Four years ago, Rohan Bopanna was on the edge about his future in professional tennis. A Davis Cup veteran, mixed doubles Grand Slam champion, and former doubles World No.3, Bopanna’s career was on the downslide as a string of physical issues had wiped out the cartilage in both his knees as he entered his forties.
The emotions behind his four-year journey – from being on the cusp of retirement to his late-career upswing thanks to a revitalising fitness regimen and unlikely perfect partnership – were encapsulated in his reaction to becoming a history-maker at the Australian Open. The 43-year-old from Coorg won his maiden men’s doubles Grand Slam title alongside Australian partner Matthew Ebden, with a 7-6 (0), 7-5 win over the Italian pair of Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori.
As he clinched the title with a simple putaway overhead volley, Bopanna fell to the ground before indulging in a roaring chest bump, now the duo’s signature, a reaction out of place with the Indian’s usually calm and mild-mannered persona. At 43, he is now the oldest men’s player to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era. Earlier this week, he had also ensured that he will become the oldest World No.1 in tennis history.