Yuki's brush with legends

Yuki Bhambri

It was a “Walk Down Memory Lane” and a “Sneak Preview into the Future” rolled into one at the Venetian Tennis Showdown here.

First, the world’s two best juniors, Bhambri and Ryan Harrison of the United States, clashed in a single-set match. Then, two legends of yesteryear, 14-time Grand Slam winner Pete Sampras and arch-rival Andre Agassi, the winner of eight Grand Slams, came face to face. Finally, Yuki had the privilege of partnering Sampras against Agassi and Harrison.

“It was the first time I got to meet both. I’m glad I got to play with Sampras, it was exactly what I had hoped for. It was nice to see him bang down those serves. The whole experience was unbelievable,” said Yuki. “I’ve been watching them play and then I got to play with them. I got to practice with them, too.”

More than 10,000 people turned up at the venue, which organised the popular Tennis Showdown for the third year.

“There were thousands of people watching us play at the indoor court. Both Agassi and Sampras were very warm. It was more of a fun thing, we had microphones with us so everyone could hear what we were saying between points. Everyone was involved,” said Yuki.

Yuki and Harrison, who could well set up a rivalry in the coming years, train at the Nick Bolletieri Academy in Florida. Agassi is Bolletieri’s most famous pupil.

Yuki, seen as the big hope of Asian tennis, said he got to play with the two stalwarts because of what he achieved in the past year.

“They did enjoy playing with both of us. Both appreciated my game and told me to keep working hard to get better,” he said.

“They didn’t give me any specific instructions. They said they were really impressed with the way I was playing and said if I kept doing what I was doing, I would get better.”
Yuki now goes to Bollettieri’s academy and will return home for the Chennai Open at the end of the year.

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