Tri-colour flies high in Melbourne
Yuki Bhambri won the boys singles title at the Australian Open on Saturday. Yuki beat Alexandros-Ferdinandoa Georgoudas of Germany in just under an hour – 57 minutes – to become the first Indian to win in Melbourne and the fourth, after Ramanathan Krishnan, Ramesh Krishnan and Leander Paes, to win a junior Grand Slam. Tall and lean, Yuki doesn’t strike you as a dangerous player but looks are definitely deceptive in this Delhi’s boy’s case. He never misses a ball from the back of the court and has worked very, very hard on his fitness and game to reach world No. 2 in the rankings and win his first Grand Slam. Signed by IMG and a trainee at the Nick Bolletieri Tennis Academy in Florida, Yuki has benefited hugely by spending time at the academy which has trained Grand Slam champions like Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova. Hitting with players like Max Miryni and Kei Nishikori has given him the confidence and belief that’s often the key ingredient to finding success. Winner at the Orange Bowl in December, a prestigious junior event, Yuki came to Melbourne with his head high but a shock second-round exit at a warm-up junior tournament and a patchy performance in the first round of the Australian Open, had most worried. Except for Yuki. “The first match is always a bit tough but I think as the match went on, I played much better and became more comfortable with the conditions. I’ve worked a lot on my game in the past year and I think it shows.” Last year, Yuki had lost to eventual winner Bernard Tomic in the semifinals. “It still hasn’t sunk in that I’ve won a Grand Slam but it sure feels good.” Quick on his feet, Yuki covers the court well and hardly misses anything from the back but its on his fitness that he will have to work hard on. Beef up those arms and legs to advance in world of pro tennis, his and any junior’s eventual goal. Though he has spent a lot of time last year pumping iron, he’s still a very lean boy and needs to pile on the muscles like probably Andy Murray did to look like the threat that he could be. For Indian tennis, Yuki’s win after Somdev Devvarman’s stupendous run at the Chennai Open is only a shot in the arm. The momentum shouldn’t be lost.