India’s Davis Cup team needs camaraderie, not friction: Bopanna
For too long Rohan Bopanna has been the man in waiting. Despite his obvious talent and good showing on the men’s doubles tour, somehow the man from Coorg seemed to stay a side actor in the soap opera of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. While those two doubles rock stars whined and moaned and threw petulant fits that kept tennis followers in this country continuously entertained for the last decade and a half, the genial Bopanna continued to grow as a player. Along the way he was labelled Bhupathi’s sidekick, accused of all kinds of manipulation by Paes and generally relegated to the fringes of the silliest drama in Indian tennis in which two men with huge egos reduced the sport to a spectacle akin to a catfight.
But it seems Bopanna is set to laugh the hardest. For, he’s just coming out of his shell and into his own. Currently placed at 13, he is India’s highest ranked men’s doubles player. At 35, the senior member of the Davis Cup squad has the respect of his team members and the trust of the singles guys who turn to him for advice. Bopanna has always been the most straightforward guy in the tennis bunch that figure on the Indian fan’s radar. The laidback 6’3″ does not mince words and rams them down a bit like that bazooka serve of his. Bopanna does not seem to believe in taking prisoners.
But still, your correspondent warms him up with about ten minutes of chatter before getting to the meat of this interaction. Is there more camaraderie in the team now that the friction between Paes and Bhupathi is no longer a factor?