Yuki hopes for better 2022 after horrendous luck with injuries

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: IT’S been a rare good start to a season for Indian men’s tennis. Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan teamed up to win an ATP doubles title. Sasikumar Mukund, as a qualifier, reached the final of a Challenger. Arjun Kadhe, partnering Italy’s Marco Bortolotti, advanced to the final of another Challenger. In the women’s section, Sania Mirza, playing with Nadiia Kitchenok, reached the semifinal of Adelaide International. 

In Melbourne, Prajnesh Gunneswaran kept up that good start to advance to reach the second qualifying round of the Australian Open. He beat the higher-ranked Daniel Galan 6-4, 6-4 to face Germany’s Max Marterer. 

Another Indian hoping to emulate Gunneswaran is Yuki Bhambri who has had a horrendous three years or so with injuries. He has featured in only two tour-level events (Singapore and Dubai) since November 2018. He has understandably entertained thoughts about not playing the sport but now that he has gotten back to this level, he is determined to make it count. 

“It’s one of the hardest times that I have been through,” he told media persons on Sunday. “I have never been off the tennis court for this long. I did come back last February but then missed out again for the next six-seven months which was difficult. There’s no question that there were doubts about stopping and not playing, but one of the goals was to try and come back, play the Slams and compete.” 

The thing that kept him most motivated to come back was his love for the game. “I have come back multiple times in the past. I enjoy playing and that has kept me motivated. I will take it one match at a time.” 

One of the things he has done while away from the limelight is improve his strength training regimen. “More hours were spent in strength training and to improve my stamina,” he said. “I have always liked to play an aggressive game. I’m really not making any major changes in my style of play.” 

On Tuesday, he will have the chance to keep India’s good news stories in the sport coming when he takes on Portugal’s Joao Domingues. After his assignment in Melbourne, he will be at the Pune Open in late January. He also hopes to take part in both the Challengers at Bengaluru slated to be held in February. 

Watch Australian Open 2022 from January 17, 2022, on SONY SIX, SONY TEN 3 and SONY TEN 4 channels.

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