Yuki Bhambri has a problem that half the world would love to have.
The 17-year-old Delhi lad, the reigning world No.1 junior tennis player and a champion at the Australian Open, is trying to put on weight, ten kilograms at least, to fill up his 6-foot frame. He is at liberty to eat anything and is working a lot on the weights in the gym, to generate the muscle mass that would add weight to his shots.
However, Yuki’s metabolism has been so good, quite understandable for that age, that it makes him really struggle to add weight to his tall frame. For his height, he is grossly under-weight at 65 kg.
Yuki knows it well, but the idea was reinforced, when he lost in the second round of the qualifying event of the $35,000 Challenger tournament at Karshi, Uzbekistan, last Sunday.
"It is just the pace. Yuki needs to stay in that circuit to become comfortable at that level’’, says coach Aditya Sachdeva who was with him in Uzbekistan and has been guiding the youngster carefully for some years now.
"There is not much difference between the top juniors and the men’s Futures tournaments. Beyond that, the physical strength of the players comes into play. In an ideal situation, Yuki needs at least another 10 kg of body weight. Anyway, it takes time. I have always maintained that it would take Yuki two to three years to establish himself in the men’s circuit’’, opines Sachdeva.
"It was a good match. There were tough rallies. I was fresh and energetic despite it being the second match of the day for me. I am surprised that the opponent (Andrei Ciumac of Moldova ) does not have a good ranking. He has a good game. He served solid, and hit hard. I couldn’t break him in the whole match. That gave him so much liberty to attack my serve’’, observes Yuki, about his 6-7(0), 4-6 loss.
Yuki had planned to compete in another Challenger in Kazakhstan but did not have enough time to apply for that visa before leaving for Karshi.
Instead, Yuki will now be competing in the Futures tournament in Delhi from Monday, and has been seeded No.2.
“I know that there are a few good players in this circuit. It should be fun. Hopefully, it would be a good preparation for me for the US Open junior event. It will be something if I can win the US Open juniors because all the top players will be competing there. It will be tough and that is the motivation for me. I will have to focus on every match’’, he says.
Yuki had won three successive titles and made the semifinals of the last tournament, in the four weeks of ITF men’s tennis that he had played at home.
Yuki will reach the US for training after the Futures tournament next week, and be at the Bollettieri Centre before heading to New York . He had trained with Tommy Haas and Radek Stepanek apart from others during the last stint there. He also got a lot of attention from the coaches for three weeks.
Could he not have stayed in the US and competed there, rather than fly home, to Kazakhstan and return to the US in a matter of few weeks?
"I would have loved to stay and play in the US , but there were no tournaments for me there at this time. I have adequate space between travel and play. So, I have no complaints so far’’, he says.
After the US Open, Yuki will be flying to South Africa for the Davis Cup World Group play-off match.
"I am not sure whether I would get to play a rubber. But, you never know till the last minute!’’ he says.
Yuki Bhambri is in no hurry about anything, except about putting on muscle mass to his wiry frame. He understands even that as a slow process.
The mantra for him at the moment is, "patience pays’’.