Yuki is aware of rigours of men’s tennis

May 4th, 2009 - 5:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael Nadal By Pragya Tiwari
New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) If anyone can win a Junior Grand Slam tennis event he has to believe that he belonged there. India’s new tennis sensation has the skills and the ability to be in the big league and he has shown them in ample measure over the last two weekends by winning successive International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures titles.

The 16-year-old is proud of the fact that he is the youngest Indian to win an ITF title.

Yuki’s progress as a tennis player is on the expected lines. His back-to-back titles on the men’s circuit looked a natural extension of his showing at the Australian Open in January.

The Delhi youngster appeared full of beans when he talked to IANS about his plans to turn professional and the tough regimen he will have to follow.

He is confident that he will be seen on the Tour as a pro in a couple of years.

“Winning two $15,000 at the age of 16 is a big achievement. I definitely feel that I have arrived on the scene. I have worked very hard and had been training a lot after my Australian Open win to iron out flaws. That gave me a lot of confidence in taking on the seniors in the two tournaments,” said Yuki.

“But I am well aware that the road ahead can get tougher and I am prepared to rough it out. I will have to be at my best both physically as well as gamewise to survive the rigours of pro tennis.

“Every player’s ultimate aim is to turn a professional and I am no different. Sooner the better for me. I am giving myself another two to three years for turning a pro. By then I would be 18-19 and I have quite some time to plan it all.”

Yuki feels his training at the Nick Bollettieri academy helped him to sharpen his game, hitting with top players like Kei Nishikori, Max Mirnyi, Radek Stepanek and the tallest man on the circuit, Ivo Karlovic.

“Playing at the Bollettieri has definitely helped me and I could see the results of it in the two tournaments here. Sparring with top pros at the academy gave me confidence that I could hold my own. The quality of one’s game automatically goes up when you play a higher-ranked player as you have to raise your game. Hitting against them taught me a lot of finer points of the game.”

Yuki is determined to make a smooth transition from the juniors to the seniors. His only worry is about sponsorship. “The lack of sponsorship is the main reason for many promising young players disappearing from the scene unnoticed.

“The biggest thing any player needs is sponsors. To expect all players who do well as juniors to make a successful transition to the men’s circuit without adequate international exposure is unreasonable.”

The youngest of the Bhambri siblings has been sweating out extra hours at the gym to condition himself for the challenges of the men’s circuit.

“I got to build stronger serve. I have seen in these two weeks that a powerful serve right in the box can do wonders. I have been working a lot on my fitness as I know I need to work on my physical strength. I have started to train for longer hours in the gym and it has helped. Just look how Rafael Nadal can fight out a match for five hours. It just shows how important it is to build fitness and stamina to play at the top level.”

Next up for the junior Australian Open champion are two futures tournament in Kuwait, beginning May 18, and from there on he would head for the junior French Open.

Asked why he is not playing on clay before moving on to Roland Garros, Yuki said: “I want to focus on the men’s circuit. There is a lot that I need to learn at the men’s level as I have already played enough among juniors. I am playing in the junior French Open only to get a feel of clay-court tennis.

“The only other tournament at the junior level I would like to play is Wimbledon. I like playing there and with courts there now being slow it suits my game and I can hit my groundstrokes well. “

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