‘Sport has no textbook’: Yuki Bhambri pleased about doubles switch | Tennis News – Times of India

For Yuki Bhambri, shifting focus from singles to doubles has been the most sensible decision he could have made and he wouldn’t change anything in his career even if he were to have the benefit of hindsight.
Bhambri, a former Australian Open junior champion and a world junior no. 1, made the switch to doubles gradually over the past two seasons during which he won nine titles in tandem with Saketh Myneni.
Seven of those came in 2022 and five of them in Challengers.
“It’s been good. It was a little bit different this season, not used to playing more of a doubles schedule.
It was challenging at times but rewarding in its own way, especially towards the end of the season when we were able to win a few events and get the ranking up,” Bhambri said in an interview over phone.
“It’s been a learning (experience) and challenging at the same time. We are looking forward to, hopefully, getting into some more ATP events and capitalize on it because that’s where you want to be playing — the big events.”
Bhambri’s travail with injuries and his successful comebacks are well documented. In 2015, after slipping out of the top-400 due to an injury, he came back strongly to break into the top-100 in October and finished the year at 93.
The following year, a tennis elbow injury impeded his progress. In 2017, he scalped French maverick Gael Monfils in Washington, and at Indian Wells in 2018 — qualifying for the main draw — toppled then world no. 12 Lucas Pouille for the biggest win of his career.
He was ranked a career-high No. 83 in April that year before a right knee injury put paid to his singles dreams.
Is there anything he could have done differently to prolong his singles career?
“I’ve, in fact, thought about this a lot. Over the last few years, I’ve spoken to a lot of coaches and trainers and nothing really pops into my head,” the 30-year-old said.
“There’s nothing really that I could have changed or done differently, where I would have a different result.
“Each and every time I was playing and training, the goal was always for me to keep getting better. That’s what I’ve always focused on and that’s why I also got a lot of success.
“And if I got an injury I would do my best to make sure that I work with it and get better when I come back.
“There are always different things that you can keep trying but sport is such, there’s no textbook. A person can hit a single-hand backhand or double-hand backhand and get the same results.
“So there’s nothing for me that really stands out that I will change. I wouldn’t even know what to change, going back into my career.
“What I know is what I did, what I was taught from various coaches, trainers and physios.”
Bhambri, however, has tasted success in doubles very early on. His first title came 11 years ago, at the age of 19, in an ITF Futures in Nigeria with VM Ranjeet. He followed it up with at least one Challenger crown a year for the following five years — the icing on the cake being the success with Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi in his home city in 2016.
“I knew at the back of my mind that at some point, when singles is not possible, I would like to play because I’ve enjoyed playing doubles. And the few successes I have had, I enjoyed it,” he said.
“But I think maybe (it has happened) a few years sooner than I would have liked. It’s no secret that I’ve really struggled (with injury) pretty much throughout my career.
“So I think it just made sense. Once I knew that the recovery was getting difficult I knew that (I have to make) transition towards it.”
The challenge, then, has been more on the mental side than the skills side.
“On the court it’s not not very different. But, mentally, going out there before doubles was just sort of an extension, a way of extra practice, maybe as a bit of additional income sometimes with the bigger events.
“But obviously, the last six, seven months have really been realizing it as a full time profession. So mentally, there’s just a lot more pressures (like) how it would be in singles — (to) get better and improve the rankings.”
He cited two reasons as key to his successful partnership with Myneni: their game styles “balanced out” each other and the timing of their “coming together”.
“Our game styles complement each other. He is a big guy who relies a lot on power. And I’m someone who relies a lot more on skill. I don’t have that 220 kilometer serve. I have a lot more variation, even in my ground strokes. So, it just sort of balances out well,” he said.
“What he can do, what he does well, covers my area and what I can do well sort of covers his weaknesses. It sort of balances each other’s strengths and weaknesses out.
“And also, obviously, both of us coming together at a time realizing that this is a partnership that can go on and we can have success with it. A common goal helps as well.”
Bhambri said one of his wishes would be to partner Rohan Bopanna.
“I’ve seen him a lot very closely at Davis Cup events. So if an opportunity arises, that is someone who I will definitely like to play with,” he said.
“From the past, it would have been nice to play with Leander (Paes). I did get a chance to play with Mahesh in a Challenger. So it would have been nice to complete the trio of doubles stalwarts.”

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