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May 23, 2018
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Practice session with Federer a learning experience, says Rohan BopannaSays his focus is on men’s doubles for the upcoming clay court season

Rohan Bopanna believes that his practice sessions with Australian Open champion Roger Federer served as a learning experience, showering praise on the latter for proving that age is just a number.

Bopanna, who teamed up with Timea Babos to reach the mixed doubles final at Melbourne, spoke at the launch of his personalised coffee brew at The Flying Squirrel here on Tuesday.

Here are excerpts from the conversation.

Losing a close mixed doubles final to Mate Pavic-Gabriela Dabrowski

We had championship point at 9-8 in the Super Tie-Break. After that, I didn’t even touch the ball. Pavic served two aces, and Gabriela hit a return winner off Timea’s serve.

I wasn’t even given a chance to influence these crucial points. But that’s how it goes in Super Tie-Breaks.

Not having a fixed mixed doubles partner

In mixed doubles, you find a partner on a tournament-by-tournament basis. There are only four tournaments a year (the Grand Slams), so you cannot practice together.

The first time I played with Timea was in our first round match. Considering our limited time together, I think we did very well.

Training with Federer

I’ve known Roger since the first time I played against him, in 2006 (first round of Gerry Weber Open, at Halle). Also, I played doubles with him in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).

One day before the singles final, Ivan Ljubicic (Federer’s coach) asked me if I wanted to practice with Roger. I obviously agreed, as we don’t get many opportunities like this. We didn’t do any specific drills. It was about getting a good hit. When I train with a quality singles guy like Roger, the balls come back to you constantly. After some time, I needed a water break (laughs).

The intensity of the practice was that much higher. For Roger to win his 20th Grand Slam title is just exceptional.

He proved that age is just a number. The way he took his game up a notch in the fifth set shows what a grand champ he is. There is much to learn from him.

Season ahead

My focus is on the men’s doubles for the upcoming clay court season. I want to play alongside Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

We have only competed in two tournaments so far, so it is a work in progress. I’m sure that it will be a long-term partnership.