"A Grand Slam is the ultimate test" - Yuki Bhambri focused on Roland-Garros and Wimbledon

BMW Open - Day 9
Yuki Bhambri and Albano Olivetti with the trophy in Munich

It's been a good clay court season for India's Yuki Bhambri. The former junior world No. 1 in singles has a new partner in Frenchman Albano Olivetti. Their partnership has brought instant results - one title, one runner-up finish, and two semi-final appearances in the four tournaments played together.

At their most recent outing, at last week's Lyon Open, the Indo-French duo came tantalizingly close to another title, leading 6-3, 5-3 against Harri Heliovaara and Henry Patten before going down in the match tiebreak. Nonetheless, it was still a good week for Bhambri-Olivetti, which included a win over top seeds Edouard Roger-Vasselin/Santiago Gonzalez in the semi-finals, just before the French Open.

"It was very nice to play another ATP final. We just couldn't get over the line. Overall, a very good tournament," Bhambri told Sportskeeda. "It's been a good start to the partnership with Albano. We have played four tournaments and we have made the finals of two (winning one of them) and the semi-finals of two. Obviously, good performances and we hope we can take this into Roland-Garros as well."
"The final was pretty close. We just couldn't get over the finish line, We were right there. But that's doubles for you. You win some, you lose some. They were the better players in the tiebreak. Right at the end of the match, they were little bit better than us and got the win. But overall, still a very good tournament and happy to play another final. I think if we keep progressing and keep playing like we are, there's only better runs and better ahead of us," Bhambri added.

There's no time to sit back and celebrate for Bhambri-Olivetti for the moment. The tennis tour has moved quickly to Paris for Roland-Garros, the claycourt Grand Slam which kicked off on Sunday, May 26. The Indo-French duo, currently 29th in the Doubles Race for 2024, will take to the court on Wednesday, May 29, for their first-round match against John Peers-Roman Safiullin.

"Hopefully, we can take it match by match. A Grand Slam is the ultimate test. Every match is difficult. You can't really look ahead. You have to look at every match as you go. We've got another first round against John Peers and Roman Safiullin. We are in good knick and hopefully we can continue to do well and play well here in Paris into the last clay court tournament of the season," Bhambri said looking ahead to Paris.

"When I decided to play doubles, it wasn't just to hang around and try to be in the 100s" - Bhambri

It's been a couple of years since the 31-year-old Bhambri decided to focus on doubles. The Indian has climbed more than 200 spots in the doubles rankings over the past two years and his results have taken him up to No. 52 in this week's world rankings - his highest ever on either the singles/doubles rankings list yet. But Bhambri has bigger aspirations.

"The goal obviously when you play, whether its singles or doubles, is to try and maximize your potential and try to do well and no different for me. When I decided to play doubles, it wasn't just to hang around and try to be in the 100s.The goal has always been to try and be the best and compete for the important tournaments. So this is just a step in the right direction," Bhambri said.
"You hope you can do the best but at the end of the day, sport has a lot of ups and downs so you never really know. But you hope and prepare for trying to be one of the best players in the world. I'm happy with the progress I have made so far but I'm hoping I can keep progressing higher up in the rankings," he added.

The tennis calendar is choc-a-bloc with big events in the coming months. Wimbledon begins three weeks after Roland-Garros ends and then there's the Olympic Games in Paris at the end of July.

Bhambri has established himself as the second-best Indian doubles player on the circuit but given the qualification rules in Paris, he will have to wait till the June 17 deadline to know if he gets to play there. (Note: Being ranked in the top 10 in the world in doubles means that Rohan Bopanna, ranked No. 4, can pick any countryman ranked inside the top 300 in the world as his partner).

"The deadline is on June 17th. That's when everyone else will find out the Olympics squad. and that's when I will probably get to know as well. Right now, I'm focussed on getting my ranking up and focussing on the tournaments ahead. In tennis, you dont have the luxury to look that far ahead. I have got two Grand Slams before that in French Open and Wimbledon - so I am just focussed on that and focussed on doing well in the these two Slams," Bhambri said.

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