When Yuki Bhambri, renowned Indian Tennis star, uploaded a video on his Instagram account on Monday stating a ‘comeback to action,’ many considered his return to an old Hollywood movie that showcased the return of the protagonist ( an athlete)within frames after sustaining a severe injury.
After missing in action for more than two years, Bhambri will be making a comeback at the ATP 250 Singapore Open next week. In a career marred by a list of injuries, Yuki sees a bit of hope this time.
“Maybe the third or fourth time,” he says. “I don’t have an exact ‘comeback’ number. Just happy that it’s happening again.”
I felt I was on a pretty right track before I hurt the knee – Yuki Bhambri
Bhambri last played a competitive match in December 2018 at the Antwerp Open in Belgium. He is reeling with a torn tendon in his right knee since then. The injury further made him jump out of the top-100 rank.
Currently, this twenty-eight-year-old Indian tennis ace does not carry a rank for the tour and requires his protective 127th rank to make it into the Singapore open. Still, with all the pre-requisites of a post-pandemic tennis era, he finds wearing a ‘mask’ as most challenging.
“Honestly, I’m not looking forward to wearing a mask for 10 hours on a flight. Most of the time since the lockdown, I’ve either been at home or on the practice court, so I’m not quite used to it,” Bhambri said.
The 2009 Junior Australian Open champion, who earlier made it to the 83rd spot in ATP rankings, marked his comeback in February 2020. Still, it’s the pandemic situation that has further pushed back his potent efforts to make the best out of it.
“I had just come back and then having to start again a few months later (because of the lockdown) took time away from the rehabilitation process that I was doing. There’s only so much you can do at home,” Bhambri added.
“The real frustration though, was when the injury happened. I felt I was on a pretty good track before I hurt the knee. I added more power and skills to my game just by being on tour and playing constantly. That’s what hurt the most because after all that progress, I had to start from scratch again.”
Yuki Bhambri and his unending struggle with Injuries
This is not the first time he has to miss a full season due to an injury. In 2016, he returned to the tennis court after six months due to an elbow injury. The comeback was quite epic as he raced into the top 100 while starting the year at the 474th spot.
Bhambri grabbed some notable victories against Gael Monfils, Nicolas Mahut, and then World No twelve Lucas Pouille. He kept on with the momentum and won two Challenger titles in Pune and Chinese Taipei afterward.
The knee injury emerged during the 2018 season and pushed him out of the court for quite a significant time.
“There were discussions of studying more, choosing a different field, maybe being involved in something with tennis in some way. But just being on the court, even if it was just standing on the spot and hitting shots, kept me in the zone and stopped me from giving up,” Bhambri added while recollecting his post-injury time.
“I had the option of quitting. But there was also the option of grinding it out again, trying to find ways to get my knee better, and trying to come back, get my career back. I felt this was the right choice, to keep giving myself the opportunity. I know that my game is there, and for me, it’s just about being on tour and playing. Knowing that I can perform at a good level helped me to come back and give it a shot.”, he continued.
How things are shaping up for Yuki Bhambri in 2021?
Bhambri focused on a few doubles events to get the desired warmup. So he made an entry to Singapore open along with compatriot Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. But, with several players pulling out due to injury concerns injury or because they made it further in the ongoing Australian Open, Bhambri founds himself a spot in the singles draws.
“It happened a bit earlier than I expected,” he says. “But I took it.”
We must say that after spending more than two years filled with all sorts of mental stress, Bhambri is finally back where he belongs.