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US Open 2023: Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden Go Down Fighting in Men’s Doubles Final – News18

Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden lost to the British-American pair of Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in the men’s doubles final at the Louis Armstrong Stadium in New York on Friday.

The sixth-seeded Indo-Australian pair, who had reached the semifinals of the Wimbledon Championships this year, went down 6-2, 3-6, 4-6.

Third seeds Ram and Salisbury became the first duo in the Open era to lift the trophy three years running in New York. The last team to achieve the feat was the all-American duo of Tom Bundy and Maurice McLoughlin from 1912-14.

Ram, 39, and Salisbury, 31, also won the 2020 Australian Open crown, with Ram setting an Open era record by claiming his first Grand Slam doubles championship in his 58th appearance.

Bopanna and Ebden got the start they wanted, breaking their rivals in the very first game. The Indian’s ferocious forehand was at work. He blasted a winner on a feeble return to earn three breakpoints.

Ram only helped them by fluffing an easy backhand volley on the first chance. Bopanna consolidated the lead with an easy hold.

The sixth seeds had a chance to go up 3-0 but could not convert the breakpoint when the Briton served at 30-40. The defending champions survived a few anxious moments but eventually got on board after playing three deuce points in that third game.

Ebden’s volley winner on Salibury’s return earned them another breakpoint and they sealed that when the Briton could pick up a half-volley.

This put Bopanna and Ebden firmly in control of the contest as they were now leading the first set 5-2.

The Australian came out to serve out the set and delivered. Ebden landed his serves exactly where he wanted to go up 40-0 and Ram hit his forehand return long on the first set point.

Salisbury was feeling the heat. It was evident when he came out to serve in the second set.

The Briton served two double faults and was down a breakpoint when Bopanna found a screaming backhand passing winner at 30-all, running on his left but eventually, the third seeds managed to hold the third game to stay alive in the match.

Soon it was Bopanna who was now struggling with his serve. He served a double fault and Ram’s strategy of firing deep returns unsettled the Indian a bit and it was enough to steal that crucial break that put the holders 4-2 up.

Having grown in confidence with that break of serve, Ram’s serve got better and Sailsbury’s ground strokes too improved along with movement on the court.

Ram sealed the set with an ace, forcing a decider.

Clearly, the momentum had shifted.

To make it even tougher for himself Bopanna was down 0-40 in the opening game of the final set but saved all breakpoints by reeling off five straight points for a tough hold.

Heart-stopping action followed in the fourth game when Salisbury staved off three breakpoints to stay on serve.

With two teams raising the level of the tennis being played, intense action was witnessed. Bopanna served a double fault at 30-all in the fifth game to be down by another breakpoint.

The Indian went for an all-out cross-court forehand winner but missed the line by a very thin margin to hand a crucial break to the rival team that consolidated the break with an easy hold.

Down 2-4 in the final set, Bopanna showed exemplary sportsman spirit and character when he himself conceded a point after a ball deflected off his right arm when his serving partner made a forehand return.

It was considered a winner as the chair umpire could not notice the deflection but the Indian himself told the umpire that he was conceding the point. Ebden held the serve and so did Bopanna in the next game.

Ram came out to serve for the championship and there was no twist in the tale.

Joe Salisbury, of Great Britain, left, and Rajeev Ram, of the United States, pose for a photo with the championship trophy after defeating Rohan Bopanna, of India, far right, and Matthew Ebden, of Australia, during the men’s doubles final of the US Open in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Bopanna, The History Maker

In doubles, Rohan Bopanna, who has won 24 career titles, has a win-loss record of 482–359 (57.3%) in ATP World Tour and Grand Slam main-draw matches, and in the Davis Cup.

This was Bopanna’s second appearance in a Grand Slam men’s doubles final as the 43-year-old Indian, having reached the summit clash in 2010 with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. Overall, it was the third Grand Slam final for Bopanna, who won his first and only Major in 2017 when he lifted the French Open mixed doubles trophy with Canadian partner Gabriela Dabrowski.

Bopanna also became the oldest player to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open era. Bopanna beat the record of Daniel Nestor of Canada, who was 43 years and 4 months when he played in a Major final, by two months.

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are the only two male tennis players from India to have won Grand Slam titles.

Bopanna, along with Indonesian partner Aldila Sutjiadi, had lost in the mixed doubles second round.

Other Indians in the fray, Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni had lost their respective opening-round matches in the men’s doubles event.

There were no Indian singles players in the main draw of the 2023 US Open as Ankita Raina was knocked out in the third round of the women’s singles qualifiers, whereas Karman Kaur Thandi bowed out in the opening round, and Sumit Nagal couldn’t make it past the first round of the men’s qualifiers.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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