It's hard for everyone to be away from the game you love: Rohan Bopanna
Rohan Bopanna says the uncertainly about returning to court amidst COVID-19 pandemic makes his mind wander; awaits guidelines from AITA and ITF on resumption of doubles
India's doubles tennis ace Rohan Bopanna, 40, had a brilliant start to this season, winning the ATP Qatar Open in January, partnering Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands. But the onset of the Coronavirus threw life out of gear.
At home in Bangalore currently, the Davis Cupper is working on his fitness as he awaits the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and All India Tennis Association's (AITA) guidelines on the resumption of doubles.
In an interview with mid-day, the World No. 37 speaks about life in lockdown and appreciates the Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal-initiated fund for struggling lower-ranked tennis players.
Edited excerpts from the interview.
How do you see the tennis world changing post this Coronavirus lockdown?
The situation has changed everywhere in the world and the new normal has been completely redefined. The AITA has laid down some guidelines wherein it has restricted the doubles games which involves contact and unwanted proximity. However, training centres in certain states are going to resume soon, and most academies in Bangalore will resume too. We will be adhering to the guidelines listed by AITA and the state government.
Being a doubles player, do your fear the new social distancing norms more?
I will be waiting for the guidelines from ITF and AITA on how to resume playing doubles. It is hard to fathom now. Currently, my focus is on getting back into shape and rhythm because, though I have been trying to keep fit in the past few months, I have gained a bit of weight during this lockdown.
How tough has is it been for lower-ranked international tennis players to survive without tournaments?
It is hard for everyone to be away from the game you love, and a sport which keeps your life moving. It's tough when you suddenly go unemployed overnight. You can't plan anything and you're not sure when you'll be back on court again. The uncertainty is what makes the mind wander.
Top stars like Djokovic, Federer and Nadal among others, have initiated a fund to help lower-ranked international tennis players. Your thoughts.
While they stayed at home, they championed a noble cause to help their colleagues in the fraternity. We, along with ASICS, did something similar with a recently concluded campaign called, Comeback Stories, which was widely followed on Instagram. I was part of the session and the idea was to apprise fans that they and us [athletes] are on the same page given these unprecedented times. I shared my experience of working out from home and tried to motivate others to stay positive.
You and Leander Paes did well in the Davis Cup against Croatia in March. Can your possible pairing win India an Olympic medal next year?
Davis Cup is a whole different ball game. When you are representing the country, it brings out the best in you. The experience Leander and I brought to the table that day in Zagreb is what made the difference and helped us beat Mate Pavic and Franko Skugor [6-3, 6-7, 7-5]. In the week leading up to our fixture, we trained very hard, so that was an outcome we were hoping for. As far as next year's Olympics is concerned, there is uncertainty about the qualifying and rankings right now due to the COVID-19 situation. We have to wait and see who qualifies because ultimately, it's only the ranking that will decide who plays at the Olympics.
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