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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Jan 06, 2003
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2001)

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Jan 6 Note-1

Good news from the $10K Tallahassee satellites in Florida .. Nirupama, testing out her own form on return to the pro tour after the long break, won her first pro match since late 2001 .. An easy 62 61 win over the 3rd seed in the qualies, Mirella Vladulescu (GER,727) in the second round of the 4-round qualies (most players had a first round bye) .. She now faces Heidi El Tabakh (EGY,998) this morning in the 3rd round .. Good to see that Niru seems to be back in top-750 form at least .. After every win, we will upgrade our estimate of where she is on the comback trail .. Go Niru! ..  Nice to update the Nirupama Sanjeev page with scores after a long long time!

Leander and David Rikl are scheduled to play the first round at the Sydney ATP tomorrow (Tuesday) at about 3 pm .. MB won't be in action till wednesday or thursday.

I've added some more qualifying results at the Lucknow futures page .. One of the toughest qualies ever played anywhere in the world at the $10K satellite level, with several top-500 players showing up - probably due to the entry date deadline change by ITF London .. The Indonesian Davis Cup team, Peter Handoyo and Suwandi Suwandi are in the qualies, and so is Orest Tereshchuk of the Ukranian Davis Cup team .. A couple of them will be seeded high in the main draw once they get in, and so I doubt they can make the Main draw only after the qualies are done .. Rain delays in the qualies - hopefully it was better today .. Eight qualifiers to be determined, but we will have to get a bit lucky to see even a couple of Indians going through to the main draw, it seems .. Dhruv has also been posting some updates in our new forum page depending on when he gets some info from some  friends in Lucknow he knows .. By the way, Ashutosh Singh had a rather impressive match against #493 ranked Suwandi though he lost .. Anjan Viplav also had a pretty good Q1 win.

At the Grade-2 Victorian championships ITF juniors in Australia, 6th seeded Karan Rastogi and Somdev Varman went down in the doubles QF after a fight, to the top seeds Andis Juska (LAT)/ Michael Zverev (GER), 46 63 16 .. After Somdev's consolation draw matches, they will both be proceeding to the Grade-1 Australain Hardcourts next week, where I think Isha Lakhani also joins .. By the way, Sania Mirza has withdrawn from the Australian events .. She has been playing non-stop from July and decided that it was time for a break for some specific training .. I believe she will be at the Bhupathis' tennis village in Bangalore this month and CGK will be working on things like her serve .. Hyderabad WTA is the next outing for Sania .. Very good idea for her to take a break now.

Jan 5 Notes

At the Tata Open, Paradorn won the title, Knowle-Kohlmann in doubles .. Good to see "Mr.56" coming through as expected - sometimes it is tougher to do what everyone expects you to do .. Srichaphan is on such a roll that it didn't seem like anybody felt he would/could be beaten at any time this week.  The guy is certainly something else!

The event for us this comig week is doubles at the Sydney ATP .. MB and Joshua Eagle are seeded #3 and the go against the Spaniard pair, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Tommy Robredo .. LP-Rikl are unseeded there and will play the Aussie wildcards Paul Hanley and Nathan Healey .. LP is in the top half and MB is in the bottom half of the draw ..

I have posted the entry list for the Hyderabad WTA in the new forum.  #28 Tammy Tanasugarn is also going to be there!  How about that?

Rain has been delaying matches in the qualies at the $10K ITF India F1 Lucknow grasscourt futures in Oudh Gymkhana .. It looks like the main draw matches may get pushed to Tuesday, according to Dainik Jagran, the Hindi newspaper, the only press outlet I could find with any coverage of the qualies so far .. There seems to be some really good players like Suwandi Suwandi, Peter Handoyo, Orest Tereshchuk, etc, in the qualies - I wonder if these are folks who missed the entries due to the messed-up entry date change by ITF .. Anyway, it will be tough for Indians to come through the qualies, it seems.  Check out the Lucknow futures page.

At the Grade-2 Victorian championships ITF juniors in Australia, the 14th seed Karan Rastogi went down to the 4th seeded Gael Monfels (FRA,23) in the final-16 in a decent match, 67(4) 36 .. 15th seed Somdev Varman, who had lost in the second round earlier, has been doing very well in the consolation draw, having won three rounds to reach semifinal so far .. He had a good 62 46 (11-9) win over the Russian Arten Sitak in the QFs ..  He has won back-to-back supertiebreaker matches - a good sign of tughness .. I am glad to see Somdev doing decently in his first big foreign trip .. In doubles, Somdev and Karan are seeded 6th and have reached the QF of the main draw .. They beat Todd Ley (AUS) and Anmdrei Radulescu (CAN) 60 62 and then David Brewer and Richard Irwin of Britain, 46 61 61 ..

No news from the $10K Tallahassee satellite in Florida, where Niru was in the qualifying list - not sure yet if she has gone there, but we will know soon.

I have posted the entry list for the upcoming Kolkata grade-3 also in the new forum.

Jan 4 Notes

I don't know what happened, but it's rather inconceivable that Mahesh and Woodbridge could go down like they did today atr Chennai .. [SF] #1 M.Bhupathi/ T.Woodbridge l. #4 J.Knowle/ M.Kohlmann, 26 26 .. I will await news reports .. Lee and Hesh had a record of 16-1 at Chennai in the 5 editions they played together, the only loss being in the 2000 final when they dropped match points and lost in three sets in a miracle win by Cowan-Navarra, as MB was just returning from shoulder surgery .. They never lost before SF and never in a straight sets .. This is the first time that they have played with other partners while both were playing - now we have LP getting upset in a QF and MB getting upset in stright sets .. And this is when both LP and MB have looked to be healthy and in good tennis form .. I hate to rub salt into the wounds, but as a fan who protested earlier about this, I have to repeat that bad karma was all over Leander and Mahesh at Chennai this time .. I had said for the record as the self-appointed spokesman of the fans that LP and MB owed the Chennai fans enough to take the bitter pill and play together just there .. I haven't said they should do it anywhere else - but Chennai is different and they have got their biggest fans every year there, who deserved to see the two together .. After all, they have played together for about 5-6 matches for India last year - why not for Chennai also, at the only ATP event in India? .. I know they will both want me to "take a hike" for being so harsh as a "fan supporter" at a time when both must be feeling down about the losses, but hey I had to express the fans' feelings in this.  OK, enough with the whining .. Back to my positive self .. Go Lee, Go Hesh - do well in Australia with Eagle and Rikl !

At the ITF grade-2 Victorian championships in Australia, 13th seed Karan rastogi, now ranked #73 in the new year rankings, beat Ervin Eleskovic (SWE,148) in a comeback, 36 60 64 .. Good start to the year by Karan, winning two three-setters .. Karan now runs into the 4th seed, Goel Monfils (FRA,24) in the final-16 .. 14th seed Somdev Varman, ranked #76, lost to Ross Hutchins (GBR,99) - I don't know the score yet .. In doubles, Somdev and Karan won the first round 60 62 easily - I don't know the opponents.

In the new year's world junior rankings, our top four boys are Karan (DOB: 8 Oct 86) at #73,  Somdev (13 Feb 85) at #76, Tushar Liberhan (8 Oct 86) at #113 and Chatwinder Singh (16 Dec 85) at #120 .. On the girls' side, Isha Lakhani (28 Apr 85) is at #28, Sania Mirza (15 Nov 86) at #29, Tara Iyer (8 Jul 88) at #114, Kartiki Bhat (5 Feb 87) at #127, Sanaa Bhambri (7 Mar 88) at #157 and Ankita Bhambri (28 Oct 86) at #227 .. Ankita is seriously under-ranked, as she has only played TWO junior events last year .. Madura Ranganathan (14 Sep 88) at #368 is another under-ranked player as she has played only 3 events .. Those with the 1985 birthdays have this as their last year in the juniors .. The 1986 DOBs have one more year after this ..

Jan 3 Note-5

I have added the entry lists for the two upcoming futures (Lucknow on grass next week and Delhi on hardcourts the week after) in the new  forum page .. I love the new forum .. It is easy to post these things of temporary interest in separate threads, rather than create pages in our normal archives (you see, an entry list is a tremporary thing, and once the tournament is on, it's only the results that we need to keep in my archives) ..  I expect to post these kinds of things in the forum from now on - it is easy to format things, and edit stuff there .. More importantly, the forum gives a nice way for all of you readers to get involved and leave your thoughts and comments (like "All the best to Tenni Splayer at the Lucknow futures", or "Tenni and Mankad will be in the final") ..

Unfortunately, due to a tournament in Assam for the Petroleum ministry that employs a lot of players, a few will miss this week (including Rohan) .. Also some missed the entry due to a mixup .. See my forum comments .. Anyway, the field from abroad in these futures is the toughest I have ever seen in India .. The second week especially (with a cut at ATP #600), but that may be also because it is a $10K+H event at Delhi, the first time hospitality is given in India for futures officially, though there are cases like the Jorhat futures last year when the players all got free accommodation in Tea estate bungalows etc .. It will be tough for the Indian players to make a whole lot of points in these, but it will also be a test of whether Harsh, Rohan, Sunil, etc are making progress.

It turns out that Cibulec-Fukarek saved even two match points in the 3rd set before pulling off the upset on Paes-Rikl today .. Oh, brother!

Jan 3 Note-4

LP and Rikl seem to have played a pretty good match today, but fell short by the narrowest of margins in the end .. [QF] #2 L.Paes/ D.Rikl l. T.Cibulec/ O.Fukarek, 62 36 67(8) in a match that ended at 12.35 am .. I don't know much details on the match yet, but this is actually not a bad team that they lost to (Cibulec-Fukarek lost to LP-MB in the final at Chennai last year in a 5-7 3rd set), so things are promoising with the new pair, Paes-Rikl .. Hope they can do better from here on out, in Australia.

In other news, Nirupama Sanjeev made the main draw for the $50K challenger in Fullerton (California), starting on Jan 20th - she made it as the last one in the main draw, based on her injury protected #203 ranking .. But before that she has two satellites to play in Florida, first one with qualies this weekend, and the next one with the injury ranking in the main draw the week after .. Hopefully she will get some good match practice by the challenger time.

Isha Lakhani recieved the Daikin "most promising junior" award today at the Chennai Open .. Daikin, the air-conditionaing firm, has been sponsoring this award - last year Karan Rastogi got it.

In another item that I forgot to mention earlier, the Amritrajs announced this week that BAT is shutting down .. Britannia Amritraj Tennis academy has not been much in thge news lately and the writing was on the wall about this for a while I guess .. They can take pride in having produced those like Leander Paes .. RIP.

Jan 3 Note-3

OK, finally got through to Chennai to find the score .. Bharat at the IMG office was very courteous and helpful .. Good news .. [QF] #1 M.Bhupathi/ T.Woodbridge d. K.Braasch/ R.Scuettler, 62 61 .. Easy match and the top seeds seem to be in ominous form .. LP and Rikl are warming up right now at 10.15 pm.

We have added the option to post anonymously in the new new  forum ..  I think we used to get quite a few insightful comments and cirticism from "anonymous" folks and we felt it was important to have this option out there for those who wanted to criticize the 'establishment" or vent .. You can post with a username "anonymous1" with a pass word "test123" .. Go right ahead .. Keep it clean though, and avoid unnecessary nastiness and name-calling.

Jan 3 Note-2

Big upset at Chennai today, as Kucera took out the top seed Canas .. Lisnard upset 6th seed Schuettler too .. Both upsets in straight sets .. Srichaphan and Chela won in stright sets, so there will be the #2 and #4 seeds alive in the semis .. See our Chennai Open page for scores.

MB-Woodbridge started playing a few minutes back, but we don't have anybody giving any score updates at our chatroom right now .. The ATP fact sheet I have for Tata Open does not list any onsite phone numbers for us to call either (it's rare for ATP not to list a number - IMG only gave their office number I guess)  .. Again, we need help from those of you in India - as I believe the TV coverage is not going outside India for the two late evening doubles matches (LP's match follows).  Thanks.

Jan 3 Note-1

The singles QFs start on two courts at Chennai at 5 pm today .. After the Canas and Paradorn matches on the center court, MB-Woodbridge play doubles QF, followed by LP-Rikl .. Come to the chatroom to follow the matches.

I have added the AITA Year-end rankings, the top-25s in all the 12 categories together at the new forum .. Feel free to comment on the rankings .. If you need the complete lists in each category, you have to individually click on each list at the usual place - the ranks/results main page.

Both Karan Rastogi (13th seed) Somdev Varman (14th seeds) advanced today at the ITF grade-2 Victorian Junior championships at Traralgon, Victoria, Australia to the round of 32 .. Somdev won easily, 62 63 over Nathan Byrnes (AUS), but Karan dropped the middle set before stepping on it and winning the final three games in a 63 46 63 over Alexander Petropoulos (AUS,175) .. Apparently Alexander said something during a dispute to get Karan mad at 3-3 in the 3rd set and he paid the price for that!

Sania was originally in the entry lists for the Australian junior events, but I just saw in a bulletin board that she has withdrawn last saturday (apparently from the AO juniors too) .. Not sure why, but I will try to confirm this .. Isha Lahani is expected in Australia for the grade-1 next and then the grade-A Australian Open juniors.

Jan 2 Note-4

My little comment below about Nirmal Sekhar's article in The Hindu prompted this email from a friend in India (I withhold the name) - "Read you having a dig at Nirmal. Actually, he made a point about the bad scheduling .. You must have known by now that Rohan Bopanna's match finished at about 12.45 a.m. after having started about two hours earlier. That is no time to put the country's best player on court. Only Prajwal Hegde managed to get something for the Deccan Herald city edition that night. Other papers kept quiet about that match next day also. IMG virtually got that match blacked out that way, as the live coverage by ESPN had also ended with Leander's match that day. Well, as Nirmal put it, Leander himself deserved a Tuesday start. I really wish that the tournament moves to Hyderabad, and that IMG is taught a few lessons on proper management".

I was only commenting on Nirmal's reluctance to cover doubles (based on his articles from many grand slams) .. I actually do agree with the point Nirmal made, that the Chennai scheduling should be more considerate to the players and fans - Rohan should not have been playing that late at night, and Leander should have been given an extra day if he wanted it .. Why not start the matches an hour earlier at Chennai? - they did have 4 pm start on the outer courts on Tuesday anyway, so it is not that much of a big deal, as far as how hot it gets there ..

As for the Hyderabad mention in that email, I believe IMG may move the tournament there next year - here is the article in the BusinessLine of The Hindu on wednesday about it .. It will probably be a good thing? -- Voice your opinions in the new  forum ..

By the way, that reminds me - I had forgotten to give some details of the Rohan Bopanna match .. Here is the article in The Deccan Herald on wednesday .. Excerpt from the article - Against Krajan in the second set, when the Croat was serving to stay in the set, Bopanna was inches away from giving himself three breakpoint opportunities. His backhand down-the-line in the tenth game, when Krajan was down 0-30, landed inches wide. That was the only opening the Croat needed to get right back into the game ... I just went for that backhand. I need to play more solid on the big points, the Bangalore-based pro said. I realise it was just a couple of points here and there, the match could have gone into the third set. And once in the decider anything could have happened. ... It was heartening to note that the lesson of the night was not lost on the young man. It will be important as he begins his journey towards breaking into the top-200 in the season ahead.   We have to like it that Rohan actually lost while going for his shot - that is a much better sign than had he gone tentative .. What is needed is for a player to have enough experience at such points that the porper shots would come out (and I guess it also requires hard work to build up the accuracy in the shots in one's arsenal too!) ..

Here is the PTI article in The Telegraph about Leander's doubles match today .. Looks like Lee was cooking today.

Jan 2 Note-3
As promised earlier, we are moving to a new forum from today .. Checkout the  forum hosted by  ..  Dhruv Kak from Montreal, Canada, had been coding up the forum for us over the last few days in a new format .. He also got Arunava Chaudhury from Germany (also a TennisIndia fan club member) who has been running an Indian football site similar to this tennis site for a while, to bring in his football forum page - and thus he started a site called www.sports-india.com .. Now there is one place where the sports fans can go to talk about tennis and football (dhruv, arunava, and I are all sports nuts, so to say, and all of us are sick of Indian sports sites which talk only cricket :-)).. Of course, tennisindia.org, remains by itself as before - we are simply moving the forum pages from the current hosts (bravenet, who hosts forum pages for free) to Dhruv's sports-india.com server .. This is all for the record; none of this really matters to you all .. Simply click on the forum link above as before and you will see the links to the new forum .. I think you will like the way this forum allows you to go to the threads you want to read, and it allows for much more of user-friendly options like editing your earlier posts, posting pictures, etc .. It is much more modern in design too .. Check it out .. I will leave the old forum link also in our forum main page; but barring any problems during a test period from now on, I expect all of you to migrate to the new boards!  Come on in!

Jan 2 Note-2

Leander and david Rikl made a winning start as a pair today with a straight sets win .. [R1] #2 L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. S.Aspelin/ J.Thomas, 64 75 ..

Here is how things are going in the LP-DR match, thanks to Prasenjit's commentary in our chatroom - First set: Paes-Rikl got into it right away, breaking Jim Thomas in the very first game going up to 2-0 ..  They looked to be cruising at 3-1, with triple break points, but they wasted them .. Then LP was broken at 30-40 with the other pair relentlessly attacking Rikl's side .. Rikl was down on serve at 30-40 in the 8th game but a great volley from LP made it deuce .. A beutiful down the line volley from Rikl saw them evening it at 4-4 .. In the 9th game, back-to-bak super returns from Leander and David gave them a 15-40 chance on Thomas' serve .. Though they lost the first chance on a baseline whack from LP that went long, they did the job in the next point to go up to 5-4 .. LP made no mistake in the next game to take the set .. In the second set, LP-DR started hot again .. A spectacular return from LP followed by a super-lob from Rikl saw them get the break on Aspelin's serve to go up 1-0 .. A couple of miscommunication problems caused LP-DR to drop serve in the next game though .. All even at 2-2 after LP served a good game ..  After that we lost commentary, but it seems like LP-DR had a break in the 11th game to finish it off.

Canas, Lisnard, and Kucera advanced earlier and Philippoussis went down in a bad match (may have been sick or something?) to 6th seed Schuettler .. See our Chennai Open page.

Jan 2 Note-1

LP and David Rikl plays a night match at Chennai today, at about 9 pm or so..

About yesterday's matches at Chennai Open - first of all the Amritraj cousins looked pretty good from all reports .. The boys dropped serve early in the first set and again in the second, both on Stephen's serve .. They held tough for the rest of the first set, and made a furious rally in the second set ..  They actually led 5-2 in the second, winning 5 games in a row with 2 breaks, and again had four set points in the second set before going down .. That is pretty good, against a much more seasoned pair of players, Karsten Braasch and Rainer Schuettler of Germany ..  Mahesh's and Todd Woodbridge's match saw them running into trouble against two hard servers - Scud and Gimselstob, but they are way too experienced not to know what to do .. They came back from mid way through the second set .. For some details, here is the article in The Hindu by Nirmal Sekhar, who also complains (not surprisingly, having seen Nirmal's style over the years) about being forced to cover a doubles match on the center court in prime time! .. See our Chennai Open page for scores.

In other news, 10th seeded Tara Iyer (IND,128) went down in a close match, 62 06 67(3), against the 8th seed Marinne Giraud (FRA,117) in the final-16 of the Coffee Cup Grade-1 ITF in Costa Rica ..

Jan 1 Note-2

Hello, folks from India .. we need help .. The TV coverage on ESPN and other networks outside India have gone off the air for European soccer, when MB-Woodbridge were behind at 4-6 3-3 at 8.15 pm in Chennai .. Could one of you come to the chatroom and and tell us some score updates for this match and the Paradorn match that follows?  Please, and thanks! ...

OK, just got the update on the MB match .. Nice comeback win! .. They were down 15-30 on Woodbridge's serve at 46 33 when we lost contact, but they came back to win it .. MB-Woodbridge win 46 63 62 ..

Earlier, PA/SA lost a tough one 46 67(4) .. Details later.

Jan 1 Note-1

At the Chennai Open, there are two back-to-back doubles matches of interest to us on the center court, starting at 5 pm .. First we have the "S&P" kids (I mean Stephen&Prakash - no, I don't mean that one kid is a "Standard" player and the other a "Poor" player! :-)) .. They play at 5 pm, followed by Mahesh and Todd Woodbridge .. Leander-Rikl will be playing on Thursday, in the last remaining first round doubles match .. Check out the chatroom for scores .. If you are in India or watching it on TV, by all means bring in score updates there, please, please! .. I think our trusted commentator Prasenjit will probably be online from Singapore, though.

Dec 31 Note-2

Paradorn "Mr.56" Srichaphan advanced today with a 75 62 win at Chennai .. After trading breaks in the 7th and 8th games, Jan Vacek had him facing break points in the 9th game .. Paradorn saved three of them there .. He also had a long 11th game on his serve .. He held on, and then stepped on the pedal to get the break in the next game to win the set .. He cruised along after that to a win .. Philippoussis, Canas etc also advanced .. See the Chennai Open page for scores.

At the $140K ASB Bank Classic WTA event at Auckland, New Zealand, qualifiers Manisha Malhotra and Leanne Baker went down to the second seeds Tina Krizan and Katerina Srebotnik, 36 57 today.

After a first round bye, 10th seeded Tara Iyer advanced today at the grade-1 Coffe Cup in Costa Rica to the final-16 with a 63 64 win over Michelle Mitchell (USA,194) .. She runs into the 8th seed Marinne Giraurd (FRA,117) next .. Tara is also in the doubles draw with a first round bye as the 7th seed with Shilla D'Armas of Venezuela; R2 opponent TBD.

Dec 31 Note-1

Today is the "heavy-weights" day at the Chennai Tata Open .. Top seed Canas, big-shot Philippoussis and the second seeded Thai Payyan, Paradorn are on schedule for the center court .. Only one doubles match on schedule and all the Indians' doubles matches are kept for wednesday and thursday ..

One local source for stories is Chennai's evening newspaper (NewsToday) .. Check out their page for the Tata Open page .. There was one article that says Leander has said he will be concentrating on singles this year .. Based on serious play yesterday, I am hopeful that may be, just may be, LP would do it this time ..

Saw something interesting in khel.com -- here are some excerpts of Allan Jacob's article on Prakash's Amritraj ("From the US with Love"), based on the post-match press conferences - The Amritraj kid then holds forth on his plans to play in Indian Satellites and Futures events after turning pro in May 2003.  Home is where the heart lies for this youngster who plans to shift base to India this year...``hopefully in summer``.  He then wants to do duty for his country in the Davis Cup. ``That`s something which excites me,`` he says.  A serve and volleyer, he is keen to perfect his craft. ``I need to pack more power into my shots,`` says Prakash.  He also has doubles ambitions partnering cousin Stephen, Anand Amritraj`s son. Then there is college to attend in the US.  Prakash knows it`s a delicate balancing act but is game for the challenge ..

I like that .. I think Prakash will be better off playing college tennis for this semseter and then taking the dip into the tour in summer .. He needs to play a lot more "grinder matches", get accurate in using his ground strokes and passing shots (having seen him play a couple of times, I am quite convinced that he has all the solid tools and only needs to learn to mix it up properly), and then slowly learn to attack properly with his serve and volley skills against top players on the tour .. I think his coach, that Vijay guy, has better judgment than me on this, though :-) .. I noticed the comment on "shifting his base to India in summer" .. Interestingly I had written just a couple of days back to a friend of mine who found my support to Prakash rather curious ("Jay, you have said you yourself would not change your citizenship to US after 17 years in the US for any reason - why do you find it fine that PA still holds a US passport?") .. My answer was that I am not from an immigrant country where people talk highly of ancestry from other places, and I don't find an identity in the USA culture/history like many Indian-American kids I know have towards India .. I would never ever be able to root against India in soccer for instance, but many Mexican-American and Irish-American kids can root against US while it plays against their ancestral country! .. You see, American patriotism is of a different kind than Indian patriotism, because the countries are different - and I say that with no disrespect to US .. Prakash may be able to much more easily turn into an Indian in his heart than any Indian can turn into an American (I said, "in heart", not in outward ways - big difference there) .. I said that we should welcome PA with all support and watch him through his actions - if he has the right heart to play for India, it will show up properly; we should not pre-judge a youngster and take his enthusiasm for his "grandmother" land as anything less than genuine .. One of the things I mentioned to my friend was that we would watch if he would have a proper base in India and show up for Indian events .. I am glad to see that PA has indeed thought of that .. More importantly, he needs to show over the next 2-3 years that he is ready for representing India - let him play pressure-free and let us see where he gets! ..  I know this is new territory for us Indians - we have not had too many foreign-borns wanting to represent us .. How it goes for Prakash will teach us all a thing or two about us and the world in some sense, but I would rather have it start positively.

Mind you, I am not saying that all Indian-Americans are like I said above .. I know of other cases (at least two or three) of some highly rated kids of Indian origin, who refused to travel to India and did not have any interest in anything to do with India.. So, what Prakash does is not necessarily the norm .. That he wants to do it this way is itself some proof that he has some different ideas in his heart.

No news yet on today's Tata Open matches which are underway .. The official website has been a disaster so far .. I don't know why they got indiatimes.com to do it this time ..  The website guys should be ashamed of themselves for not even putting up the scores at the end of the day .. There is *still* no sign of even a draw out there .. Somebody did upload a canned news release on the monday's match by Tuesday noon, along with a schedule for today's matches .. Come on, what does it take to upload a scoresheet? .. Hello, have you heard of a PDF file? .. Email me, and I will forward you ATP's pdf file of monday's results, guys! .. And IMG has let this happen to one of the better web sites for international series ATP events for the last few years, which was among the first couple to introduce even ball-by-ball score updates .. Not even a draw this time .. If indiatimes is charging anybody even Rs.10 for this work, they are ripping them off .. They have a link for a chat room which just goes to the regular indiatimes chat pages - they think teenyboppers who do online romance there would be interested in tennis chat, I guess .. Pitiful!

Dec 30 Note-3

Some good news - Manisha Malhotra and Leanne Baker qualified into the main draw at the $140K ASB Bank Classic WTA event at Auckland, New Zealand .. They had wildcards into the qualies and upset the top seeded Russians, Galina Fokina and Anastassia Rodianova, 8-5, followed by a hard-fought win over a tough doubles pair, Antonella and Adriana Serra-Zanetti of Italy, 75 46 76(9) .. For all that hard work, they now get the second seeds in the main draw, Slovenians Tina Krizan and Katerina Srebotnik ..

Glad to find that Nirupama is going to be out there playing the tour, starting next week .. Her name (now officially "Nirupama Sanjeev") is in the qualifying list for the $10K satellite in Tallahassee (Florida) next week! .. She is going to use her injury protected ranking of #203 (she only gets to use it for a limited number of events) at the $10K Boca Raton (Florida) satellite from the week after (Jan 13th) - so she will be the top seed there .. Qualies for next week .. If she plays the qualies, it is not a bad idea, as she does not waste a protected entry for that and gets to see where she stands after some training over the last month or two .. I think it really hit her hard when she was quite badly out of form at the Asiad after a 9 month layoff - she immediately cancelled her plans to come back to playing the tour around then, and instead went into training mode .. It will be great to see her back out again starting next week .. I like the sriousness of it - especially seeing her starting from scratch.  That's the way to do it right.

Tara Iyer is at the grade-1 Coffee Bowl ITF juniors in San Jose, Costa Rica, this week, as the 10th seed .. She plays Michelle Mitchell (USA,194) in the first round .. Somdev, Karan, Isha, Sania, etc will be in Australia soon .. The first week's event starts in a couple of days.

None of the correspondents seems to have managed to get anything detailed about the LP's Tata Open match into the newspapers by night time deadlines, as the match ended past 10 pm .. Still no idea how Rohan looked in his match .. Prakash's match was quite well covered by everybody, as it was earlier .. The young man showed flashes of brilliance, but made way too many mistakes while going in the attack mode .. He needs time to get up to these levels, but also he does not leave people wondering if he is just hype and no substance ..

Dec 30 Note-2

Rohan Bopanna seems to have played a good match, but a loss though - (wc) R.Bopanna l. Z.Krajan, 46 67(3) ..  That ends singles for Indians .. MB-Woodbridge, LP-Rikl and "S&P.Am" in doubles are of Indian interest .. Tomorrow will be "Paradorn day" out there, as the second seed and the top seed will be in action ..

Dec 30 Note-1

Could this be our old Leander on his way back? .. Could it be? .. Oh, please Lord, let it be .. A loss for LP but he played a fantastic match there at Chennai .. His slice bakhand was at its finest and even his topspin backhand (out in cold storage for a long time, I believe) was out in display .. LP looked trimmer and ready to play tennis, after some Florida training and practice .. (wc) L.Paes l. #4 J.I.Chela (ARG,23), 67(5) 57 .. The official website this time has NO score updates, and as usual I cannot get our friends from India to come to the chatroom and give us some score updates (or email me with some updates - please, folks, we need help this time!) .. Luckily we had the on-tv-fanclub-reporter from Singapore, Prasenjit .. Here is the match report, based on Prasenjit's ball-by-ball commentary -

LP was broken early in the 6th game of the first set .. after 4 consecutive breaks, it was 4-5 LP serving  .. He was down 15-40 .. A wonderful drop shot on the second BP, and then an ace brought up deuce.  A magnificent stretch volley, followed by a great pick-up volley, and it was tied 5-5 ..  LP won the 12th game at love to send it to a tiebreaker .. A bad line call prevented him from going up a minibreak rightaway .. A glorious drop volley took him ahead at 4-3 (on serve) in the tiebreaker .. A double fault at 4-5 pulled the curtains down for LP in this set though .. He saved one set point on his serve to pull to 5-6, but fell at the next point on Chela's serve ..

In the second set, LP faced a break point in the first game, but he played tough to hold .. Then he took Chela to a deuce .. Helped by a double fault from Chela at AD in, LP won the next two points to go up 2-0 .. LP was down 15-30, but had a service winner and a nice low volley to hold serve for a 3-0 lead .. LP had two break chances at 15-40 in the 4th game as well, but this time Chela started attacking LP's forehand (surprisingly it was his forehand returns that seemed suspect at this point - but only on the serves that Chela sent close to his body; the backhand returns had been wonderfully effective!) .. After some eight deuces, Chela held on for dear life .. At 40-15 in the next game, a few loose shots from LP caused him to lose the advantage and give the break back.  Suddenly there was some spring back in his Chela's legs .. At 4-3, two great "LP-like" gets left Chela shocked and facing a break point .. Leander was showing superb mobility on court, but an impossible shot went three inches too wide and Chela held serve again ..  Now, LP was down 0-30, but the heat was on and both players were playing some fantatstic tennis! .. LP held serve to even it at 4-4 ..  At 5-5, LP finally faultered with a double fault to face triple break points .. He fell at the second to fall 5-6 .. Chela would make no mistakes in holding serve, though LP saved a match point.

Earlier, Prakash Amritraj went down 26 26 to Jiri Vanek .. Prakash was apparently making too many mistakes, going for broke and not playing much percentage tennis.

Rohan Bopanna is playing right now.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Dec 30 ..

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 player, let me know .. I would like to have a mailing list where I can post general announcements and inquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.