Yuki Bhambri`s talent was never in question. After all he was a Junior Australian Open Champion and at the age of 16 Years he was the winner of the prestigious Orange Bowl. However transition from Juniors to the Senior Circuit has not been smooth.
Injuries has always been his achilles heel and he had hardly played one full season in the Men`s circuit. If 2017 was a landmark year for him for having played one full season as a pro, then 2018 has been his standout year with his performance thus far.
As we speak he has had two back to back superlative performances to show in the Masters. At the Indian Wells Masters he took the world to notice when Yuki coming as a qualifier reached as far as the third round. In the following week at the Miami Masters, he coming as a qualifier again reached the second round. As he prepares for step inside top 100 on the ATP and playing like a top 50 player, let us analyse his journey thus far and the way ahead.
Top Performances since 2017-
- Indian Wells ATP 1000 Masters 2018 – Reached the 3rd Round coming as a qualifier. En route he beat the experienced Nicolas Mahut and World No. 12 Lucas Pouille. In the 3rd Round, he lost to Sam Querrey in a tight match
- Washington Open ATP 500 Series 2017 – Reached the Quarter Final coming as a qualifier. En route he beat the experienced Guido Pella and defending champion Gael Monfills. In the 4th Round, he lost to the eventual champion Kevin Anderson in a match that went to the distance.
- Miami Masters ATP 1000 Masters 2018 – Reached the 2nd Round coming as a qualifier. He beat World No. 75 Mirza Basic in the 1st Round before losing to World No.11 Jack Sock in a well fought match.
- Pune Challenger 2017 – Won the Title
- Chennai Challenger 2017 – Reached the Final. He lost the final to the top seed Jordan Thompson after having 2 match points. A win here would have put him back to top 100.
- Australian Open 2018 – Qualified for the main draw before losing to former Australian Open Finalist, Marcos Baghdatis
Behind The Curtain Man – The recent showing of his potential as a player is possible because of a healthier body. Any praise would be less for his travelling fitness trainer Abhimanyu Singh who has made the difference. Yuki had to decide between a travelling coach and a trainer and he choose for the latter as the wear and tear of a tennis pro requires the body to be in top condition week after week.
Yuki Bhambri with his trainer Abhimanyu Singh
Abhimanyu was instrumental in putting Yuki`s body in top shape with a few fundamental but important changes. When I met Abhimanyu at the Bengaluru Open 2017, he mentioned how he started extending his warm up routines and took special care of his post match recovery.
The Big Impact – Yuki`s off season training in December at the Impact Tennis Academy in Thailand did a world of good to him. The training which had the top players from Asia including players like Hyeon Chung and Nikoloz Basilashvili was a great way for Yuki to get some quality training. The results can be seen for both Yuki and Chung in their new season.
Yuki Bhambri`s off season training at the Impact Tennis Academy.(Video Credit – Yuki`s FB Page)
Stephen Koon, Director of the academy coached Yuki during his stint with IMG-Bollettieri Tennis Academy. Yuki has always spoken highly of Koon. The positive impact on his play has let Yuki draft him as his travelling coach for the time being. Koon was seen cheering Yuki during his Masters’ heroics from the sidelines.
Contemporary Study – It can be seen that a fully fit Yuki can do some serious damage in the tennis circuit. It is to be noted that two of his contemporaries, Lucas Pouille and Jack Sock who have a poorer head to head meetings against Yuki Bhambri are currently ranked at 10 and 11 on the ATP respectively. Thus that goes on to show that with Yuki playing in the form of his life can beat these top guys on his day and get into some serious ranking on the ATP.
Going Forward – Slowly as his own earning getting better and his performances also hopefully catching more corporate eyeballs, he has to rope in a more permanent travelling coach. As his work rate is going to be more as he enters top 100 and will be playing more of the top rung tourneys, the role of the coach becomes crucial to his success.
Author`s Take- Currently he is doing all the right things. Aided by a fully fit body, a top 50 entry on the ATP towards the end of the season is also a possibility. He has to take it step by step and keep on doing the right work.