Chennai: Rohan Bopanna is confident that the start of his fresh association with multiple grand slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi on the professional Tennis Tour with the 2012 Aircel Chennai Open in January will augur well in the Olympic year.
Bhupathi and Bopanna announced in December that they would be teaming up in the new season with the primary focus on the Summer Games in London in July.
“This was a conscious decision on our part as we had our eyes set on the London Olympics,” Bhupathi said ahead of the 2012 Aircel Chennai Open, the 17th edition of India’s only and South Asia’s leading ATP World Tour event to be held at the SDAT-Nungambakkam Tennis Stadium from Jan 2-8.
“I have known Hesh (Bhupathi) since I played my first Davis Cup match in 2002, so we go back a long way. I have also played a few tournaments with him in the past, and we do share an excellent rapport. From my experience with Aisam (former partner Quereshi) I know that being friends pays rich dividends on the court, so I am hoping our camaraderie comes through on court. We are practising hard to better understand each other’s games and I am sure the efforts will pay off,” Bopanna said.
“It feels good to start off the season in front of our home crowd, with good crowd support,” he said about kicking off the new season at the Aircel Chennai Open.
Bopanna and Pakistan’s Quereshi had a solid 2011 season with three titles, including the Paris Masters, and qualified for the year-end World Tour finals in London.
The Indo-Pak Express story had been quite a surprise package, hit the road running, and sailed into the 2010 US Open doubles final.
“Aisam is a great friend and we have enjoyed a long and rewarding partnership on the circuit. We worked well together and worked on complementing each other on our own games. We worked on the team – the IndoPak Express as well as our game and I guess the rewards showed. In 2012, Aisam and I will be forming two new, different partnerships and we have to see how well they shape up. So like all good professional athletes the focus is going be on 2012. 2013 is still a long way off to talk about,” the tennis player from Coorg said, when asked if they Indo-Pak Express would reunite in 2013.
Doubles success at the Chennai Open has eluded Bopanna, who, in five previous appearances here, made it to the final in 2006 when he partnered with Prakash Amritraj.
“The Chennai Open is always a challenging tournament as it is the beginning of the season and coming from the off-season, you have to find you rhythm from the start to do well. Chennai also provides with just the right amount of competition and is a great start to the year,” he said.
Bhupathi and Bopanna along with Paes and his Serbian partner Janko Tipsarevic are the top two seeded pairs and will start as strong favorites.
“It feels really great to be considered the favorites but the tag comes with its own share of expectations and pressures. And thankfully I am no stranger to this kind of pressure. Aisam and I have started as the favourites in several tournaments before, and we want on to soak up the tremendous support and do well. And as with every tournament, I hope Mahesh and I have a great outing at the 2012 Aircel Chennai Open.
“I am eagerly looking forward to the London Olympics. My calendar for 2012 is not as packed as it has been in the past couple of years, since I am in a better position to pick the tournaments I will participate in. Also, we are taking a month off after Wimbledon to prepare for the Olympics. Also, every match is just getting you match ready for another match, so the more we play (though within limits) will always be good,” he signed off saying.