CHENNAI: The last time Yuki Bhambri played a competitive tennis match was in 2018 (Antwerp Open in October). The ongoing knee issue completely derailed his 2019. He finally got back to on court practice at the Siri Fort Complex in New Delhi in the beginning of this year before the coronavirus pandemic curtailed his comeback plans. In an interview with this newspaper, the 28-year-old speaks about his plans for 2020 and skipping the US Open in September.
How has the last six months been?
Very, very slow. I got back to hitting some balls at the start of January. I felt a little bit better after the first couple of weeks (he hadn’t trained for over a year). Obviously, we had to stop training in the last week of March as the country went into lockdown. I returned to training last month.
Did you target this March-July period to get back into competition?
I had hoped to back around this time. But I also think that wouldn’t have happened. I’m not yet at 100 per cent to play matches week in and week out. I’ve progressed but once you are back, you play around 20-25 weeks a year. I have good days and bad days. I need to be sure that my knees are at a 100 per cent. I’m not pain free. I will probably target 2021 January to come back.
Would you be willing to play without a vaccine?
It’s difficult. It depends on where you are playing at that time. A lot of countries are better while some are not. Would I be willing to go the USA? Maybe, no. Would I be willing to go to New Zealand or
Do you have to start from scratch in terms of rankings?
I have protected rankings, I get 12 tournaments (he is eligible to play in the main draw of the US Open). So I don’t miss out on playing some of the bigger events. But, yes, initially I would have to start out from playing the Challengers.
Would you be willing to play in this year’ US Open?
I won’t. I have a family there and I know how bad the situation is. They are not even stepping out of their apartment. The chances of catching the virus are really, really high. Being in a foreign country makes it worse.