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Match against Berdych will tell me where I stand: Yuki Bhambri

Yuki Bhambri can’t believe that he is running into a top-10 player at the Australian Open for the second successive time in the first round but the Indian youngster says he would use the opportunity to assess his progress as a player.

Yuki, who got a direct entry into the event thanks to his presence in the ATP’s top-100, has been drawn against world number six Tomas Berdych for his tournament opener. Last year he had qualified and was pitted against Andy Murray.

“It’s a terrible draw, playing another top-10 player again. But it should be a good match and some good experience and I will see where I stand,” Yuki told PTI from Melbourne.

In his match against Murray, Yuki had played out of his skin and fearlessly to give the Wimbledon champion a very good fight in a tight three-setter.

Murray had said Yuki made it tricky for him and predicted that he could be inside top-100 by the end of 2015. The Indian did exactly that in October when he made semifinals at the USD 1,25,000 Tashkent Challenger.

Yuki has matured as a player in the last few months and has nothing to lose against a top player. He can go all out and play freely since there won’t be any pressure of expectations. He will be the underdog.

But he has not played a full competitive match since winning the Pune Challenger final against Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy in October. He played a match against Yuichi Sugita after that event but retired hurt 0-6 due to an elbow injury.

A late recovery also meant that he missed out on the season-opening Chennai Open.

Asked if going into the Australian Open without a single competitive match under his belt in the new season would affect him, Yuki replied in negative.

“Hopefully I will be sharp. I have been playing sets in practice and I feel I am getting better with each session which is a good sign,” he said.

“I am feeling no pain which is great. Now I must focus on that for the whole season.” A confident Yuki refused to be intimidated by big names.

Asked if he would have preferred an easier first round, Yuki made a statement of sorts with his reply.
“Well someone has to beat these guys,” he said.
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