Rohan Bopanna ready for Level 44 soon

Rohan Bopanna in action (Image: Rohan Bopanna Instagram)

RevSportz Exclusive

Celebrity status, this is something new for Rohan Bopanna. All along, the tall, smiling and strapping Coorgi has preferred to maintain a low profile. More than 25 years after his tennis career began, the doubles ace is enjoying the attention and adulation.

In a freewheeling chat with RevSportz, before resuming his tennis season with Matt Ebden in Doha from Monday, Bopanna spoke on how he is now embracing stardom. “Winning the Australian Open in Melbourne was one thing but only after returning home do I realise this is big, this is massive,” said the champion, his voice bubbling with joy.

Not always has he been treated so special, getting an audience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meeting his employers IndianOil, being a guest as a celebrity at several events. Plus, now, being a motivational speaker.

“Yes, I am enjoying this. I mean, after 25 years of tennis, to feel this kind of love, attention is not just a personal thing. This is not about me being celebrated, Indian tennis needed this thrust and hopefully this will motivate more people to play the sport,” said Bopanna.

Asked about his audience with the Prime Minister, Bopanna said it was simply unbelievable. “To be with such a powerful leader, for me it was very emotional. I never imagined that I would be meeting PM Modi, and all I can say is this is even more motivating for me,” stressed Bopanna.

He has talked of Level 43, repeatedly, harping on age as just a number. “I suppose, from next month, it will be Level 44,” he said, the laughter ringing out loud on the phone. Bopanna will be away again on the road, and his birthday in March may be on the tennis court or in a locker room.

“I mean, so many people have got inspired by this age thing. As long as you believe in yourself, enjoy what you do, forget the age. I am planning Level 44, with Matt Ebden. This is a rare three-week break I got after Melbourne and I am eager to again be playing. After Doha, we hit Indian Wells in the US and the tour begins,” said Bopanna.

His plan is not to overplay and take in around seven weeks of tournament play before the French Open. “I am dead sure about making the cut now for the Paris Olympics, so it is important to be fresh and in good shape. The cut for the Olympics will be applied after the French Open and before Wimbledon, all looking good,” said Bopanna.

Rohan Bopanna celebrating the historic win with his partner Matt Ebden
Rohan Bopanna celebrating the historic win with his partner Matt Ebden (Image: Aus Open Twitter/X)

In all probability, Bopanna will be ranked inside the Top 10 of the ATP doubles rankings till May-June. It will allow him to pick his doubles partner for Paris. “Well, fingers crossed, I do hope the AITA (All India Tennis Association) will respect my decision to pick a doubles player of my choice. We have plenty of options but what is important is I have a partner who can play on clay,” explained Bopanna.

In the past, Bopanna has been kicked around, forced to play with a partner like Leander Paes at the Olympics, when he did not want to. So, Bopanna is sceptical, if the AITA will treat him with respect and understand his viewpoint. Reminded that he is now a superstar, Bopanna again laughed.

“I mean, I can just hope things go well, it still hurts me how the AITA goofed up with my case for the Tokyo Olympics,” said a pained Bopanna. Does he feel sad that the national sports federation has done nothing to promote women’s tennis? If that had been the case, a woman player with a decent doubles ranking could have gotten into the tight mixed doubles draw at the Olympics with him.


“The AITA has done nothing to promote tennis, really. I mean, after Sania Mirza, there is no player of her calibre or ranking. It hurts, really. For me, to have played with any girl from India would have been good in the Paris Olympics. It is a lost opportunity, who to blame,” asked Bopanna. For the record, Bopanna and Rutuja Bhosale won a mixed doubles gold at the Asian Games in Hangzhou in 2023.

The Bengaluru man has been hopping cities, gets noticed at airports and lounges, signs a lot of autographs. People pose for selfies with him and the glitterati now chases him. It is his modesty that he says this is good for Indian tennis. “The wait for good results has been long. I sincerely wish this can result in parents pushing kids into tennis so that the sport can grow,” argued Bopanna.

A team man to the core, Bopanna has also enjoyed his roles now in India as a motivational speaker. “The audience I have addressed has been varying, from corporate honchos to parents of young players. We had an event in Bengaluru organised by Nandan Kamath where I was speaking to parents and motivating them. At another event, my family and parents were there. It’s important for family members to know that sport is good and anyone can go on to emerge a champion after working hard,” said Bopanna, his maturity level so high.

Asked about Sumit Nagal, Bopanna was excited. “I am extremely glad Sumit is doing so well. Here is wishing him more luck. I mean, the guy had self-doubts, he felt everyone was against him. That thought process has changed, Sumit now understands nobody is against him and he will do well to keep up this tempo. For me, to see him do well on hard courts is important. If you ask me, he could add a few more to his team like a physio and ensure he is in good shape. Having seen him closely, I feel so happy he is in the Top 100 now. He has to keep pushing,” said Bopanna.

Rohan Bopanna
Rohan Bopanna (Source: X)

What does it mean to be again away from his family and be on the road.? “I mean, my family is special, they mean so much to me. Yes, I have to play and try and regain the winning momentum. This is an important year. Level 44 soon!” he chuckled.

Also Read: From Rio Remorse to Melbourne Magic for Rohan Bopanna

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