Bhambri: 'Fitness issues are most frustrating'

Ahead of Chennai Open, Yuki Bhambri speaks about his preparation for the upcoming season, his battle with injuries and his targets for 2017.

yuki bhambri

Yuki Bhambri trains at the SDAT Tennis Stadium ahead of Aircel Chennai Open.   -  R. Ragu

Just when things looked good for Yuki Bhambri - he broke into the top 100 towards the end of 2015 - yet another injury, this time to the elbow, held him back for six months causing his ranking to plummet. Ahead of the Aircel Chennai Open, where he and Prajnesh Gunneswaran have been given the last two wildcards for the qualifiers, the 24-year old spoke about his persistent injury issues, Davis Cup selection and more.

Excerpts:

Talk us through your preparations for the upcoming season.

I was training in Thailand to acclimatise to the Chennai weather. I also played in a warm-up tournament in Hong Kong to get some matches so that I can be ready for Saturday.



From top-100 you have slipped below 500. How difficult is it to stay motivated?

It is very hard, especially in the beginning. But as you gradually play and start to compete, the motivation is there again to get back into the top-200 as soon as possible.



As India's top-ranked singles player, you were the first choice for Davis Cup. Now you have been selected but other players are ranked higher. How do you deal with it?

I am pretty sure, I would have been the first pick of the captain even if I am not high in the rankings. I don’t think anyone doubts my ability to compete for the country if I am fit. I would have been surprised if I did not get picked. When I said yes I expected to be in the team. Anyone who understands tennis wouldn’t have had any doubt.



Fitness issues has been behind your rankings swing. How frustrating is it?

It is the most frustrating bit. It is the only bit that has held me back. I have always felt my game has been up there and from time to time I have proven it. Every time I come back, I try to change and do things to be better, but at times it is frustrating and you can't do much about it.



Have you sat down and thought about making some major changes to ensure you stay fit?

There are always minor changes. The basics stay the same; but if you injure yourself, you focus more on that body part. The only positive thing has been that I have had different injuries and not one recurring injury.



Did you rush back from your injury last year?

I did and I got greedy as I wanted to play the Slams and some of the top tournaments. The opportunity doesn’t come often. It was a mistake, but probably a mistake I would make again and again because you are so desperate to play. You work hard to get there and when it’s finally there you want to go and play at that level. But it did cost me and I wouldn’t have lost six to seven months. But you keep learning from these things.



Realistic targets for this year?

Just play the qualifiers, which I have done before and hopefully can do again. It is just about playing consistently more matches and tournaments. I would personally like by the end of the year to give myself a chance to play in the main-draw next year. I do believe I have the ability to be a top-50 player.