Yuki is hailed as future of Indian tennis

There was never a doubt about his talent. It was just a matter of when it translates into results. And Yuki Bhambri did just that at the Australian Open by becoming the first Indian to win the junior title.

sports Updated: Jan 31, 2009 18:50 IST

There was never a doubt about his talent. It was just a matter of when it translates into results. And Yuki Bhambri did just that at the Australian Open by becoming the first Indian to win the junior title Saturday. The 16-year-old Delhi boy is hailed by the country's tennis greats as the most exciting prospect.

Yuki, who after Ramanathan Krishan, Ramesh Krishnan and Leander Paes has become the fourth Indian to win a junior Grand Slam, is seen as the future of Indian tennis along with American Collegiate champion Somdev Devvarman.

Former Davis Cupper captain Naresh Kumar feels that Yuki's performance is "uplifting" for tennis in India.

"It is a fantastic achievement because he is only 16. He has a bright future. His win is certainly very encouraging and uplifting for Indian tennis," he said.

Another Davis Cupper and Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Preparatory Committee, Jaideep Mukerjea feels Yuki's training at famous Nick Bollettieri helped him develop his game.

"He has improved by leaps and bounds at the Bollettieri. It is a very proud achievement. He has a lot of talent and I hope that he makes his mark in the men's tennis which is a different ball game all together," Mukerjea said.

Akhtar Ali said he saw in Yuki "a spark of champion" when he played in Kolkata two yeas ago and felt that with Government's new passport policy disrupting India's Davis Cup plans,he is the right choice to step in.

"I had said two years ago that Yuki is a great prospect. He is smart, he is intelligent and is on the right path," Akhtar said.

"His win gives a lot of hope to Indian tennis. The present lot of Indian players is ageing, so it is good to see capable youngsters waiting in the wings to step in.

"It is also a very good news for India's Davis Cup team. Since Prakash won't be able to play now owing to government's policy, with Somdev (Devvarman)and Rohan (Bopanna), he will make a good team."

However, many promising Indian juniors could not make a smooth transition into the men's circuit and so the stalwarts have a word of caution for the youngster.

"He needs more power to compete in the men's tennis. Ramesh Krishnan, Leander Paes all won the junior Grand Slams but could not do that well on the men's tour. Therefore, it is important that Yuki works on his physical fitness as tennis is a intensely physical sport. I am sure Yuki is aware of that," Mukerjea said.

Naresh concurred. "It is a great moment for Yuki but like in every tennis player's career, this is also a very difficult time for him as he now needs to move into senior ranks and it is highly demanding to cope with the pressures,"he said.

"I think the physical aspect will be taken care of as he grows up. Nevertheless, it is very important to be physically strong nowadays. See how (Andy) Murray collapsed in the heat at the Australian Open."

Naresh goes on to point out that Yuki needs a world class trainer and coach.

"What is most important for him now is to get a good coach who has trained the top-10 players or has been a top-ranked player in his playing days. For Leander I got Gene Mayer, who was a World No.3 player, and who put him on the right path, " he said.

All India Tennis Association (AITA)secretary-general Anil Khana said Yuki's win augurs well for Asian junior tennis.

"Yuki has made all of us here very proud. We are waiting to welcome him in the best possible way. His win is a great news for Asian tennis as well. Last year Yang Tsung-hua of Chinese Taipei became the world no.1 while Yuki achieved No. 2 rank. Alcantra Francis Casey from Phillipines and Cheng Peng Hsie from Chinese Taipei have won the Australian Open boys doubles," Khanna said.

"I hope ATP and WTA will notice the performances of the Asian players and help in tournament formatting that will fetch the Asian boys and girls valuable ATP and WTA points."

First Published: Jan 31, 2009 18:48 IST