Notes for the week ending on Jan 15, 2001
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Jan 15 Notes
Hey, Niru is living an exciting life these days .. She and Renata Kolbovic made it into the Australian Open as the last entry in doubles .. That was good news, but then comes the jaw-dropper when she looked at the draw -- the Williams sisters in the first round for them!! .. Renata and Niru haven't played together before at all .. Niru says she didn't know how to react, seeing the draw .. I just sent her an email reminding her of an old Thamizh song -- "Ponal Pogattum Podaa" -- that is, loosely, "no worries; nothing to lose .. let it rip! -- YOU GO GIRL !!" .. I am not sure what happened to Miyagi, top doubles player who Niru had done very well with late last year .. I didn't see Miyagi in the draw.
The Indian Express has a pretty good team in the first round, and a really tough draw in fact .. 10th seeds Eagle-Florent first .. They are in the lower half of the upper half, drawn to face 5th seeds Lareau-OBrien in the 3rd round and 4th seeds Bjorkman-Woodbridge in the QF .. More later.
Mahesh is playing mixed doubles with Ai Sugiyama .. Not sure of LP yet .. The draw won't be out till thursday for MxD.
Jan 14 Notes
is I have started a page for the Kolkata futures on the South Club grasscourts .. That's Kolkata, the changed city name being official now; but I had switched exclusivly to Kolkata ever since the initial announcements came out over a year or so back (and I hope I have been using the correct spelling :-)) .. Anyway, Sri, Fazal, etc are there .. Vishal Uppal, who had skipped the Jorhat futures is also in the draw at Kolkata .. The matchups do not seem easy at all for the Indians .. The competition seems to have become even tougher compared to last week's, with #280 Artem Derepasko having entered .. He is the #1 seed in the draw .. According to the entry list, they are expecting a couple more near-400 players like Suwani Suwandi of Indonesia (drawn to play Fazal) .. Not sure if everyone has arrived ..
In other news, Sunil Kumar is in Australia for a couple of events and then the AO juniors .. Last week he played at the grade-2 Victorian Junior ITF event .. Not much success there, though he was seeded 8th .. He won a round over David Bidmeade of Australia, 64 64, but was upset in the second round by Mark van Elden of Australia, 36 16 .. The coming week's event is the prestigious grade-1 Australian hardcourt juniors at Glen Waverly, Melbourne .. This time he is unseeded and he will be playing 5th seed Michal Kokta (CZE) in the first round .. Rajeev Ram and Prakash Amritraj of USA also are in the draw at this event .. I believe all three will be in the Australian Open juniors the week after next.
Jan 13 Notes
A late update for saturday, due to some minor internet problems .. There was good news from Jorhat futures, as Fazaluddin and Dmitri Tomashevic won the doubles title in a long match, 36 75 64 .. Congrats, Fazal .. Though singles is his priority, much more success has come in doubles for Fazal .. It is good that some success is often there for Indians in at least doubles till the final day at most of the home events - for the sake of the spectators .. See the Jorhat futures page .. The next week's futures is in Kolkata, and Fazal will certainly be anxious to do more in singles on his hometown turf.
I finally got some time to looked at the results I have been posting from there, and I was pretty amazed to see the number of good players who showed up from abroad .. January is a lean month on the ATP challenger calendar, and those who are itching to play and cannot get into the tour events show up in India .. For instance there were three players in the qualies who would have been seeded had they decided early enough to enter (main draw top seed Tomashevic, 5th seed Freelove, and 422nd ranked DeVoest who was the second highest ranked player there went unseeded as he was a lucky loser and not a qualifier!) .. I am not particularly surprised that only one Indian managed to make it in through qualies, looking at how tough the qualifying rounds were .. The people in Jorhat got to see some quality tennis, I am sure.
By the way, apologies to everybody, especially those at the beautiful town in Assam, for writing "Jorhut" instead of Jorhat for over a week .. Rohan Saikia from Assam, who was till recently among the top tier of young players in India (he is now a freshman at the Columbia University in New York, under coach Bid Goswamy), wrote to me to tell the correct spelling .. I have gone back and corrected all the files now .. Sorry about that!
Jan 12 Note-3
Last year Mahesh was in the chatroom, before Leander's match against Ondruska in the final round of qualies and he commented when we asked about Ondruska - he said Ondruska had a rather similar style as Leander, but that "Lee is just better at it" .. Most will agree with that assessment, and it turned out that way then - I believe that was the 3rd or 4th win by LP over Ondruska over nearly a decade .. We have to tip our hats to Ondruska for fighting back and beating Leander twice in a row since then, paying back for all the heartbreaks Leander has caused him in the past, starting from the junior wimbledon final .. M.Ondruska (RSA,202) d. L.Paes (IND,196), 36 75 63 .. What looked like a great day ended up in tears .. Lee started well, holding serve and the breaking Ondruska in the second game, aided by two double faults from the South African .. LP tightened the screws with another break in game 4 as well, converting his first two break chances .. Ondruska was getting his chances too, one break point each in the first and the 5th game .. He had first serve problems in the 5th game, and faced a break attempt - out came an ace from LP .. He held after three deuces to go up 5-0 .. Then Ondruska held in the next game, broke Lee in game 7 to get one break back, and held easily in the next game to close the gap to 5-3 .. Then LP tightened his game and closed it out with a love game to go up 6-3 .. Once again, Leander got up on top quickly, converting the first break chance he got in the set in the first game .. LP had a bunch of golden chances to put it away in the 5th game - three break points which he couldn't convert .. MO held .. In the next game LP dropped serve and we were tied at 3-3 .. Ondruska seemed to be playing very well at this point, hitting many winners and going up to 5-4 with an easy game .. LP then finally ran into trouble in the 12th game, where MO broke him at 30-40 to tie it up at a set apiece .. Perhaps the 3 minute break after the set cooled down Ondruska a bit - LP was all over him quickly in the first game of the final set, going up 0-40 and breaking him in the first chance there .. Then at 3-1 in the first set, it was deja vu, as it went similar to the 5th game at the same score in the second set .. two break chances at AD out and LP could not convert .. Then, once again, it seemed to go like in the 6th game of the previous set, as LP was taken to two deuces by Ondruska, and was broken .. 3-3 .. Then LP was broken in game 8 when he fell to 3-5 .. Ondruska had won 4 games at a stretch ever since LP failed to convert those crucial break points in game 4 just as in the previous set .. He finally went ahead in points won in the match at 93-92 .. MO had a match pt at 40-30 in the next game, but LP forced a deuce .. Then he fought off two match points at AD in from Ondruska .. Finally Ondruska closed it at 6-3 on his 3rd match point ..
Man, what a wretched day! .. I am about to cry.
Jan 12 Note-2
How many heartbreaks can we fans take ? .. At least one more we have to, I guess .. Fusai (FRA,143) d. Nirupama (IND,189), 75 26 62 in a roller-coaster match .. It started rather calmly but Niru was broken in game 5 of the first set .. She then had a break chance at 30-40 in the next game which she could not convert .. Actually she made three unforced errors along with winners in that game, and Fusai held to go up 4-2 .. She was down 0-30 in the next game, but came up with four winners to hold and remain only one break down at 3-4 .. Niru then had two AD break points in the 8th game, and she converted the second one to tie it up at 4-4 .. As she pulled up from 2-4 to 5-4, she had hit 10 winners and had only 5 unforced errors .. She seemed to be going for broke, with 21 unforced errors and 20 winners to 15 and 8 for Fusai .. At 5-5, Niru had 4 unforced errors in a row, and she dropped serve again .. Then Fusai held with three more u.e's from Niru, to win the set at 7-5 .. The first set took a whole hour! .. Niru cut down on the unforced errors in the second set and things went with no drama or break chances for either, till the 6th game .. A winner from Niru and two mistakes from Fusai and it was double break chances at 15-40 .. A winner from Niru in the first chance, and she was up 4-2 .. Niru held easily in the next game .. Then she really kicked it up a notch in the next game at 5-2 to go after Fusai's serve .. From 15-30 down, she won three points in a row to wrap up the set and tie it up at a set apiece .. Niru went back to errors in the first game of the 3rd set and was down 0-40 .. She fought off two chances and fell at the 3rd .. In game 4, it was Fusai making three mistakes and now she was broken - we were again tied at 2-2 .. That didn't last either, as Niru dropped serve at 15-40 in the next game to fall to 2-3 - four more errors to go with a winner in that game, by Niru .. Niru had a break chance in the next game at AD out, but could not convert and Fusai went up 4-2 .. It was basically downhill from there .. In the next game, Niru was in big trouble at 15-40, took it to deuce, then fell to AD out and was broken .. Now Fusai was on fire as she was up 5-2 .. She was up 40-0 and won it on the second match point .. Niru had come back from 2-5 down in the second set to win the set at 7-5 yesterday against Allison, I am told .. No such heroics today, unfortunately.
Poor Niru .. I have lost count on the number of times she has lost in the final round of qualies .. For once she was getting ready to win one last year at AO, and she got injured .. This time, a bunch of mistakes in the 3rd set did her in, I guess .. The match took 2 hours and 10 minutes .. The stats were close .. 46 unforcerd errors and 40 winners by Niru (33 and 25 by Fusai) .. Niru was clearly very aggressive today based on that stat .. She also had 32 net approaches which is on the higher side for her .. 4 converted in 8 break chances by Niru (5 in 10 by AF) .. 3 aces and no double faults by Niru (5 and 6 by AF) .. Then the key stat - 87 points won by Niru to 93 by Fusai .. Well, she defended her points from last year and picked up a couple of points too - 22 total here.
LP's match starts in a few minutes .. We are in the chatroom .. come on over!
Jan 12 Note-1
OK, I am finally back from another travel .. Will have the news and notes in full swing again.
A double shot of good news from yesterday that you may have heard already .. Both LP and Nirupama won in straight sets to advance to the 3rd and final round of qualies at the Australian Open .. Niru's win was simply fabulous, as she went ahead and upset the top seed in the qualies, Allison Bradshaw (USA,112), 63 75 .. As for Leander, he had another good win over Justin Bower (RSA,227), 63 64 .. Niru now goes up against the 15th seed in the qualies, Alexandra Fusai (FRA,143) and Leander goes up against Marcos Ondruska (RSA,202) .. LP has played Ondruska many times, starting from the final of the Wimbledon juniors when LP beat him a decade back .. LP has almost always beaten him, though in close matches often .. LP beat him in the final round of qualies at the AO last year as well, but then lost to him in the final qualies at the Indian Wells ..
Niru has picked up 22 points including 2 and 8 bonus points for the first and second round wins .. She can pick up another 10 more for a win today .. LP has picked up 8 ATP points, and can make it 15 with another win.
We will be online in our chatrom during the final qualifying matches today .. Niru's match starts at 10 am in Australia, Saturday (4.30 am India .. 6 pm Friday, New York).
Jan 11 Notes
LP and Niru both advanced to the second round at the Australian qualies earlier today .. Leander was drawn with the 15th seed Yong-Il Yoon (KOR,140) and he upset Yoon rather comfortably, 64 75 .. Way to go Lee .. Now, for God's sake don't lose momentum in the next match .. He plays Justin Bower (RSA) in the second round of the 3-round qualies .. As for Nirupama, she beat Nadia Johnston of Australia, 63 64 .. Nadia is ranked #332 and was a wildcard entry, I believe .. Niru has a tough second round match against the top seed, young Allison Bradshaw of USA though .. I believe the second round matches are in a few hours (on Friday in Australia)
Fazal is in the doubles final at the Jorhat futures .. Only the 6th seed Allegre remains there in the semifinal of singles (actually, only two made it to quarterfinal yesterday!) .. See the Jorhat futures page for results
Jan 9 Notes
The Australian Open qualifying draw will be known soon (it's already early wednesday there and qualies start on thursday) .. Check the official site, www.ausopen.org to find out if any of our players are in action on thursday .. I may be late in my next update.
At the Jorhat futures, Fazal, Sri and Nitin went down today in straight sets, making it probably the first futures where no Indians reached second round, in India .. I have no idea what is going on with our players .. Not one is showing ANY improvement on the men's side .. We keep waiting for that elusive surprise, but it keeps getting worse and worse as time goes on .. It sure looks like the foreign players and their coaches have figured out the Indian players - much more than the Indians having adapted to the foreigners style of play, over the last three years of internationals events .. Depressing, to say the least .. Something needs to be done, and I have no clue at all what.
Jan 8 Notes
The Jorhat futures first round started today on clay courts in Assam, and I was very disappointed to see just 5 people in the main draw, of which four are wildcards and one is a qualifier .. There is significant foreign interest in this futures, but I am not sure why Fazal and Sri are (once again) taking up wildcards .. I think they could have got direct entries based on their rankings (I haven't checked carefully - perhaps they missed it narrowly; both deserve a nice whack each if they messed up and did not enter on time! :-)) .. Local boy Rahul Rajkhewa was the 3rd wildcard and Nitin Kirtane got the fourth one .. Mustafa was the only qualifier Indian .. Both Mustafa and Rahul fell today .. Sri, Fazal and Nitin play tomorrow .. See the Jorhat futures page - I still don't have the qualifying scores.
.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Jan 8 ..
I am getting some enquiries 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 enquiring 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 enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.