Misc Tennis

Rohan Bopanna in first men’s doubles Australian Open final, reaching his peak at 43

Rohan Bopanna on reaching Aus Open final: 'I consider this to be my home Grand Slam'

You see Rohan Bopanna on a tennis court and you can tell why there’s always talk of age associated with his achievements.

There’s a lot of grey in his beard, there’s a slight stoop and heft to a physique that doesn’t exactly look like that of a pro tennis player. Just about a month short of turning 44 with compromised knees and a body that can’t burn it out at the gym, this is expected.

But that is exactly where appearances deceive.

Show him an opportunity to volley at the net and see how sharply he can stretch to softly send it right back, no returns. Give him the serve on match point after a dramatic momentum shift and he will fire down an ace.

It’s exactly what he did to reach the men’s doubles final at the Australian Open on Thursday. Bopanna and Matt Ebden came through a testing phase to beat the Czech-Chinese pair of Tomas Machac and Zhizhen Zhang 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7) in 122 minutes to reach their second straight Grand Slam as a pair.

A day after his quarterfinal win ensured that Bopanna would become the oldest first-time world No. 1, he was back on court proving just why the top ranking is coming to him at 43 years is a culmination of hard work and consistency.

There have always older players around in men’s doubles; Rajeev Ram became world No. 1 at 38 and is still one of the best around, Mike Bryan, one half of the legendary Bryan Bros was world No. 1 at 41 years old and Jean-Julien Rojer won the French Open at 40 (Martina Navratilova’s final Major win was at 46).

But there is something different about Bopanna. He is playing the best tennis of life.

He’s peaking at a sport he has played for two decades at 43 years of age. And he’s doing it with no cartilage in his knees and with a body that can’t do endurance training or regular mobility drills. This is four years after considering retirement due to pain and a decade after getting his previous best ranking of world No. 3.

Consider this: This is Bopanna’s first men’s doubles final at the Australian Open, ever. The best before this was a third-round finish. In fact, this is only his third men’s doubles Grand Slam final, after the US Open in 2010 and 2023. Yes, 13 years apart.

It tells you the amount of time,…

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