February 1, 2009 11:42:00 pm
Melbourne Park stood witness to one of the historic moments for India,when the 16-year-old Yuki Bhambri became the first Indian to win the Australian Open Juniors Singles title. For Pune,Yuki is not unknown quantity as in October many saw him battle it out in the doubles event at Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) 2008 for a silver medal,braving a twisted ankle.
That Yuki and his partner Vijayant Malick lost the battle to the Kiwi pair of Mackenzie-Tearney rather tamely at 4-6,0-6 is another matter. But on Friday,no such heroics were required as it was almost a walk in the park for Yuki as he beat Alexandros-Ferdinandos Georgoudas of Germany 6-3,6-1 in the Australian Open final.
When contacted,the city-based big names of tennis expressed their happiness. They were all in agreement on one thing that Yuki could fill the void in the days to come for a quality Indian singles player.
Nandan Bal,coach of Indian Davis Cup team,says,Yuki has a long way to go. His determination and knowledge of the game are his strong points. He picked up from his sisters,Ankita and Sanaa Bhambri. I remember him practising after he was badly tired and was on saline because he suffered food poisioning and it was this determination that helped him to win the silver at CYG mens double despite a twisted ankle.
According to Bal,what Yuki needs to develop is a signature shot,which will take time. I feel he needs to put some flesh on his body as that will make him resistant to tiredness and tear of muscle.
Gaurav Natekar,chief executive officer of Mahesh Bhupati Tennis Academy,is convinced that Yuki is a great prospect for India. Yuki plays at our academy in Delhi and I have always seen that extra bit of determination in him. His winning of the Orange Bowl last year was the turning point for him. And in sports starting early is never bad. He has a long way to go and he has ample time
Former Davis Cup player,Nitten Kirrtane calls Yuki a wonder kid. Singles title is a big thing,that too at Australian Open. I have played with him and seen him practising he is a dedicated player. Hes also a down-to-earth person. Despite travelling extensively,he keeps his cool and concentrates on his game. I expect this victory would not only improve Indias position in the world ranking but also prove to be an encouraging factor for the budding players. We need to support him so that he fulfils Indias need for a quality singles player.
According to Bal,its a good thing that youngsters are emerging on the horizon while Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes are still playing. Natekar agrees: With players like Sania,Somdev Burman and now Yuki turning out,the future is undoubtedly bright for Indian tennis.
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