It hasn’t been an easy journey for Yuki Bhambri ever since he turned pro in 2008. Though the Indian tennis star started with a lot of promise by winning the 2009 Australian Open boys’ singles title, his career has been peppered by injury breaks. The last of which came this summer, when he had to get a minor procedure done on his right knee.
As Bhambri prepares for yet another comeback, he says he draws a lot of inspiration from players like Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, who have been striving to get their glittering careers back on track. While three-time singles Grand Slam champion Murray has undergone multiple hip surgeries, former US Open champion del Potro has had procedures done on his wrist and knee.
“In tennis there are a lot of factors that come into play,” Bhambri told olympics.com. “Some people struggle to deal mentally with the tour. For me, it’s because my body hasn’t supported me.
“I take a lot of motivation from the fellow players who would have deserved to win more. There’s Del Potro. There’s Andy Murray who has no reason to play, but he’s still at it with a metal hip. That’s encouraging.”
The Delhi-based played had made a brief comeback in February after more than two years. He had been struggling with tendonitis in his knees since Wimbledon 2018 and had to take a lengthy break to make sure his knees were ready for the wear and tear. But it turned out to be short-lived as his right knee gave away while he was playing a Challenger event in USA.
He also contracted Covid-19 that week and believes the virus, known to cause joint pain, aggravated the knee.
“I had to spend three weeks on crutches,” says Bhambri. “But I had to get the procedure done not just for my tennis but just for a normal life, so I could walk and jog again pain-free.”
Through his more than a decade long career, Bhambri has proved why Indian tennis has put so much faith in him. Despite the injury breaks, he has been able to break into the top-100 twice and peaked at a career-high of 83 in 2018, the season he played all four majors.
“Knowing that you can play the Slams, knowing that you can compete against the best, that keeps you going,” he says.
“You always learn from your failures but success is as important to get that added motivation to work. You don’t lose that certain level of tennis. But for me the challenge is to be on court and being able to compete. My only goal is to give myself that opportunity. I’m not worried about if I will be able to get success, or if I can win my match. My battle is if I can be on court, can I step on court.”
Having spent months in training now, the lean, 6’1 player is now raring to go. He will start his comeback bid at the Australian Open qualifiers, which begins on January 10.