He wields his tennis racquet like a weapon, but Rohan Bopanna has ironically won accolades on the tennis courts for propagating peace.
The talented tennis star from Kodagu in Karnataka hit the world headlines when he and his Pakistani doubles partner Aisam ul Haq Qureshi became one of the most successful doubles’ pair in the men’s circuit. Given the history of animosity between India and Pakistan, this curious partnership raised a few eyebrows but also got a lot of applause.
His Childhood Days
Bopanna was born on March 4, 1980 to coffee planter M G Bopanna and his wife Mallika. The family lived in Kodagu. Rohan displayed a natural inclination for sports and played hockey and football during his school days. He started his tennis training at the age of 11.
By the time he was 19, Rohan Bopanna had decided that tennis was the sports he wanted to pursue. He took up his tennis training seriously and trained at fellow tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi’s tennis academy in Bangalore. He was coached by Mahesh Bhupathi’s father, K G Bhupathi. A right-handed player, Rohan Bopanna turned pro in 2003 and is now coached by Prahlad Srinath.
His Career Highlights
Rohan Bopanna made his debut in the Davis Cup in 2002 and since then he has played for India several times in the tournament. One of his best performances in the Davis Cup was in 2010. He played a vital role in a decisive round against Brazil, as a result of which India was able to enter the World Group after 89 years.
He has also played his heart out for India in the Hopman’s Cup 2007 where he and India’s top woman tennis player Sania Mirza pulled upset double victories against Czech Republic and Croatia. Though India failed to reach the finals, the victories established Rohan Bopanna’s reputation as one of the finest double players in world tennis.
Though he turned pro in 2003, Rohan Bopanna won his first ATP doubles title in 2008. He and his partner Eric Botorac won the 2008 Los Angeles Countrywide Classic. His career record as a doubles player is impressive with three title wins and appearances in 12 finals. He is currently ranked 9th in the ATP doubles ranking.
His singles career is however rather lackluster. He has not won any titles on the singles circuit and is currently ranked 558. His highest ranking in singles has been 213 in 2007.
The Indo-Pak Partnership
Rohan Bopanna’s doubles career took off after he paired with Aisam Qureshi. The pair came to be called the IndoPak Express. They won three Challenger titles and in 2010 broke into the top 10 doubles list.
The two are also very close personal friends and they soon began to be appreciated by people around the world for their efforts to bridge the gap between their respective countries. Rohan was awarded the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the year award in 2010. The two of them were also voted by tennis fans for the Image of the Year award instituted by Peace and Sports.