Sequels,generally,do not yield the same level of success. However,this is a second coming that Rohan Bopanna hopes will be as eventful – or even better – than the first.
The world No. 5 doubles player confirmed on Sunday that he will partner Pakistan’s Aisam ul-Haq Qureshi in 2014,renewing the partnership that was abruptly brought to an end two years ago.
Both Bopanna and Qureshi,who are chasing the few remaining spots in next month’s ATP World Tour Finals in London,will appear on the same side of the net January onwards.
After spending their initial years in oblivion,the duo started recording big wins in the second half of the noughties. As their on-court performances continued to improve,the Indo-Pak Express’ off-court popularity extended beyond tennis.
They were seen as ambassadors of peace between the two countries and later dubbed the ‘Peace Pair’. They were awarded the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year Award for their ‘Stop War,Start Tennis campaign’ during the 2011 US Open.
At the end of that year though,the Indian decided to end what had been a successful partnership with Qureshi and team up with Mahesh Bhupathi with one eye on the Olympics.
After their separation,both Bopanna and Qureshi have improved as players. Bopanna is currently the highest-ranked Indian doubles player while Qureshi is 15th in the world rankings.
After nearly eight years with Qureshi,the Indian has had as many as eight different partners this year.
“That is not an ideal place one wants to be in when they are amongst the top five in the world,” he says. “The second half of the year has definitely been better for me,and that is because of the fact that I was able to play with one partner across consecutive tournaments.”
Qureshi,on the other hand,has had stability in terms of teammates. That counts for little though as he too has hardly tasted success in the majors.
Bopanna believes playing separately with different partners has given him a better perspective on his game and Qureshi backs this observation.
“It’s going to be interesting as both of us have matured as players,” he was quoted as saying by a Pakistani daily.
Bopanna says the decision to reunite with his ‘old friend’ was an easy one to take. “Aisam and I are both aware of the obvious pros of our game and are also conscious that our styles compliment each other well,” says Bopanna. Bopanna refrains from making any lofty claims,laying more importance on consistency.
“It’s tough starting the year all over again and gelling with your partner. Grand Slams are definitely the target but the key is to perform consistently and not just in patches,” he signs off.