Star Indian doubles player Rohan Bopanna will partner with Ben McLachlan for the 2021 Australian Open men’s doubles event.
Bopanna will be relieved after finally securing a partner for the year’s first Grand Slam, after his participation was thrown into doubt after partner Joao Sousa contracted Covid-19 back in Portugal and was unable to travel to Australia as a result.
The 39-year-old instead will now team up with 28-year-old McLachlan, a doubles specialist from Japan. This will be the first time that Bopanna will be playing with McLachlan.
The Indian had played against McLachlan at the 2020 ASB Classic in Auckland. Bopanna, playing alongside Henri Kontinen, lost to McLachlan and Luke Bambridge, who eventually went on to win the title.
McLachlan was also left without a partner after South Africa’s Raven Klaasen pulled out of the Australian Open.
“He (Ben) is a doubles specialist too, so it is easier to set up practise times. He is a good serve and volley player. I will be playing the Australian Open with him and the week after that in Singapore,” Bopanna told Olympic Channel.
McLachlan, born in New Zealand, has represented Japan from 2017 and is currently ranked 48th in doubles. His best-ever ranking was 18, which he achieved in November 2018.
His best-ever Grand Slam performance was a semifinal appearance at the 2018 Australian Open where he partnered Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. The duo lost the semifinal to eventual champions Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic.
Bopanna revealed that he will play with McLachlan at the Singapore Open, which is scheduled for a February 22 start, as well.
In mixed doubles, Bopanna will team up with China's Duan Yingying.
The Indian’s Australian Open preparation has not been ideal after a passenger in the flight in which he flew to Melbourne had tested positive for Covid-19. As a result, Bopanna had been in strict quarantine for 14 days and has not been able to step out of his room and train.
His quarantine is ending on Saturday and Bopanna revealed that he will be playing the Melbourne ATP event, which serves as a warm-up for the Australian Open with Frederik Nielsen.
“Today is my last day of quarantine. So really looking forward to getting out. I have two practice sessions scheduled tomorrow with Nielsen. I just want to hit as many balls as possible and try and get some rhythm. I don't want to push too hard physically as it may lead to some injury.”