India's doubles ace Rohan Bopanna, who is playing some of the best tennis of his career, became the oldest Grand Slam doubles finalist in the Open Era as he and his dual partner Matthew Ebden reached the US Open final.
Producing outstanding tennis at the Flushing Meadows in front of a handsome Louis Armstrong crowd, Bopanna and Matthew Ebden defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in Thursday's semifinals to set a summit clash against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.
In April 2021, Bopanna said he was wondering why he was still playing tennis. The Indian star had just lost a match in Estoril with Alexander Bublik. He had lost all seven matches he had played at the start of the season, winning only a single set.
"I was sitting near the ocean and I was telling myself, 'What am I even doing? I'm not even winning matches, I have a family at home. Should I just call it a day and just go back?'. Our daughter was four years old right now and I thought, 'Why not? Let's do that," Bopanna told ATPTour.com.
Instead, Bopanna continued on and is playing some of the best tennis of his career. Bopanna and Matthew Ebden will play Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury for the US Open title on Friday.
The Indian has won five ATP Masters 1000 titles with five different partners, although he has never won a major championship in men's doubles. Not bad for someone whose knees lack cartilage.
"It's worn out completely. It's just worn out. It's not a tear. Both my knees have no cartilage and in 2019 I was on two, or three painkillers a day. [In] 2020 I started Iyengar yoga, and that actually made a tremendous difference. I went from two, or three painkillers a day to no painkillers today. I think the only time sometimes I take an anti-inflammatory is from playing two matches a day. At that time the body says, 'Hello, please slow down, you still have no cartilage," Bopanna said.
When professional tennis was interrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Bopanna developed an interest in Iyengar yoga. He worked out four times a week for 90 minutes.
"It really made the difference. I said 'Okay'. Then when I started playing, I felt pain-free. And then that was a whole new ballgame," Bopanna explained.
Today, the 24-time tour-level doubles titlist does a shorter period of yoga in the morning.
"I think the yoga kind of helped align the body better, helped the mind as well [stay] calmer. And then having the right team, I've had Scott Davidoff travelling with me for 12, 13 years now and that has made a huge difference to understanding how I'm playing. I've invested in myself in terms of bringing a good physio on board this year. Last year, I didn't have that," Bopanna said.
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