The main man of Indian Tennis, Yuki Bhambri, was back in full flow this week at the ATP 500 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, as he beat India No.1 Prajnesh Gunneswaran & India No.3 Ramkumar Ramanathan to qualify for the main draw

In the main draw, Yuki lost the ATP #59 Aljaz Bedene 6-4 in the third set, after having won the first set 6-3. Post his Dubai campaign, Yuki reflects on the week that was, how his body feels, where he will be playing in the upcoming weeks, and much more

Yuki Bhambri with a look of steely determination

Q) Let’s talk about the match. You won the first set and then lost the second pretty easily. It was a close third set. What do you think the difference was in the end. What did he do to turn the match around?

YB : Yeah I think it started really well. I was a bit on the front foot, played some positive tennis but he came back better. I don’t think I played badly, but he just made a lot more balls, made a lot more first serves, put me on the back foot and I let him get back. I think it was a bit of a crucial second set where he gained confidence. From there on, it was really just about applying the pressure. The third set actually was pretty close. I think I had chances at the 4-3 game to break back, but I couldn’t capitalize. You’ve got to take your chances at this level

Q) How is your body is feeling after playing three matches in a row?

YB : Everything seems to be okay. I was in it today and just didn’t capitalize but I think it’s a lot of positives to take on from, competing with some of the best players. So hopefully on and upwards from here on

Q) You’ve mentioned in your recent interviews that you’re going to look at playing just the ATP Tour events, the Masters and the Slams. But given that the whole tour is going to shift to clay now, how would your schedule look like from here on?

YB : Yeah I am looking at some of the tournaments in Europe at the end of April. The schedule
isn’t very clear at the moment. Tournaments are scattered around. I think at the moment everything’s on clay so if that’s the case i will be continuing moving on towards the clay court events. If i can find any hardcourt events, I’ll stick to those.

Yuki during his qualifying match against Prajnesh

Q) You’re wearing a lot of braces on your hands both legs and strapping on your knee. Is that how it’s going to be? Also, what’s your sponsorship situation?

YB : I am sponsored by Babolat fully. I’ve obviously been with them racket wise for the last i think 10-12 years now and am happy to have apparel as well. They’ve been incredibly kind and very very patient with me. I was off the tour and then there was the pandemic. But they stuck around and not many normally do that. So i’m very thankful for that!

About the braces, yeah that is how it is going to be(laughs). It’s more protective, not that I have issues. At times it just keeps helps me keep my knee a bit more steady and protects it a bit. Ankle braces and and the elbow braces are more out of habit and just to protect it from the previous injuries that I’ve had

Q) Game wise, do you feel at 28 you’re probably better than you were at 25 when you stopped the tour?

YB : I think it is. Probably a bit more mature and a bit more confident. A bit more understanding of my game style. I wouldn’t say that the game has changed so much. I think I’m just a lot more clearer and I have a lot more more experience playing at this level. Even when at 25 at 26 it was breaking through and testing out. I was playing Dubai for the first time four or three four years ago. Playing the grand slams for the first time. So coming back now, I have that experience of having been in that position. I think it helps me. It’s not very foreign. And knowing that I have been in this situation before gives me more confidence about the fact that I can compete with just about anyone out there!

Q) What are the aspects of your game that are still rusty? What is your assessment of your current level?

YB : I definitely feel like I’m competing well. I don’t feel game wise that I’m at my best as yet. I think there are still times when that sort of rustiness comes on, and I don’t make balls that I feel I usually would. I think there’s a lot more errors out there. But I think with every match, I’ve gotten better. I felt better, so that’s definitely an improvement. More importantly I feel confident. I think the previous times that I’ve come back I always felt I needed a lot more matches, a lot more time to really get up to speed. But I feel good. Sure not at 100 percent match wise but I’m definitely playing a lot better than I actually expected to. I think maybe just because this time I’ve had a lot more time to really train. Whereas in the previous times, probably I’ve trained for a month or two and then tried to come back. I think with the pandemic giving that extra time I’ve had, I think it’s helped me

Yuki Bhambri looked in sublime touch in Dubai

Q) Where would you be playing next?

YB : There’s a Men’s Futures in New Delhi so I will probably look at that and then from
there on I’ll decide once the calendar is a bit more clear. I think that it’s all scattered at the moment. At the moment, it’s just really few events in Europe, but if something opens up around on hard courts, I’ll play. I’m looking to play obviously a lot more hard court events.
If something opens up there, in the States(USA) then I’ll head towards that. Otherwise
I’ll go back on clay and stay there till the French Open

Q) Why Futures?

YB : It’s at home. I still need to get in matches. I still need to play as much as I can.
The more I play, the better I feel and and the more points I can earn, I can get the rankings up a lot quicker. Anything that I can play at the moment is good for me regardless of the tournament

Q) You are touching the early 190’s on your serves. Any special work that has gone in there?

YB : Not so much. It is maybe just that I had so much time off and I ended
up working a lot more on my upper body than on my legs. I might have just
gotten a bit more strength. But I’ll take the extra pace(laughs). I’ll take extra free
points. You have to work really hard for every point here, so any any freebie that I get, I will
take. But yeah, like I said I think it’s also a little bit with confidence. You know you get
better it’s not just about the serve, it’s the shot after that. Even these three matches I thought I served pretty well. I played some guys with really big serves, but I held my own.
So yeah, it’s looking good. So just got to keep going on from here!

Photos from Yuki’s matches at the Dubai Open are attached below :

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