Yuki Bhambri eyeing a spot in the top-100

Happy to be playing a full season, Yuki, however, doesn’t want to over exert and wants to keep himself strong and ready for the coming season, which promises to be more challenging. He wants to play regularly in the ATP circuit, and has also set his sights on doing well at the Grand Slams.

Yuki Bhambri has set his sights on doing well at the Grand Slams.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Somdev reached career best rank of 62 in 2011.   -  Sandeep Saxena

It has been a hectic season, and he has been rarely home. But Yuki Bhambri is not complaining.

Bhambri, who was ranked 494 in the world ahead of the Delhi Open in February, is now ranked 104 in the world, following a string of good performances in the Challenger circuit.

“I have been flying in and out. It is good to be home, meet people and get ready physically. I have been playing a lot of matches,” said Yuki, ahead of the USD125,000 Challenger in Tashkent, which will be played between October 12 to 17.

Steady rise

The 6’1’’ tall Yuki had won the Shanghai Challenger before the Davis Cup World Group play-off against the Czech Republic at home, and flew straight to Kaohsiung with coach Aditya Sachdeva to make the final of another big event.

Happy to be playing a full season, Yuki, however, doesn’t want to over exert and wants to keep himself strong and ready for the coming season, which promises to be more challenging. He wants to play regularly in the ATP circuit, and has also set his sights on doing well at the Grand Slams.

He had qualified for the Australian Open this year and played well against world No. 6 Andy Murray in the first round. “The goal is to be No. 99 or better by the end of the season, and to make the Australian Open main draw,” said Yuki.

Targeting Rio 2016

Yuki, who was ranked 143 in February 2014, said that he always had the belief to break into the top-100. “I have always been quick to get up the rankings in six or seven months,” he remarked. The former World No.1 junior player, who had won the Australian Open junior title in 2009 and had finished second in the Youth Olympics, is now realistically looking at making it to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. “You need to be ranked around 70, I think. I will do everything to make that possible. But it is not wise to think so far ahead. I have a few other goals too before that,” he said.

Breaking into the top 100 is a big task for Indian tennis players. Somdev Devvarman did it in 2010, and went on to reach a career best rank of 62 in 2011. Leander Paes had won the bronze medal in the Atlanta Olympics even before he broke into the top-100.

Paes’ decisive break

The 42-year-old Paes, gunning for his seventh Olympics, had broken into the top-100 for a week in 1997. He needed a full year afterwards to jump decisively into the top-100 and was ranked 73, after beating a string of top class players like Marc Rosset, Sergi Bruguera and world No. 2 Pete Sampras, before falling to Goran Ivanisevic in New Haven. Paes had kept the launching pad ready by winning the Newport ATP event earlier.

Calm and Composed

Yuki is relaxed and not worried about the milestone ahead. If required (to break into the top-100), he may play three Challengers in Japan, but Yuki hopes to wind up the season quick and prepare well for the next with a stint at the Nick Bollettieri Centre in Florida, practicing with some top players.