Sharpened by Reyes, Yuki eyes the heights | sports | Hindustan Times
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Sharpened by Reyes, Yuki eyes the heights

sports Updated: Jan 04, 2011 00:06 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

Scientific sports training is still to take off in India. But even for Yuki Bhambri, who has been playing and training at the Nick Bollettieri tennis academy in Florida, one of the most famous in the world, since he was 15, the Las Vegas 'garage gym' of Gil Reyes proved to be an eye opener.

Owing to an IMG programme, Bhambri found himself training in the place, where Andre Agassi re-built himself in the late 90s, muscle by muscle.

"Gil Reyes had designed the programme for me," said the 18-year-old, who will begin his 2011 season at the Chennai Open. "It was amazing to train there."

"Reyes has built everything in that place. He's brought the machines, painted them, attached every spring. The machines there are unlike you'd find in any gym. They are tennis specific and work on the small, small muscles that are so important for us."

Bhambri, the 2009 junior Australian Open champion, also had a chance to hit with left-handed Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

"He hits hard!" says Bhambri. "The stronger he gets the harder he hits. But the thing is, now having trained with him, I feel like I can handle the pace of these guys."

While the lanky lad from Delhi is putting on some bulk, he still looks much too lean to take on the big boys just yet. "The focus is now on getting me to put on some weight." Though all the wards work under the watchful eyes of a nutritionist, Bhambri is one of the few not counting each calorie.

"They have given me somewhat of a free run. I can eat almost whatever I want, which is very rare for a tennis player."

The Indian left his junior days behind to join the men's circuit last year and is finding out what a tough grind it is.

"In juniors you'd still have some easy days. But here, be it a Futures or Challengers event, no one wants to lose. These guys play a tough brand of tennis; they are strong and big. You need to be physically up there to stay with them 3-4 hours on the court. And you need to have the belief that you can."