The former World No.1 junior and Youth Olympics runner-up Yuki Bhambri is a confident man these days. The 21-year-old believes that he can hold his own against some of the top-100 players.
He showed his prowess at the Chennai Open, reaching the quarterfinals and went on to make the third round of doubles at the Australian Open, which has bolstered his confidence further.
Thanks to one of the finest starts of the season in his fledgling professional career, Bhambri expressed the desire to make a difference on the opening day, when he could possibly take on another former World No.1 junior, Tsung-Hua Yang, in the Davis Cup Asia Oceania group ‘I’ tie against Chinese Taipei, starting here on Friday.
“It is really going to be up to me on the opening day. We can count on Somdev (Devvarman), a top-100 player, to win his matches. We have a solid chance in the doubles with a top player like Rohan Bopanna bringing his experience,” said Bhambri, as he looked ahead with optimism.
“I have known Yang for a long time, from the junior days when we were 13 years. But, I have never played him. He is going to be tricky. He reached the final of a Challenger in Hawaii last week. The first day is going to be interesting. We are all playing well, and I back us to go up 2-0 on the opening day,” said Bhambri, who had made his Davis Cup debut in style, beating Izak van der Merwe of South Africa in Johannesburg in 2009.
Bhambri had beaten another top player Dennis Istomin of Uzbekistan in three sets in which all the sets went into tie-break in 2012 in Namangan.
Thereafter, it has been relatively easy opposition for India in the Davis Cup, beating New Zealand and Indonesia at home without dropping a rubber.
Though he was happy to have played his best tennis at the Chennai Open, Bhambri said that he was a bit disappointed to have lost in the first qualifying round of singles in Melbourne.
He revealed that he had blisters on his serving palm and the skin had peeled off. He could hardly hold the racquet. He did not touch a racquet for three days and the palm was alright in time before his doubles campaign.
“The match against (Pablo Carrero) Busta was the best I have played so far. I was happy with the way I played Fabio Fognini for a set and a half. Now, I believe that I do have a chance against these guys. It was not the case a year ago. I do not want to give an excuse, but I was unlucky in the singles qualifying at the Australian Open, even though I managed to take a set”, said Bhambri who had won a Challenger last year in Australia, and lost in the final of the Australian Open wild card event in China.
Bhambri did win a doubles wild card though. He and Michael Venus of New Zealand did very well to reach the pre-quarterfinals before being humbled by the US Open champions Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek.
“We had our chances, but we could not step up our game. They played well on the important points and bailed themselves out of trouble”, said Bhambri.
“Sharing the locker room with the top players was a great experience. It has made me want more of such experiences in the Grand Slams”, said Bhambri, who skipped going to the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida at the end of last season, and trained diligently on a few technical aspects with coach Aditya Sachdeva in Delhi.
If he takes the court on the first day against the 216th ranked Tsung-Hua Yang, which he should, given the fact that he enjoys a career-best rank of 171 at the moment, trust Yuki Bhambri to fire on all cylinders.