Notes for week ending on Jan 12, 1998

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The updates here will be patchy, brief, or nonexistent till Jan 14th ! Apologies..

Jan 11 Note-2

OK, the report is that LP and MB have jetted out from Qatar to Australia. LP is supposed to play doubles at the Adidas Sydney Tournament with eithr Piet Norwal or Ellis Ferreira. We will see if he somehow gets into the singles draw (probably not, as he couldn't play the qualifiers there..).

LP/MB got $75,000 to share. Nice way to start the cash flow in 98 !

Jan 11 Note-1

Ajay Verma of the fan club just reported that LP/MB defeated Delaitre/Santoro 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win the title at Doha. I am out of town, and have not checked other news reports etc. Anyway, GREAT START TO THE YEAR !! Congrats to Leander and Mahesh. At least for now they are the #1 team (unless Eagle/Florent has won the Adelaide title.. they got some 50 bonus points for beating the Woodies there..). Nothing else for now; no news on where LP is this coming week. An email from Sydney says he is certainly not in the draw there for this week (at the Adidas Sydney international tournament). I will update as and when I can find time..

Jan 9 Notes-3

The second seeds Delaitre/Santoro are already in the finals at Doha, after beating Henman/Roesset. I assume they got a match completed before the rain today. The worst case would be if LP/MB have to play the semifinals and if they advance, the finals also on Saturday. Hope that is not the case.

In other news, Eagle/Florent defeated Woodbridge/Woodforde in the quarterfinals at the Adelaide tournament. They went on to beat Black and Kulti in the semifinals, and are in the finals. Pretty good show.

In another newsbit from India, Balbir Singh of Indian Express reports that Prahlad Srinath was seen rubbing his stomach a few times during the second set in the final against Fazal Syed, and that he had a torn stomach muscle from the satellites in Thailand. That was just before the Indian ATP challengers 6 weeks back, and may explain why he did poorly in Thailand and was not at either challenger (though there were no news on any injury to Prahlad then). Hopefully he has not reinjured the stomach badly.  He likes claycourts and the next leg of the Indian satellite circuit is on clay at Indore next week.

Jan 9 Notes-2

Our fan-club member S. Kannan has been missing in action for a while. He reappeared just in time to write a nice article about Fazaluddin's win at Chandigarh in today's Hindustan Times. Here are some excerpts: Till yesterday, Syed Fazluddin was just another Indian kid playing college tennis in the US. Today, the 23-year-old Calcuttan took a giant step in his fledgling career, defeating room-mate and best friend Prahlad Srinath 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 for the Escorts Yamaha Indian Futures circuit title .... Quite a few at the CLTA today were scratching their heads trying to answer a simple question, when was the last time an Indian won a title on the international circuit. Well, it was Mahesh Bhupathi, in 1994. Four years is a long time. Since then, he has stopped playing Satellites, and none seemed to have it in him to win a title .... But 1998 seems to have something in store for Indian tennis. Here were two Indians contesting the final of a Futures event, with experience in Srinath's favour. What about the surface? Well, grass continues to be a jinx for Srinath, and today was another heartbreak, as this was the fourth time he was finishing as runner-up in an international pro event .... Even when the chips were down in the final set, especially due to a string of line calls against him, Fazluddin was a picture of confidence. Firing himself up just as one has seen a certain Jimmy Connors in yesteryears, Fazluddin never let the 'calls' affect his rhythm. He just wanted to serve harder and harder, even though his shoulder was stiff ... "I just had to do it," said Fazluddin ..

S. Kannan also reports that Fazaluddin is the som of the national football coach, Syed Naimuddin. Didn't know that !

Jan 9 Notes-1

Heavy rain at Doha. No tennis was played on Friday. The doubles semifinals will be on Saturday andthe final will be on Sunday. So, Leander and Mahesh gets an extra day of rest. Apparently it has been very cold out there in Doha too, as the matches have all been at night, after 6 pm, due to it being Ramadan. No other news to report for now.

Here is the news from India: Syed Fazaluddin upset Prahlad Srinath, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win the Chandigarh ITF Futures. He gets 12 ponts and $1300. Prahlad gets 9 points and $900. It's terrific to see Fazal Syed (as he was known at Temple University in the US) come out of nowhere to do so well. It's always a rare thing for a qualifier to go all the way and win a title in any tennis tournament. Quite tough to win 7 matches in 7 days. Those who had high hopes on Syed when he went to the US can get a little excited now. He is just turned 23 and has to prove himself in a hurry though ! .. From all reports, he is in great athletic shape and is ready to fight it out in the pro circuit. He is tall at 6-1 and has a good boom-boom service to help him out too. In the final against Prahlad, who likes to stay back, his quickness also was useful. With this, Syed quickly becomes the #4 player from India, as far as ATP points go (even 12 points is enough for that.. shows you how far guys like Natekar, Reddy, and Kirtanes have fallen in ATP points the last year. None of them really have picked up any points at all). He will now be around the ATP #800 in the world. Prahlad now has close to 34 points and is inside the ATP top-600. Hopefully they will give Syed a wildcard entry into the next leg of the ITF circuit starting at Indore next week. In the meanwhile Marcus Hilpert and Todd Meringoff won the doubles title. Amod Wakalkar who played with Kyle Rudman of South Africa in the semis was the last Indian to bow out in the doubles. Here are the complete results from Chandigarh.

Jan 8 Note-2

Leander and Mahesh are in the semifinals at Doha ! .. Easy 6-4, 6-2 win over Eltingh and Schalken today. They are starting the year without losing a beat so far. This gets them about 95 points (plus a few bonus points) each and some $15-20K to share. The semifinal draw (with the Nov 17 doubles rankings in parentheses) is:

1- BHUPATHI (11) & PAES (14)      vs   GOELLNER (33) & RENEBERG (106) 
2- DELAITRE (37) & SANTORO (34)   vs   HENMAN (132)  & ROSSET (185)

Goellner and Reneberg are both good doubles players used to playing with different partners. Goellner is sure to remember his last doubles match (with Boris Becker) where LP/MB were the winners.. and the fireworks on and off the court there. By the way, the winning team at Doha will be #1 in the ATP team rankings for now (:-)) as it gets reset and we start with a clean slate now. Doha offers more points than the Australian hardcourts tournament where the Woodies are playing this week.

Jan 8 Note-1

How about this ? Terrific news from India. Prahlad Srinath defeated the 8th seed Andrew Rueb of USA (6-3, 7-6) and Syed Fazaluddin defeated the 7th seed Marcus Hilpert of Germany (6-2, 6-2) to reach the finals at the ITF Futures Satellites at Chadigarh ! When was the last time there was an all-Indian finals in an international tennis tournament in India ? .. Anyway, qualifier Fazaluddin has won 6 matches in a row (in six days). Syed's dismantling of Hilpert in under an hour is particularly impressive. It was just two weeks back that Marcus won the Indian grasscourt nationals in Assam. Prahlad and syed are assured of around 10 points, and the winner will get 12 points. GO DUDES!! .. Here are the complete results.

Jan 7 Notes

Leander and Mahesh have started the new year on a winning note ! .. They beat Karim Alami and Hicham Arazi today, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals. They now face Jacco Eltingh (ATP #3) and Sjeng Schalken (#187). The other seed fell on the LP/MB side of the draw, as the 3rd seeds Brasch and Nyborg lost to Goellner and Reneberg. This means LP/MB will not have to play a seeded team till the final. Of course, they need to win a couple more games to reach the finals. The #2 and the #4 seeds half advanced on the other half of the draw.

The Gulf-News from UAE reports that Leander Paes will not get a wildcard to the Dubai ATP Open, starting on February 9th (the second week after the Aussie Open). Leander and Mahesh are of course in the doubles draw, and will be the #1 or #2 seed. The direct entry cut-off in singles, as of now, is about ATP #50 there according the tournament director ! .. Apparently 12 of the ATP top-20 players will be at Dubai .. That is very surprising considering that there are three 32-draw ATP tournaments during that week, the other two being at San Jose (USA) and at St.Petersburg (I am tempted to believe that the tournament director is bluffing a bit here for early publicity) .. Anyway, Paes had got a wildcard at Dubai last year. Oh well, he is being made to work hard to bring his singles rankings up. In an interview with the Gulf-News, LP seemed not too sure about qualifying there, as the qualifiers could be a tough one with the direct entry cut-off being that high.  Plus, depending on where he plays the week after the Aussie Open (perhaps a challenger at Singapore or something ?.. The 1998 challenger schedule is not online yet; so not sure of that), he may not be able to get there on time for the qualifiers..

In other news about ATP doubles, quite a few new teams are playing in the tournament this week. At the Australian Hardcourts ATP tournament, Ellis Ferreira is playing with Rick Leach and his old partner Patrick Galbraith is playing with Brett Steven of New Zealand. We knew earlier that they were breaking up (as were Leach and Stark).. More interesting is that Bjorkman and Kulti are playing there with new partners. Bjorkman has Jan Appell back as his partner. Anybody remembers him ? They were a terrific team a few years back (they won the ATP doubles championship in 1994 when it was held at Jakarta), before Apell got injured and was out for an extended period. Not sure how well Apell has recovered from the injury, but we will watch this team. Anyway, Apell/Bjorkman lost to Stolle/Suk (no shame there.. that is a damn good team too) yesterday. Kulti is playing with Byron Black (who was Connell's partner before).. The Woodies are intact and are the #1 seeds there.

Indian Tennis: Great news from the Chandigarh ITF Futures satellites ! Both the Indians, Prahlad Srinath and Syed Fazaluddin have won their matches today and have moved into the semifinals. Prahlad beat Britain's James Delgado (4th seed) easily, 6-3, 6-3 and Fazaluddin beat the Slovak, Andrew Krasevec even more easily, 6-2, 6-1. They both get about 5 or 6 ATP points from reaching the semifinals. Prahlad will play 8th seed Andrew Reub (USA) and Syed will play 7th seed Marcus Hilpert (of Germany.. alright, we can count him as half Indian..). GO Prahlad ! GO Syed ! .. Here are the results from Chandigarh.

Jan 6 Notes

News has been really hard to come by from Qatar. None of our fan club members are there, and the news wire stories have been pretty patchy so far. Anyway, four first round doubles matches were completed today (no upsets), and it appears that Leander and Mahesh will be playing only Wednesday or even Thursday. As for their first round doubles opponents, Alami and Arazi, the former has won the first round singles, and the latter has lost. The German, Bernd Karbacher whose receiving the wildcard there was criticized soundly here, has however won his first round match against the lowest rated direct entry player, Thomas Nydahl. Brugera was upset by Carlos Costa. Otherwise, no big upsets there in singles either.

Prahlad Srinath and Syed Fazaluddin moved into the quarterfinals of the Chandigarh leg of the ITF Futures, today. This is a huge improvement from Delhi where no Indian reached the quarterfinals. Fazaluddin is really making people sit up and take notice, I guess. He upset the 5th seed ATP-400 player Jonathan Erlich of Israel. It's been a while since somebody other than LP, MB or Prahlad from India has beaten an ATP top-500 foreign player (or so it seems..). Fazaluddin is a 23 yr old student at the Temple University in the US .. Prahlad beat the 622-ranked Gunther from Germany, and will play 3rd seed James Delgado in the quarterfinals. Harsh Mankad and Vikrant Chadha lost in the final-16, though. The big news is the upset of the top seed Vadim Kutsenko by Matej Pampoulov of Austria. As Tomashevic lost in the first round, the Uzbeks (both were finalists at Delhi) are not even in the quarterfinals now. Second seed Lior Mor also was upset. Only three seeds remain in the quarterfinal, as opposed to all 8 seeds, at Delhi. Here are the results.

Jan 5, 1998 Notes-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 about $65K 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, if he choses to.

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.