Notes for week ending on Jan 5, 1998

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Jan 5, 1998 Note-2

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are the top seeds at the $975,000 Qatar Mobil Open. The doubles draw seems surprisingly weak here for a $975K tournament, especially after Haarhuis had to withdraw.   Jacco Eltingh had to then team up with Sjeng Schalken and enter as a wildcard. LP/MB face Karim Alami (#137) and Hicham Arazi (#183) of Morocco. They were ranked #106 as a team last year, and are not the an easiest team to beat, as they have played together for Morocco's Davis Cup team. The #2 seeds are Delaitre/Santoro (#21 in 1977 team rankings), and their half of the draw with teams like Brandi/Messori looks a bit tougher than LP/MB's half. Here is the draw:

1-BHUPATHI/PAES v. WC-ALAMI/ARAZI
WC-ELTINGH/SCHALKEN v. QUALIFIERS
3-BRAASCH/NYBORG v. GOELLNER/RENENBERG
GROEN/IVANISEVIC v. OOSTING/KEMPERS
WC-HEMNA/ROSSET v. RAOUX/J. SANCHEZ
MIRNYI/TARANGO v. 4-VIZNER/WIBIER
H. DAVIDS/PIMEK v. NOTEBOOM/VAN HOUDT
BRANDI/MESSORI v. 2-DELAITRE/SANTORO

Some interesting new teams there. Noteboom and Wibier who have played together a lot in the past have new partners. Tarango and Raoux have split up and found new partners too (can't blame Raoux, can we ?.. :-)).

Paes is not in the singles draw. I don't think he played the qualifiers there at all. It is a big-enough prizemoney tournament to play doubles alone, however. A doubles title would be worth about 210 points and $70K to share. LP and MB will not be playing doubles next week, as MB will be at the Aussie Open qualifiers. LP can play singles at a challenger or something next week.

Good news from the ITF Futures at Chandigarh. Four Indians (Prahlad Srinath, Vikrant Chadha, Harsh Mankad, and Syed Fazaluddin) have won their first round matches and are in the prequarterfinals.. See the results here. 6 other Indians, including three wildcards (Natekar and Kirtane cousins) have bowed out. Natekar is injured and the Kirtane cousins have really been not winning anything for a while. As I said before, I would like to see more teenagers getting wildcards and getting exposure in playing foreign competition. The name Vijay Kannan is still missing, to our frustration. Why the heck isn't HE getting a wildcard at one of these places.  Nice to see Vikrant winning a match at his homefield (he is from Chandigarh!).. Harsh Mankad really played a good match against an ATP top-1000 player, which is good news too. Indians do still prefer those grass courts, it seems.

Jan 5, 1998 Note-1

Have not seen the complete draw or got any of the qualifier results from Qatar (main draw starting today), but it looks very improbable that Leander will be playing singles there. The 24-men direct entry announced by ATP's Match Notes this morning shows the last entry as Thomas Nydahl, ranked 83. Today's 8-match schedule shows 4 others (Martin Sinner, Olivier Delaitre, Oscar Burrieza and Lars Burgmuller) to be playing, so I assume they are the 4 qualifiers. The three known wildcards are Sultan Khelfan (Qatar), Karim Alami (Morocco) and Bernd Karbacher (Germany). That leaves us with one spot in the 32-draw. Unless that somehow has gone to Leander, we will see him only in doubles at Qatar. Frankly, that wouldn't be good news at all, as Leander desperately needs to play some singles matches and pick up some points. Already he is down to 379 in singles points, and he has about 100 of those points to defend in the next 4 weeks (in 3 tournaments including the Aussie Open). It's only the first week of the year and he has hardly much points to defend after January till the grass season in late June that he will have ample time to bring up his ranking, even if it falls closer to 150 (worst case) later this month. Leander needs to set his priorities well and plan his schedule very carefully.

Jan 4, 1998 Note-2

Italy has announced that the Davis Cup tie against India in the first week of April will be on slow red clay (like we didn't know that was coming !) at Genoa in Northwest Italy. It may get a bit chilly, but not too cold at that time in Genoa. LP and MB will hopefully be too hot to handle for the Italians !

The qualifiers at the Chandigarh ITF Futures (second leg of the Indian satellites) are done. Slightly better show by Indians, as four of the 8 qualifiers are Indians (Vikrant Chadha was the only Indian qualifier at Delhi last week). Vikrant has qualified again, beating Andrei Youznyi of Russia (a qualifier at Delhi) 6-1, 6-4. Syed Fazaluddin (Ind) beat the second seed in the qualifiers, M Gregore (Slovakia) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Vishal Uppal (Ind) qualified by beating V Sridhar (Ind) 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) and Saurav Panja (Ind) beat Mustafa Ghouse (Ind) 6-3, 6-1 .. Another qualifier at Delhi who lost here was Iain Bates (Britain) who lost to Anthony Old (New Zealand) 6-7 (4), 7-6 (1), 1-6. (Source: Deccan Chronicle)There should also be 4 wildcards and one direct entry (Prahlad Srinath) from India there. That's pretty good .. Here are the known results

Jan 4, 1998 Note-1

Sorry that the access to this site was probably very difficult or impossible for the last couple of days. Still having some network connection problems.

Today's Gulf-Times reports that Leander was getting to Doha only today (Sunday). Don't know if that means he somehow got into the direct draw. There have been a couple of last-minute withdrawals. ATP #5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov sadly injured his knee during a a training match yesterday and has withdrawn. This makes ATP#6, Greg Rusedski the top seed there. I am told that Paul Haarhuis has withdrawn as well (not sure if that means Paes/Bhupathi will be the top seeds in doubles there). Anyway, if LP is getting there today only, that means he has missed the qualifiers. Hope he plays singles there.  More later.

Not much other news over the last couple of days. First seed Vadim Kutsenko beat 5th seed Dmitryi Tomashevic to win the first leg of the Indian ITF-Futures (satellites) at New Delhi and earn 12 ATP points and $1300. The Isareali team of Mor and Okum won the doubles final .. Here are the results

Another sad news: If you haven't heard already, Helen Wills Moody has passed away, at Monterei, California. She was the queen of tennis in the 20s and 30s, winning 31 major titles including 8 Wimbledon titles.

Jan 1, 1998 Notes

Indians have bowed out of the doubles as well at the ITF Futures (satellites) in New Delhi .. Here are the results .. Incidentally, the German, Alex Bose, that you find at this tournament is a great grandson of Subash Chandra Bose !! .. No other news today.. Hope every one had good champagne last night !

Dec 31, 1997 Notes

Happy New Year to all !

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are reportedly getting to Qatar on Friday, in time for the qualifiers. Though Jim Courier didn't get the wildcard at Qatar, he did manage to get into the Australian Men's Hardcourt championship next week, when Philippoussis withdrew due to an injury, according to Gulf-Times.

The Tennis Magazine had something interesting on Leander (thanks go to Anirban, in the fanclub, for letting us know).. In reponse to a reader question on who was the nicest players on the ATP tour, the magazine says they ".. called on Roger Petersman, who runs the tournament-pro tour services (mainly stringing) for Babolat to answer the question. Roger and his crew see the players in a true work environment, out of the limelight, away from the TV camera's glare. According to Roger, the nicest guys are Leander Paes, Daniel Vacek, MaliVai Washington, Christo van Rensberg, Mark Woodforde, Todd Woodbridge, and Richey Reneberg. For the women, Mary Joe Fernandez, Cochita Martinez, Amanda Coetzer, Lindsay Davenport, and Sabine Applemans. All the players, he adds, are pretty cordial".

Sunil Gavaskar had an article in today's The Telegraph (Calcutta), titled "Don't Let India Colours Fade with Misuse" in which he has some strong criticisms on the state of Indian cricket, the players and the establishment.. He ended the article with this: "..As I end this, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have been selected as the sportspersons of the year. You couldn’t have better role models than these for they play hard, show immense desire to win and at the same time enjoy the game. Let us hope they and our other sportspersons give us plenty to cheer for in the years to come" .. Well said, SG ! ..

BTW, there goes the ITF Futures, New Delhi (the results are here) for the Indians. All the eight seeds (all foreigners) advanced in the second round. ATP-611 Prahlad Srinath lost to ATP-485 Andrew Reub of USA. Gaurav Natekar lost to ATP-403, Jonathan Erlich (Isr). Natekar has a groin injury and had to concede the doubles match with Vikrant Chadha also. Now, Vasudev Reddy and Amod Wakalkar, and the Kirtane brothers are alive in the doubles (into the quarterfinals), and that's it for Indians there.  Prahlad and everyone else will have to wait for Chandigarh and the second leg of the futures, next week.

In other news, Manoj Mahadevan will be in the junior Australian Open, according to Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA). He gets a direct entry, as he is ITF-junior rank #77 in singles and #67 in doubles.  He will also be in the main draw of ITF junior Australian hard court championships at Melbourne as a warm up, before the Australian Open. Manoj is being trained by Krishnan Sr and Ramesh Krishnan in a specially designed advanced training programme sponsored by Adidas. He is now 16 years of age (courtesy: Times of India).. No word yet if he will be part of the Indian junior team at the Hopeman Junior Cup next week in Perth, Australia.

Dec 30 Notes

I have posted a tentative schedule for Mahesh and Leander at the Schedules page. It will be updated very soon with more confirmed info.

The first round ITF Futures first leg (satellites), Delhi results are not good for Indian players. The highest ranked Indian, Prahlad Srinath and wildcard Gaurav Natekar are the only ones who won their matches. Teenagers Harsh Mankad and Vishal Uppal are out, as are youngster Vikrant Chadha, veteran Vasudev Reddy and the two lucky loser entries, Shailesh Dhoble and Ravikiran Bhat. Hope Prahlad makes his move here, though, as he did in the Indonesian satellites a couple of months back when he moved up from the ATP-1000 range to the ATP-600 range .. The maximum points a player can end up with after 3 weeks of Futures (satellites) is around 40 to 70 points. One needs to pick up that kind of points to start getting into ATP challengers to make the next-level move. Remember that Mahesh made his move with a good showing in the Indian satellites at the end of 96 .. BTW, another old pal Uzbek, Dmitryi Tomashevic is also at this tournament, seeded 5th, along with Kutsenko, seeded first. Yep, the Uzbeks can't live without Indian food now ! .. As of now, all the 8 seeds have advanced to round 2 (pre-quarterfinals) with straight sets wins.

In other news, there is a report that India is in the Hopman Cup junior tournament in Perth, Australia, January 3-9. India is in Group A with Australia, Japan, and Indonesia. Group B includes Thailand, South Africa, Western Australia and China. The format has boy's and girl's singles and mixed doubles. No more info at this time on which junior players will represent India.

Dec 29 Note-2

A newsbit: Boris Becker has apparently agreed to play at the Gold Flake ATP Open in Chennai, April 6-12 ... Will be the first time he is playing in India .. well, well, well.. how about a Paes/Becker match out there ? .. Interesting that he has decided to airdash to India right after Germany's Davis Cup tie in South Africa during April 3-5 (Becker won't be playing there, but he is in charge of the national team).. By the way, Leander and Mahesh will also be airdashing to Chennai after playing Davis Cup at Italy.. Why the hell does it happen that they cannot avoid being jetlagged every time they play a first-round match in India (it happened last year at Chennai, when LP and MB arrived jetlagged from Puerto Vallarta, and it happened again at the Mumbai challenger last month after they came from Hartford) ..

There were 9 Indians in the 3rd and final round of the qualifiers at the ITF Futures (ATP satellite) tournament in Delhi.  Only Vikrant Chadha made it into the main draw as a qualifier and all the others lost in the 3rd round. Sailesh Dhoble and Ravikiran Bhat however qualified into the main draw as lucky losers. Our pal Vadim Kutsenko in the ATP 300s is the top seed (these Uzbeks don't want to leave India, huh ?). He plays Britain's Iain Bates on Tuesday. Ravikiran Bhat will play Marcus Hilpert. The Indian #3, Prahlad Srinath has a direct entry into the main draw and faces Anrei Youznyi (courtesy: Deccan Chronicle, Times of India). Prahlad is probably the only Indian direct entry, but with 1 qualifier, 2 lucky losers and 4 wildcards, there are 8 Indians in the draw now, which isn't too bad. The known results and some first round match-ups are in the ITF Futures Results Page.

Dec 29 Note-1

It's official .. LP does not have a wildcard into the Qatar Open next week. Here are some excerpts from an article in the Gulf-Times by Dave James, which strongly criticizes this turn of events: Leander Paes and Jim Courier may have an Olympic medal, four Grand Slam titles and numerous Davis Cup encounters to boast of, but for the Qatar Tennis and Squash Federation, all of that means nothing at all. The Qatar Mobil Open last night delivered an amazing snub to defending champion Jim Courier and Olympic bronze medallist Leander Paes. Organisers of the million dollar tournament, which gets underway next Monday, took the astonishing decision to award the last remaining wild card in the event to Morocco's Karim Alami. The other two wild cards, which give players with low rankings automatic entry into the first round proper, were handed to national number one Sultan Khalfan and German veteran Bernd Karbacher ... "We have chosen Alami because we wanted another Arab player in the tournament," said Ali al Fardan the president of the Qatar Tennis and Squash Federation. "I am also confident that Karim will attract more spectators to the event." Alami brings to three the number of Arab players in the first riound. He joins Khalfan as well as Morocan Hicham Arazi whose world ranking of 38 is good enough to give him an automatic spot in the first round ... It remains to be seen whether or not Paes will take part in the qualifiers and the doubles.

LP may have no choice but to play in the quals. Cannot blame them for taking ATP #55 Alami. Problem is that Courier and Alami did not enter early in the main draw and tied up the organizers hands, and then the organizers made it worse by commiting the crime of wasting a WC on the German journeyman, Karbacher.. Oh, blow it ! .. Leander should be able to go through the qualifiers anyway and get a couple of matches of good practice before facing someone playing the first match of the year (let's look at the positives) ...

On to the ATP Futures (Satellites) qualifiers in New Delhi: Sad to see the Indian Junior #1 Vijay Kannan ending up with a tough draw and losing to Vikrant Chadha in the first round quals (after a wildcard was sadly taken away from him in favor of Gaurav Natekar) .. but it's also nice to see Vikrant winning two quals rounds .. Here are some results .. Interesting that Ali Hamadeh of Lebanon is there. He was Mahesh Bhupathi's partner when he won the US collegiate doubles championship in 96 ! .. but he has not been able to break into the upper regions of ATP rankings .. Another curious thing here is both the Kirtanes giving walkovers in the second round of quals (both giving medical reasons) .. hmm ?? ..