Chennai Open: Bopanna-Jeevan create history, win first-ever all-Indian ATP doubles
By Our Correspondent
Chennai , 10 Jan, 2017 :: There were four players on the court. Rohan Bopanna (India), Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (India), Divij Sharan (India) and Purav Raja (India). For the first time, in any ATP tournament, four Indians were featuring in the doubles final. The Chennai crowd greeted the historic occasion with a boisterous cheer; the loudest was saved for local boy Nedunchezhiyan. But the man who held all the aces was Bopanna.Forever in the shadow of doubles legends Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, for the first time, Bopanna was the big man on the campus. And he made it count, hitting big both on his serves and returns, to help himself to the first Chennai Open title and Nedunchezhiyan to his first ATP title. The duo defeated Raja-Sharan 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and five minutes.
"It was a very proud moment to play in the first all-India finals. It was a big step for Indian tennis," said Bopanna. "I knew it was Jeevan's first final and wanted to make sure that he was under no pressure and wanted him to enjoy the moment. The early break (in the first set) set us up and also helped with the nerves," he added.
After the match, the players greeted each other with warm embraces. It was a rare moment for Indian tennis too given that it has been embroiled with one controversy after another for the past six months. Bopanna later tweeted a video of the foursome, who also celebrated by cutting a cake.
Of the four players, Bopanna is the most experienced and plays regularly in the Grand Slams and bigger tour events. Nedunchezhiyan, Raja and Sharan have all had similar career trajectories, and are currently trying to break through into doubles. Raja-Sharan are ranked in the 50s and have been the feel-good story of the tournament so far.