Bopanna eyes success at London Olympics
Rohan Bopanna said he is confident that his new association with 11 Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi on the professional Tour at the 2012 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 focus on the London Olympics, in July 2012.
"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," said Bopanna.
"From my experience with Aisam I know that being friends pays rich dividends on the court, so I am hoping our camaraderie comes through on court. We are practicing hard to better understand each other's games and I am sure the efforts will pay off," he added.
'My calendar for 2012 is not packed'
The tennis ace from Coorg said his entire concentration will be on the Olympics.
"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 said.
'2013 is still a long way off'
Bopanna and his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi had a good 2011 season, with three titles, including the Paris Masters, and the duo also qualified for the year-end World Tour finals in London.
Asked if the 'Indo-Pak Express' would reunite in 2013, Bopanna replied: "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," said Bopanna.
Image: Rohan Bopanna (left) and Mahesh Bhupathi with NBA star Dwayne Wade
'Good to start the season at home'
Bopanna, who had finished runners-up in the 2010 US Open doubles event along with Qureshi, said it would be good to start the season at home.
"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 Chennai Open.
"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 added.
Doubles success at the Chennai Open has eluded Bopanna, who, in five previous appearances, made it to the final in 2006 when he partnered Prakash Amritraj.
'It feels great to be favorites'
Bhupathi and Bopanna along with Paes and his Serbian partner Janko Tipsarevic are the top two seeded pairs and will start as strong favorites at Chennai on January 2.
"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 Chennai Open," he insisted.