Now there is confidence and belief to win a Grand Slam, says Rohan Bopanna

For World No. 4 Rohan Bopanna, the upcoming French Open will be doubly important. Not only is the tournament one of tennis’ four crown jewels, there is added significance because the Paris Olympics’ tennis event is set to be played at Roland-Garros and the 44-year-old Bopanna will be competing in the men’s doubles category.
What are your expectations from this year’s Roland-Garros?
To start better than last year [first round]. It’s not one of the best clay-court seasons we’ve had so far [partner Matthew Ebden]. But it is a fresh beginning. The last three Grand Slams have been pretty fruitful. So, looking to just get a good start.

After winning the Miami Masters, results at Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome [combined win-loss 1-3] have been below par. Is it worrying?
No, not at all. We are still the No. 1 team in the world [No. 2]. It’s the first time we have been in a situation like this and sometimes losing early in tournaments is not something to really worry about. It’s a fresh start and we are looking forward.
After becoming World No. 1 and the 2024 Australian Open success, have you recalibrated your expectations?
Of course! Now there is confidence and belief to win a Grand Slam. Earlier, the situation was different. To be honest, I don’t think clay is our biggest strength. But both of us are adapting and enjoying. And we are confident because at the last three Majors, we have a semifinal (Wimbledon 2023), final (US Open) and a win (Aus Open).

You won your first Slam on clay (French Open 2017, mixed doubles) and Masters 1000s at Madrid (2015) and Monte Carlo (2017). Don’t these give you confidence?
As a team, I don’t think it is a strength, but as an individual, I have really started enjoying playing on clay. I’ve adapted and am still learning. It has taken years. It is a surface which we don’t have in our country. It doesn’t come naturally, to Ebden either. We have to find small loopholes on which our strengths work.

For the second straight Slam, India will have representation in both doubles and singles (Sumit Nagal). How important is it for the country’s tennis?
Extremely important. When you watch athletes from your own country, it really inspires. Sumit has been playing very well and this time he has qualified directly into the main draw, which is really good. I saw him play in Monte Carlo; he’s grown and matured. Yuki Bhambri is also in the doubles main draw. It’s definitely going to give a big boost for Indian tennis.