Reaching Australian Open Men's Doubles Final at 43 | Sportsmonks
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Reaching Australian Open Men’s Doubles Final at 43

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At the age of 43, Rohan Bopanna has defied expectations, reaching his first men’s doubles final at the Australian Open. Despite his mature appearance and physical limitations, Bopanna’s on-court performance speaks volumes about his skill and determination. In a hard-fought match alongside partner Matt Ebden, they defeated the Czech-Chinese pair of Tomas Machac and Zhizhen Zhang 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7) to secure their spot in the final.

Bopanna’s journey to this point has been marked by consistency, hard work, and a refusal to let age be a limiting factor. Just a day earlier, his quarterfinal victory guaranteed him the title of the oldest first-time world No. 1. Now, on the Australian Open stage, he showcased why this accolade is well-deserved.

While men’s doubles has seen older players, Bopanna stands out for playing the best tennis of his life at 43. His remarkable peak comes with compromised knees and a body that cannot undergo extensive training. Four years after contemplating retirement due to pain, and a decade after achieving his previous best ranking of world No. 3, Bopanna is enjoying a career peak.

This Australian Open is particularly significant for Bopanna as it marks his first men’s doubles final at the tournament, surpassing his previous best third-round finish. Notably, this is only his third men’s doubles Grand Slam final, with the previous ones being at the US Open in 2010 and 2023, spanning 13 years.

The challenges in the semifinal match against the young Czech-Chinese pair were evident. Bopanna, along with Ebden, displayed prowess on serve and at the net, securing the first set with ease. Despite a lapse in the second set, they regrouped for a decider. The real test came against their hard-hitting opponents, requiring the experienced duo to leverage their net skills.

Leading 4-1, Bopanna’s volleys showcased his doubles touch. However, they faced a twist as their opponents mounted a comeback, breaking Bopanna’s serve and forcing a super tiebreak. While squandering three match points, Bopanna and Ebden faced a crucial moment. In the past, nerves might have led to faltering serves, but Bopanna remained composed. The duo eventually secured victory in the super tiebreak, with Bopanna delivering an ace on match point.

Reflecting on the match, Bopanna acknowledged the challenges faced, particularly when serving for the match. Despite being broken, their experience playing together proved crucial in navigating the super tiebreak.

Now, Bopanna and Ebden enter the final as favorites against unseeded Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori. As they carry the weight of expectations, their journey together over the past year enhances their confidence. For Bopanna, this represents the perfect opportunity to secure his first men’s doubles Grand Slam at the age of 43 and claim the world No. 1 title.

Bopanna’s resurgence in Australian Open finals is noteworthy, considering that just a year ago, he played the mixed doubles final with Sania Mirza. Now, he stands on the verge of a historic victory, showcasing that Indian tennis has found a reliable contender for winning positions even after Mirza’s retirement.

In the twilight of his career, Bopanna’s remarkable journey at the Australian Open is not just about the pursuit of a Grand Slam trophy; it’s a testament to the enduring spirit of a seasoned player defying age and physical constraints. The final promises to be a momentous occasion, and Bopanna’s quest for victory adds a special chapter to his illustrious career.

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By- Sahiba Suri

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