Yuki Bhambri admitted that he was surprised and shocked upon being excluded from the Target Olympic Podium Scheme and justified his preference of playing with the best the US Open over Asian Games. All India Tennis Association has, however, asked the government to reconsider the decision.
Yuki Bhambri had a good chance to qualify for the US Open and had to make a choice between the Asian Games and the Grand Slam, which were both hosted at the same time. Quite obviously, Bhambri chose the US Open ruling himself out of the Asian Games. However, that move was soon followed by the Indian government dropping Bhambri’s name from the TOP scheme. The player later revealed that the government's decision had left him quite confused and upset.
“I thought I was doing the right thing according to what the aim of TOPS committee is – to compete and be a medal prospect for India in the Olympics in two years’ time. Challenging myself against the best in the world at the US Open is the best way to prepare for that,” Bhambri told PTI.
“I am a little disappointed and confused that I have been removed from the scheme. I don’t think I did something wrong by choosing to play and compete against the best in the world. Regardless of whether I am included in a scheme or supported by the government or federation or not, I will keep working to be the best player I can be each and every year and represent India on the tennis tour,” he added.
The AITA had allowed Bhambri, India’s top-ranked singles player, to skip the quadrennial continental event as he stood a chance of making it to the main draw of the US Open. Playing at the Grand Slam would understandably help Bhambri in securing crucial ranking points, which could earn him a direct entry into the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The All India Tennis Association has been trying to convince the Sports Ministry to reconsider its decision.
“We have asked the government to reconsider the decision and include both Yuki and Leander Paes in TOPS. We told them that Yuki needs to be in [the world’s] top 64 to earn direct qualification for Tokyo Olympics and that’s why playing at the US Open is important. They told us that when Yuki gets back to playing Davis Cup, his case would be re-examined,” AITA secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee told PTI.
Currently, Bhambri has a rank of 84 in the world and if he does manage to keep himself in the top 100 till the US Open cut-off date, he would get direct entry to compete in the tournament. An appearance at the US Open would secure the 25-year-old a minimum prize of $50,000 (Rs 33 lakh). If Bhambri does make the cut for Wimbledon and the US Open, he would become only the fourth Indian to compete in the men’s singles main draws in all four Grand Slams in a single season.
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