Bopanna, Middelkoop win double title in Tel Aviv

Rohan Bopanna of India and his Dutch partner Matwe Middelkoop won the ATP 250 Tel Aviv Watergen Open doubles title, beating Mexican-Argentine pair Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni 6-2, 6-4 in the final on Sunday.

After a trophy-free 2021, this is the third title of the season for 42-year-old Bopanna, following the win on the clay courts of Adelaide and Pune at the start of the year with compatriot Ramkumar Ramanathan. The win is expected to push Bopanna, the world’s number 22 in the individual doubles ranking, into the top 20 on Monday.

Bopanna and Middelkoop were top performers in Tel Aviv and the final was their most clinical outing. Forced to dig deep in the three matches leading up to it, the pair won the Round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals in super tiebreakers after losing the first set in each of them.

“In the final they played at their level. They didn’t play very well in the previous rounds, but they found a way to win,” said Balachandran Manikkath, who traveled with Bopanna as his coach in Tel Aviv. “In the previous rounds they didn’t start well and dropped their serve early, but came out better in the tiebreaks and super tiebreaks. They managed to pull off those close situations. That also gave them a lead in the final.”

The Indo-Dutch duo has achieved some solid results this season by playing together. They reached the semifinals of the French Open before losing a close match to Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer; they also made it to the ATP 500 Hamburg final and the Washington semifinals in July and August. Their opening round departure from the US Open to Italians Lorenzo Sonego and Andrea Vavassori was a surprise.

Ramkumar makes main draw

Ramkumar qualified for the main singles draw at the ATP 500 Japan Open, beating runner-up Swede Elias Ymer 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 in the second qualifying round on Sunday. The India No 1 will face Japan’s Rio Noguchi in the opening round.

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