Yuki Bhambri breaks into the top-100

The 23-year-old has won at least one Challenger singles title for the last four years, has been remarkably consistent this season, winning at Shanghai making three finals in Delhi, Kaohsiung, and Samarkhand.

Yuki Bhambri won the Challenger singles title at Shanghai earlier this year.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Yuki Bhambri took the first big step towards fulfilling his early promise as a tennis prodigy, as he broke into the top-100 of the ATP rankings on Monday.

Yuki is ranked 99th in the world, ahead of Australian James Duckworth. The 23-year-old Yuki, who has won at least one Challenger singles title for the last four years, has been remarkably consistent this season, winning at Shanghai making three finals in Delhi, Kaohsiung, and Samarkhand, apart from four semifinals and three quarterfinals.

Some of the best players in the world like Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and Chung Hyeon of Korea have alone been able to stop his fine run in recent weeks.

Yuki, who trains with coach Aditya Sachdeva at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in the capital, had also qualified for the Australian Open and had a good match against Andy Murray. At the lower level, he won a Futures title in Uzbekistan, his tenth at that level in singles.

‘’I have been working really very hard for the last five years to break into the top-100, and compete at the highest level. I have finally made it’’, said Yuki, who had pulled out of the ongoing Challenger in Bengaluru, owing to fatigue.

It is a temporary milestone in a long journey, said the former world No.1 junior and Youth Olympics silver medallist. Yuki said that he is focussed on staying at the top so as to get a direct entry into the Australian Open.

To achieve that goal, Yuki said that he would play two more Challengers in Pune next week and in Thailand, and hoped that it would suffice. His aim is to close the season quickly, so that he could focus on preparing himself for the next season, with a training stint at the Nick Bollettieri Centre in Florida.

Yuki became the third Indian male player in the last 20 years to break into the top-100 of world tennis after Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman.

The tall and strongly built lad who has been diligently working on his all-round game is tipped to be a potential top-50 player. Yuki said that he would leave nothing to chance towards achieving the goal of playing his best tennis regularly on the professional circuit at the highest level.

Reaching the top-100 has only rekindled his appetite for more success on the tennis court, against the best in the business.

The 28-year-old Saketh Myneni who won the Challenger title in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday, reached 166, and Somdev Devvarman was on 181. Ramkumar Ramanathan (248) and Sanam Singh (279) were the other leading Indian players on the ranking list.