Five in fray to partner Bopanna at Olympics

Wednesday 21st February 2024 05:29 EST

India has five players in the top-100 of the ATP doubles ranking outside of world No. 1 Rohan Bopanna. The question then is who among Yuki Bhambri (60), Sriram Balaji (80), Vijay Sundar Prashanth (81), Saketh Myneni (89) and Anirudh Chandrasekar (94) will partner the 43-year-old in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The race is so keen and tight that another five ranked inside the top-150 - Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (120), Arjun Kadhe (121), Niki Poonacha (138), Rithvik Choudary Bollipalli (143) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (145) - could also count themselves in the running.

To just give it a sum, there’s about 700-plus points separating Bhambri from Ramkumar. “If all goes well, we will have representation in men’s doubles. Whoever I pick, we’ll be lucky if we get a tournament before the Olympics,” Bopanna said of the July 27 to August 4 event to be played at Roland Garros. “Of course, I’m hoping that they improve their rankings and we can have a chance to play before the Olympics.”

Bhambri, playing alongside veteran Dutch Robin Haase, has a tricky opener in the Qatar Open, an ATP 250 Series event, where they’ve drawn Kazakh Alexander Bublik and Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp in their opener. “I want to get my ranking up to give myself an opportunity, give Rohan something to think about. That’s the goal at the back of my head,” said Bhambri, who has teamed with Bopanna a few times.

Bopanna, who kickstarted the ‘Doubles Dream of India’ project, with the aim of helping the country’s top doubles pros with coaching assistance wherever they are playing, has fostered a sense of community between the players.
With the 43-year-old firmly logged inside the top-10, India is assured of a spot in men’s doubles draw at the Olympics, provided the 6’4’’ Kodava stays in the top-10 after the conclusion of the French Open (June 10, 2024).

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