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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Jan 11, 1999

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Jan 11 Notes

A small correction - according to the Tribune, Chandigarh, only 4 Indians have reached the final round of qualies at the Chandigarh futures.. The list does not include Rohan Bopanna whom I listed in the last note .. Another one in the final quals is Aisam Quereshi of Pakistan, who was cheered well by the Indian crowd, apparently, for the talent he showed in the match..

Jan 10 Notes

A quick note: Five Indians have made it to the final round of qualifiers at Chandigarh !! .. Harsh Mankad, seeded 5th, Saurav Panja, seeded 14th, Vishal Uppal, Anand Radhakrishnan and Rohan Bopanna .. Rishi Sridhar, Viplav Anjan, Vijendra Laad and Praveen K Sreenivasan lost Sunday in the second round of the 3-round qualifiers to select 8 players to the main draw.. Vishal has had a couple of good wins, and Harsh had a good comeback in the first round to win in a 3rd set tiebreaker.. I have some results at the Chandigarh futures results page.

I will be out of town till Wednesday night at an academic conference, and so the updates here will be patchy - depends on how much time I get, and how well my laptop behaves ..

Jan 9 Notes

Got word yesterday from Sam, my Nirupama connection, that she will not be playing at either Hobart or Sydney this week in Australia - she is recovering from a cold .. Apparently, last Friday at the Gold Coast qualies, she was up a break 4-2 in the first set against Brie Rippner, before it started raining and the match got postponed for two days, during which time she caught a cold which gave her a bit of breathing trouble, etc. She was in bad shape when they restarted the match, which she then lost in two close sets .. She is skipping this week .. Looks like many of our players are having a snake-bit start in the new year - LP, SP and NV .. Srinath is apparently sure to play the next two weeks of futures though, after Chandigarh.

The Chandigarh qualies starts today - I will be a bit late in reporting news here, but check the Chandigarh futures page where I have some info now (I may find time and do some updates there till I get back home) ..

Jan 8 Notes

I have not heard any details yet on what went wrong at Doha in the doubles first round yesterday - I assume that it was the long layoff and lack of practice due to injury that caused the loss for the Dynamic Duo .. I would have liked to see them get at least a few matches out there, as they don't get any more match-practice till the Australiaj Open doubles in three weeks .. As for their ranking, this does not have much of an effect .. They did not defend their title last year at Doha, and so will have 242 points fall off from their individual totals, replaced by around 95 points for both - Paes will have 3631 pts and Bhupathi will have 3672 points, which will still keep them about 200 points ahead of the Woodies in the individual rankings .. The teams rankings restart at the beginning of the year, which means it does not have much meaning till after the French Open or so - but unlike the last year when they started the year as the #3 team after the Doha title, they will be nowhere in the team rankings, till at least after the Australian Open .. The teams at the top of the rankings after this week will be the ones who do well at Adelaide and Doha .. Next week, I expect to see teams like Kuerten/Meligeni, Delaitre/Santoro, Kafelnikov/Vacek, Black/Stolle, Courier/Galbraith, O'Brien/Palmer, etc, at the top of the rankings - the retired Dutchmen, the injured Woodies and the hobbled Indian Express will be missing! - that will look strange.

So, this week is over for all our players - next up is to see if Nirupama makes it into the qualifier draws anywhere in Australia - there are two tournaments on for next week - at Sydney and at Hobart, Tasmania .. I expect the Sydney qualifier draw to close a few spots above Niru's ranking, but I am somewhat sure that she can make it into the Hobart qualifiers .. Not sure where she plans to go - the qualifiers start in a few hours down under (late Friday for me, but Saturday afternoon down under) - I will try to trace down any info - stay tuned.

The other action is at Chandigarh, where the $10K futures qualifiers start Saturday .. 64-draw qualifiers, with some 57 early entries from outside India, of which we should expect perhaps only 20-30 to show up, at best .. there will be 16 seeds in the qualifiers, and we should have at least two Indians seeded in the quals - Sandeep Kirtane and Harsh Mankad .. That is my guess.. We will find out tomorrow.

Jan 7 Note-3

Bad news - our guys lost 3-6, 4-6, to Brandon Coupe and Mark Merklein - make that 4 losses in a row now .. The long lay off, illness and injury .. Don't worry, they will get out of the troubles soon .. They will lose the points from last year's title at Doha. Does not matter all that much, though. More later.

Jan 7 Note-2

I still have no news about our guys' doubles match today at Doha, almost six hours after the match .. None of the normally reliable news services have been giving prompt updates out of Doha, and my contact out there may have been unable to send me any info due to the late completion of the match - stay tuned .. News normally comes along from some source to us..

Jan 7 Note-1

LP-MB are scheduled to play their first round doubles match against qualifiers Brandon Coupe and Mark Merklein at the $975K Qatar Open (Doha) at about 8 pm today - we will know the results by late-night there .. The winner of the match will be playing Haggard/Koenig in the quartefinals tomorrow.

A news item from Australia - Mark Woodforde got injured during his singles match on Wednesday and the Woodies had to retire in the second set of their first round doubles match against Kuerten/Lapentti after losing the first set (K/L have won the QF also today, and are in the semis) .. Apparently it was a freak accident - Mark chipped a bone in his right index finger (he is left handed) while attempting to catch a ball (how does that happen ?) .. This is a setback for them, as they could probably miss next week's Sydney tournament where they are the defending champs - but they should be fine for the Australian Open .. Woodbridge said that his partner is in pain while attempting the double-fisted backhands (source: today's The Age, Australia) .. Our best wishes for Mark's recovery.

I am told that Fazaluddin would have been a direct entry in the main draw for next week's Chandigarh tournament, but needed a wildcard as he was not entered by the deadline - Not sure what fell through there, but perhaps some mix-up when he was at the Asiad .. The bad news is that there could have been an extra wildcard for another Indian otherwise .. These things happen sometimes .. By the way, there were a couple of very nice articles on Fazal in the last few days that you may want to read .. (see "The `boy' is ready for bigger things" by Arun Janardhan in the Indian Express and the "Aiming to be the new force in Indian tennis" by Prajwal Hegde in the Deccan Herald) .. Nice to see the kudos for Fazal ..

ATP and WTA will release full rankings only next week, and I have only seen the top-100 rankings released this week - Leander stays at #91 ..

Have you all noticed what this 15-yr old girl Jelena Dokic has been doing at the Hopman Cup in Australia ? - She is the world junior #1 and created a shockwave by beating #4 ranked Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario yesterday .. Now I find that she has also won her match against Sandrine Testud (#14) of France, 6-1, 6-3, today! .. Countries with players at the top of both WTA and ATP qualify for Hopmans Cup - I thought it was a joke when Australia nominated Dokic to play with "scud" Philippoussis, but boy was I wrong! - watch out for this girl .. Another young girl to make waves this week was 17-yr old Leanne Baker of New Zealand who beat #57 Miriyam Oremans in the Auckland tournament .. Leanne was in the team when Uzma and company played NZL in the Fed Cup in early 97 - I remember Uzma beating Leanne's doubles partner Rewa Hudson - Baker-Hudson has been a top-5 junior doubles team in the world .. Also, Leanne and Shelly Stphens beat our doubles team of Jahnavi Parekh and Arti Ponnappa during that ill-fated Asia-Oceania Fed Cup tournament in 1997 March, when Niru didn't play and Manisha and Sai weren't in the team .. We lost 10 matches out of 12, with only Uzma winning both her singles matches (and were relegated to group-II) .. Ooh, bad memories .. Anyway, India has been promoted back into the Fed Cup Group-I after the good show in Bangkok last year .. This time the group-I tournament is back in Bangkok (Feb 22-27) and I am told we will be selecting the team soon.

Jan 6 Notes

Just got a note from our anonymous Gulf media correspondent (thanks!) that Paes and Bhupathi have delayed the first round doubles match to Thursday, to recover from cough/flu problems .. Leander has had it from early last week, as I mentioned last thursday when he was leaving for Doha, but these viral problems take a few days to go away .. Both MB and LP are a bit "under the weather" and will play the first round tomorrow (4 rounds can be done in 4 days, so thursday is normally the latest day for first round doubles) .. Anyway, they have only played about 5-6 doubles matches at Doha by wednesday evening (they hardly had any doubles matches on tuesday there) .. So, we will wait for a day - good to have someone at Doha to send us results through ..

Brie Rippner (#107) of US who beat Nirupama in the first round qualifiers at the Gold Coast tournament made the main draw and has now reached the quarterfinal there! .. Petr Korda, who has been in the news a lot lately (drug test - ITF says there was Nandroline, controlled substance - Korda says he is unaware of being administered that - big mess - ITF took away his points from AO last year but says "mitigating circumstances" may be there - everybody seems confused - Korda delays retirement plans to play and clear his doping bad name) lost to Karim Alami .. If you haven't heard still, Pete Sampras has withdrawn from the AO (says he is still tired) .. The Asian #2, Takeo Suzuki (JPN) went through the tough qualifiers at the Adelaide tounrment, but lost to top seed Rafter in thye first round .. Sandon Stolle, who has split up with Cyril Suk is playing with Byron Black at Adelaide and beat a good Draper/Stoltenberg team in the first round .. Michael Tebbut pulled an upset of Kuerten (3 tiebreakers) in R2 today at Adelaide .. Scott Draper upset 6th seed Chang there .. That is news - since I have no Indian tennis news to report ..

If any of you sent me emails in the last couple of days and are findng them to be still bouncing back to you from my address, please resend and let me know (some emails are coming through, so I assume a couple of attempts may send it through) .. Thanks.

Jan 5 Note-2

Today's Tribune (Chandigarh) reports AITA's Anil Khanna to be saying that Srinath is only skipping the first week of the futures at Chandigarh next week, but will be playing the two weeks after that at Ahmedabad and Mumbai .. That's good news .. By the way, AITA reportedly has a good sponsor now for the futures series, and it's ITC .. The series is called the Gold Flake Aces futures. Alright, big industrial houses, let's get some money going into tennis :-)

Did you know that the Chandigarh futures last January was one of only three futures held in the whole world on grass in 98 ? - Yes.. The other two futures were in Australia in November .. There was a satellite circuit in England last July on grass too .. That is just three grass futures out of 202 futures tournaments around the world ! .. I don't think 1999 will be much different. The Chandigarh tournament organizers have reportedly been promising to do all they can to help foreign players without enough grass experience get practice time on the grass courts around Chandigarh .. A grass tournament is always special .. Even though most places around the world (except India, UK, and Australia) have no grass courts at all, and clay/hard/carpet are what one needs to get good at, I feel India should not lose our tradition on grass ..

Jan 5 Note-1

Brandon Coupe and Mark Merklein won the qualifiers and will play the Indian Express at the $975K Qatar Open (Doha) in the first round. Here is the draw:

 1-M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes     vs  Q-B.Coupe/M.Merklein     \
   T.Kempers/ P.Nyborg    vs    C.Haggard/ R.Koenig    / \
   A.O'Brien/ J.Palmer    d. WC-T.Johansson/ P.Korda   \ / \
 3-M.Damm/ C.Suk          d.    F.Roig/ J.Sanchez      /    \
 4-Y.Kafelnikov/ D.Vacek  vs WC-T.Henman/ A.Richardson \    /
   A.Kitinov/ J.Tarango   vs    P.Norval/ K.Ullyett    / \ /
WC-K.Alami/ H.Arazi       d.    M.Barnard/ A.Olhovskiy \ /
 2-O.Delaitre/ F.Santoro  vs    M.Oosting/ P.Vizner    /

Our dudes have not played this pair before (thay have played Coupe and Randall and beat them easily at the Toronto Super 9) .. If LP is physically alright, this shouldn't be a tough match - but one can never say anything about that first match after a 6-week injury layoff .. Last year our pair hit the ground running at Doha, after LP had had a three week rehab of an injury he sufferred at the Nelson Mandela challenger in Dec 97 in South Africa, but picked up the title at Doha, though three of their matches went to three sets - including a three tie-breaker semifinal against Goellner and Reneberg, and a three set win over Delaitre/Santoro in the final ..

I believe our guys play on Wednesday, but we won't know for sure till late Wednesday in Doha.

Jan 4 Note-2

Since there is no website for the Doha tournament (they had a good one a couple of years back, but none now - how come the rich folks out in Gulf can't get a website up ??..), no real-time info so far out of there .. I have only seen the results of the two main draw matches today, not the final qualifier doubles match - so, still no idea who will play LP-MB in the first round .. Anyway, the 3rd seeds Damm/Suk advanced, as did O'Brien/Palmer, in the two main draw matches today .. Tarango beat 8th seed Siemerink, Vacek beat 6th seed Johansson .. Henman, Ivanisevic and Pioline won at Doha .. At Adelaide, the kid, Hewitt (who won the title there last year creating shockwaves) upset the 8th seed Kiefer .. In doubles at Adelaide, Eagle/Rafter, a potentially very good doubles pair (seeded 2nd there) beat a tough Kulti/Tillstrom team in three sets .. That's the ATP news - thought I would give some, since there is no action involving Indian players anywhere, till LP-MB get going on (possibly) Wednesday ..

Jan 4 Note-1

No news yet on who won the qualifier doubles final at the $975K Qatar Open (Doha) today, to earn the right to play the world #2 team .. We will know soon..

There have been some newspaper reports on the ITF Futures circuit that starts next week at Chandigarh (Jan 11th, to be followed by Ahmedabad and mumbai) .. According to the Tribune (Chandigarh) on Sunday, the interest from foreign players is very high for the Indian circuit this time - 87 foreign entries have been received by ITF, London for the circuit ! .. Not all of them will make the direct entry, which is apparently closing at around #600 with the top seed ranked at #373 (Luke Milligan of Britain) .. The reports say that only Srinath would make it in directly, as it stands now (however, Srinath, I believe has chosen to not play due to the achilles tendon injury) .. Tuesday's Times of India reports that AITA will give the 4 main draw wildcards to Fazaluddin, Vijay Kannan, Vinod Sridhar and Manoj Mahadevan .. I have added the entry list, as in Tuesday's The Hindu at the Chandigarh futures page .. I am a bit puzzled by why Fazal with his #563 ranking is not in the direct entry already (it closes at #607 now) .. It is possible that Fazal had not entered the tournament on time, and had to use a wildcard (let us hope not - it would be nice to get one more Indian into the main draw) .. Currently, the qualifier wildcards have gone to Vishal Uppal, Avinash Arun, Akshay Vishal rao, Sunil Kumar, Chandrasekhar Mohanty, Rajkumar Gopalan and P. Ravikrishna - all of whom are deserving candidates .. The qualifier draw has 64 spots (to select 8 to the main draw of size 32) - Some of these players may get in anyway into the qualifiers, as we shouldn't expect all of those 50+ foreign entries not making the draw to show up .. The others who have enough ATP points to easily make the qualies are Harsh Mankad, Kirtanes, Vasu Reddy, S. Zaman, Saurav Panja, etc .. The question I have is - who will get that 4th wildcard spot if Fazal makes the direct entry ? - Sandeep Kirtane and Harsh Mankad as the 6th and 7th ranked Indian players (after LP, MB, SP, FS and Vinod Sridhar) certainly deserve it but If I were to go by the norm, there is no way in hell Harsh Mankad will get any favours from AITA .. Both Vijay and Manoj are ranked below him, but based on their reputation for their talent, we cannot complain (I know who will get the WC if a spot gets free, and it's probably neither Harsh nor Sandeep!) .. Anyway, that is how it goes .. But I am glad to see Manoj Mahadevan get a spot in there .. Let us hope that he makes his mark like everyone has been waiting for him to do .. Same with Vijay, who will hopefully not run into top players like he did at the challengers..

Jan 3 Note-3

Just contacted the tournament office at the Gold Coast tournament - Nirupama seems have played a close match in the first round of the qualies against 3rd seeded Brie Rippner (#107, USA), but lost 5-7, 4-6 on Sunday .. She may try the qualies at the Sydney tournament next weekend, but my guess is that the qualifier draw at Sydney will close a bit higher than the cutoff of #181 at the Gold Coast WTA tournament .. Hopefully she will squeeze in with her #162 ranking.

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending Jan 4 ..