Rohan Bopanna combined his booming serves with exquisite backhand winners during his blossoming partnership with Divij Sharan as the Indian pair won its maiden ATP tour title at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune Saturday. Bopanna lost just four points on his serve during the entire title-clash as the top-seeded Indians produced a dominating 6-3 6-4 win over British pair of Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Maara.
This was veteran Bopanna’s 18th ATP tour title while Sharan has now won his fourth tournament on the circuit and first on the Indian soil. Bopanna carried the team smartly in this tournament even as Sharan would require to do more when they compete against tougher opponents at the Australian Open. Before this, Bopanna won the Vienna event in October 2017 with Pablo Cuevas and Sharan won the Antwerp trophy with Scott Lipksy in the same month.
The Britons had won two titles on the ATP World Tour last year – Stockholm and Eastbourne – and suffered their first defeat in a final. Sharan dropping the serve in the eighth game of the second set was the only blemish as there was no drama in the final after they played two intense and dramatic matches en route the title clash.
“This win surely is a big boost ahead of the Australian Open. Divij has variation and movement in his serve and he will get better. He definitely outs pressure on the opponents when he is at net,” said 38-year-old Bopanna, supporting his partner.
It is the first title for both Bopanna and Sharan on the ATP World Tour after more than a year after ending the 2018 season without a trophy even as they grabbed an Asian Games gold and immediately decided to join forces, keeping in mind the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Bopanna said the chemistry was always there between them even as they would look to have “perspective from outside” on their combination. He also added that they focused more their service game. Sharan said he could serve better than the previous days.
“The conditions were faster and playing during the day made it easy. Playing together at the Oil company’s tournament helped and we have to nurture this partnership,” the 32-year-old from Delhi said.
A little opening for a break emerged for the top seeded Indians when Bambridge served a double fault to go down 0-30 in the sixth game but they came back strongly. Left-handed Sharan was down a deciding point in the next game when Bopanna made an error on the overhead smash volley but the Indians managed to hold. Then followed a super show from Bopanna, who unleashed his single-handed backhand thrice to earn the first break of the match and then served out the set in the next.
The Coorgi lost just three points in his three service games as he was the standout performer in the summit clash. He continued to serve big even as Sharan’s serve was under pressure again in the fourth game when he went down 0-30 but the Indians escaped with the left-hander holding his own with an ace.
Sharan hit a crushing service return winner off Bambridge before another good return to draw level, which he could not pick up. It gave the Indians a break chance, which was converted when Bambridge faltered, netting a return.
Bopanna came out firing once again, serving at love, to make it 4-2 which became 5-2 when they broke O’Maara in the next. It was Bambride, who cracked in this game too making several errors, handing Sharan a chance to serve out the match. However the Delhi southpaw dropped serve. Bopanna completed the job in the 10th game without any fuss.