“We are going to finish the year pretty strong, stay healthy, come back for the next year and start playing the big events” – Myneni & Bhambri after their runner-up finish at Gwangju

Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni are playing top notch tennis this season with 5 Challenger titles and a couple of ITF titles under their belt. Everything is clicking for this pair as they plan to go big next year. They are playing in South Korea during this part of the season. We sat down with them after their close loss in the finals of the ATP Gwangju Open Challenger in Gwangju, South Korea. Here they talk about their thoughts on the match, their transition of moving to the ATP tour, the KPOP band and places to explore in Korea.

What are your thoughts on the match?

Saketh: It’s a good tournament for both of us here. We made the final here, unfortunately we came short today. We started the match today well and were doing the best possible but they came back and we lost the momentum. That’s part of the game and we still have to get better at certain things and I think it’s a good experience for us to learn from this and get better for the coming weeks and next season also. Overall, it’s a good week for us and happy with the performance.

Yuki: Yeah a good tournament and I think we played good three and a half matches. We didn’t win as we got a little bit sloppy in the second set and a little bit in the super tie breaker but overall it was a good week considering from where we started to where we are ending. It’s almost the end of the season with the last few tournaments left. I think we have done a good job. We made one semifinal and one final in Korea and hopefully we can take the winner’s trophy next week.

You’ve won a lot this year on the challenger tour and are transitioning to the 250s. Is there a difference in level?

Saketh: I think it’s going to be a good transition. I think if we can do certain things right and get better then it will be a good transition. But there is a certain sharpness in each match and that’s what is going to make a big impact.

Yuki: We played one ATP last week and we reached the semis and lost a close match. So, we are not very far off from the others and for us getting the opportunity and getting the rankings up so that we can have the opportunity to play in the 250s and 500s and keep improving further.

How did you guys keep the motivation to keep grinding on the challenger tour? Did you always know your level is there and it was only a matter of time before getting to the 250s?

Yuki: We are not there yet. We are hoping to be there. I think you have that confidence and at the same time you have to go out there and prove yourself and do that consistently and I think we have done that. We have really improved from where we started off in Feb/March to where we are now but the goal is to play the ATP tour regularly and the Grand Slams and we know there is still some work to do before we get there.

To Yuki: You recently commented on KPOP star post on Instagram. Tell us more about it and your interest in KPOP!

(Laughs) Everybody’s a big fan of their music and we know there is a big concert here in Korea so we are trying to get tickets for it but unfortunately everywhere we go we hear that it’s not possible. Actually, looking forward to their new songs and new music.

To Yuki: You recently requested suggestions on places to explore in Korea on Instagram. Have you had a chance to explore?

We did a little bit in Seoul. We saw Sky Tower and there a lot of places in the list that we need to strike off and I got some good suggestions in Seoul and Busan so looking forward to it the next week in Seoul and the week after in Busan.

To Yuki: What aspects of doubles tennis do you like? What’s with doubles that you really enjoy?

The short points (laughs). Less running. It’s fun to be able to play in a team sport because in tennis most of the time we grow up playing singles and its very individual based so it’s fun to work together as a team and you are not focused on yourself but you are focused on getting better as a team and for a change working with a partner. That’s a lot of fun.

Plans for the rest of the year and goals for 2023?

Saketh: Well initially we started and sort of see how things go and we were supposed to travel to a lot of tournaments which we did this year. We are going to finish the year pretty strong and stay healthy and come back for the next year and start playing the big events. Hopefully we get a chance to get entries in there and competing at the big level and try to keep improving.

Yuki: That sounds pretty much it. Of course the goal is to be regular on the ATP tour and Grand Slams and that’s the goal we are trying to reach and play big events and hopefully start in Australia next year.

Rishab is a tennis/table tennis player

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