In a ground breaking achievement, Indian tennis stalwart Rohan Bopanna has scripted history by becoming the oldest first-time World No. 1 in doubles.
This remarkable feat comes on the heels of his recent triumph at the Australian Open, where he partnered with Matthew Ebden to secure the men’s doubles title.
Bopanna’s ascent to the pinnacle of the doubles rankings at the age of 43 not only marks a personal milestone but also stands as a significant moment for Indian tennis. His journey to the top spot is particularly inspiring, as he joins the elite league of compatriots Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who previously achieved this distinction.
Reflecting on his achievement, Bopanna expressed the broader impact on Indian tennis stating, “India needed this. We don’t really have many tennis players coming up. Sport is slowly coming up. I think it’s just going to inspire a lot of people. I don’t think just in tennis. People all over the world, being 40 and above, I think it’s just going to inspire them differently.”
The triumph at the Australian Open, where Bopanna and Ebden secured their first men’s doubles Grand Slam title, propelled Bopanna up two positions in the ATP rankings. The victory capped off a consistent performance in the past year, highlighting the perseverance and dedication that have been integral to Bopanna’s enduring career.
Bopanna acknowledged the pivotal role played by his partnership with Ebden, emphasizing the significance of their consistent performance in the previous year. “For me to get to World No. 1, I think [is thanks to] my perseverance to the sport, to stay in it and to keep fighting and to keep working hard and have such a great partner by my side,” said Bopanna.
The partnership with Ebden, initiated at the beginning of the 2023 season, has been a fruitful collaboration. The duo not only qualified for the prestigious ATP Finals in their debut year but also exhibited resilience and teamwork in the face of challenges.
“In hindsight, it would have been amazing if we would have played for a long period of time, but still, we are enjoying where we are today, and I think there are no real complaints about that. You grow as a team. I think we have also learned from each other, what works for us, what our strengths are, and how we can improve,” remarked Bopanna on the dynamics of their partnership.
Bopanna’s achievement is not only symbolic of his individual prowess but also a testament to the growing stature of Indian tennis on the global stage. As he takes his place at the pinnacle of the doubles rankings, the veteran athlete continues to inspire aspiring players and fans alike, proving that age is no barrier to success in the world of tennis.
Matthew Ebden, Bopanna’s partner in this historic journey, lauded the accomplishment, saying, “It’s an incredible thing for Bops, especially at his age. It was a big goal of ours when we started this partnership over a year ago, and we talked about it. We made our intentions clear, ‘I want to get to World No. 1, win the Slams, the big tournaments.’ We have ticked a lot of boxes last year and this is another one of those. A huge milestone.”
As Rohan Bopanna stands atop the world in doubles, his achievement echoes beyond the tennis courts, leaving an indelible mark on the sporting landscape.