One the biggest dilemmas elite sportspersons face is about the timing of their retirement. Ash Barty walked away at 25, while being World No.1 and the defending champion at two Majors. Roger Federer – and potentially Rafael Nadal – stopped only when the body couldn’t take it any longer.
Rohan Bopanna seems to have found the sweet spot. The doubles star’s decision to end his Davis Cup journey with the World Group II tie against Morocco here this weekend comes at a time when he is ranked No.7 in the world – his highest since Oct. 2013. And two of the five Slam finals he has reached in his career have come in 2023.
But at 43, he knows that the body can do with a few extra weeks of rest, especially when he wants to prolong his ATP Tour career a bit more. The chance to end it at home has only added to the allure.
“I certainly admire his longevity,” former India Davis Cup captain Anand Amritraj told The Hindu. “To be 43 and be able to play at this level is incredible. Having had him on my team for five years, [I can say] he’s a great guy. Was always helpful when I had to make decisions. He knew the players better than I did. Overall just a very fine person.”
For the collective
Somdev Devvarman, one of India’s foremost singles players and Bopanna’s teammate for nearly a decade, said the latter was a consummate team man and recollected some of his famous singles wins to drive home the point.
“I distinctly remember the away match in South Africa in 2009,” Devvarman told The Hindu. We hadn’t made the World Group in a decade. It was a tough tie and Rohan beat Rik de Voest in four sets after losing the first set in like 15 minutes.
“He had that kind of a game…could play against top players, hang in there and give himself a chance. When I was playing, Rohan played singles with me. He was a mainstay…was always my senior and looked out for us.”
A huge loss
The loss of such a player would leave a big hole Amritraj said. “Whether he played doubles with Leander [Paes], Saketh [Myneni] or Yuki [Bhambri], I, as captain, could always rely on that one point,” he said. “I was fairly sure that we had that point in the bag…thanks mostly to Rohan. But there’s nobody at this point to step into his shoes.”
Devvarman, however, felt that it was time for the younger lot to redouble their efforts….