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Rohan Bopanna Creates History, Becomes Oldest Man to Win Grand Slam

Rohan Bopanna Creates History, Becomes Oldest Man to Win Grand Slam

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NEW DELHI, Jan 27: India’s Rohan Bopanna who is set to turn 44 in March this year, became the oldest man to win a Grand Slam after clinching the Australian Open 2024 men’s doubles title in Melbourne on Saturday pairing with Matthew Ebden.

The second seeded Indian and Australian doubles team claimed a 7-6 (7/0), 7-5 victory over unseeded Italian pair Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori on Rod Laver Arena. It was their maiden title as a team and Bopanna’s first in men’s doubles after 60 previous Grand Slams — a record for most attempts before winning.

Bopanna also became only the third Indian to win a men’s doubles Grand Slam title. In a high-quality game of tennis, Bopanna and Ebden won the final that lasted one hour and 39 minutes.

Only the iconic Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have won Major titles for India in men’s tennis while trailblazer Sania Mirza did it in women’s tennis.

For Bopanna it is his second Grand Slam title, having won the French Open mixed doubles with Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski in 2017.

At 43, Bopanna also became the oldest Grand Slam champion in men’s tennis. He bettered the record of Jean-Julien Rojer who, at age of 40, had lifted the French Open men’s doubles trophy in 2022 with Marcelo Arevola.

It was such hard-fought battle at the Rod Laver arena that the contest featured only one break of serve when Vavassori dropped his serve at love in game 11 of the second set. There were not many break points on offer either. The second seeds had breakpoints in successive games in the beginning of the contest. However, the Italians saved both to stay on even terms.

In game two, off Bolelli’s serve, Vavassori hit a volley at 30-30 but Bopanna hit a return long. In game four, the Italians were again down a break point when at 30-30, a return from Bopanna jumped off the net chord to give the second seeds a free point. However, Vavassori served well to save that point as well.

Serving 4-5, and 30-all, Bolelli was under pressure again but pulled off a powerful cross court forehand which was away from Bopanna’s reach and then served huge to make it 5-all.

Ebden’s serve came under pressure in game 11 in which he faced a breakpoint, but, after playing deuce points, the Australian closed the game with an ace. In the tie-breaker, Bolelli’s serve was broken twice as the second seeds zoomed to a 5-0 lead without losing a point on their serve.

Vavassori too lost his serve to hand their rivals six set points. They converted the first, Ebden finding a forehand winner down the line. Bopanna will be crowned the new number one on Monday when the ATP rankings will be updated. At 43, he will be the oldest player to be perched on top of the ranking pile.

Bolelli had won the Australian Open men’s doubles in 2015 with partner Fabio Fognini.

(Manas Dasgupta)

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