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Rejuvenated and Fitter – Yuki Bhambri looks forward to a long season ahead

The Bhambri family is a perfect example of a family that plays together lives together. Hailing from a family of professional tennis players, it was only natural for the genes to be passed onto the youngest member of the family, Yuki Bhambri. Returning to the court after a long hiatus, he is now eyeing a break into the top-100 rankings by the end of this year.

The 25-year-old from New Delhi started playing tennis at the age of 6. Apart from his coach Aditya Sachdeva, Bhambri has been fortunate enough to receive useful tips from his cousin brothers and sisters, who are also professional tennis players.

2009- YUKI BHAMBRI SCRIPTS HISTORY, JOINS AN ELITE LIST Of ACHIEVEMENTS:

Yuki Bhambri KreedOn
Yuki Bhambri has been participating in the national circuit from the age of 6. (Source)

2009, by far, has been the most successful year for Yuki Bhambri so far. After a productive 2008, when he competed in all the junior Grand Slams and even made it to the semi-final of the Australian Open Boys Singles, the 16-year old achieved a rare feat soon after. The following year, Yuki Bhambri became only the 4th Indian tennis player ever to win a Junior Grand Slam title. The most astonishing part of his victory was that the match lasted a mere 57 minutes. He maintained his dominance throughout the tournament as the tall and lanky lad only dropped one set.

However, that was not it. Later that year, his season came to a fitting end when he scripted history by becoming winning the prestigious Orange Bowl. Remember, he was only 16.

Still wondering who the other three junior champions were? Don’t worry, we have got that covered for you.

NAME        GRAND SLAM/S YEAR
Ramanathan Krishnan          Wimbledon 1954
Ramesh Krishnan         Wimbledon

         French Open

1979
Leander Paes          Wimbledon

         U.S. Open

1990

1991

Yuki Bhambri         Australian Open 2009

Ramesh Krishnan is one the 21 players who’ve won two Junior Grand Slams in the same year. He is also the second Indian, besides Leander Paes, who’s won two Junior Grand Slam Titles.

YUKI BHAMBRI TURNS PRO, KICKSTARTS IN STYLE:

Post the twin historic victories at the Junior level, 2009 only got better for the youngster who had now turned into a professional player. He paired with Harsh Mankad at the Chennai Open.  Interestingly, he also received a wild-card spot in the singles qualifying draw in the same tournament but lost to fellow Indian Sanam Singh. The Junior Australian Open title earned him a qualifying draw at the 2010 Australian Open. In addition to this, he also received a spot in the main draw of the Sony Ericsson Open, courtesy his Orange Bowl win. In both these tournaments, Bhambri could not get past the qualifying round.

However, there was some respite towards when he Yuki played and won in an ITF Futures Event in the capital.  He became the youngest Indian to do so. Finally, at the end of the year, Yuki made his Davis Cup debut against South Africa in the World Group Play-Offs.

2010- YUKI BHAMBRI WINS SILVER MEDAL at the YOUTH OLYMPIC DEBUT:

Yuki Bhambri KreedOn
Yuki Bhambri playing his famous backhand stroke.

Yuki made his Youth Olympics debut in the 2010 Singapore games. He advanced to the finals of the tournament. Unfortunately, as luck had it, he was forced to retire hurt in the finals and had to concede the match in the 3rd set. Thus, he had to settle down with silver. Little did he know that it was also the start of an unfortunate series of events that was going to hurt him in the long run.

YUKI BHAMBRI TIMELINE:

AT ATP CHALLENGER SERIES:

Over the course of 8 years as a professional tennis player thus far, Yuki has won several ATP Challenger Series. Time and again, he has shown glimpses of what the youngster is capable of achieving. While on some occasions, he has crossed the line, on many others, he found himself fall short. Let’s have a look at his track record at various Challenger Series.

TITLE WINNING CAMPAIGNS:

TOURNAMENT DATE
Fergana, Uzbekistan 20th May 2012
Traralgon, Australia 27th October 2013
Chennai, India 8th February 2014
Shanghai, China 13th September 2015
Pune, India 31st October 2015
Pune, India 18th November 2017

SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR. RUNNER-UP CAMPAIGNS:

TOURNAMENT DATE
Kaohsiung, Taiwan 22nd September 2013
New Delhi, India 22nd February 2015
Samarkand, Uzbekistan 16th May 2015
Kaohsiung, Taiwan 27th September 2015
  • In 2012, he defeated Amir Weintraub in straight sets to win his maiden ATP Challenger series title.
  • Next year in 2013, Bhambri secured mixed results.  In the Taiwan Challenger series, he fell short of the title and secured the second place after losing to Chinese Taipei’s Lu Yen-Hsun. Fortunately, he made up for the missed opportunity a month later by clinching his season’s first, and overall his second Challenger Series Title in Australia. He had defeated Bradley Klahn from the United States in the final.
  • 2014 turned out to be yet another eventful year for the New Delhi player.  He entered the Australian Open in both singles and doubles. His singles campaign came to an appalling end when he crashed out of the tournament in the very first round of the qualifying draws. For doubles, he paired up with Kiwi Michael Venus and got as far as the 3rd round. They lost the Indo-Czech pair of Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek.
  • A month later back home in Chennai, the strongly willed youngster will full guns blazing and won his maiden Challenger Series in front of the home crowd. He put behind the Australian Open disappointment in style as he clinched both, the singles and doubles title.
  • Later in the year, he added another feather to his cap by securing two bronze medals for the country at the 2014 Asian Games. In his men’s singles event, he was handed a defeat by the hands of Yoshihito Nishioka in the semifinals. In the men’s doubles he partnered with Divij Sharan, and they lost to the Korean pair of Yong-kyu and Chng Hyeon in the semifinals. Yuki Bhambri ended the year on a high.
  • By this time, the world of tennis was slowly beginning to recognize this particular name from India who was swiftly rising the ranks. He had won a few tournaments, and after his performance in the Asian Games, he was slowly coming into the limelight.
  • 2015 kept Yuki Bhambri extremely busy. He won his fourth and fifth ATP Challenger Series titles in Shanghai and Pune respectively. He defeated Wu Di in China to win the first title of the season. A month later, he beat Evgeny Donskoy in Pune to win his second of the season.
  • This was the same year when he broke into the top 100 for the first time in his career. He started the year ranked at 315 in the ATP rankings. However, after winning the title in China, he rose to no. 125 in the ATP rankings. Owing to his excellent run and consistent performance, on 9TH November, days after winning his 5th Challenger Series, he rose to career best ranking of 88.  Bhambri eventually finished the year at 93.
  • 2016 was full of ups and mainly downs for the New Delhi lad. One month after winning his sixth doubles Challengers title with Mahesh Bhupathi at the Delhi Open, Yuki was out of action from March to September due to a tennis elbow injury. This pummelled his ranking to drop below 500.
  • He returned from injury in 2017 and commenced his campaign at the Chennai Open. In October, he teamed up with Divij Sharan and finished as runners-up in the men’s doubles event at the Tashkent Challenger.  He finally tasted some success at the fag end of the year when he won his second Pune Challenger title and his sixth overall. He defeated compatriot Ramkumar Ramanathan in the final.

INJURY PRONE? YUKI BHAMBRI TO BE THE NEXT ADDITION TO THE LIST OF ILL-FATED?

yuki bhambri kreedon
Fitness is a critical issue that Yuki faces all the time. (Source)

As much as it is rewarding, in terms of money and fame, the sport of Tennis is equally demanding. Fitness is the key to success in any sport and Tennis is no different.  It tests the best in the game and as history has it, numerous superstars have fallen prey to various pain-stricken injuries which have kept them out of the game for months and in some cases, even forced some famous names to retire.

Kim Clijsters retired at the age of 23 in 2007. The five-time Grand Slam champion and former world no.1  left the sport early as she had been battling injuries continually. Her poor fitness was taking a toll on her personal life and her newborn child, and hence, she announced her retirement.

Another shocking name that is a part of this dreadful list is Andy Roddick. The former world no.1 and the 2003 U.S. Open champion announced his retirement on his 30th birthday 2012. He cited poor fitness and lack of motivation as the reasons behind his announcement.

MIND YOU, BOTH THE ABOVE MENTIONED PLAYERS WERE INDUCTED INTO THE HALL OF FAME IN 2017.

How can we talk about shocking retirements and not speak about Bjorn Borg? The 11-time Grand Slam champion retired from the sport in 1983. Following his defeat at the ends of John McEnroe at the 1981 U.S. Open final, many reports suggested that he was devastated and hence retired almost a year later.

Yuki Bhambri – KreedOn Opines on his chances in 2018

yuki bhambri
It’s a tough season for Yuki as he will participate in all the major events this year. (Source)

Are you wondering why did I drift away from the topic?

My point being here that mental toughness for a sportsperson is as important as his/her physical fitness. These are only 3 of many cases where players retired at a very young age due to repeated injuries and repeated defeats.

Yuki Bhambri was sidelined for almost half a year in 2016. However, in a recent interview with FirstPost, he stated that being away from the game you love for a long time is more detrimental to the player’s mental fitness than the physical fitness. On the bright side, he also stated that he is back with vigor, better strength and fitness and that he has made significant progress in the shot making.

So far this year, he has played two major tournaments and hasn’t been able to get past the second round in both. Even though he has not started 2018 on a great note, Yuki Bhambri still believes that he now has what it takes to win a major title and he hopes to break into the top 100 again.

As the sporting world fast approaches the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Asian Games, Yuki Bhambri would look to emulate his previous Asian Games performance in this year’s addition as well. He would also eye on bringing his A game to the CWG and try to bring home the glory.  As well-wishers of Indian sports, I am sure every fan in India is backing Yuki and we hope that he remains injury free so that he is able to compete in more tournaments and can give it his best shot.

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Shivansh Gupta
Sports journalist working towards bringing unsung heroes of Indian sports into the limelight and helping them grab the attention and respect they deserve. A foodie and a sports fanatic since childhood, Shivansh would prefer watching an old match (from any sport) over a hit movie or series. Shivansh has spent his formative years in Tanzania before shifting to Pune for college

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