Updated: December 28, 2012 04:33 IST

Yuki — coming of age in the men’s league

S. Ram Mahesh
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Yuki Bhambri.
Yuki Bhambri.

Yuki Bhambri began 2012 as a wild card, defeating Karol Beck, then ranked just outside the top 100, before losing to Janko Tipsarevic in the Chennai Open.

Over the next 12 months, the former junior World No. 1 showed he was coming to terms with the step up to the men’s game by entering the top 200.

The 20-year-old, who is set to end 2012 as a wild card as well, spoke to The Hindu on Thursday.

What does the opportunity of playing in the Chennai Open represent for you?

It’s the only ATP tournament we have [in India]. Every Indian wants to do well here and I’m no different. I just want to be well prepared and hopefully I’ll be able to capitalise on it again.

I love coming back here. It’s a great way to start the new year, playing in front of your home crowd. It’s an intelligent crowd, they really know their tennis, and I enjoy that.

You’re a former junior World No. 1 and Australian Open champion. Then you’re on the senior tour where you lose more than you are used to. How do you deal with it?

It took me a lot of time. In the early stages of the senior tour, many times you are out on Monday or Tuesday itself. You just have to motivate yourself to practise that week and be ready for the next week.

Fortunately, my coach travelled with me, he motivated me, and I learnt to deal with it. That’s something every good junior goes through because you don’t see people break into the top 100 at 18, 19, or 20 anymore.

What goals have you set for 2013?

I haven’t set any specific goals. I just want to play as many matches as I can, try and stay healthy.

One of the keys in the modern game is the ability to quickly switch from defence to offence. That’s something experts say you have as well. Is it something you work on?

A little bit of it is natural. Having played at a young age and played a lot, you kind of get that sense, you start anticipating a lot, you read the game well. That’s been one of my strengths.

That’s one of the things that gets me through matches. I’m obviously not the fastest or the strongest.

So if you’re able to read the opponent, you can get there in time. Of course tennis has got more physical, so you need to work as well.

What do you set out to achieve from each of your training sessions. What did you look for from today’s [Thursday] for instance?

Today I was trying to get used to the heat. It was the best Chennai weather I have experienced. But it does get quite hot and humid, so I was just trying to get used to it, so the body doesn’t get a shock.

In terms of your game, what are you looking to improve?

I’m trying to add to my game little by little.

One aspect is trying to add some variety with my net game. I’m also trying to add more pace and accuracy to my serve.

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