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Bopanna wins hearts with sportsmanship; is runner-up after hard-fought final

ROHAN BOPANNA and Matthew Ebden fell short in the US Open men’s doubles final on Friday against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, but Bopanna earned plenty of respect for a memorable act of sportsmanship.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury made history at the US Open on Friday when they became the first team in the Open Era (since 1968) to win three straight doubles titles at the hard-court major. The American-British pair produced a hard-fought display to earn a comeback 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against Matthew Ebden and 43-year-old Rohan Bopanna, who was the oldest Grand Slam doubles finalist in the Open Era.

Ram and Salisbury have now won their past 18 matches in New York, having triumphed at the event in 2021 and 2022. They have clinched four major titles together, also lifting the 2020 Australian Open trophy.

Though it was a hard loss for Bopanna, he won a lot of hearts with his sportsmanship. At 2-4 in the final set, Ebden hit a cross-court forehand that grazed the Indian’s right arm before it crossed the net and continued on for a winner. The chair umpire did not notice the touch, but Bopanna called it on himself, forfeiting the point, a report on said.

“When Matt hit that forehand cross-court, the ball hit my elbow. I don't think anybody really saw it, So I claimed it on myself,” Bopanna said. “That's the person I have been through my career, and I really feel if something — it doesn't matter what the scoreline or what the occasion of the match is — if something was not right, it was not right.

"Straightaway I went and told the referee that the ball had touched. I think she was confused too at what is happening.”

Ebden added: “The only one in the stadium who saw it hit you was me. Because I was right behind you, so I saw it deviate off you slightly.”

During the trophy ceremony after the match, Ram made a point of calling out Bopanna’s sportsmanship, the report added.

“Rohan and I are real close and that act of sportsmanship today, what he did out on the court. We have been playing for the better part of 20, 25 years on Tour together and I have never seen anything like that,” Ram said. “Especially in a moment like that because we would have had no idea. It just shows what kind of guy he is and how deserving he is to at this point in his career playing for these kinds of titles. You are an inspiration to all of us.”

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