India's top-ranked men's singles tennis player Yuki Bhambri said on Monday (November 20) that he was feeling more confident about his game after consistent performances in 2017 and that he wanted to feature in the main draw of Grand Slams more often in future.
The world number 122, who is gearing up to play an ATP Challenger event in Bengaluru right after his win in $50,000+H KPIT Challenger in Pune last week, had to deal with a series of injuries quite early in his career.
Injury woes early in career
The 25-year-old was the junior world number one in 2009 after he won the boy's singles at Australian Open in January that year. However, the transition to senior level has not happened smoothly for the Delhi man.
After missing nearly six months of action last year, attending to tennis elbow, Yuki returned to play the Chennai Open -- the ATP 250 event, ranked 474 as a qualifier in January 2017. He made an instant impact by taking out local favourite and his Davis Cup teammate Ramkumar Ramanathan in the first round before losing to higher-ranked French star Benoit Paire.
Spirited run in Washington
Teaming up with trainer Abhimanyu Singh and focusing on his fitness worked wonders as Yuki registered his "biggest career win" at the ATP Masters 500 tournament in Washington (Citi Open) in August when he stunned Gael Monfils in R32.
Yuki went on to beat Argentina star Guido Pella to set up a quarter-final meeting with world number 14 Kevin Anderson. He fought a valiant battle against the South African by forcing a decider. The Indian eventually lost the match but only after creating quite a lot of buzz.
"It [staying grounded after win over Monfils] was important. For me the key was not to get satisfied. I wanted to go deeper into the tournament. I just stayed focused," Yuki told reporters on the eve of his first-round match at Bengaluru Open.
He added: "It was one of the biggest wins of my career. It was easy to get satisfied, but I wasn't. I had a great chance against Anderson as well. Once I was there in the quarter-final, I wanted to push and see where I could go."
When asked about his plans for 2018, the confident youngster said: "I think it will be to try and finish inside the top 100 again. [I will] try and play the main draw of Slams."
Yuki seems to understand the need for maintaining a balance between pushing hard and giving himself time to recover.
He also reveals he is more confident now after reaping the rewards of his hard work over the last few years.
Yuki jumped from 137 to 122 on ATP rankings after winning the Pune Challenger and now has a chance to return to top-100 if he manages a good show in Bengaluru this week.
"I feel I have just been more confident. I have had a lot of matches behind me this time, since the beginning of the year. Good matches at the highest level. Had a good start in Chennai, made the final rounds in Australia. I think that set the ball rolling for me for the rest of the year," Yuki said.
"It [focus on fitness] is part of the routine. I have been little bit fortunate and lucky as well. I have trying to find a a way to stay healthy and push myself at the same time. I think over the years, I have been consistently doing it, it's finally paying off. Trying the right things, I think it's worked so far."