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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Jan 3, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2005)

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Jan 3 Note-1

Yesssir!!! .. Terrific news .. We have our very first Indian qualifier at the Chennai Open in nine years, and it is Harsh Mankad, who did it the old fashioned way -- he earned a spot in the main draw, upsetting the 5th seed Jamie Delgado (GBR,227), 36 63 62 just now .. Yet another comeback from dropping a set, showing that his recent hardwork has indeed helped him with his staying power on court .. This is fantastic work by HM who upset the 3rd and 5th seeds on the way to the main draw .. I think it is a fitting answer to the tournament who hardly ever gives him a chance with any help .. Go Harsh .. I have not yet got the news of Vinod's qualies match .. Also not sure whom Harsh will be playing in the first round tomorrow.

Jan 2 Notes

For the first time in nine editions of the Chennai Open, we have two Indians playing in the final round of qualifying .. Harsh Mankad and Vinod Sridhar pulled off tough three-set comebacks today to reach the Q3 .. Vinod upset the 7th seed Gabashvili today, Harsh came back from the brink to beat Andy Ram of Israel .. HM also became the first Indian to reach the Q3 twice at Chennai .. Six of the eight seeds reached the Q3 along with Harsh and Vinod who upset the 3rd seed and the 7th seed in the Q1 and Q2 rounds .. Tough matches again on Monday for these two .. Vinod runs into a very talented and in-form Marcos Baghdatis, and Harsh plays the 5th seed Jamie Delgado .. Hope we get more good news tomorrow .. 
See all the news at our Chennai Open page ..

Monday's schedule has HM and VS playing the Q3 matches at 2pm .. Then Prakash and Leander play back-to-back singles matches on the center court, followed by MB-Bjorkman playing their doubles match .. Mustafa and Vishal also play doubles late at night .. Karan will be playing singles on Tuesday .. It would be fun to see LP play singles in a pro event after two whole years .. Something tells me that he will upset the 6th seed Lu tomorrow with some old-fashioned Leander stuff that Lu is not used to seeing on the tour! ..

Jan 1 Notes

Hello folks, Happy New Year!

And the new year brings some cheer from Chennai (we badly needed some good news), as the qualies started today at the $400K Chennai Open with Harsh Mankad (IND,360) pulling a big straight sets upset over the 3rd seed in the qualies, #203 Stephane Roberts (FRA), 75 61 .. Also pulling a totally unexpected upset was Ashutosh Singh (IND,960), the very last direct entry in the qualies .. Ashutosh beat #274 Melle van Gemerden (NED) in a 64 62 match! .. Vinod and Ajay beat their Indian opponents to advance to the second round .. Harsh has a decent second round match against Andy Ram (ISR,366) who beat Mustafa Ghouse ..  Vijay Kannan who had won the KTC invitational beating young Jeevan Nedunchezhian this week, went down against the 7th seed Gabashvili .. Unfortuantely two players, Sunil Kumar and Stephen Amritraj, went down in very close three-setters where theyr seem to have played their hearts out .. See all the news at our Chennai Open page.

The singles main draw came out today -- nice to see Leander in a singles draw after a very long time (first time in two years, since Chennai 2003) .. Wildcard LP gets the 6th seed Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE,87) .. Prakash Amritraj, also with a wildcard, faces Ivo Heuberger (SUI,124) .. Young Karan Rastogi who got the third wildcard after his excellent show at the ABN Amro, has the tough job of tackling the 4th seed Jonas Bjorkman ..

Leander has selected Nenad Zimonjic as his partner for the year .. As I said in the forum, I should get some candy for predicting/suggesting the name earlier .. I didn't have any inside info or contact with LP on this .. Just thought he would be a good partner for Lee .. We didn't get our wish for 2005 for the best possible pairing, the Indian Express, but we have to be happy that both Lee and Hesh have very promising partners for next year .. Hesh will be playing with Woodbridge, as reported earlier .. The earlyd oubles entry list is at the Chennai Open page

In other news, Shikha Uberoi (soon to have IND as her country affiliation) went down in the second round of qualies at the $170K Uncle Toby's Hardcourts in Gold Coast, Australia .. 159th ranked Shikha beat Delia Sescioreanu (ROM,154) 61 64 in the first round but fell to #296 Zi Yan (CHN) in a close Q2 match 64 36 62 .. Yan had upset the 3rd seed in the Q1 round .. #295 Neha Uberoi went down iun the Q1 to #181 Nan-Nan Liu (CHN) in a good match, 57 46 .. I believe Neha is still a little bothered by the rib-cage pain she had from last month, though she is expected to be fine soon .. Sunitha Rao (USA,193)  is also there - she upset Paula Garcia (ESP,160) in the second round to reach the Q3 ..

I was glad to meet the Uberoi sisters here in LA on their way out to Australia .. Dad Mahesh Uberoi had asked Nirupama Sanjeev (now coaching in the SanFransisco bay area) to come down to meet the girls and possibly consider doing some traveling coaching for them .. So we had a nice time on Christmas Day here .. Niru was impressed by the girls' focus and said she would work with the girls, who still has Rick Maci as their coach, at his academy in Florida .. He cannot travel with them .. I think Niru would be a very good traveling coach and a great influence on the girls, with her experience on the tour and the no-nonsense approach to things ..

By the way, since we never had a proper announcement on this, I should say it -- Nirupama is now retired from tennis .. Thanks for all the pioneering work you did for Indian women's tennis, Niru! .. Check out Niru's coaching website, ..

December Break

Update Dec 31: Sorry for being extremely busy this whole december period .. Will restart the updates very soon, but for the time being, please check the forum .. The qualifying draw at Chennai is now posted at our Chennai Open page - the action starts right about now at Chennai!

Update Dec 28: We are all still on vacation, but nothing is happening in tennis anyway .. Sorry that the forum has been down for a few days too. Dhruv has been traveling - I just talked to him and he will fix the forum as soon as possible once he gets back .. Meanwhile, have as good a holiday season as you can, considering the heartbreaking calamity in Asia with the tsunami .. All our prayers are with the families who lost so much .. The Chennai Open will reportedly proceed as scheduled, with the qualies starting on Saturday Jan 1st .. See the entry lists for singles and doubles at the Chennai Open page ..

Update Dec 20, 2004 ..Well, I just returned from a trip abroad -- hope to restart the updates soon -- the next big action is the Chennai Open .. Hope everybody were reading the updates in the forum pages. For a quick recap for the last 2 weeks -- Karan Rastogi won the big ABN Amro in Mumbai and got a wildcard to the big Rotterdam ATP qualies (great show there by Karan!) .. LP is taking a singles wildcard to the Chennai ATP, Karan and Prakash getting the other two WCs .. Ankita and Rushmi won the two Indian $10K events .. Vivek Shokeen reached the semi at the Asian Juniors and Sanam/Jeevan won the doubles there!

Dec 5 Note-1

Sania played a great match but lost closely to somebody whom everyone considers as one of the biggest upcoming talents - third seed Sesil Karatatcheva (BUL,127) - 63 26 75 .. Sesil is only 16 years and has a #127 ranking from just seven pro events, so you know that she is an incredible talent - she expected to move way up into the top echelon of WTA tennis soon .. The girl beat both Shikha and Sania in three sets .. Congrats to Karatantcheva, but Sania and Shikha have nothing to be ashamed of .. Sania's run was simply unbelievable - to be unseeded and to go that far with such a big upset of a top-75 player and all that .. Wow! .. Go, Girl .. SM will move up near #170 now.

I think Sania and the Uberois are all off from now on till the Australian Open .. Sania has a main draw wildcard and Shikha will be in the qualifying rounds .. I don';t think Neha will make the qualies though.

There are two ITF $10K events in India in the next two weeks, and all the other top Indian players will be there.

Dec 4 Notes

STOP PRES!!! .. The Hyderabad Hurricane has hit Florida! .. Sania Mirza pulls off her first top-100 win, the biggest win of her career .. Unseeded Sania just upset the top seed to reach the final of the $50K challenger in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida !!!! .. [SF] Sania Mirza (IND,194) d. (1) Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER,75), 61 36 61 ... Look at that third set scoreline .. This is really incredible - how this girl can pummel her opponents into submission! .. The win gives her 8 big bonus points for a top-75 scalp .. 36.5 points including 12 bonus points, enough to move her to right outside #170 in ranking .. Man, I am too excited to type .. Go Sania, Go Sania .. This is the second highest-ranked scalp by an Indian since Leander Paes beat a #49 Roger Federer in Indian Wells in Martch 2000 .. Shikha's upset of #56 Saori Obata this year at the US Open is the only better win in that period by any Indian player .. Not sure who would be her opponent in the final tomorrow - Either the 3rd seed Sesil Karatantcheva or the 8th seed Edina Gallovitz.

This challenger is on clay, by the way .. Hey, who was it not convinced earlier in the year about her chances on clay .. Oh, oops, that would be myself!

Dec 3 Note-2

Sania Mirza continues to rack up top class wins .. Another challenger semifinal for her -- this time after a 63 62 shellacking upset of the 6th seed Milagros Sequeira (VEN,137) .. Wow!! .. Shikha played very well but could not pull the upset over the extremely talented third seed, Sesil Karatantcheva (BUL,127) .. SU lost 26 64 36 .. Sania's win gives her 19.5 points including 4 bonus, which is enough to move her up about 15 spots to #180 or so .. Amazing climb up the ladder by Sania this year .. She faces the top seed Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER,75) in the semi tomorrow .. Go Sania - keep going!

At the Delhi satellite masters, Ajay Ramaswami played a decent match but could not upset the 3rd seed Konstantin Gruber (AUT) in a 46 46 loss .. Ajay has done very well in the masters leg of both the satellites this year .. Last time, in June, he had an unexpected run to the masters semis, which gave him  most of the 13 ATP points he piocked up .. This time, once again Ajay came through with a run to the final .. He gets 12 ATP points .. Vishal Uppal with 28 points and Ajay Ramaswami with 25 points are the top two performers from the two Indian satellites this year .. Sunil Kumar and Vijay Kannan picked up 17 each from the two satellites .. Somdev Dev Varman is the only one to pick up any seriouos points in the three futures this year, as he had the big title with 12 points at Kolkata earlier in the year .. Congratulations go to Ajay for the beautiful work this week .. See the Delhi Masters page and the Circuit/ATP points page for all the details.

At the $10K in Doha,  Jaco Mathew and Ravishankar Pathanjali went down in the doubles final, 36 36 to the Russian brothers, Artem and Dmitri Sitak .. Actually Jaco had a bit of a knee problem and had to play with knee braces, which did not help the Indian pair .. Very good job by the unseeded pair to pull two upsets of seeds and reach the final!

I believe our juniors  - the 2nd and 3rd seeded girls and three others in the girls draw, and the one boy who qualified into the main draw - all lost in the very first round at the grade-3 ITF juniors in Malaysia .. This is the second week in a row that they have all gone out before even the QFs .. One lost in the qualifying rounds too .. I don't have the heart to mention even the kids' names .. I have never seen such incredible futility by Indians abroad over two weeks .. Very puzzling why they all had such problems out there .. Hope the kids come back without feeling too crushed .. They should keep working to get better .. Tennis is like that - Win some, lose some!

Dec 3 Note-1

Some good news and Some bad news from the Uberoi sisters at the Pam Beach Gardens $50K last evening .. The 7th seed Shikha Uberoi (USA,164) won easily, 64 62 over Lenka Tvaroskova (SVK,251) .. That is the kind of match that Shikha might have lost a few months back, but she continues to prove that the big run at the US Open and the improved ranking is no fluke .. Unfortunately, Neha, who this week seemed to be playing the best tennis she has played in a while, came up limping last night in the doubles loss, where she started getting some upper body pain while twisting .. That left her without much of a chance to pull an R2 upset over the 8th seed Edina Gallowitz (ROM,190) who figured out Neha's ailment quite fast and knew what to do .. 46 26 loss for Neha .. Neha will probably need a few weeks of rest but should be fine by January .. It is nice though to see both Sania and Shikha reaching the quarterfinal there .. Sania plays the 6th seed Mialgros sequeira (VEN,137) and Shikha plays the third seed Sesil Karatantcheva (BUL,127) today .. I believe Sania and Petra Rampre went down today in doubles against the 2nd seeds Ruxandra Dragomir-Ilie and Samantha Reeves - I think it was a 46 26 score there too .. The girls have been having a lot of fun down there, I am told .. The Uberois live only about half hour from the tournament site, and so Sania and dad Imran Mirza have got some nice dinners too this week! .. Cool stuff! ..

Also having a hot week are two of our guys in Doha for the $10K  Qatar futures .. Ravishankar Pathajali and Jacco Mathew  fiollowed up on their uipset of the third seeds yesterday, with a 63 36 61 upset of the top seeds, Yordan Kanev and Llia Kushev of Bulgaria to reach teh doubles final! .. They play the Russian pair, Artem Sitak and Dmitri Sitak in the final ..

Here is an interesting article from Mr. Naresh Kumar in yesterday's Telegraph (Kolkata) - Hopes on Sania, Karan .. Mr. naresh Kumar's articles always have some interesting thoughts .. Though I don't agree with the reduced hope he shows on PA, HM, RB etc, and I wished he had not completely forgotten a real big talent out there, Somdev "Buji" DevVarman, fans like me are always thrilled to find that Indian tennis stalwarts like Mr. Naresh Kumar follow the youngsters that closely .. Not too many of the Indian sports stalwarts do enough of that, but Naresh Kumar has always been a bit different than other stalwarts on this matter, in my humble view .. Indian tennis stalwarts, from what I hear, do not have a great record of taking initiative in identifying, closely following, advising and grooming young talent though they are all generally available for advice if asked .. It is also interesting that NK mentions the nice support that Sania has received from the GVK industries and Karan's support from IMG .. I know I have taken many a pot-shot at IMG, mostly due to how they make us all pull our hairs out every year thanks to some of the shenanigans at the Chennai Open, but I should give credit where credit is due .. It is true that IMG has continuously helped Karan Rastogi with good support for coaching Nick Bollitieri academy, and they have helped him wildcards and exposure, etc .. Very glad to see Mr. Naresh Kumar mention IMG and GVK in his article ..

Dec 2 Note-2

Hot news from Florida! .. Sania Mirza is in the $50K challenger QF at Palm Beach gardens with a 63 64 win over lucky loser Mandy Miniella (LUX,343), who had pulled the big upset over the 4th seed Kelly McCain (USA,128) yesterday .. Mandy must be cursing her luck for running into Indians repeatedly, though .. She had lost in the final qualies to Neha in straight sets, and after a big upset yesterday she again goes down cheaply - this time to Sania! .. The win gives Sania 10.5 total points including two bonus for the two top-500 wins so far .. The Uberoi sisters play their singles R2 matches later in the afternoon, and Sania returns for her forst round doubles.

Dec 2 Note-1

More good news from Florida .. 18 yr old Neha Uberoi (USA,313) followed up on her three good qualifying wins, to also beat the lucky loser Christina Wheeler (AUS,317) in another strong performance, 60 63 .. In doubles, the Uberoi sisters went down to Kelly McCain and Kaysie Smashey of USA, 62 46 46 .. Today in the second round at Florida, Sania plays either the 4th seed kelly McCain or lucky loser Mandy Miniella .. Shikha plays Lenka Tvaroskova (SVK,251) and Neha plays the 8th seed Edina Gallovitz (ROM,190).

At the Delhi ITF satellite masters, Ajay Ramaswami beat Vijay Kannan 63 76(10) today to reach the final .. Simon Gruel's unbeaten run was ended in the semi by Konstantin Gruber (AUT), who won 62 61 ..  The doubles title went to Mustafa Ghouse and Vishal Uppal today .. They have topped the circuit doubles tally and grabbed 8 bonus points also, for 43 ATP doubles entry points each .. Ajay now has 12 ATP points and can win 6 more and finish as high as third in the circuit if he can beat Gruber in the singles final tomorrow .. Vijay finishes at the 7th spot in the circuit, with 10 ATP points .. See the Delhi Masters page and the Circuit/ATP points page for all the details.

Also, some very good doubles result from the $10K (not $15K as I said earlier) in Qatar  .. Jaco Mathew and Ravishankar Pathanjali won the QF, upsetting the 3rd seeds Vincent Baudat and Laurent Recouderc of France, 63 64 .. They play the SF against the top seeds Yordan Kanev and Llia Kushev  of Bulgaria (Thanks go, as always to our Doha friend for keeping us posted on this event).

Dec 1 Note-2

The girls are cooking in Florida! .. Great news from the $50K Palm Beach Gardens challenger yesterday, as all three of our girls won their first round matches .. Sania Mirza (IND,194) beat wildcard Mialngela Morales (USA,395), 64 62 .. The 7th seed Shikha Uberoi (USA,164) had to fight hard, but got past Gaelle Widmer (SUI,296) in a 76(4) 57 75 barnburner ..

Neha Uberoi (USA,313), seeded 4th, qualified into the singles main draw yesterday with a strong 64 61 win over the 8th seed Mandy Miniella (LUX,343) .. She plays a lucky loser in the main draw, Christina Wheeler (AUS,317)

Dec 1 Note-1

Great news from Delhi today .. Vijay Kannan pulled off another upset of a seed, #5 Tobias Koeck, and Ajay Ramaswmai beat his US opponent Adam Fass, to advance to the semfinal of the masters leg .. Even better, these two are going to face each other, and so we are assured of somebody in the final as well .. Gruel and Gruber are in the other semi .. Vijay and Ajay have placed themselves in the top-8 of the circuit point list - that is terrific, considering that both were pretty low down when this leg started .. VK has 10 ATP points and Ajay 8 so far .. Incredible as it seems, Vijay still has a chance to finish as high as the cricuit runner-up (making 27 total points including 4 bonus) if he can beat Ajay in the next round and beat Gruel in the final (assuming Gruel beats Gruber in the other semifinal) .. A win in the semi itself will give Vijay 6 more ATP points .. Ajay could get 4 more with a win over Vijay .. See the Delhi Masters page and the Circuit/ATP points page .. I have added the doubles points as well .. Mustafa and Vishal are in the masters doubles finals and are assured of at least second place in the doubles tally.

Mumbaikar Ajay has now amply demonstrated that he deserves that 8th and final spot in the ABN Amro challenge in Mumbai at the end of the next week .. Vijay is already in the field among the top 6 Indians (HM, PA, SKS, Vishal, Vinod, Vijay) and Karan has one of the two wildcards ..  It is so heartening to see Ajay playing like this .. Like how we all thought he would play, when he left US college tennis ove two years back with a top-15 rank .. As for Vijay, he has often had some nagging injuries etc, but when he is in form, he is always a handful for anybody as we all know.

Two Indians were at the $15K Qatar F3 futures in Doha this week .. 858th ranked Ravishankar Pathanjali lost to qualifier Robert Hodel (GER,961), 26 46 .. Jacco Mathew had a tougher draw and went down 57 16 to the 6th seed Thorsten Popp (GER,369) ... Very tough field out there .. Jaco and Ravishankar had a good doubles win though, 67(6) 63 62 over Phillip Gubenco (CAN) and Bocko Matej (SVK) .. They play the QF against Vincent Baudat and Laurent Recouderc of France.

Nov 30 Notes

Fourth seeded in the qualies, Neha Uberoi (USA,313) had another good win yesterday, 76(5) 62 over Svetlana Krivencheva (BUL,411) to advance to the final qualies of the $50K challenger in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA .. She meets the 8th seed Mandy Minella (LUX,343) in the final qualies ..

In the main draw at Palm Beach Gardens, 194th ranked Sania Mirza has a good first round against the USA wildcard, 395th ranked Milangela Morales .. Seventh seeded Shikha Uberoi (USA,164) gets Gaelle Widmer (SUI,296) in the R1 .. In doubles, Sania is playing with Petra Rampre and they face the second seeds Ruxandra Dragomir-Ilie (ROM) and Samantha Reeves, while the Uberoi sisters play Kelly McCain (USA) and Kaysie Smashey (USA)

Excellent work at Delhi in the second round by Vijay Kannan and Ajay Ramaswami who upset the second seed Kedriouk and the 4th seed Norikazu Sugiyama respectively to reach the QFs .. Unfortunately, Sunil Kumar, who is carrying a groin injury, would not bring out his best and got upset by Adam Fass (USA) who plays Ajay next .. Vishal Uppal also could not keep up his consistent work of not getting upset in the first three legs, as the 7th seed went down to Davor Kuseta .. The two youngsters, Vivek Shokeen and Divij Sharan who had done very well to advance in the first round, ended up wiuth tough customers in top seed gruel and 5th seed Koeck.

Nov 29 Notes

Sania Mirza, Shikha Uberoi (USA) and Neha Uberoi (USA) are all at the $50K challenger at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida .. Sania and Shikha re in the main draw list and Neha is the 4th seed in the qualies .. Neha won the first round of qualies on sunday, beating wildcard Jennifer Tuchband (USA,599) easily, 62 63 .. She was to play a tough Q2 today against Svetlana Krivencheva (BUL,411)

At the satellite masters leg in Delhi, Indians had a good start with four of the six advancing to the second rouond today .. Vijay Kannan and Ajay Ramaswamy had good wins over foreign opponents, while the two youngsters, Vivek Shokeen and Divij Sharan did well to beat their Indian opponents Vishal Punna and Kamala Kannan .. See the Delhi masters page for the results and the draws .. In the second round on Tuesday, 7th seed Vishal Uppal and the 8th seed Sunil Kumar, both with first round byes, alsd get into the action .. Now, every win gives them all very good ATP points.

Forgot to mention some good work by Madura Ranganathan last week at the grade-3 juniors in Malaysia -- she won the doubles title there with a foreign partner .. Good show! .. Hope the Indian contingent does much better in singles this week at the second grade-3 in Malaysia than they did last week.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Nov 29 ..

I am getting some inquiries from US college coaches who are interested in Indian junior players .. I would like to be able to contact Indian players (some of the coaches are inquiring about specific names) .. If any of the junior players are reading this, please contact me .. Or if any of the other readers know the contact emails/address for any junior playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan