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Yuki savours Aus Open experience

January 29, 2008 17:00 IST

After creditably making the Australian Open boys' semifinals grade on his maiden appearance, teenaged Delhi-lad Yuki Bhambri spelled out the significance of being fit and nimble-footed at the international level.

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The 15-year-old said it was an exciting experience to be a part of the first Grand Slam of the year.

"It was wonderful experience. You play before a huge crowd that spurs you on to give your best. I am happy the way I played," Yuki said after returning from Australia.

"It was tough out there. Every body was of the same level. What mattered was that who played better on the given day and how well you are prepared.

"I need to get strong and quick on court. The courts are slow, making the ball heavier. It makes the game physical. It is making the sport more tough for the next generation players. Everybody is so fit these days."

Yuki, who also reached the last four stage of the National grasscourt tournament in December, said it gained in confidence after competing against the 'big boys'.

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"I had done well then. It gave me confidence that at least I am capable of competing with big boys of India. And that experience really helped me in performing well at Australian Open," he said.

Yuki said the long and engrossing matches in previous rounds took their toll and deprived him a perfect finish.

"I got tired when I reached semis. I had played long matches so could not play with the same force," the class 10 student said.

He played five matches en route to the semifinals and four out of those were three-setters.

The Delhi lad had toppled players like senior pro Vivek Shokeen and Tushar Liberhan at the senior nationals last year before losing to eventual winner Ashutosh Singh.

At the Open, he beat players like Daniel Evans -- -one of the best junior players and was even ranked among top-10 early this month -- before losing to eventual champion Bernard Tomic.

Yuki said he did fancy his chances to win his first junior Grand Slam title when he made the last four stage.

"First I was taking it match by match but probably I had it at the back of my mind when I won the quaterfinal. I knew that I can win as everyone was of the same level," he said.

Watching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal practicing just a few yards away from him at Melbourne Park was awe-inspiring for young Yuki.

And he still remembers those moments, "I watched Federer and Rafa practicing. It was amazing watching them from so close. Watching big players and competing at show-court is what I am going to remember for a long time."

Amanpreet Singh
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