London, Nov 13 (IBNS) As the curtains came down on the 2012 ATP season, India's Rohan Bopanna decided to part ways with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi and will join forces with American Rajeev Ram for the next season.
Bopanna and Ram have a combined experience of 17 years on the pro-circuit.
Bopanna and Ram, who have been friends on and off the tour for over a decade, had decided a few months ago to combine forces to make what they believe an extremely formidable partnership, given their complementary styles of play and strong service games.
Bopanna had a successful year with Bhupathi, which included two titles at Dubai and Paris and runner-up finish at the recently concluded season-ending London Masters. Bhupathi and Bopanna end their partnership with a 34-22 season record.
Bopanna had also attained his career-best ranking of 8 in March this year.
"I played with Mahesh in 2012 with a special focus on preparing for the London Olympics and now that it's over, I want to concentrate on the ATP circuit and am eager to build a strong, sustainable partnership. Rajeev is a great player and given our individual strengths, and his command of the deuce court, I believe that we can complement each other very well on the court," he said.
While looking back on their partnership, Bhupathi said: "There were times in the year where the pundits of Indian tennis threw us under the bus, said that 'we're not good enough', said that, 'these guys are jokers', in a diplomatic way. But we believed in ourselves.
"We reached three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals, won one Masters 1000 title and finished runners up here. We've beaten all the top teams there are to beat. We came through with flying colours, which I think is credit to us at the end of the day."
With a career best doubles ranking of 33, 28-year old Ram, with his booming serve and solid groundstrokes, has maintained a fine balance between the singles and doubles circuits, choosing to however spend the last few years limiting his single appearances and concentrating on his doubles game.
Partnering Scott Lipsky frequently over the last couple of years, Ram has won titles at Delray Beach and San Jose in 2011 and has won the St Petersburg Open in September of 2012 while partnering Nenad Zimonjic.
Looking forward to the new partnership, Ram said: "I am very excited to play with Rohan in 2013. He is not only one of the best doubles players in the world but also a good friend. It is a great opportunity for me and I am looking forward to it."
The duo had earlier made an appearance as a team at the Australian Open in 2008, where as an unseeded combination they proceeded to the pre-quarters defeating higher ranked teams along the way.
Last week, they won their first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris (d. Qureshi-Rojer) and played with confidence throughout the week in the English capital. Bhupathi, who was making his 12th appearance, has now finished as runner-up on five occasions – in 1997, 1999-2000 with Leander Paes and with Max Mirnyi in 2010.