New Delhi:The closest an Indian has come to winning a singles Grand Slam title was in 1960 & 1961 when Ramanathan Krishnan reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
Since then many have tried but failed. However that looks set to change, thanks to a revolutionary programme driven by none other than 10-time Grand Slam doubles champion Mahesh Bhupathi.
Youngsters who've qualified for the Apollo Mission 2018 Tennis Scholarships after a month-long talent hunt were felicitated on Sunday.
The 15 bright talents were short listed from a wider pool of 32 across four zones, and will train rigorously at the Bhupathi Tennis Village in Bangalore for two months, before proceeding to France for physical strength and conditioning assessment.
"It's a world-class system. It's more than a coach, more than a trainer. It's the fitness aspect; it's the diet aspect, which is very important in India. It's the mental aspect; it's the flexibility aspect with Yoga. And we have created a system, so we need the kids to just get fit in there," said Mahesh Bhupathi.
The Apollo Tyres Mission 2018 programme aims to produce an Indian Grand Slam Singles champion within the next decade. 100 crores have been invested towards this. And for some of these kids, who couldn't otherwise afford to pay for such a holistic and comprehensive programme, it comes as a real boon.
"We'll have to give our best, and try the best what we can do. We're getting a good opportunity, a lifetime opportunity," said one of the kids.
"I feel very proud and it's somewhat like a dream for me. And I hope I'll be one of the best players in the world".
15 children will be training there for the next 10 years. And while parents have even thought of relocating to Bangalore for this cause, India will be hoping to have its first Grand Slam Singles champion.