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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the week ending on Jan 9, 2006
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2006)

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Jan 9 Note-1

Sania Mirza went down today, 46 62 26 to Daniela Hantuchova (SVK,17) in the first round at the $419K Tier-II Medibank International WTA in Sydney .. Sania was up 4-2 in the first set but dropped serve twice in a row to lose 4 games and the set .. She started the second set with a break and got another break in the 7th game to go up 5-2 and serve out the set .. In the third set, she was was broken in the 4th and 8th game ..  Sania is not in the doublkes draw this week .. I assume she will be putting in a week of practice to get ready for the Australian Open main draw next week.

Today's was the third top-20 match in a row that Sania had played (#10 Venus and #16 Vaidisova last week) .. Though she lost all three, I think she has had a very good chance to check her own form against some of the best ones there .. A tiebreker set against Vaidisova last week and a good set today againt DH were when her game seemed to be coming together .. Three weeks with Roche has not suddenly done magic or anything in her game, but I trust that he has made some sensible changes and with a bit more time Sania will be winning a lot more woth that .. Changing the kinks in her serve will take a bit more time .

Leander Paes and Martin Damm are at the Sydney ATP, drawn to face Augustin Calleri (ARG) and Tommie Robredo (ESP) in the first round - they play on Tuesday at about 4.30 pm there .. Mahesh and Wesley Moodie are the second seeds at the $430K Heiuneken Open ATP in Auckland, NZL .. They play a kiwi wildcard team - Rubin Statham and Adam Thompson - the match is scheduled at 9pm on Tuesday on the center court ..

I assume Rohan and Prakash are on their way to Melbourne for the AO qualies which starts on thursday .. Harsh Mankad is already there .. By the way, these three are quite close in ranking now .. Today's ranking showed Harsh Mankad at #231, Rohan at #243 and Prakash at #256 in singles .. Bopanna at #184, Mankad at #234 and Amritraj at #360 in doubles .. I wish they could work together and match their schedules to travel together, because they are excellent hitting partners for each other, thanks to the variety in their styles ..

Jan 8 Notes

Not a great day for Prakash and Bopanna, as they went down in the final at Chennai, 62 57 to Michal Mertinak and Petr Pala .. The problem today was that both of them were making a lot of errors all day, both in their strokes and in their serves .. Prakash probably had his very good net game deserting him at times and Rohan had his serve misfiring too .. They did play very well in one stretch in the match though, as they led 5-0 with two breaks in the second set .. Then at 5-1, when they were on the verge of pushing it into a supertiebreaker, a few untimely double faults caused them to lose their rhythm, and it  went downhill from there with their losing 7 games in a row and losing the match .. Both seemed to feel that the match slipped away from them faster then they realized .. That is what happens at the highest level, though .. This was a great experience for them to have gone this deep into a tour event doubles draw, with two excellent upsets ..

The match gives them both 120 ATP points each to raise their point t otal from 277 (RB) and 14 (PA) respectively .. It should raise Rohan's ranking to the third spot in India behind LP and MB, to inside top-200, leapfrogging Ghouse and Mankad who are just below top-200 now .. Prakash was once ranked as high as #206 (a few years back when he had the points from another similar run with Stephen Amritraj at the Los Angeles ATP where they reached the semifinal), but PA had slipped all the way down with hardly any doubles points in the last year when he focused very little on doubles .. Now he will get back near top-350 in doubles .. The doubles rankings do not matter a whole lot for them now, but the confidence and experience do matter .. Money-wise, this was a fabulous week for them .. $6,225 for reaching the singles R2 and $4,650 for reaching the doubles final, for a total of $10,875 each for one good week of work ..

The top seed Ljubicic played the unfinished singles semifinal in the morning against Vliegen and won it in a tight three-setter (unseeded Vliegen has had a tremendous run there) .. He then came back for the final at night and beat the third seed Moya to take the title! .. Now Chennai has another top name they can support .. Hope Ljubicic will come back next year ..

This turned out to be a very good Chennai Open .. It started with all kinds of confusion, as Nadal withdrew in the last minute .. The organizers managed to replace him with Ljubicic, which was nice last-gasp work .. Then Pat Cash added some color to the event, the top seeds stayed on deep into the draw, and the two Indians really added excitement .. It has not been ususal that we have had Indians having matches every single day of the event .. The wildcard decisions looked iffy, but Prakash proved that he was back in his best form and justfified his being given a WC .. In fact, except for Harsh having cramop problems and going down in a heap after 4 good sets in the qualies, and Karan being unable to pull any upsets, the tournamentwent very well .. Congratulations to 3 huge upset s by Rohan and one by Prakash ..

Ivan Ljubicic has been writing a blog at the ATP site about his experience, and he has written some complimentary words about how well the event is organized .. This is true, and we have often heard about IMG doing very good event management at the tournament .. Our complaint has often been in their pre-event work, in bringing in a better player field and in their wildcard and scheduling decisions - which often makes it look like they are really not trying to be fair and helpful to the Indians .. I always end up finding enough things to crib and whine about the tournament, but now that it is over with a lot of excitement - let me say a "Well done!" to Mr. Ravi Krishnan of IMG and others who get the work done there.

On to the rest of the year now!

Jan 7 Note-1

Un-freaking-believable stuff from PraKash and Rohan - "KashBash Brothers" .. They just reached the final of the Chennai Open doubles, pulling a huge upset over the 2nd seeds Rainer Schuettler (GER,53) and Alexander Waske (GER,36), 61 36 (11-9) !!!! .. Prakash is ranked at 1083 in doubles with a career-high at 206 once and Rohan at 277 with a career-high at 266 last month .. Yeah, you can call it a mind-boggling upset .. They next play Michal Mertinak (SVK) and Petr Pala (CZE) in the final ..

Can you believe that they had to withstand FOUR match points and win SIX points in a row punctuated by a service winner by Kash to pull this off in the super tiebreaker in the end??  ... Indian Express who, you ask, eh?  [sorry, Lee and Hesh!]

More later on that ..

Shikha went down at the Q2 in canberra to #86 Laine and Sania/Clijsters went down to the 2nd seeds in doubles at Hong Kong today.  Harsh Mankad missed the qualifying draw at Sydney by a whisker (cut at #211 and HM at #234 ended up 3rd out.. crap!) .. He will go to the AO qualies which starts thursday - he is safely in the list along with Kash and Bops.

Jan 6 Notes

Kash and Bops made some easy money today and did not have to sweat to win their doubles QF over Srichaphan and Stepanek, as "Mahaviro" Mr.56 (that is his new Buddhist name, as he was in a monastrey last month) suddenly "found a thigh injury" as Sukhwant called it in .. Somethinh tells me that Mr.56 or Stepanek did not want to risk getting tired/injured from doubles .. Why bother to enter doubles, if so, damnit? .. Anyway, this is great for Kash and Bops who pikked up 75 ATP doubles points from that.

Very nice win by Shikha Uberoi (IND,153) over Ivanqa Abramaovic (CRO,203) 76(5) 61 this evening in the first round of the qualies for the Tier-IV at the Canberra WTA .. Shikha has been extremely consistent in beating players below about 150 or 200 lately, which is nice to see .. She now has a tough match against the second seed Emma Laine (FIN,86) in the Q2.

Indian sweep at Chadigarh .. Rupesh Roy and and Sanaa Bhambri stamped their authority at the ITF Grade-3 international at Chandigarh today, as they both won the singles titles and doubles titles (Rupesh in Sumit Prakash Gupta's company) and Sanaa in Ksenia Palkina's company) .. Sanaa's 60 60 demolition job over the hapless Chinese girl in the final was, to put it mildly, impressive! .. Rupesh picked up enough points to move up from #48 to about #40 and Sanaa picked up enough to move up from near 200 to around #120 next week .. Sanaa will have about 240 points next week, from just three junior events she played since late last year after nearly an 18 month break from the juniors .. She will need another 130 to 150 points to assure herself of entries to the remaining three grand slam juniors this year -- which is really the only reason for her to play these events, as she is clearly at a much higher level than the opposition.  I assume she would just play a couple more junior events and go back to the pro circuit, other than at the FO, Wimbledon and US Open juniors .. As for Rupesh, the guy has really come up in leaps and bounds, all reports talking about his revamped serve which is a whole lot better now, after the fine work done by his coaches at the Bosse Foundation in Boston .. See the Chandigarh juniors page.

Sania had a pretty damn good match against #15 Nicole Vaidisova in the losers bracket semifinal at the Hong Kong invitational -- 67(7) 36 .. From all eye-witness accounts, as posted in our forum, Sania got an absolutely atrocious line call at 7-7 in the tiebreaker .. So, playing OK tennis and looking reasonable in her form against some top-20 players - that is what we know about Sania this week .. She does indeed have made some small changes (not a big overhaul yet, but she and Tony Roche had said the changes will be slow) .. Serve out wide to the left etc, seemed better and more accurate, again according to eyewitness accounts .. It was great preparation for the Aussie Open ..  Sania now goes to the tough Tier-II in Sydney next week .. The draw came out today and she is drawn to face Hantuchova in the first round next week.

Jan 5 Notes

Sorry for a late update .. It was the US College (American) Football National Championship day yesterday  .. The Texas Longhorns (of my alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin) were playing for their 4th National Championship and the first since 1970 .. It turned out to be the greatest National Championship Game *ever*, between the Longhorns, on a 19 game win streak but still ranked #2 for the whole year behind the 2-time defending national champions Trojans of USC, the University of Southern California (Sashi Menon's and Prakash Amritraj's alma mater) who were on a 34 game win streak which is the third longest in the last 50 odd years in college football .. The USC team, featuring two Heisman Trophy winners (best-player in all colleges) in one team for the first time in history and all that, was touted by
ESPN as the greatest team ever in the 100+ years of college football .. In front of 94,000 people in USC's backyard in Pasadena, Southern California, at the picturesque Rose Bowl, one of the greatest stadiums in the world and the site of Brazil's 1996 world cup football triumph, my Texas Longhorns pulled off a 15 point comeback in the last 5 minutes to upset the Trojans 41-38 in a game that was watched by 55 million TV viewers, the highest rated American football game (pro or college) ever on the ABC network .. The Texas quarterback Vince Young did what some say was the greatest championship performance of any American in any sport (well, so says the about-turn hype artists ESPN in their 10-best list today!) .. Sorry Kash, sorry Mr.Menon - your Trojans are no longer #1 and there is a new Texas Sheriff in town! .. Well, after all the heartbreaks the Texas Longhorns have put me through for nearly 20 years, I hope you would excuse me for taking a day off from Tennis .. Let me just say a Texas Yeeeeeehaaaaaw!!

[I wish some day I could hear of a University Hockey National Championship with Annamalai University going to Amritsar and upsetting Guru Nanak University in the final, watched by 100 million TV viewers in India .. Ah, the sports dreams I have!]

Meanwhile, till Prakash and Rohan pulled off a big doubles upset over the 3rd seeds Yves Allegro and Michael Kohlmann, 63 62 today at the Chennai Open to unexpectedly reach the doubles QF, the news has not been good for two days in tennis .. First Prakash went down 63 06 46 to the 2nd seed Radek Stepanek (CZE,20) on wednesday and Rohan Bopanna went down 46 36 to the 5th seed Gilles Muller (LUX,76) .. Both played fine and did not disgrace themselves against the seeds, but they clearly showed their lack of experience in effectively using the changes they have made to their game, both having reportedly made an upgrade in patience and ground-strokes game .. Then the top seed Leander and Martin Damm lost 63 36 (6-10) in their doubles QF against Michal Mertinak (SVK) and Petr Pala (CZE) .. But, that nice doubles win by Kasha nd Bops cheered us all up a bit today .. These two guys have really had a terrific time at Chennai, both having picked up $7000+ in singles and doubles together so far .. Kash got 15 pts for his singles win and Bops got 20 including the qualifying points .. In doubles they have got 25 points each so far .. See the Chennai Open page for all the scores.

Sania Mirza lost 36 36 to Venus Williams (USA,10) today at the Watsons Water Champions Challenge invitational in Hong Kong today .. SM was ahead with a break early in the first set, mostly due to some errors from VW, but then Venus took an injury time-out and came back to play much better tennis .. Sania now plays the back draw against Nicole Vaidisova (on Friday) .. Sania and Kim Clijsters (who rarely plays much doubles) had a big 8-7 (7-2) upset win over the second seeds Serena and Venus Williams in doubles yesterday .. Though Serena is in really terrible form, it is a very impressive doubles win against one of the best recent doubles teams in women's tennis.

The India #2, Shikha Uberoi is at the 3-round qualies for the Tier-IV $145K Canberra WTA .. 153rd ranked Shikha is drawn to face Ivana Abramovic (CRO,207) Friday evening .. If she advances, she will run into the 2nd seed Emma Laine (FIN,86) who has a Q1 bye.

Rupesh Roy and Sanaa Bhambri have reached the finals at the grade-3 Chandigarh ITF junior international.

Jan 3 Notes

Billions and Billions of Blue Blistering Barbecued Barnacles! .. Bazooka Bofors Bopanna!!! ..  If you think the Indian tennis ship was slowly sinking with dead barnacles all around, think again! .. Qualifier Rohan Bopanna upset #90 Cyril Salnier (FRA), 63 63 to join Prakash in the second round of the Chennai Open - the first time that two Indians have reached the second round at Chennai .. In fact, the last time we have had two Indian men in the second round of a tour events in one week was over 16 years back at the Cincinnati ATP in 1989 September when Ramesh Krishnan and Vijay Amritraj reached the third round (and lost to Edberg and Becker respectively!) .. Interestingly Ramesh had taken the week off when LP won his first main draw match over Wally Masur in 1991 at Singapore, and when LP won his next main draw match a whole 2.5 years later at Kuala Lumpur in 1993 October, Ramesh had just retired! .. When Mahesh got the only main draw tour win at Los Angeles in July 1997, Lee had taken the week off .. So, we have been waiting for a joyous week like this for a long long time .. To say that I am ecstatic about what has happened this week in Chennai would be an understatement!! ..

I will let you read about the details of the Bofors demolition job from Sukhwant Basra's excellent article in, and the expert comments by the onsite fan report from the venerable "Prof" in our forum .. Also K.Keerthivasan's nice article in The Hindu .. Rohan just seemed incapable of doing a thing wrong today .. Full of confidence and pulling out all the weapons in his arsenal ..  Again, I am most impressed about the fact that his groundies looked world class and that he was using them today! .. Go Bops.  He takes on the 5th seed Gilles Muller on thursday in the second round .. See the scores of the other Chennai matches, in our Chennai Open page .. Tomorrow, we will have Prakash taking on the 2nd seed Radek Stepanek .. Being a very good doubles player, Stepanek is not too bad at the net game .. This would be a tough matchup for Prakash, but if he keeps up his self-belief and goes after Radek with conviction, he can indeed upset the 2nd seed .. Don't tell me I didn't warn you :) .. There was some reports of some finger injuries etc in Prakash's R1 match - hopefully nothing serious.

Mahesh Bhupathi and Wesley Moodie had a poor start to their partnership with a rather unexpected 46 46 loss to wildcards Lukasz Kubot (POL) and Oliver Marach (AUT) at the $1M Doha ATP .. This was the first match they played together - probably they need a bit more practice to get used to each other .. I am sure they will get going soon .. As Moodie is in the singles main draw at the Auckland ATP in New Zealand next week, I assume they will be playing doubles there to get ready for the AO that starts in twoi weeks.

Sania Mirza starts the year with a doubles match on wednesday evening at the Watson Water Champions Challenge invitational at Hong Kong ..

Harsh Mankad has just left for Australia and will try to play the qualifying for the Sydney ATP this weekend .. He is still fiddling with some technical and mental adjustments in his game, some racket issues etc, and looking for a couple of goo wins to get his confidence going again .. His tennis looked quite good though, before it fell apart a bit after 4 good sets at the Chennai qualies - so I am up on what he might do soon, but realistically my expectations for some big results from HM are not right this week but after a little bit more time - perhaps even next week at the Australian Open qualies and if not at the $25K+H Wrexham challenger in UK in 3 weeks time (HM was one out from the initital list that came out today, and he should make it in for that) ..

The ITF Grade-3 "Sunny Enclave" junior international in Chandigarh is well underway .. Rupesh Roy, Sumit Prakash Gupta, Akshay Bajoria and Sanaa Bhambri are the only ones who have reached the QFs at the tournament, which seems to have a noticeably higher level of competition, thanks to a whole boat load of Chinese players who came in (obviously sent officially - as they finally figured out that it is not a bad idea to take part in the Indian junior events) .. The Chinese players caused serious havoc in the qualies and have been a handful for all the Indians, except for the top ones like Rupesh, Sumit and Sanaa .. One thing I was sad about was the 3rd seed Poojashree and unseeded GK Swetha going down easily in the second and first round resepctively to Chinese girls .. Hope Sanaa, Rupesh etc can keep the flag flying .. All the results are at the Chandigarh juniors page.

Jan 2 Note-2

Need to comment on Prakash's win today, that I consider in some ways monumental .. Not that it was a Federer that he beat or anything -- and also not implying that #111 Mello, who was ranked as high as #50 just 6 months back, is sliced cheese either ..  What was monumental was some changes Prakash showed in his game, that he has been working on for the last couple of months .. For about two years, I have been waiting for the kind of news everyone is reporting on Prakash Amritraj today -- that he has upgraded his game to much more of an all-round tennis rather than just out and out serve-and-volley, which just does not work anymore on tour unless you are a Sampras ..  You do need to bring out your baseline game and show the willingness to do it from the baseline too .. My problem has always been that, ever since I saw Prakash play and beat a #1 ranked Harsh in college 3 years back, I knew that he had the ground strokes and the game to do some baseline battle to keep the opponents honest - and it has been frustrating to hear for two years that PA was being made to look like a fool in many many matches where he was constantly getting stratnded at the net and passed .. So much so, that we fans in the forum have been having a field day for a while blaming Vijay Amritraj for not getting Prakash the right advice on it - our friend Dr. Bhushan Sharma (you MUST read his hilarious top-10 lists!) in the forum even suggested jokingly that one of his Santa Claus wishes was to see Vijay going on a visit to the Space Station so that Prakash could sneak out and go to a top modern coach .. Well, I don't know if PA has been reading our forum, but Vijay and his son seem to have done some homework recently on overhauling a couple of things in his game - both in some changes in his physical training (getting better legs for baseline play) and in focusing on pulling out some of the parts of his game, of the baseline variety, out of cold storage to polish it .. Great job by them.

Here are some exceprts from Nandita Sridhar's article in The Hindu -
"I have been working a lot on my legs to improve my baseline play. The problem was that I got too comfortable with it in the first set and went along with his game, which is hitting 1000 rallies," said Prakash on the first.
Here are some exceprts from Ravi Chakravarthi's  Deccan Herald article -
Amritraj .. left his opponent numbed with some brilliant all-round game. Essentially a serve and volley specialist, Amritraj showed that he could also adapt to the baseline if the situation warranted it, as he scripted a comeback .... showed that he had the weapons to hurt people in the top-100, if not top-50. Of late, Amritraj has been honing his skills to match the ‘power-players’ from the baseline; he has put in good hours on the court and in the gym and the result is there for all to see.  “It’s a sign of maturity and if I can keep this level up, mentally I can make it,” Amritraj was to say later. 
Here are the comments from S.Kannan in his HindustanTimes article (you have to go to their free epaper site to find it)
Sometimes, in the space of three months, your whole game can change. It was not Prakash of old who would just attempt to serve and close in on the net. His patience and perseverance was worth admiring .. If in the end, Prakash was stringing the points together in a better fashion, it had to do with his consistency and gameplan. Europeans and the Yanks can run side to side, or funnel back and forth without legs getting tired .. But to see Prakash show such good court coverage, going for the short ball and ripping winners was a delight. "I stayed low and it helped," he said explaining the success behind his backhand. "And I have worked hard on my fitness after the tendon tear in my foot," added Prakash.
Rarely do I remember so many people seemingly noticing some changes in a player's game .. PA was always addicted to physical training, as his muscle definition would demonstrate - however, I don't think he was ever doing tennis-specific training of the kind he has lately done .. The spate of injuries last year were happening probably for the same reason too .. Prakash has been honest about it though .. In an interview with, PA had very candidly said that he had taken good advice lately on it, and admitted that he realizes that his dad is from a different era in tennis and these are things that Vijay himself doesn't know much about .. The bottom line is that Parakash needs to stick to this plan and not regress to the style of game he was playing the last two years.  Let me add my "expert comments" (yeah, take it for whatever it is worth; I don't even own a tennis racket!) that I posted in our forum -
His serve and volley game is such a potent weapon if he can use that to win points rather than as his only bread-and-butter. I have always held that he has a pretty good baseline game if he decides to pull that out. Not sure if he is the type who can win sets by playing 1000 shot rallies contantly (as he found out in the first set today), but when the opponent knows that he is going to mix things in, you have completely got inside his brain!! .. I am sure PA made Mello think hard about what to do today. THAT is what a solid groundstrokes/baseline game does with serve and volley. If the opponent knows that he is going to rush the net every time and is going to commit to the serve and volley (Prakash used to pretty much telegraph it in, based on what I saw in the last year or two), it is easy for him to take P$ out of his game.
I would also add that in a way the out-and-out net-charge game he played for the last couple of years might help him in the end because it must have really polished up his volleys and placements etc.  Now, if he is going to mix things in, I would way WATCH OUT! .. Prakash has what it takes to go into top-100 or top-50 with that if he works hard .. Anyway, so far so good, and I am really excited about this year for Kash.

Unfortunately, absolutely nothing much was written about Bopanna's terrific upset win over Rajeev Ram yesterday .. Rajeev is, by the way, the only true serve-and-volley player among top young Amercian players, from what I understand, and probably the only one to come out with that style in the last few years from amongst the juniors .. He is one who could really use the same work that Kash had done too - one look at Rajeev's legs would tell you the story .. Having said that, his serve and his talent is very obvious, and it is no wonder that the youngster is in the top-200 already .. Bopanna probably does not have the net flair that PA and Rajeev have, but he has the bofors bazooka serve that is the fastest in Asia by a good margin .. It is quite impressive that RB went after Rajeev and pulled off the win to become only the second Indian to qualify in at Chennai in 10 years.  Here are the details from Sukhwant Basra's (the only reporter who seems to have watched some of Bops' match, as it was at the same time as Prakash, as the tournament continues to screw up the scheduling) at - "Bopanna Stands Tall" ..
In a battle between tall men — Ram is 6 feet four while Bopanna is just two inches shorter — who prefer the serve and volley style of play, it was Bopanna who would keep fighting despite a spirited Ram giving him little quarter .. Being broken in his very first service game, ‘Bofors’ refused to lapse into his sullen mode and instead broke back in the sixth to make it 3-3 in the first. He would break Ram twice to lead 5-2 in the second before finally keeping his head together to serve out the match with an ace. His 16 aces proved to be the decisive factor in a match where he would win a total of 78 point, just two more than the loser.
Of course, the two night matches did not get covered by the press - LP's doubles match which they win in a close one after dropping the first set but pulling off the second set in a tiebreaker and then winning the super-tiebreak, and Vishal's loss against vanek, which showed clearly that once he is taken away from grass, his game is just not up to the mark.

Jan 2 Note-1

Terrific news!!! ..  Prakash Amritraj just upset Ricardo Mello (BRA,111) 36 62 63 to start off the main draw matches at Chennai! .. Wow, what a nice start .. Go P$$$$ !!!! .. He certainely justified the wildcard the organizers gave him, though we all complained that it looked unfair to give him over those like Karan, because P$ had not at all played in a while and been in terrible form with injuries for many months! ..   Great to see him back at his best and doing his thang!

The good news doesn't end there either! ... Rohan Bopanna upset the 6th seed in the qualies, Rajeev Ram (USA,196) 76(3) 64 and qualified in !!!!! ..  Are our Davis Cuppers cooking or what? .. There were some pessimistic newspaper reports yesterday that I saw that we would need those like Pat Cash etc to sell the tournament .. How about two of our own, Kash and Bops, selling the tournament and bringing some excitement there .. I hope the stadium gets packed tomorrow for Bops' match and then on wednesday for Prakash's second round .. Let's Go!!!

The one who is absolutely thrilled about this right now would be Leander Paes - because he needs these guys in 5 weeks to go tackle the South Koreans in Busan .. What a nice start to the year!!

For some weird reason, they have scheduled all the Indians matches today .. Leander play doubles right about now in the evening, and Vishal Uppal comes up late at night.

The ITF grade-3 juniors starts today at Chandigarh .. Rupesh Roy, Sanaa Bhambri, Poojashree Venkatesh, etc are taking part there.

Jan 1 Notes

Big upset today by Rohan Bopanna at the Chennai Open, as he got past Danai Udomchoke (THA,121), 46 64 62, but Hartsh Mankad ended up at the losing end with a series of cramp problems after having a great start against Michael Kohlmann - 63 57 46 ..  Also playing a tough tough three-set was young Somdev Varman who went down after a big fight, 36 75 36 ..  The best news about Rohan's match was reportedly his "cerebral" tennis (as the Hindustan Times called it), as he made adjustments in a bit of a windy day, going for some kick serves and variation rather than go for too much on his fserves .. He did have his customary double faults but turned the tablkes on Danai and stayed ahead till the end when Danai also had some injury problems .. Anytime we hear of Bopanna making use of his tactical abilities, it is good news - as he has occasionally had the tendency to rely too much on his first serve, which is Asia's fastest .. See the results in the Chennai Open page.

In other news, Sania Miza arrived in Hong Kong for the big invitational tournamenty this week, the The Watson Water Champions Challenge - a small three round 8-player tournament with huge names like Davenport, Venus, Serena, Clijsters etc ..  It is great to see her playing in such company and getting an early test against top players to start off the year .. She is assured of at least 2 singles matches there because of a back draw played among the first round losers .. Sania takes on Venus Williams in the first round .. She is playing doubles with Kim Clijjsters in a two-round doubles draw of 4 teams.  It all starts on Wednesday evening .. Sania's singles R1 is on Thursday.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Jan 02, 2006 ..

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