Has no regrets choosing Grand Slam over the Asian Games

When leading Indian tennis players are slowing down to get ready for the Asian Games, the country’s best singles player, 86th-ranked Yuki Bhambri is sharpening his arsenal to be at his best in the US Open.

It has been raining heavily in the capital over the last two days, but the 26-year-old has been working out in the gym with his trainer Dharmendra Pratap Singh, affectionately called Abhimanu.

Bhambri was delighted to find Ramkumar Ramanathan, who he had beaten in the Taipei Challenger final in April, reach the final of the ATP Tour event in Newport.

“It was fantastic to see Ramkumar do well in Newport. It seems to be a lucky ground for Indians.

“I have always believed that Ramkumar has the game to do well on the Tour,” said Bhambri.

Bhambri himself had reason to stop after Wimbledon, and get ready for the tough grind ahead.

“I have been happy with my game, but unfortunately I suffered from inflammation in my knee right after Roland Garros, and have been playing with it throughout the grass season.

“I wanted to return to the circuit in Washington DC, but the process has been slow. I have still been lifting weights and working on the technical side of things. I am hopeful to be back for the Cincinnatti Masters,” said Bhambri, not regretting having to skip the Asian Games.

“I don’t know who made the schedule, clashing the Asian Games with one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world.

“Had it been any other time, there would be no hesitation in playing it.

“Hopefully, down the line, I will get a chance to improve on my bronze medals from the last Asian Games, but to miss out on playing my first ever main draw of the US Open is unimaginable for me. I have worked all my life to get this opportunity. In fact, every kid dreams of competing in the Grand Slams. So there is no question of missing it,” Bhambri said.

Being out of the Union Sports Ministry’s TOPS scheme does hurt him, but Bhambri is happy for the moral support extended by the national federation.

Not about the money

“I am grateful to the AITA for backing me on this and understanding that I am the only one representing India at the Open in singles. It is not about the money.

“It is the prestige of playing in such a big event and competing with the best in the world that the TOPS committee does not understand,” said Bhambri, who has been dropped from the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) for opting to play US Open and missing the Asian Games.

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