Melbourne: At 43 years and 369 days, India’s Rohan Bopanna achieved the rare distinction of becoming the oldest tennis Grand Slam winner, when he and his Australian partner Matthew Ebden defeated Italians Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori 7 (7)-6(0), 7-5 in the men’s doubles final of the Australian Open at the Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne Park today. In the process, he also becomes the oldest player in tennis history to get the number-one ranking in the men’s doubles category.
The previous record was held by Netherlands’ Jean-Julien Roger, who was 40 years and nine months old when won the 2022 French Open while partnering El Salvador’s Marcelo Arevalo. Incidentally, another Indian, Leander Paes, had won the 2013 US Open with Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek, when he was 40 years and two months old.
Yet none is close to the legendary Martina Navratilova, who won the 2006 US Open mixed doubles title alongside Bob Bryan at the age of 49 years and 10 months. She remains the oldest Grand Slam champion, men or women, in Open Era tennis.
Bopanna’s men’s doubles victory in a Grand Slam finally came after his 61st attempt and with 19 different partners! He though, had under his belt a major title in the mixed-doubles category at the 2017 French Open mixed doubles alongside Gabriela Dabrowski. His title win is also the 33rd by an Indian in a Grand Slam.
Earlier, Bopanna had reached the men’s doubles finals of a Grand Slam tournament twice. First it was with his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-Haq at the US Open in 2010, and then again at the 2023 US Open with his current partner, Matthew Ebden.
After his win, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on the social media platform X, “Time and again, the phenomenally talented @rohanbopanna shows age is no bar! Congratulations to him on his historic Australian Open win. His remarkable journey is a beautiful reminder that it is always our spirit, hard work and perseverance that define our capabilities. Best wishes for his future endeavours.”