New Delhi: For young Yuki Bhambri, it was a 'Mission Accomplished' after he earned a wild card to play in Australian Open men's doubles event joining the list of illustrious names, who had represented the country in Grand Slam events.
Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza have been performing regularly at the biggest stage for India.
Divij Sharan and Purav Raja also made it to that list this year when they played at Wimbledon and US Open.
Now Yuki has got a big career boost by winning the play-off tournament in Shenzhen, China, yesterday, to earn himself a Grand Slam debut.
He could not win the singles tournament, bowing out in the semifinals, but the 21-year-old triumphed in the doubles with New Zealand's Michael Venus.
So, is it mission accomplished? "Yes, definitely," Yuki told PTI from Shenzhen.
Yuki said since the play-off tournament was his last in the 2013, there was no better way to end the season.
"Since October, when I got to know about this event, I had wanted to try for the doubles and I am very happy about getting it."
Yuki was junior world number one but struggled to make transition on the senior pro circuit. Injuries to his ankle just added to his frustration. But he has fought all the odds to make a good progress in the last six months.
Winning the Traralgon Challenger, where he even beat the top-100 players was an indication that he is steadily moving forward. Hence after all this struggle the happiness and satisfaction was written all over.
"It means a lot to me, that was my goal for the year end and to end 2013 on such a positive note is incredible. I mean main draw of a Grand Slam event - a chance to play against the greats is awesome," he said, summing up his mood and jubilation.Yuki had his chances in singles too but squandered adavtegous positions in semifinal against Chinese Di Wu, who is one rank below Yuki at 205.
The Indian was serving for the first set and then had two set points in the tie-breaker but could not convert. The Delhi player said realistically he was more hopeful about doubles.
"Initially, I had aimed for the doubles because I knew playing the Chinese guys in China was going to be an uphill task. I also felt that I had the toughest of draws. But there is always that hope of perhaps succeeding which would be an icing on the cake," he said.
Talking about his opponent, Yuki said,"Wu Di hit straight out return winners and I made some forehand errors. He also hit a great passing shot. Just wasn't my day. There were at least five very good players in the draw so it was very good competition."
Yuki said he still hopes to make it Australian Open singles through qualifiers.
"I will be working on a couple of things for the next month and try to qualify at the Australian Open. But I still have Chennai Open and hope to do well there too. It is a tougher field this year," he said....