Bhambri not thinking of Australian Open entry

There is a lot at stake for Yuki Bhambri at the ongoing Bengaluru Open, a $100,000 Challenger event. A good performance here will help India’s finest tennis player get closer to the top-100 mark in the ATP rankings, and more importantly a birth in the Australian Open.

Bhambri owes much of his consistency to the gruelling fitness regimen he has been put through by trainer Abhimanyu Singh since March.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

A fine showing at the on-going Bengaluru Open $100,000 Challenger event can do two things for Yuki Bhambri. It can get him closer to the coveted ATP Top-100, a mark he last breached exactly two years ago. The second – and probably the more important of the two – is to help him secure an Australian Open main draw berth.

“Not [thinking about it] at all,” Bhambri said when asked if the first Major of the year was playing on his mind. “Every match is difficult. I have played 20 tournaments and won one Challenger for the year. So it’s very difficult. You can't look past the first round. It’s a big $100,000 Challenger and I have to be focussed on every match.”

What keeps Bhambri going is perhaps such perspective. His has been a career blighted by injuries and it has always been a case of taking one step forward and two steps back. But the 25-year-old insisted that he doesn't feel weighed down by his past, especially when he has to push himself for that extra bit of effort.

“Every match you push. Just because I have set a certain standard number of tournaments that I would like to play [average of 25 per year], it's not going to change how I go about it. I will still try and win every match. If I had played 25 weeks and lost 15 first rounds then obviously it wouldn't have mattered.”

“But fortunately I have been consistent. Most of the tournaments I have gone deep...into the quarters and semis... which has been ideal. I feel I have just been more confident. I have played a lot of matches; good matches at the highest level.”

Bhambri owes much of this to the gruelling fitness regimen he has been put through by trainer Abhimanyu Singh since March. Abhimanyu had earlier worked with the now-retired Somdev Devvarman, one of the fittest players on tour. So has Bhambri finally found the right balance between his fitness and tennis?

“I have always thought I had the right balance,” Bhambri said with a smile. “Many times I have thought ‘this is the right balance.’ But you need to chop and change and be aware of what you are doing. Some days you want to push your tennis a bit more and some days the body. It's all about going day by day.”