Yuki Bhambri has entered top 100 on the ATP again. Why is it significant? It is more so because because he is only the fifth Indian in the open era to be a top 100 Men`s Singles player in the world. Let us see how these five gems of Indian tennis have impacted Indian tennis.
1. Vijay Amritraj – The towering 6 feet 4 Inches player from Chennai entered the international tennis as a teenaged prodigy. He reached his career highest ranking of 16 on the ATP in 1980. In two of his Wimbledon appearances, he was up by two sets against Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors and was always a threat at the Wimbledon.
Vijay Amritraj fared well against the top guys including Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. He also had an overall 5-6 head to head record against the legendary Jimmy Connors. Like wise he had victories against the other greats, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. No wonder he was part of the coinage ABC (Amritraj, Borg and Connors). He was also instrumental in India`s two time final appearances in the Davis Cup.
2. Ramesh Krishnan – If there was a gentle giant on the tennis court, it had to be Ramesh Krishnan. Never ever have I seen Ramesh Krishnan show any kind of over the top emotions, not even after he beat the then World No.1 Mats Wilander in the second round of the 1989 Australian Open.
He reached his career highest ranking of 23 in 1985 and had reached the Quarter Final of the Wimbledon once and the US Open twice. His soft yet effective style of play earned him the nickname “Surgeon” on the tour.
3. Leander Paes – Leander Paes has been a role model for Indian tennis for many reasons. Yes he might have had the quickest of hands at the net and can fly around the net like a superman but he did not possess the biggest of weapons in modern tennis. What he definitely possessed was a big heart. Never shy of any opponent, he beat players much above than him. His highest ranking has been 73 on the ATP.
He has won one Singles career title at the Hall of Fame Championship in Newport. He also has the distinction of beating players of the caliber of Pete Sampras, Sergi Bruguera and Marc Rosset on the ATP tour.
In the Davis Cup he always performed much above his weight and his exploits gave India memorable wins against strong opponents like Yugoslavia, France, South Africa etc.
4. Somdev Devvarman – The much decorated NCAA player honed his skill at the University of Virginia. He shot into prominence when he reached the final of the ATP 250 Series Chennai Open. In the year 2010, he cracked top 100 for the first time.
2011 was his biggest year when he reached his second ATP 250 Series Final at the South African Open. In the same year he reached the fourth round of the ATP 1000 BNP Paribas Masters and the third round of the ATP 1000 Miami Masters.
5. Yuki Bhambri – There was never any doubt about Yuki Bhambri`s talent. However there was always a doubt on his fitness. The 2009 Junior Australian Open first broke into top 100 in 2015. However injuries have always been his Achilles heel and has never been able to complete one full season. However since 2017 up till now, he has played an injury free season for the first time apart from a minor abdominal injury that kept him away in the Davis Cup tie against China.
If 2017 a good year then 2018 has been a stand out year. At the Australian Open, after qualifying for the main draw he gave a good account of himself against former finalist Marcos Bagdatis. But it was at the ATP Masters that he showed that he can handle the big stage. At the Indian Wells Masters, Yuki came as a qualifier and reached the third round. He beat the experienced Nicolas Mahut in the first round and caused a huge upset by beating the then World No.12 Lucas Pouille in the second round. In the third round he stretched Sam Querrey to three sets before bowing out. In the following Miami Masters, he again qualified for the main draw and beat the experienced Mirza Basic in the opening round. In the second round he lost to the then World No.11 Jack Sock in two tight sets.
He also reached the final of the Chennai Challenger. After winning the Santaizi Challenger he not only broke inside top 100 but has reached his career highest ranking of 83.