Indias flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore,Yuki Bhambri is now one step away from seeing the tri-colour being hoisted while the national anthem is played in the background,after he closed in on the countrys first gold medal at the event.
The 18-year-old Delhi boy shocked the tournaments second seed Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia 6-3 4-6 6-2 in the boys singles semi-final at the Kallang Tennis Centre on Thursday to set up a title clash with Juan Sebastian Gomez of Columbia.
While Yuki hasnt played faced the South American before,he is high on confidence after beating the second seed. Speaking to The Indian Express from Singapore,Yuki said: Im glad I have an off day before the Saturday final. It feels great right now. Im not really nervous about the final. There are a lot of new faces here but it has been a good tournament. Right from the first round,every match has been tough and anybody could have beaten anyone.
With the matches being played in sweltering conditions,the only worry before Thursdays match for Yuki was the physical fitness. It was very humid and todays was one of the longest matches,there have been several rain delays but they helped me in a way as I got my breaks, Yuki said.
Talking about the semifinal,he said,He (Damir) was playing well consistently and it was getting hot too. There were a lot of long rallies,hes pretty much a baseliner,wasnt coming in a lot.
But serve and volley is something that Yuki has been trying to work on for some time. I tried that and its been useful,got me out of some trouble spots.
After being out for two months with an injury and seeing a dip in his rankings,Yuki had been lying low. I knew I would be back. It was just a matter of time as I hadnt played enough tournaments and I guess its going to be good from here on, he said.
Although Indias lone representation in tennis,he has plenty of support in Singapore. He has his mother Indu Bhambri accompanying him while a number of expatriots also turned up to watch the match. Its been good here. A lot of Indians from Singapore have been coming to watch my matches and they cheer me on.
The other Indian who impressed was Durgesh Kumar who won the boys 400m race heat number two with an effort of 52.20sec to qualify for the final round. In basketball,Indian boys lost to New Zealand 12-17 in a Group A preliminary round match. In swimming,Aaron Agnel DSouza finished fifth in boys 100m freestyle second semifinal with a timing of 51.49sec. He had qualified for the semifinals after finishing fourth in the heat number five.
In womens 100m butterfly,Arhatha Magavi finished a disappointing eighth in heat number four. India has won three medals. Wrestler Pooja Dhanda bagged a silver in womens 60kg freestyle while Kadian Satyawart fetched a bronze in mens 100kg freestyle. Shuttler HS Prannoy won silver on Thursday.
(With inputs from PTI)