India’s highest-ranked doubles player, ranked World No. 39, Rohan Bopanna, 40, reached the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters last week, with his partner, Austrian player Oliver Marach, before they lost 6-0, 7-6. Since he resumed touring this year in August, the 2017 French Open Mixed Doubles champion says he has undergone the coronavirus test “30-40” times.
What precautions are you taking given the coronavirus?
While travelling for tournaments the most important precaution was getting tested, almost every four days. The organisers asked us not to high-five or fist-bump that often, and do the racquet tap instead. As doubles players, we have been asked to not talk about strategy holding the ball in front of the mouth (players do that to ensure the other side can’t read their lips)… Most of the time we follow these precautions. But sometimes, on the spur of the moment, you just instinctively do the fist-bump. It’s a habit… we have been doing it for
Also, now, we carry several sanitiser bottles in our bags. Wearing a mask has become normal. There have been times when I have entered a hotel room, and only realised after 10 minutes that I still have the mask on… We have become so used to them. The only time I take off the mask is when I’m playing or eating. Before a short flight too, I try and eat beforehand so that I don’t have to in the flight. That way I avoid taking off the mask.
Have you got yourself tested for Covid-19?
From starting the tour in August to returning to Bangalore recently, I have been tested at least 35-40 times. The day you land at a new venue and enter the hotel, you have to go in for testing. Then you have to be in the room and quarantine till the result comes. Then, in 48 hours, there’s another test, and then a test every fourth day.
What was your routine like in self-isolation?
The first two-and-a-half months of the lockdown, I was in Coorg (in Karnataka) with my family. There was enough space for my daughter to play around. And it may have been 25 years since I managed to spend that much time with family.
I went for morning walks with my daughter. I enjoyed home food and being at home.
I also started Iyengar Yoga, which was suggested by a cousin because of the condition of my knees — I don’t have cartilage any more in either patella (knee cap). It has completely worn off over the years. The couple staying next door conduct the yoga classes and I have been attending them since then. It has made a tremendous difference to my knees. I also experimented with cooking.
What kind of gloves and mask do you use?
I don’t use gloves much. But I use masks (the regular ones). There were some made of organic material that my wife bought online. I use those along with the light-blue ones when I travel.
While interacting with people at work, how do you ensure safety?
I don’t think I have greeted anyone with a hug (since the tour resumed). It is either an elbow tap or a ‘Hi’. Even at restaurants (during the tour), everyone kept a good enough distance from each other. In locker rooms too, everybody is wearing masks.
How long did you go without seeing your family?
I was with my family during the lockdown. When the tour resumed, I didn’t travel with anyone. So I was away from them for around two months.
While travelling, what precautions do you take?
I carry sanitisers and masks. When I board a flight, I use alcohol wipes to clean the hand rests, seat belt and tray because those are the things that are normally touched by everyone. And I make sure not to touch my face with my hands. I also sanitise my hands all the time.
How much time do you spend in front of a screen?
It varies. During the indoor season, when there are not many courts to play or practise on, one is either watching the game from the stands or in the room. So the screen time is a lot more. But, in general, before the pandemic, I would spend around a couple of hours in a day on screens. Now, this is easily around five or six hours.
How do you keep your mind off the pandemic?
Things that I cannot control don’t worry me. I just take precautions.
What is the first thing you want to do in a Covid-free world?
Explore cities. We keep going to so many cities for tournaments, and I always enjoy exploring places when I have some free time. I like to go for walks, do something a little different. So that’s the thing I’d like to do.x
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