Yuki hopes to get qualifying wildcard for Chennai Open

A painful tennis elbow has hurt his career aspirations and his ranking has plunged to No. 530 in the world.

Yuki Bhambri

Yuki Bhambri hopes to start in Chennai and compete at the Australian Open qualifying event with an ‘’injury protected’’ ranking.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Yuki Bhambri was a champion in a hurry, when he hurtled to a career-best rank of 88, last November.

A painful tennis elbow not only hurt his career aspirations, but has challenged him to strike equanimity after his ranking plunged to No.530 in the world.

At a time when Indian tennis talks only about how Anand Amritraj is great for the Davis Cup team, the 24-year-old Yuki, himself a big fan of the captain, is patiently trying to work his way back into the higher echelons of the game.

‘’I hope to play the qualifying event of the Chennai Open. Hopefully, I will get the qualifying wild card’’, says Yuki, who has been training for the last few weeks in Bangkok along with some of the top Asian players like Yen Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei.

After the hurried return at the Australian Open complicated matters and ruled him out for the next three Grand Slams of the season, Yuki has become a lot more wiser and patient. Even though he had some good wins like the Challenger doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi at the Delhi Open in the first three months, it eventually cost him seven months of tennis. It robbed him of all the foundation that he had so painfully built in his career.

‘’It is not a 100 per cent yet, but I do my rehab, ice, stretch and everything else that is required to make sure that it doesn’t become painful again,’’ he said.

On his return to the Challenger circuit, Yuki was able to qualify into the main draw but has not been able to win a round yet. He did make it to the semifinals of a Futures event in the U.S. when he opted to get a few more matches.

‘’I was happy to get back and start playing. I feel better now and more prepared. It was tough coming back, especially on the body as it takes a lot of time to adjust to the demands of playing day and day out. I am looking forward to 2017 and hope to get a good start early in the year," he said.

The plan is to start in Chennai and compete at the Australian Open qualifying event with an ‘’injury protected’’ ranking.

As the eighth best Indian player in the ranking list, Yuki is not thinking about playing the Davis Cup against New Zealand in Pune in February. ‘’The decision will be made by the selectors and I am sure they will put the best team forward for the tie’’, Yuki said.

Quite proud of his role in the Davis Cup squad in the last few years, ever since he made a winning debut against South Africa in the World Group play-off in Johannesburg in 2009, Yuki is pained by the talks of captain Anand Amritraj being replaced by the national federation.

‘’It is very disappointing to hear about Anand being replaced. I think he has done a tremendous job. For me, personally, he has been the best captain that I have played under so far. He has not only helped me immensely on the court during the tie but at times on the Tour as well. I can’t see anyone else doing so much’’, said Yuki.

It will be interesting to follow the fortunes of Yuki Bhambri as much as that of the captain, Anand Amritraj, over the next few weeks, when the season kicks off.