He has endured a season marred by several injury setbacks but on the recovery path now, rising Indian tennis star Yuki Bhambri says he has given “proof” of his improving fitness standards by playing three matches in a single day and beating a top-100 player in the process.
Yuki’s season has been marred by an ankle problem and several other niggles, making it a stop-start year for him but the youngster has produced tremendous results in the last two months to show that he is on the right track.
At the Kaohsiung Challenger in Taiwan, Yuki stormed his way into the singles final from the qualifying event, beating several higher-ranked players in the process.
On the final day of the event, he played three matches, including singles and doubles finals. He beat American world number 88 Jack Sock after a fierce semifinal battle, which lasted close to three hours.
After that energy-sapping semifinal, the 21-year old lost the final to World no. 64 Yen-Hsun Lu and the doubles final too. However, the Delhi youngster gained a lot of confidence about his fitness and the game after being on court for more than five hours.
“I have been playing the Challengers because I feel I have the game to play and perform at this level. All the wins in this tournament have been against good players some of whom I have lost to before,” he said.
“Beating Sock from a set and break down was very satisfying and morale boosting, so these wins have given me the proof that I am on the right track and have the game to play at this level,” Yuki, who gained 190 places in ranking charts after Taiwan event to be 287, told PTI from Kuala Lumpur.
Yuki said had rain not forced back-to-back singles semifinals and finals, he could have challenged Lu better in the title fight.
“I already had a long week as I had started by playing three qualifying matches. And I ended up playing two top 100 players in one day. I am sure I could have played a better match and put up a much better fight had I not spent three hours on court for my semifinal,” he said.
Coming into the Challenger, Yuki had reached two ITF Futures finals and pocketed the title in one of them.
Asked if he incorporated something new in his training regime for getting better results, Yuki said it was an outcome of sustained hard work.
“I have been working very hard since December last year, constantly trying to improve and get fitter. It’s just that I have not had a chance to play tournaments consistently.
“Small injuries and niggles have kept me out of the circuit these past few months. I know that if I can stay fit and healthy and play more tournaments then I shall keep on doing well,” he said.
After spending considerable time in Taipei, a country that India will face in their next Davis Cup tie, Yuki said he has no doubt that the Indians will emerge victorious in the January 31-February 2 Asia/Oceania Group I tie in Indore.
“Except for Lu most of the Taipei players are in the 200 range so they are all beatable, with Somdev and a full strength team, we should not have any problems and hopefully have a successful tie,” he said.
Talking about Anand Amritraj’s appointment as the new non-playing Davis Cup captain in place of S P Misra, Yuki said the players have not discussed it yet but indicated that it was acceptable to all of them.
The top players, early this year, led by Somdev Devvarman had revolted against the national federation for better playing conditions in Davis Cup and forced change in support staff.
“No we have not but I have heard all good things about Anand Sir and will therefore enjoy playing under him. I have met him a couple of times and I have the utmost respect for him and for what he has achieved,” he said.
Yuki said he does not see anything specific goal for the remainder of the season but surely something for the next.
“I have not set any goal this year except for being able to participate in all the four grand slams next year and hopefully I shall be doing so in 2014,” he signed off.