Injuries have troubled Yuki Bhambri all through his tennis career and now, an injury combined with the
lockdown pushed him to the sidelines for over two years. Bhambri was sidelined in October 2018 with a knee injury and the road to comeback has been tougher than expected. It first took him more than a year to recover from the injury and then when he was ready to roar back into action, coronavirus struck.
Bhambri had planned to return to action with the French Open 2020 but with the world coming to a halt and a delayed French Open, he didn’t have enough practice to be able to make his comeback.
Bhambri began practicing in July this year when tennis court reopened in New Delhi. “It was tough. Every other day was a different sore body part initially,” Bhambri was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
Now, having practicing for half a year, Bhambri is eyeing a return at the Australian Open, where he can use his protected ranking to earn a spot in the main draw. Bhambri was world No.100 when he played his last tournament in 2018 in Antwerp.
“End of January or early February would be a realistic target of coming back. The Australian Open would be a shot,” Bhambri said. “I’m finally getting closer to 100 per cent where I can train at a higher level and play at a good level. It’s about doing it consistently, knowing that if I can do it day in and day out then I’m ready to play matches and tournaments. I expected to be better sooner, but it’s been slow progression.”
While Bhambri did have the luxury of not missing too many tournament while being able to work on his game and fitness, what made it tough for him was his rehab in New Delhi while his doctor was in Spain. Bhambri’s tendon tear issue was complex and he finally found relief in the hands of Dr Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, who treated the troubled knees of Rafael Nadal as well. Surgery was not an option for Bhambri and as he describes, Dr Ruiz-Cotorro gave him a minor treatment late last year. Rest, most of his rehabilitation had to be done virtually with
wrecking havoc around the world.
“It was more challenging just to be able to show how much progress I’ve had, where I’m at and whether what I was doing was correct or not. When you’ve been out for so long and you’ve had a different kind of treatment, it’s important that you get the guidance even on the smaller things. Doing that over Zoom and Skype is not the same as physically being there,” Bhambri described.
During the lockdown, Bhambri doubled his fitness session hours and since July, he practiced with senior pro Divij Sharan and now, he feels ready to return. “It would be nice to play on for a couple of years and really make some big strides that I know I’m capable of. That’s the hope and that’s the dream and that’s what keeps me going even after being held back on multiple occasions.”