Yuki beats the nerves

Bhambri wins boys’ final in Melbourne for India’s first junior Grand Slam singles title in 18 year

Written by Shreya Chakravertty | New Delhi | Published: February 1, 2009 12:22:00 am

By his own admission,the opening act of Yuki Bhambri’s final performance produced a fair bit of nervous anxiety. But playing a part in a junior Grand Slam final in the Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park isn’t an opportunity that swings by often.

The top seed came into his own soon enough though,complete with power-packed forehand,to conquer the nerves and his opponent in a 57-minute lesson to lift the Australian Open junior boys trophy,defeating Alexandros-Ferdinandos Georgoudas of Germany 6-3,6-1. The 16-year-old became the first Indian to win a junior Slam since Leander Paes’s US Open win in 1991,and joined Paes,Ramanathan Krishnan and Ramesh Krishnan on the list of junior Slam winners from the country.

“I didn’t know it’s been so long since an Indian won a junior Slam. I hope we don’t have to wait 18 years for another one. Today I was nervous in the beginning,but not as much as I was while playing my first-round match. During that I actually thought once,‘Ok,maybe this is it’,but coming through a tough three-setter like that one gave me a lot of confidence,” said Yuki,who had managed to win his first-round match 4-6,6-1,8-6 against German Sanchex Delfin from Mexico.

Big-stage experiences

“Going into a Slam as the top seed does give you more confidence than pressure,because you feel you’re good enough to match it with the best and are actually favourite to win the tournament,” said Yuki. The player from Delhi had reached the semi-finals of the junior doubles as well,but could go no further in the searing Melbourne temperatures.

Yuki had been putting in the hours required for optimum fitness to survive in the sweltering conditions Down Under,and regular trips to the Nick Bolletieri Tennis Academy in Florida seem to have made a world of difference to his game. But now that his ambition for 2009 has been realised in the first month itself,the youngster must move on to bigger things.

The biggest factor in his future could be the way he handles the jump from the junior circuit to the senior,and for a headstart,Yuki will be playing more senior tournaments this year.

For the moment,as he readies for the journey back home,he can bask in the glow of success in the middle of many interview requests and a desire to know his story from the time he was simply a ballboy during his sisters’ matches. This will be a victory to cherish,but Yuki does wish he could have had the chance to do one more thing in Melbourne.

“I had scheduled hitting sessions with both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal,but they got cancelled at the last moment because of the heat. That would have been a dream come true for me.”

Bhupathi-Knowles go down in final

Melbourne: Mahesh Bhupathi’s seven-year Grand Slam title drought in men’s doubles continued after the Indian and his Bahamian partner Mark Knowles squandered a one-set lead to go down to Bob and Mike Bryan in a three-set final of the Australian Open here on Saturday.

The second-seeded American brothers pulled things back and finally came out with a 2-6,7-5,6-0 victory after over an hour-long battle.

It was a perfect start to the proceedings for Bhupathi and Knowles as they broke the Americans in the opening game to race to a 3-1 lead. They broke the Bryans once again in the fifth game to wrap up the opener in just 27 minutes. The second set was a tight affair,with both teams holding serve until Bob and Mike broke in the 12th to make it 1-1. The third set completely belonged to the second seeds as they broke their opponents thrice to seal the match.

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