By Hardev Sanotra
Rio de Janeiro–A first generation American of Indian origin, Rajeev Ram was a proud and satisfied man after beating India’s Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna to enter the mixed doubles tennis final at the Rio Olympics along with partner Venus Williams.
The American duo fought back from a set down to win the semi-final 2-6, 6-2, 10-3 in one hour and 17 minutes at the Olympic Tennis Centre here on Saturday.
The son of Raghav and Sushma Ram, who had migrated to the US from Bangalore, Rajeev was in a poignant mood amidst all the celebration by US fans in the stands.
“I will be the most hated person in India today. I am a first generation American having been born in the US in 1984,” Ram said after the match.
Ram played a pivotal role in the US victory. The Indians had started much stronger, shaking off a minor wobble in Bopanna’s first service game to win the opening set quite comfortably.
But the American duo soon found their groove and were a transformed unit in the second set with a fired up Ram spearheading the fightback.
It was Ram’s service which was broken in the first set and he seemed determined to make amends.
The 32-year-old of Indian origin came up with a much better performance in the second set and was excellent with his serves and ground strokes as well as with his returns at the net which rattled Sania-Bopanna a bit.
“When I went into the court to play today, I only had the mind to win. Nothing else. Both played very well. After we broke their serve in the first set, we never looked back,” Ram said.
If the Americans do manage to win the final and win the gold medal, it will be the first significant career title for Ram, who ironically partnered Bopanna in the men’s doubles circuit in 2013.