NEW DELHI: Yuki Bhambri can't believe that he is running into a top-10 player at the Australian Open for the second successive time in the first round but the Indian youngster says he would use the opportunity to assess his progress as a player.
Yuki, who got a direct entry into the event thanks to his presence in the ATP's top-100, has been drawn against world number six Tomas Berdych for his tournament opener. Last year he had qualified and was pitted against Andy Murray.
"It's a terrible draw, playing another top-10 player again. But it should be a good match and some good experience and I will see where I stand," Yuki told PTI from Melbourne.
In his match against Murray, Yuki had played out of his skin and fearlessly to give the Wimbledon champion a very good fight in a tight three-setter.
Murray had said Yuki made it tricky for him and predicted that he could be inside top-100 by the end of 2015. The Indian did exactly that in October when he made semifinals at the USD 1,25,000 Tashkent Challenger.
Yuki has matured as a player in the last few months and has nothing to lose against a top player. He can go all out and play freely since there won't be any pressure of expectations. He will be the underdog.
But he has not played a full competitive match since winning the Pune Challenger final against Russia's Evgeny Donskoy in October. He played a match against Yuichi Sugita after that event but retired hurt 0-6 due to an elbow injury.
A late recovery also meant that he missed out on the season-opening Chennai Open.
Asked if going into the Australian Open without a single competitive match under his belt in the new season would affect him, Yuki replied in negative.
"Hopefully I will be sharp. I have been playing sets in practice and I feel I am getting better with each session which is a good sign," he said.
"I am feeling no pain which is great. Now I must focus on that for the whole season."
A confident Yuki refused to be intimidated by big names. Asked if he would have preferred an easier first round, Yuki made a statement of sorts with his reply.
"Well someone has to beat these guys," he said.
Yuki is the lone Indian in the men's singles draw as Saketh Myneni, Somdev Devvarman and Ramkumar Ramanathan fell in the Qualifiers.