Rohan Bopanna targets Tokyo Olympics

first_imgTennis star Rohan Bopanna says the Arjuna Award has come as a big boost for him and he will continue to strive and do well in his professional career and also for the country.”It has been a long wait for me to get this award, and it means a lot. I was heart-broken last year after I did not get the award. I am sure it’s never too late,” said a happy Bopanna.Recalling the string of events in his career very recently, Bopanna said the gold medal win at the Asian Games doubles was fantastic. “After I got injured at Wimbledon, I decided to take a break and rest my body. Three days before leaving for the Asian Games, I very nearly pulled out. Once I got to Palembang, things fell in place,” said Bopanna.At 38, he is the senior-most player in the tennis squad and is relishing the leadership role of sorts. “As the most experienced player, and to be the mentor was good. When I decided to pair with Divij Sharan for doubles, there were doubts expressed in some quarters. There could have been no other pairing as individually we had excellent results in 2018,” said Bopanna.He says being on the ATP Tour for long years is helping. “In the semi-final against the Japanese pair in Palembang, we lost the first set. I decided to take a call and we switched sides while receiving serve. And it worked,” said Bopanna.Looking ahead, Bopanna says he will be playing five more tournaments this year with his French partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin. “There is a lot of tennis to be played still this year for me and I am still hopeful of making the ATP finals in London. Let’s see how it goes,” he said.advertisementDespite the loss to Serbia in the Davis Cup World Group playoff over the weekend, Bopanna is hopeful the Indian team can do well in 2019. “We now have a 32-team World Group and India are there. The draw will be made soon and if we get a home tie, nothing like it,” said the doubles specialist.The tall and strapping Coorgi plans to continue playing for some more years. “Sania Mirza and I missed out on a medal at the Rio Olympics. I want to be fit and make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics. I need to bounce back in the Top 10 doubles ranking and that will make things smoother. Only in 2020 can I decide who could be my possible partner in men’s doubles,” he said.Asked about mixed doubles, Bopanna says there will be just 16 pairs and getting an entry will be very tough.”Let me tell you, I expect Sania to be back on the Tour next year. I know her level of motivation and how much she is craving to be back on the tennis circuit. Look at the way Serena Williams has made a return after being blessed with a daughter, Sania will also work towards it,” he said.Asked about other options and how women’s tennis was shaping up in India, Bopanna said Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi have two big years ahead of them. “To break into the Top 50 should be their goal and they have the potential to keep improving. They should also play doubles,” he said.”Look, I will be 40 if I make it to the Tokyo Olympics. I train hard on and off the court, my motivation is high and results are there in tournaments. My motto is to stay fit and keep winning,” said Bopanna.Asked about his nomination for the Rajiv Khel Ratna this year, Bopanna said he would again apply for the award in 2019. “I have good results to show in 2016, 2017 and 2018, so I do fancy my chances.””The national sports awards are very special, though I am a bit surprised my own state (Karnataka) has not announced any award for me after winning gold in the Asian Games,” concluded Bopanna.last_img