India’s 2018 Asian Games gold medal winning pair of Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan has decided to form a permanent partnership and will play together on the ATP Tour from the 2019 season.
Bopanna and Sharan – ranked 37 and 39 in the ATP year-end doubles ranking respectively – will start their season at the Maharashtra Open in Pune and will play one more tournament before taking part in the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year.
“We have played with each other before and we gel well. Plus we have similar rankings so we can enter the bigger tournaments together,” Sharan told Scroll.in. “Both of us are from India and it is always nice to play with someone from your country,” he added.
The idea to pair came up organically and was something both of them were keen on, especially after their title-winning run in Indonesia in August this year. “We have been in touch and were thinking about this, especially after the Asian Games. I enjoy playing with Rohan and we form a good pair,” he said.
But the partnership can also go on to be a lot more meaningful for Indian tennis with an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. An all-Indian doubles pair with the experience of playing together on the circuit will be a welcome addition the squad.
On his part, Sharan did say that playing together now will give them the opportunity to play more tournaments together for India in the future. The duo displayed good chemistry when they played together in Indonesia and more tournaments together will give them a chance to get better. Much like the pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in the early part of this millennium.
After the Maharashtra Open, the pair plans to play in either Sydney or Auckland depending on the entry list and then the Australian Open. There is a strong possibility that they will team up in the Davis Cup as well, when India take on Italy in February in the qualifiers for the Finals.
The 32-year-old Sharan is a late bloomer and has had a great season in 2018, reaching a career-best 36 and was briefly the highest-ranked Indian in doubles ahead of Bopanna as well. Sharan had a host of partners in the last year, after ending his long-standing partnership with fellow Indian Purav Raja. Last year at the Maharashtra Open, Sharan had played with Yuki Bhambri while 2016 Chennai Open champions Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan had played together.