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Rohan Bopanna has made history as the oldest tennis player to top the world rankings after progressing to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
Bopanna will become the new men’s doubles world No 1 after he and partner Matt Ebden beat Máximo González and Andrés Molteni 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) in Melbourne.
The 43-year-old surpasses Mike Bryan, who was 41 years and 76 days old when his stint at the top of the rankings ended in 2019.
The Indian began his professional career at the turn of the century and secured his only grand slam to date in the mixed doubles at the 2017 French Open with Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski.
“It’s just going to inspire a lot of people, and I don’t think just in tennis,” Bopanna said as he and Australian Ebden set up an encounter with Tomas Machac and Zhang Zhizhen.
“People all over the world, being 40 and above, it’s just going to inspire them in a different way.”
Ebden and Bopanna joined forces at the end of 2022, and will be level on points at the top of the rankings ahead of Austin Krajicek. Bopanna earns top spot, though, having played fewer events.
Serena Williams is the oldest woman to be ranked No 1 in singles, at age 35, while Novak Djokovic could well break Roger Federer’s men’s record this year. Lisa Raymond was 39 when occupying top spot in women’s doubles in 2012, while in quad wheelchair tennis, David Wagner was the oldest table-topper of all at 44.
Bopanna hopes his success can inspire other Indian players.
“It probably hasn’t sunk in fully yet but still credit to the entire team,” the Banglaore-born Bopanna said. “These last 13 months have been an incredibly consistent kind of a year.
“India needed this, Indian tennis needed this. I am really happy to be representing India across the world in this tennis journey. There’s so much love and support from the entire country for two decades. I am thankful for all the support. I think, this is from my side, giving back to everyone in India.”