Chandigarh, Sept. 17 -- Yuki Bhambri has not been in top form this tie and his usual free stroking has been glaringly absent. The heat and physical reserves may have been a factor but after the tie had been sealed 5-0 in favour of India, the 20-year-old player revealed what's been troubling him. "It was the nerves and the pressure. It's different when playing a home tie and going into a match knowing that as the number one player, you have to win. It made me too tight. But I am glad I still managed to pull off my matches," said Yuki.
He was curiously lackadaisical on Sunday with leaden feet as the encounter with Jose Statham began.
Two hours and forty minutes later, he had ground out a 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5) win but not before raising more questions about just what was going through his head.
"Yuki was slightly inconsistent. He was playing well in patches. Maybe the mantle of being number one troubled him. But he is young and has time on his side. He will come around," said captain SP Misra later.
"It's certainly not the best tennis I have played," said Yuki while adding that he will be working on those legs all the harder for he does not "want to give anyone the opportunity to question my legs again."
Sanam Singh sealed the issue for India with an emphatic 6-4, 6-1 win against Artem Sitak who at 605 was way below the Indian's 367 ranking.
Sanam came out with a point to prove and spent just an hour and seventeen minutes to do it.
He managed India's sole straight-sets victory in this tie. He moved hard and hit the ball harder.
Of course, it would not be fair to compare his court presence to the other Indians who played before him because Sanam played minus any pressure and that too against the weakest Kiwi player.
The humidity and heat, which have always aided India in home ties, gave our own players a fair bit of bother in this contest. One crucial factor in the past has been the presence of experienced physios like Sanjay Singh who has been a crucial factor in Leander Paes' longevity on the tour.
Perhaps the federation needs to have an experienced hand with the team and not just rookies.
One is sure that the new lot will learn in time but they won't unless they learn from someone who has helped our players weather many a tie in the past.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.