US Open: 'Backhand Boys' Bopanna, Shapovalov shock the four seeds Mahut-Herbert
NEW YORK: India Rohan Bopanna and from Canada Denis Shapovalov - the boys upside down in the doubles game, playing as they do with one hand on the stick - surprised French quarters Nicolas Mahut & Pierre-Hugues Herbert in a United States Open Men's doubles accessory.
The Indo-Canadian pair, who fired 21 winners to come away with a 6-3, 6-1 win in 55 minutes, will go up against the tricky Italian duo of Marco Cecchinato & Andreas Seppi in the second round on Sunday.
Bopanna & Shapovalov, an unlikely pairing, who came together in March, are playing only their sixth tournament as a team. They skipped the clay-court swing but played two lead-up events to the final Grand Slam of the year.
The match has some things for them, among which stands out the service of the 39-year-old Indian, who is regaining his advantage by playing alongside the 20-year-old Shapovalov. The star of the next generation of the ATP, a lefty, is exceptional on the net. The duo punishes particularly from the bottom of the court, calling the shots with their statements.
Bopanna, in 39th place, started the season playing with fellow countryman Divij Sharan, in 47th place. They started looking for different partners when they failed to make the cut as a team at the ATP Masters 1000 field in Indian Wells.
“A lot of singles players are playing doubles events, they pick & choose. I messaged Denis, asking him if he wanted to play & he replied immediately, saying he’d love to play,” said Bopanna, who struck a friendship with Shapovalov during a Davis Cup clash two years ago.
The duo feels comfortable on the court.
“We have an on-court friendship, an understanding that helps us both play freely,” Bopanna said. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere & we have fun playing together. We bring out the best in each other.
"I sometimes go & watch his singles matches. He always asks me if I want a ticket to his box. Sometimes I sit in his box, sometimes I don’t. He’s an extremely nice guy.”
Denis was aware of the long clay games, so he didn't want to play doubles during that period, said Bopanna, based in Bengaluru.
Nos volvimos a juntar en el césped, dijo, & agregó que empezaron a correr, llegando a la final en Stuttgart. Entiendo que no quería jugar dobles en Wimbledon, porque es el mejor de cinco sets en dobles allí. Los solteros son su prioridad.
The duo rejoined in Montreal, where they reached the semifinals.