Yuki Bhambri Quits Singles, Targets Doubles Grand Slam Success

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Without any emotional speeches or badmouthing, Yuki Bhambri has said that he has quit the singles format. The 28-year-old, once considered a top-50 prospect, is the first major Indian player since Sania Mirza to leave the singles format to prolong her tennis career. Tired of a stop-start singles career due to a knee injury, Yuki made up her mind a while back that doubles was her way forward. He made no excuses that the system didn’t help him enough, nor did he have any regrets that he didn’t make it to the top.

Walking off the court outside the Balewadi Stadium, his gait was reassuring as he exclaimed, “No more singles for me”.

“I did the best I know in my solo career and I’m at peace with it. Maybe things were wrong, maybe it was bad luck, I don’t know. No regrets, I couldn’t have done more,” said Yuki, who in 2018 career- touched a high single rank of 83, told PTI in an interview.

For someone who won the Junior Australian Open in 2009, became the junior world number one and has the prestigious Orange Bowl trophy in his cabinet, his career has always generated a huge amount of interest and anticipation.

“It’s more because of the injuries and not the lack of sponsors. The sponsors weren’t there and I’ve been lucky to do well throughout my career and continue on the Tour but of course, injuries are a big factor.” Just last weekend he was competing in a single qualifier at the Tata Open Maharashtra, hence the sudden decision to ditch the format? Yuki said the idea of ​​playing the singles qualifying event was to earn some prize money by entering the main draw as there is not much on offer in doubles. But the decision to release the single was made long ago.

“I decided (in 2019) that doubles was the way forward for me and I wanted to do it while I was still able to play some singles, which I did last year. I was injured.

“I came back in 2021 and the first 2-3 tournaments I played using the protected ranking. Then I went to America and got Covid and I got hurt again, so the plan was always there but it got delayed,” he explained.

At the peak of his career when he broke into the top-100 in 2018, Bhambri was eyeing a spot in the top-50 the following season, but injuries to both his knees ruled out a crucial three-and-a-half years.

Then begin the exhaust search for a reliable cure. After consulting several doctors, he finally got the treatment he needed in the US and returned to court in March 2021.

The move to release singles was well planned.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to be a singles Grand Slam champion. No one picks up a tennis racket to become a doubles Grand Slam champion. I played singles as long as I could but it was a lot of start-stop, start-stop for me and me being in the next phase of my career. Didn’t want to where it was too late to even play doubles and start from scratch.

“Sitting down with an injury at 33 or 35, I couldn’t come back to play Futures because you want to play at the top level,” said Yuki, who has won seven singles Challenger titles.

Yuki is partnered with fellow Indian Saketh Maineni, who serves big.

In 2021, they won five Challenger titles together and made a semifinal on the ATP Tour after starting the year with a couple of titles on the smaller ITF circuit.

This gave them a chance to prepare for bigger challenges — the ATP 500, Masters and Grand Slams. He is already in the top-100 and is aiming to be in the top-50 bracket soon.

Does double success provide satisfaction, or does a part of the mind still yearn for that elusive singles title? “When you make up your mind, there’s satisfaction. There’s always going to be something better. If I lived 50 years in the world, I’d say, ‘I wish I was 20 in the world’. Federer is probably not satisfied with his 20 Grand Slams, maybe he’ll win 50.” wanted.” There was a time when he wasn’t getting better and didn’t know how he was going to come back with so much knee pain.

“That was a time when tennis was all I could do. I accepted a long time ago that sponsors are not going to come, that tennis is an individual sport and you have to do it yourself.” He did not feel a bone about the lack of financial support. There was a time when he didn’t even have a proper shoe patron and was left with only one pair of shoes.

“I have no expectations from the system, it never was, it’s stupid to think about it, if it comes, ‘thank you’, grateful. I know it won’t be, I knew what I was going in, it’s a tough game and if you have results But everything takes care of it.” The switch has been made but adjusting to playing style is an ongoing process for Yuki. Sometimes he forgets that he is allowed to hit the alley.

“It doesn’t come as naturally as singles because you’ve done it your whole life. I keep reminding myself ‘you’ve got to hit it in the lane’, it’s not the singles court.” And training styles, too, have changed.

“I practice more volleys now. In singles, you’ll work on the baseline for two hours and now you work more on your volleys. You’re at the net all the time and you have to be ready.” So what is it that Yuki likes about the duel? “It’s very fast-paced. In the space of two minutes, the whole match can change. You can be (a) better player in the crunch moment. The workload is different, it’s not as physically taxing as a singles game.

“It’s explosive with serves and volleys, running back and forth but not as much running as in singles. I don’t have to run much (laughs), I know the match will end at one and one. Half an hour maximum,” he signed off.

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