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Yuki ready for Miami test

Disneyland is barely two hours away from Yuki Bhambri’s training base in Florida,but free time is a rarity these days for the 16-year-old.

The ATP event would be the first big competition for the junior World No 1

Disneyland is barely two hours away from Yuki Bhambri’s training base in Florida,but free time is a rarity these days for the 16-year-old. The Australian Open junior champion is charting his course from the junior tour to the professional circuit,and with a chance to play in the main draw of the $4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami next week,he would rather spend his time hitting balls on the tennis court.

“It’s very rare for a foreigner to get a wild card into such a big event on the ATP tour,and I’m glad IMG gave me the opportunity. All the good players will be there,and it’s a great opportunity for me to compete with the world’s best,” says the youngster,speaking to Sportline from Nick Bolletieri’s training academy.

After his first Slam win at Melbourne in January,Yuki’s return home to Delhi was marked by countless felicitations all around the city,with words of praise showing no sign of stalling,but his feet have remained firmly grounded. Yuki played his first senior tournament since then at a Futures meet in Texas this month,and though he lost in the first round to the eventual winner,he considers the result a step forward.

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“I had already decided to play more on the men’s tour this year,and playing that Futures was good for me. It was great to know that there’s still so much work to be done. I have to keep my level of fitness high to keep up with the others,and it’s all very different and tough when you’re playing on the pro tour,” says Yuki.

Adding muscles
On the subject of fitness,the Delhi player says he has had a few more weight training exercises added to his regimen.

“I have to do more exercises related to fitness now,but apart from that,there’s just been a whole lot of repetition work on my strokes. The coaches have been giving me extra help,particularly with next week’s tournament coming up. The best part about this place is the quality of players you can have a hit with. For instance,today I have a best of three sets with (Radek) Stepanek,and last week I got a chance to play a doubles match with Max Mirnyi. Playing with these players helps you get used to their pace,and they generate a great deal of that,” he adds.


The rest of the year isn’t planned out just yet,but Yuki does have his eye on the other junior Slams,particularly at places he didn’t do too well in 2008 — Roland Garros and Wimbledon. “Last year,I didn’t really prepare for those properly. I only played two hard court tournaments before going for the French,and that wasn’t ideal. This time,I’m definitely going to train in Europe before it starts — maybe at Bob Brett’s academy in Italy,” he said.

The coveted Disneyland trip doesn’t figure in his itinerary for now. “It’s a long drive,and things are quite hectic here. But I’m enjoying myself,there’s always something to work towards,and at the moment it’s the Miami ATP event next week. But if I can get away for a day,Disneyland is one trip I would definitely like to make,” he said.

First published on: 21-03-2009 at 00:43 IST
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