LONDON: India’s Yuki Bhambri vowed to break his Grand Slam jinx after slipping to a fifth defeat in five matches at the majors at Wimbledon on Monday.
The 25-year-old made his Wimbledon main draw bow after a career-long wait, but despite a promising start, he lost 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano.
Bhambri had tried and failed twice before to qualify for Wimbledon in 2012 and 2015.
But a world ranking boost to 85 allowed him to make the main draw this year by rights.
“Playing at Wimbledon is something that I have always looked forward to so I was a little nervous coming into the match,” Indian number one Bhambri said.
“I enjoyed the experience. It’s been a lifetime dream to be able to come here.”
“I was really excited to play, but I am just disappointed I couldn’t get the win.”
Bhambri has endured a tough experience at the Slams.
His main draw debut at the 2015 Australian Open was ended by former world number one Andy Murray in the first round.
Twelve months later in Melbourne, Tomáš Berdych, who was sixth in the world, saw him off in straight sets.
He had to wait two more years before his third chance, but the outcome was the same – a first-round defeat in Australia, this time against former finalist Marcos Baghdatis.
At Roland Garros this year, Bhambri fell to Belgium’s Ruben Bemmelmans, again at the first time of asking.
Despite that run, the New Delhi native refuses to bemoan his bad luck.
“I just look at them as defeats, not necessarily defeats at the Slams,” he said.
“In Australia the first couple of times, I met great players.”
“I feel I am getting better and heading in the right direction but I know I have tons of work to do.”
One of the advantages of being able to play on the main tour is increased prize money, which in turn means funds to provide decent coaching.
Bhambri is working with Stephen Koon at the coach’s academy in Bangkok, having uprooted himself from his previous base in Florida.
“I shuffle between Bangkok and New Delhi. For the last few years, I haven’t really been travelling with a coach.”
“We work on bits and pieces, how to move in better, that kind of thing,” said Bhambri.
Advice from other Indian stalwarts is also crucial.
“Rohan Bopanna often watches my matches and gives advice.”
At 1.83 metres, Bhambri has the build of a fast bowler but thanks his sisters for steering him away from cricket.
“Like all Indian kids, I played a lot of cricket when I was a kid but my two older sisters who both play tennis got me into the sport.”