Australian Open champion and World No.1 Rohan Bopanna has fondly recalled his interactions with Swiss tennis great Roger Federer, particularly their unique cricket games in the locker rooms of the Wimbledon tournament.
Bopanna became the oldest man to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era when he won the Australian Open men’s doubles title in Melbourne last week alongside local favourite Matthew Ebden. The Indo-Aussie pair defeated Italy’s Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori 7-6(0), 7-5 in the title match, propelling them to the top of the ATP men’s doubles rankings.
To commemorate the auspicious occasion of putting India on the tennis map, Rohan Bopanna met with Indian influencer Dilip Kumar on Tuesday (January 30) to discuss a variety of interesting topics. The fact that the 43-year-old had both competed against and collaborated with Roger Federer was eventually brought up, prompting a personal account from the men’s World No. 1.
Bopanna lavished praise on the Swiss maestro for transcending the sport with his unrivalled class and charming personality, claiming that he was always courteous to any player he encountered off the court. Notably, Federer had faced Bopanna, then 26, in the first round of the 2006 Halle Open. While the Swiss had only won seven Major titles at the time, the Indian had not yet ventured into doubles.
Federer and Bopanna had also teamed up for the Indian Aces’ International Tennis Premier League (ITPL) exhibition. They defeated Australia’s Nick Kyrgios and Lleyton Hewitt in a 6-1 shootout.
“I think how he changed the sport, not only on the court but off the court as well,” Rohan Bopanna said. “He was somebody who communicated with all the players, and understood them. Even though he was such a great champion, no matter where he met some players, he was always amazing.”
Bopanna also reminisced about his time playing cricket with Federer in the All England Club’s locker room.
“There were many times where we were at Wimbledon in the locker room, you know, Roger and I used to play cricket,” he added while smiling. “I think there were three times we were at the warm-up area with a similar juncture because we were playing matches which were similar times on different courts, and we happened to be there.”