Grand Slam dreams for Yuki Bhambri

Teenage prodigy Yuki Bhambri, considered by many to be India’s next tennis great, is eyeing a junior Grand Slam title this year.

The 15-year-old’s dream run in the 2008 Australian Open Boys’ Singles in January ended in the semifinals, where he lost in three sets to eventual champion Bernard Tomic of Australia.

But his exploits at Melbourne Park gave Bhambri the impetus he needed, with another semifinal showing at the Asian Junior championship last week helping him rise to number 5 in the ITF Junior rankings.

“Reaching the semifinal at the Australian Open does give me a lot of confidence going into the next three Grand Slams this season,” Bhambri told the Indian Tennis Blog.

Last week, American Ryan Harrison became the third player since 1990 to win a ATP main draw match before the age of 16 and Bhambri said he would have liked to join that group. But time is running out.

“I’m not sure if I will be able to participate in an ATP tournament before my birthday in July this year as my schedule is extremely busy,” he said.

Currently at a career-best ranking of 1205 in the men’s singles, the Delhi lad’s quarterfinal run at the Chandigarh Futures event this month surprised many. Bhambri said he hoped to dominate the Indian circuit next year although juniors would continue to be a priority till the end of 2008.

But first he has to conquer a tough opponent — his class X Board exams.

Once his exams get over this week, Bhambri is set for some junior Davis Cup action and the Delhi Challenger before heading to Europe for claycourt events in the run-up to the French Open.

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