New Delhi: The gamble of hiring a travelling trainer has paid off for Yuki Bhambri as he cracked the top-100 with consistent performances and the youngster is now ready to make more investment by adding a travelling coach to his support staff.
Hiring Nasir Ahmad, his trainer, meant that Yuki's budget shot up to 50 lakh from 30 lakh in the 2015 season and adding a coach means that it will be at least Rs 1 crore next year.
"It is not a coincidence that I have remained injury free and playing better. It was a gamble, pooling in resources for a travelling trainer at the end of 2013. But thankfully it paid off," Yuki, who is now ranked 89, told PTI in an interview.
"It took me two years to know how my body functions with the help of a trainer. He helps me in massages, stretches, hydrating, eating right food at right time and gym training. It has made my life easier.
Most of credit of my success goes to Nasir. I was doing well when I was traveling without him but injuries were still happening."
Yuki said he now needs to climb further up and to make that progress, he needs to connect with right people.
"There's a reason why top players are having a big support staff. Some even have two coaches. At some point I need that experienced person, who can guide me in tournaments and my training. I need someone who has been there, done that. Hopefully, I will have one for next season.
"I am there in first round of Australian Open, but how you go from first round to fourth round, you need guidance at that level. You have to make that investment. That's the way to go. I have spoken a lot to Somdev on how to go about on Tour."
But how will he fund the expenses of his coach? Asked if he has got some sponsorship, Yuki laughed.
"I have no hopes, literally given up. I don't think about sponsorships anymore. I am focussing on what I can do myself."
A third of the money that Yuki has spent this year has come from the prize money through Australian Open. He also had some money left from Asian Games prize money and a bit from ONGC, his employer, and Babolot, his racquet sponsor.
In the absence of a major sponsor, remaining in top-100 will be key for Yuki since that will allow him a direct entry in all four Grand Slams, where even first round loser makes at least Rs 16 lakh.
In 2015, the first round loser at Australian Open got more than Rs 16 lakh and French Open offered more than Rs 19 lakh. At Wimbledon it was Rs 29 lakh and close to 26 lakh at US Open.
Everything put together, someone who plays four Majors will get Rs 90 lakh. So, first round appearance in all four Slams will take care of Yuki's expenses and he can even save some money for future with better performance.
So who is he hiring? Yuki said he was talking to a few people but nothing is finalised. "I would like to hire someone like Roger Rasheed. But I don't know as yet," said Yuki, who trains with Aditya Sachdeva when he is at home in Delhi.
Rasheed was coach of world number 29 Gregor Dimitrov, who broke into top-10 last year.
In the last three months, Yuki won two Challengers, ended runner-up in Taiwan and reached semifinals in Tashkent and Vancouver.
Nasir, who is a strength and condition expert, said his focus remains on Yuki's recovery.
"They need to recover to play another day. I prefer to make him do lot of stretches, few corrective exercises. More focus is on recovery like magnesium sulfate bath. He is a God-gifted boy, he knows what he wants. He knows his limitations. Basic funda is to keep him happy," Nasir said.
Yuki said recent good performances and the resultant prize money has taken away a bit of his financial worries but lack of funds remain a concern.
"It is less now since I have been able to do well now. But the plan already is in motion for next year. I want to travel with both a coach and a trainer. Maybe one of them has to take a back seat somewhere.
It's expensive. It's going to cost me at least USD 70000 for a coach, apart from his travel and stay. It's going to be a struggle.
"Every single Indian tennis players, has done it without any financial help from the Association, or the government. The sole reason Somdev had made a game and name because of his college tennis in US. Same for Saketh (Myneni).
"Lot of kids are now doing it. It's not just four years of education but four years of free training, free exposure. Corporate sponsorship is poor," he lamented.
Yuki said spending quality time at Nick Bolleteri academy has been a major factor in his progress.
"I spend about eight to 10 weeks there in a year. IMG has been taking care of my training there for the last 5-6 years. This transition, I have made, was not possible If I had not trained there," he said.
It costs between USD 1000-1500 per week to train at Nick Bolleteri academy in Florida.