Indian Wells, March 19:India's Rohan Bopanna and his Australian partner Matthew Ebden won the Indian Wells Masters men's doubles title, defeating World No.1 Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski 6-3, 2-6, 10-8 in the final, here on Sunday.
The victory marks Bopanna and Ebden's first Masters 1000 title as a team, and their second in their first season as a pairing.
Indian veteran Bopanna, who turned 43 on March 4, became the oldest man to ever win a Masters 1000 doubles title, surpassing his former partner Daniel Nestor. He is also the first Indian man to claim the Indian Wells Masters doubles title since Leander Paes in 2007.
"I'd like to thank my partner. It's his first Masters title, and it's my first Masters here at Indian Wells. It's a big moment. Every year we keep coming back and I pass the locker room near the restaurant and I see the champion's pictures on the wall. It's been 12 years since I first played the semifinal, so I'm glad that I finally got through," said Bopanna after claiming the title.
After splitting the first two sets, Ebden and Bopanna lost the first point of the champion's tiebreak to the comeback-minded World No.1s. They bounced back immediately, claiming the next two points, and never trailed from that point on, converting their second championship point after one hour and 25 minutes.
Earlier, the Indian-Australian pairing knocked off defending and two-time desert titlists John Isner and Jack Sock in Friday's semi-finals and beat Canadian singles stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov in the quarters. Their opening victory came in a Match Tie-break against Rafael Matos and David Vega Hernandez.
Bopanna was playing in his 10th ATP Masters 1000 final and now holds 24 tour-level trophies following the victory. A former World No. 3, Bopanna moved up four places to No. 11 in the ATP Live Doubles Rankings behind the trophy run.
On the other hand, Ebden, who won the 2022 Wimbledon title with fellow Aussie Max Purcell, won his ninth tour-level title and his first at the ATP Masters 1000 level. The 35-year-old moved up 19 places to No. 18 in the ATP Live Doubles Rankings this tournament, setting himself up for a new career high on Monday.
"Bops and I spoke about it at the beginning of this year. We said we're not here to make up numbers. We want to win the Slams, we want to win the Masters, the 500s, and try to get to that No. 1 ranking. That's what it's about. Today's a big step in that direction," said Ebden.