When Rohan Bopanna scored the final point of the 2024 Open, he and his doubles partner, Matthew Ebden, dropped to the court in disbelief, their hands cradling their heads in sheer astonishment. Moments later, the seasoned 43-year-old and his 36-year-old teammate turned back the clock, springing to their feet,  executing an exuberant chest bump. With this win, Bopanna made history, becoming the oldest first-time number one in tennis.

Two is Better Than One

Bopanna began his professional tennis career in 2003 playing singles, but injuries stymied some early success. Overall, he held a singles record of 15–33 and was ranked 213th in the world. Bopanna would find greater success playing doubles, becoming a two-time Olympian, and rising to No. 3 in the world in 2017. However, in 2019, he began contemplating retirement after going through five months without wins and battling knee issues due to a lack of cartilage.
When he told his wife he wanted to retire, she gave him advice that would change his career.

“When you change limitations to opportunities, everything changes.”
This challenged Bopanna’s mindset that the best times of his career were behind him and gave him a new paradigm through which to view his challenges. In addition to a mindset shift, he also changed how he trained, relying heavily on yoga and endurance training.

Level 43

In 2023, Bopanna began playing with his current doubles partner, Matthew Ebden. The pair played well together and cracked the top ten last year. At the Australian Open, the pair solidified their place in the record books with a (0) 7–5 victory over Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori.

In the days before the thrilling victory, Bopanna gave fans a window into how he approached the sport in relation to his age.

“I’m not old,” he said. “I’m at level 43. Not at age 43.”

Bopanna’s resurgence didn’t start with a change on the court. It began with changing how he viewed his limitations. Often, the most significant changes in our lives happen when we shift our perspective.

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