By Vivek Prabhakar Singh

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 12 (ANI): The reigning Australian Open men's doubles champion Rohan Bopanna has set his sight on the Paris Olympics 2024 starting July 26 after winning his maiden men's doubles grand slam.

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"I think Olympics is very much in the pipeline. It is going to be amazing that we will be having a tennis team participating at Olympics but before that I have a lot of Masters series like Indian Wells, Miami then the clay court season begins. We have the French Open and Wimbledon. So, we have so many events before the Olympics. You know for tennis calendar it is pretty busy. Every week there is a tournament. So, a lot of wonderful things to look forward to and excited for the seaosn coming up," said Rohan Bopanna while speaking to ANI.

It has been more than two weeks but the feeling of winning his first Australian Open title is yet to sink in for the world no.1 doubles player who reached numero uno immediately after winning the quarter-final of Australian Open 2024.

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"It has been incredible. Even though it has been couple of weeks but it feels like it was yesterday. It has been overwhelming the response. It is still sinking in to be honest. But it has been wonderful with a lot of messages. Lots of love towards this achievement of mine. I really feel proud for not only my family but well-wishers and many people I have met they have been inspired in some ways. It really feels special. I am extremely happy to achieve the number one ranking and a grand slam," said Bopanna.

Bopanna became world no.1 in men's doubles immediately after reaching the men's doubles semi-final of the Australian Open 2024 and winning the crown made it even more special.

"It is not easy actually you do not get such a response in between tournaments actually. I won that quarter-final match I knew I was going to be world no.1. So, did a lot of players. There were a lot of messages for that. I knew what was the task in hand. I don't think it would have been complete then. It would have been missing if I was world no.1 but had I not won the title then ideally there would have been mixed feelings. So, this would have been the perfect finish for the grand slam to win a grand slam title and also become world no.1 and especially if you see my record with Ebden in last year especially we have made it to semis in Wimbledon and final in US Open then winning an Australian Open then I think we derserve to be where we are today, " explained Rohan Bopanna.

The 43-year-old also credited his partner Matthew Ebden for his success as they share great chemistry on the court and have been very consistent in grand slams.

"It is a completely 50-50 percentage of sharing success. I don't think either one of us could have achieved where we are today without the other player. As much credit as I have of becoming a men's doubles champion or becoming world no.1. Its equal credit to Matthew Ebden with him being my by side I don't think I could have achieved this so you know I am really thankful that I found a wonderful partner as Matthew Ebden which we are able to build and successfully grow as a partnership. I mean you know also my coach and physio Scott and Rebecca are extremely to important people to make a major part in the growth of my journey and in the tennis front these are the three people who definitely deserve all the success as much as what I have received today. You know its equal laurels to all of them, " explained Bopanna.

When Bopanna clinched his second grand slam title after a long wait of almost seven years he exulted in joy and fell on the court in celebration. To witness this memorable moment his wife Supriya and daughter alongwith his in laws where there in Melbourne.

"It is a very very special moment, especially for Supriya who has been with me for such a long period of time travelling week in and week out has seen those disappointments and tough losses that I have been through. The sacrifices that I have made and emotionally it is tough I mean we go through so many ups and downs you know as a player and you know I think the closest people with you can see that. It was always incrdible and I am thankful that she was there to witness that victory of mine. Most importantly I was really happy that my daughter was also there to witness that grand slam title and for her she understands excatly what the magnitude of everything was. You know she asked me after the match that why I had fallen into the ground and after winning the match it was a different aspect of looking at things in a different angle, a different set of perspective. Hopefully one day she kept and understands that what this all meant to me and why that emotional side as well was there but I am really thankful that my wife and daughter were there. My in laws also were there so it was beautiful to have family because when you travel then it can get really lonely so having some family in this tournament makes a huge difference," said Bopanna.

The two-time Olympian came to India and also went to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was highly encouraged after meeting him.

"Its always encouraging for an athlete when the Prime Minister himself is meeting and supporting all the athletes from the country. I think it is a beautiful thing. You know when you have an understanding of how much spart can really make a change in the ecosystem. He is someone leading right from the front and he is constantly there to support all the athletes, meet the athletes whenever he can find time. So, I am thankful that he found little time to meet me. He was very encouraging and I mean I have heard so many wonderful things about him from other athletes. That is the first time I got to meet the honourable Prime Minister. So, I was really excited and its even more after how encouraging he is to you know to sportsmen and I got to meet the Sports Minister as well. So, that has been also amazing. Anytime sports getting a boost then it is encouraging for all the sportspersons. So, I am really thankful that this wonderful initiative has been taken up," told Bopanna.

"It makes a tremendous difference I mean sometimes you need the inspiration before going to a big event. You are prepared but we know suddenly the entire country starting from the honourable Prime Minister is also there to support you. You know tennis can get a little lonely out there at times then suddenly when you think back you are not only playing for yourself you are playing for the entire nation. A lot more people who are behind the scenes waiting and supporting you. It is very encouraging and I think thats a wonderful thing we get to see and I think all the players are really appreciative every time we meet him and get those encouraging words, " added Bopanna.

Rohan Bopanna recently met rising Indian cricketer Shubman Gill who later posted on his official Instagram handle calling him an 'Absolute Legend' on Saturday.

"I think we all grow up getting inspired by somebody. No matter what sport we are playing at the end of the day it says our name and it says India. I think thats where the inspiration comes from. I think I am really thankful that I got to meet Shubman and such encouraging words I think at the end of the day he loves to watch other sports and watch other sportspersons. So, that is really wonderful. I think we all should learn from each other and I think we should all encourage each other. That is where the sports wins and I think the sports wins here and this is what India need," said Bopanna.

India has unfortunately produced trifle grand slam champions like Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. Bopanna feels to have more grand slam champions India as a country needs to host more future and Challenger type of tournaments to give youngsters the much-needed exposure.

"The biggest thing we need is to have tournaments in India to encourage all the athletes who are already playing here. We do not have a vehicle to get to the highest level. So, the minute we start bringing tournaments at future level, Challenger level and I am not just talking about three-four tournaments. Over 25-30 tournaments a year. So, this is what tournaments in Europe or US have got constantly and the players don't have to travel outside their country. So, this what they really need to get tournaments in India. This will get the structure that the country needs in the sport," explained Bopanna. (ANI)

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