India's top doubles player Rohan Bopanna on Wednesday revealed that he will bring curtains down on his Davis Cup career when the country hosts Morocco in September but the Karnataka player won't be able to play his farewell match in his home state, as desired by him, since AITA has already awarded the match to Uttar Pradesh.
India is scheduled to play Morocco in a World Group II tie in September.
The 43-year-old Bopanna, who made his Davis Cup debut in 2002 and is still playing solid tennis on the ATP Tour, has played 32 ties for India. "I am planning to play my last Davis Cup match in September," Bopanna told PTI from London.
"I have been on the team since 2002. I want it to be held at home I spoke to all the boys (Indian players) they are all happy to play in Bengaluru. KSLTA is also happy to have it there. Now it's up to our federation to see if they want to do it in Bangalore. Since I have been playing for 20 years, I just have to speak to the captain and figure out if they want to do it there. It will be good for everyone to come and watch one last time. Playing at 43 is a bonus," Bopanna, who is only one of the four Indians to have won a Grand Slam title, added.
It is only apt that a player, who has contributed to Indian tennis' success in the prestigious tournament over the years, gets to play his last match at the venue of his choice.
However, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) confirmed to PTI that it won't be able to give the tie to Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA).
"To be fair, it would have been good for Rohan to play his last India match in Bengaluru but we have already committed to UP. The tie will be played in Lucknow, it has already been decided," AITA Secretary General Anil Dhupar said.
Leander Paes has played the most number of ties for India with 58 appearances, followed by Jaideep Mukherjee (43), Ramanathan Krishnan (43), Premjit Lal (41) Anand Amirtraj (39), Mahesh Bhupathi (35), Vijay Amritraj (32).
So, Bopanna will overtake the legendary Vijay Amritraj in terms of the number of Davis Cup appearances when he plays against Morocco.
In his 32 ties, Bopanna won 12 singles matches and 10 doubles rubbers.
Asked if he will continue to play on the ATP Tour, Bopanna replied in an affirmative. "If I don't play on Tour, another Indian won't get that spot. Like if I don't play Wimbledon it's not like that spot will go to an Indian. But in Davis Cup, my spot will go to an Indian. It's been so many years, so there is a bunch of players coming up."
Asked when did he decide to quit Davis Cup, Bopanna said, "I always had it in my mind that I have to stop at some point in time. And since this is a home tie, I thought it was a good time to go. For country also it's significant."
Bopanna is 43 but is still pulling off title-winning performances on the Tour. In March he became the oldest player to win a Master Series tournament (ATP1000) at Indian Wells in the USA.
Bopanna had broken the record of Canadian Daniel Nestor, who had won the Cincinnati Masters title when he was 42 in 2015.
"It's been a fantastic year for me, breaking back in the top 10, being able to still represent the country, playing at the biggest stage," Bopanna, ranked 11 in the world, said.
The Indian Davis Cup team was relegated to the World Group II for the first time since the new format was launched in 2019 after losing the playoff tie 2-3 to Denmark in February this year. In the last six ties, India suffered defeats in four. The team won against lower-ranked Pakistan in Kazakhstan and against Denmark in New Delhi on grass courts.