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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Jan 17, 2000

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Jan 17 Note-1

Leander gets his first grand slam win since the USO 97, after which he has had 5 straight first round losses .. L.Paes d. D.Petrovic (AUS,202), 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 .. The match started much later than expected as the previous match on that court went late into the 5th set with Sluiter pulling it out 13-11 over Gaudenzi ! .. Here is how the LP match proceeded, based on the newly enhanced excellent IBM online scoreboard that shows updated numbers after every point, and for any of the matches (not just the stats from the big courts that they used to show updated after every game last year):

First set:  LP started by rushing the net on every point and was up 2-0 quickly, after breaking DP in the first game at 15-40 .. LP was 7 of 7 for 100% in the "net apporaches" satatistics after 2 games! .. He broke DP once more at 3-1 and finished the set in 25 minutes rather easily .. It certainly looked too easy to be true .. It soon proved to be so ! .. Dejan was probably a bit nervous in his first grand slam match, and took some time to realize that he could try to play near the net too .. Actually LP was serving rather poorly at 50% in first serves by the end of the set .. And his net apporaches were less effective on the second serve points too .. It was just that Dejan's first serves were even worse at near 30% then ..

Second set:  LP's poor first serves continued (only a couple of good first serves in his first 2 service games) .. The net apporaches weren't working, and LP was broken in game 4 .. Basically Dejan was coming to the net a bit more and LP lost a lot of points at the net at this time ..  LP had 2 break chances at 30-40 and at AD-out in game 9 with DP serving for the set at 5-3 .. But Dejan converted the 4th set point and tied it up at one set apiece .. A slight turnaround could be sensed by the end of the set again though, as LP was serving much better now ..

Third set:  LP faced two break points in game 3 at 30-40 and at AD out, but he held on .. with his first ace of the match, a sign of a confident Leander .. Both players had cut down on errors, and were serving much better (DP 55% and LP 65% for this set) .. Dejan fired 5 aces, and Leander served three in this set ..  Then Petrovic took Leander to two deuces in the 4th game, but it still continued on serve .. No other break chances in the set which was a very even one .. In the tiebreaker, LP was up 2-0, gave the minibreak back for 2-2, went up 5-3 with a minibreak, and gave it back too .. Then he got the final minibreak at 5-5 and served it out.

Fourth Set:  Again the match continued to be quite even, but in game 5 of the 4th set, LP turned it up, won three points at the net and got the break at 30-40 to go up 3-2 .. He was 7 of 7 in net rushes then in the set .. Inexplicably, in the next game, he culdn't get his first serves in, but continued charging the net on second serves (amazing how much one can see in the constantly changing IBM online scoreboard!) and he lost 5 of the next 7 points at the net .. We wondered if LP was rushing things in a hurry to finish it off .. He got broken back and Dejan held serve for 4-3 (on serve) .. Then it was DP's turn .. and the 21 year old finally showed nerves I guess .. He knew he had to hold there, and lost 2 points at the net .. He was down 0-40 and LP got the break in the second chance, to go up to 5-4 and serve for the match .. Dejan tried hard in the next game to prolong it, got LP down to 0-30, but Leander won the final 4 points to secure his passage to the next round.

The break sequence: [set1: DP broken in game 1 and 5] [set2: LP broken in game 4] [set3: no breaks ] [set4: DP broken in game 5 and 9, LP in game 6] .. The match took 2 hours and 33 minutes.  For the match, LP served 57% in first serves to DP's 50% .. A very acceptable 24 unforced errors each by LP and DP .. 6 aces and 4 double faults by Leander, 9 aces and 5 double faults by Dejan .. LP was a very efficient 4 of 7 in break points and DP was 2 of 7 .. The interesting stat was that both players rushed the net a lot .. 81 net approaches by Leander (winning 56 of them) and 80 by Petrovic (winning 51) .. LP won 74% of points when the first serve was good and 67% on the second .. I would guess that most of his second serve points were not from net apporaches though .. LP had 39 winners and DP had 43 .. All in all, a well-played match it would seem .. I expected a tough match from a talented youngster who is coming up, but LP did what he had to, to win the match.

Next up for Leander is one of the most talented up-and-coming youngsters out there - Andreas Vinciguerra of Sweden, whom we all know, as he has come twice to Chennai .. He will be a much bigger test for LP .. That match will be on Wednesday.

Leander has picked up 50 total points now (including 15 for qualifying) for 322 total points, of which more than half (165) have come from the 2 December challengers, Chennai first round win and the AO -- Leander is a quick worker in moving up the rankings when he focuses on the job, I must say! ..  The 15-1 streak helps to now move him up about 20 spots to inside 120 in the entry rankings .. Those days of #208 rankings now seem like a very distant memory, though it was just 7 weeks back!

Jan 16 Note-2

In the first round on Monday (that is Today, Sunday evening in the US), Leander Paes plays (wc)Dejan Petrovic (AUS,202) .. At about 12 noon (6.30 am India .. 2 am London .. 5 pm PST, USA) .. We will have our chatrom party as usual, following the match ball-by-ball.

Who is Dejan Petrovic ? .. Quite a talented player, actually .. 21 year old .. He made his big jump up after the Australia #3 satellites in September where he fnished #2 and picked up 66 points (I don't think he played the previous two satellites in Australia last year) .. Though he lost in the first round in the Australia F1 futures following that, he won the F2 futures beating Paul Kilderry in the final and was runner up in the F3 and F4 futures, losing to Ben Ellwood and Sebastien Swrierk in the finals .. Then he was also the runner up in the Perth challenger 5 weeks back, losing to Paul Kilderry in the final .. He started 1999 ranked #437 and ended it at #231 .. Last week he beat Stephane Huet (#122) 36 63 63 in the first round as a wildcard entry at Adelaide, before losing to Lleyton Hewitt 06 26 .. This week he played the qualies at the Sydney tournament but lost 46 36 in the second round to Ivan Ljubicic (#79) after beating Andrew Kratzmann .. All of that indicate that Dejan can certainly play with the big boys .. Such upcoming players are always ranked a bit lower than they probably should be, and thus we can't take this match as a gimme for Leander - but Lee should be able to handle him though.

Nirupama's injury in the 3rd round was to her foot .. Here is what Kane White writes for TennisAustralia: The match was drawn at a set apiece and one game all in the third, when Nirupama retired hurt with a foot injury .. The 3-6 6-0 1-1 scoreline indicates Vaidyanathan's peformance was affected in the second set, losing it to love. It was not until early in the third set that her foot finally forced her to pull out, allowing Guse to win through to the main draw .. What a pity .. Hang in there Niru - you will get your chance again.

By the way, in men's doubles, some early warnings have been sounded by THE legends, the Woodies, about their seriousness about Olympics and other matters .. They have gone on an eight match win streak to start the year, with back-to-back titles at Adelaide and Sydney! .. The doubles draws were on the weaker side at both tournaments, but I would say nobody should write off the legends just yet!

Jan 16 Note-1

Here is the draw for Leander (with Jan 10 entry ranks):

9 Richard Krajicek (NED, 10) vs   Fabrice Santoro     (FRA, 26) \
  Nicolas Escude   (FRA, 34) vs   Jim Courier         (USA, 36) / \
Q Leander Paes     (IND,137) vs W Dejan Petrovic      (AUS,202) \ / \
  Hernan Gumy      (ARG, 62) vs   Andreas Vinciguerra (SWE, 98) /    \__ QF
  Jacobo Diaz      (ESP, 84) vs Q Fredrik Jonsson     (SWE,123) \    /
  Hicham Arazi     (MAR, 42) vs   Julian Alonso       (ESP,111) / \ /
  Fernando Vicente (ESP, 53) vs   Alberto Berasategui (ESP, 59) \ /
8 Todd Martin      (USA,  8) vs   Byron Black         (ZIM, 70) /
About as good as Leander could have hoped for, in the first round .. This is the bottom half in the upper quartile of the draw (with top seed Agassi) ..  More later

Jan 15 Note-3

The qualifying rounds have started at the "Century Club Wearhouse" Bangalore futures -- see the first round results at the Bangalore futures page (the top-11 seeds with firt round byes did not play today) .. The top seed is still listed as the talented Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan - whether he would show up is anybody's guess .. He was to play last week's futures but was a no-show at Hyderabad .. The Deccan Herald reports that he has confirmed entry for Bangalore but has affirmed that he is not playing next week at Chennai for the India F3 .. Anyway, Srinath is the next highest seed .. As he had entered early enough, he did not need a wildcard like last time (I believe it's the same case for Fazal too) .. The wildcards have gone to Vijay Kannan, Vinod Sridhar, Rohan Bopanna and Kamala Kannan .. Good to see Kamala getting one.

*Still* no news on whom Leander is playing at the AO in the first round .. They had released the completed women's draw with the qualifiers placed in earlier, and I assume they were waiting for the final two qualifier matches postponed after last night's rain to get done to do the same for the men's draw .. After another rain delay on Sunday, they finished the two matches a couple of hours back .. Kevin Ullyett who was at 16-16 in the 3rd set against Bob Bryan, but was facing a break point when they postponed it (!), came up strong today - he won that game and the next one to wrap up a spot .. Jamie Delgado, the 13th seed lost the other postponed match (but he is second in line for a lucky loser spot) .. Anyway, now that all the qualifiers are known, they should have the completed draw out soon.

Jan 15 Note-2

I still have not seen the details on what caused Nirupama to retire in the 3rd set of the final qualies .. I have also not seen the main draw with the qualifiers positioned, so we don't know yet whom LP will be playing in the first round.

The Davis Cup and the Fed Cup teams have been announced by selection committee chairman Shyam Minotra today, reports PTI from Thrissur, Kerala (what is Mr.Minotra doing there?? - was the team selection meeting there ?) ..  The men's team -- Leander, Srinath, Fazal and Sunil Kumar with Mustafa Ghouse as reserve .. No surprises there, though I have to really take issue with the selection of Mustafa for alternate - as he has been going through a very bad patch ever since reaching the final at the DSCL nationals (has hardly won a match since then) .. Sunil's inclusion was a forgone conclusion and though he will miss one week of an ITF junior event, it will probably help him to be with the big boys .. But really, what's the plan for doubles practice for Leander and Fazal, slated to be our doubles team ? .. Play against Srinath and Sunil ? .. Sunil is too young to have learned much about high-level doubles .. If the alternate player is then needed for doubles practice, wouldn't make much more sense to bring in Sourav Panja who has been playing so well with Srinath ? .. Mustafa is very good in doubles, but something still doesn't fit here .. I assume Ramesh Krishnan took part in the tem selection, and if so we will just trust his judgment on this!

The Fed Cup team is,  Nirupama, Manisha, Sai and Uzma with Rushmi as the alternate .. The Fed Cup Asia-Oceania Group-I is in Japan in April .. Uzma's selection is curious, as she has not played in India for a year now .. Rushmi may have taken herself out of contention by not making any upward moves in the challenger and futures recently, but she would certainly feel a bit cheated out of the first four .. Actually Uzma may not be a bad choice, considering that she would be in good playing shape by April, after going through the college tennis season grind which picks up steam from now till April in the US .. Nandan Bal is the coach for the Fed Cup team - not a bad selection, as he has done well at that job in 1998 when we got back into the Group-I.

At the Hyderbad futures today, Ladislav Svarc took out qualifier Denis Golovonov easily in the final, 6-2 6-4 .. Now the caravan moves to Bangalore for the India F2.

Jan 15 Note-1

We had an unannounced visitor in our chatroom during the final round qualies of Niru and Leander that some of us were following there .. Mahesh Bhupathi (who was chilling in the evening at New York) showed up just like that and had some online fun with us! .. Hesh called it right when Leander's match against Ondruska was starting, "they both have similar styles, and Lee is a bit better at it - he should be able to take this match" .. That's basically what happened .. Leander seemed to be able to keep Ondruska at bay at the big points .. Here is what transpired in Leeander's  7-6(5) 7-6(4) win.

Leander quickly had Ondruska down 15-40 in the first game, and got the break in the fourth break chance .. Leander was making a lot of mistakes too, as he piled up 9 unforced errors in the first 4 games .. In game 4, he faced three break attempts, the 3rd one after a double fault at deuce .. Marcos then broke him to tie it up 2-2 .. Ondruska was serving well - actually he had 20 of 21 first serves in at one point, though he had only won 13 of those 20 and Leander had broken him once too .. At 3-4, Leander faced double break pts at 15-40 .. Served an ace and it was deuce .. Then an unforced error made it a 3rd break point .. LP held on though .. At the 5th deuce, LP doublefaulted again to give MO a 4th break chance .. Unforced error from MO .. Then a UE from LP too, and it was a 5th break chance -- and MO converted this time .. No doubt that LP had only himself to blame there .. But it was not over .. MO was serving at 5-3 for the set and had a set point at 40-30 where he double faulted .. An unforced error from LP, and it was another set pt .. Then Marcos makes the error .. It was deuce .. An ace from MO, a winner from LP .. It went on .. 8 deuces, 5 set pts for MO and 3 break pts for LP .. In the end it was LP who pulled it off to bring it back on serve at 4-5 .. Then at 5-6, Lee had to go through 3 deuces before sending it to a tiebreaker .. In the tiebreak, LP was down 0-2, then won 6 of 7 to go up 6-3 -- he finished off the set on the second set point, 7-6(4)..

Things looked considerably better in terms of errors in the second set .. LP, who had made 22 unf-errors in the firt set, made only 9 in the second .. It went with serve at first but the 5th game became interesting .. LP was down 0-30 after a double
fault .. He followed it with 2 aces, then faced a break attempt again and held with an ace again .. at 3-3, LP was again facing 3 more break points .. The 3rd one was at deuce where he double faulted .. Again LP fired an ace and now Ondruska was 2 of 12 in break attempts (this stat was basically did Marcos in!) .. By now, LP had served 5 aces, 4 of them on break points! .. Ace #6 followed and it was 4-3 .. There were no breaks in the set, though the games continued to be well contested .. In the tiebreaker, LP got the key minibreak to go up 6-5 and completed the match at the first match point.

For the match, LP served 8 aces and had 6 double faults .. MO had 4 and 3 .. 63% first serves for LP, to 70 by MO .. 42 winners and 31 unf-errors by LP, to MO's 32 and 16 .. 92 points by LP to 98 by MO .. The first set too 1 hour and 6 minutes, and the second took 57 minutes.

Leander's opponent is not known in the main draw .. Not sure if they have placed the qualifiers and lucky losers into the draw yet .. 2 more men's matches are yet to be completed, actually, suspended due to rain at night .. The one between Kevin Ullyett and Bob Bryan may get done only tomorrow .. It is tied 6-3 6-7 16-16 with the final set itself having taken 2 hours and 5 minutes so far!

Jan 14 Note-4

Leander Paes d. Marcos Ondruska, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) .. This was an engrossing match that took 2 hours and 4 minutes - seemed to never end .. LP played the big points better - actually MO had 98 pts to LP's 92 in the match .. LP served 4 aces at break points and that was a big key .. I will post details later .. Gotta run .. Oo La La .. LP makes it into Asutralian main draw !

Jan 14 Note-3

Man, I could cry now .. Heartbreak once again for Niru .. K-A.Guse d. Nirupama, 3-6, 6-0, 1-1 (retd.) ..  After dropping serve the first time and falling behind 0-2, Niru started dominating Kerry-Ann in the first set, breaking her in the 3rd, 5th and 9th games to wrap it up comfortably at 6-3 .. Then something happened, as Niru was broken three times in a row in the second set .. In the 3rd, Niru held serve rather comfortably and took Guse to about 5 deuces including a break point at 1-0 .. Then, when Guse was to serve AD in, it seemed like Niru took an injury break for 10 minutes .. They played that point and it was tied at 1-1 and then Niru retired .. I have not seen what the problem was .. So near, yet so far, once again .. Poor girl.

Leander's match starts right now, about half hour later than I thought, at 12.15 pm there (6.45 am India .. 5.15 pm PST, USA) ..

Jan 14 Note-2

Nirupama's final qualifying round match starts at 10 am Saturday (4.30 am India .. 12 midnight London .. 3 pm PST Friday, USA) .. Leander plays at around 11.45 am (6.15 am India .. 1.45 am London .. 4.45 pm PST Friday, USA) .. Our chatrom will be open during the matches for ball-by-ball

At Hyderabad futures today, the "double-SP" won their first title together, beating Widhiyanto and Pramono in the final .. They get 12 pts each for the win .. It will move Srinath up from 240 by about 7 or 8 spots .. Saurav will come up from 324 by about 15-20 spots and will become the Indian #5 behind LP, MB, Sri and Fazal in a couple of weeks .. Cool .. The singles final at Hyderabad will be between qualifier Golovonov and 3rd seed Svarc .. See the Hyderabad futures page for all the results.

By the way, the two rounds of wins at the AO qualies gives Leander 8 entry rank points, adding to the 277 he has now .. If you are wondering where that number 277 came from, it is basically from the year's starting points of 262 that Leander had .. What ATP did was to take the best-18 point list from 1999 and reduce everything by 80% (this was just an ad-hoc arbitrary calculation that they thought would match things with the 2000 point tables - it actually reduced the 1999 point totals a bit more than it should have, but basically preserved the players' best-18 rank order at year end ..  ATP guys do weird things!) .. I will calculate the splits by tournament for that 262 and post it soon, so we will know how much he has to defend at various times this year (it's easy, as there are 4 challenger titles, Chennai, Newport and basically nothing else last year) .. Anyway, LP started with 262 points and has now added 15 from Chennai last week and 8 so far at AO ..

Jan 14 Note-1

The final round of AO qualies are set for Saturday in Australia (Friday evening in the US) .. Leander faces his old pal, Marcos Ondruska (RSA,161) seeded #23rd  .. Nirupama plays the 16th seed Kerry-Ann Guse (AUS,135)

LP and Ondruska are of course very familiar with each other having played in the Wimbledon juniors final many moons ago, with LP winning it .. They have met once after that, which was at the 1996 US Open first round when LP again won, 76 62 75 in straight sets .. Ondruska won't be easy, but LP may have a psychological edge in this match .. As for Niru, I don't think she has played Guse before.

The #1, #6, #7 and #8 seeds have lost in the second round, and so there are 4 players ahead of LP now, in case he has to rely on a lucky loser spot to get into the draw .. Whoever loses in the final round among the #2, #3, #4 and #5 seeds will be ahead of LP for such spots .. I think LP has never qualified into a grand slam, though he has been a lucky loser entry 2 or 3 times .. A similar stat as Niru, who has also lost in the final round at GS three times, though her ranks weren't high enough for LL spots .. LP can certainly win tomorrow's match, and he seems to be getting into at least reasonable form in singles .. Funny that just about 6 weeks back, with an 8 match losing streak, we couldn't expect him to beat even players outside the top-300 (he had two losses to below-500 players), and now he has gone 13-1 in singles matches with a win over a top-100 player and many wins over top-300 players, with the only loss being to 14th ranked Pioline .. It would be nice to see him continue the turnaround qualifying into an event for the first time in an year and half - the last time that happened was at New Haven in 1998, where he went on to win three rounds in the main draw as well, including the upset of Sampras .. In his career, LP has often done well in tournaments where he qualified in  - so, if he can do it tomorrow, I will get rather excited about next week!

LP will also get 15 entry rank points for qualifying into the main draw (3 race points) .. I have not seen a split for the qualifier round wins .. For Niru, the win today gives 16 WTA points including 4 bonus for today's win (no bonus for the first round win, as jaslyn was ranked below 500) .. Niru had 20 points to defend from last year .. A win tomorrow will give her 24.5 points (including 8 bonus) .. Looking forward to tomorrow!

In other news, Sunil Kumar won the under-18 singles and doubles titles at the inaugural "Rajan Pillai memorial" AITA u18/u16 tournament at Thuruvananthapuram .. A bit surprising to see that Jaco Matthew actually pushed him to three sets in the final, though (Jaco is a BAT trainee) ..  Good to see Sunil having a nice week without having to play the big dogs in ATP - perhaps he is also planning to play the ITF junior event next week in Sri Lanka, now that he is down there in Kerala .. I will compile and post all the scores from Thiruvananthapuram soon.

Jan 13 Note-3

What a match ! .. If only all the matches Niru played were grand slam qualifier second round matches .. Yet another dandy from Niru .. Nirupama d. #10 seed Kimberly Po (USA,127), 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 .. Here is how the 2 hour 5 minute match went .. First set: Nirupama did not have a hot start, as she faced a break point in the first game at 30-40, and was broken after two deuces to fall 0-2 .. At 0-3, Niru was again troubled, but held after three deuces .. Niru was taking a few points off Po's serve and took Kimberly to two deuces in game 5, but she could not force any breaks .. NV was again facing 2 break points in game 6 at 15-40, but held with four straight points .. NV then took KP to two deuces in the next game and finally broke back to be on serve at 3-4 .. KP wasn't ready to let go, as she went up 0-40 and broke NV again to serve for the set at 5-3 .. Niru wasn't done either, as she broke right back too, to make it 4-5 .. She held serve and continued to go after KP's serve breaking her at 15-40 to go 6-5 up .. Then it was again KP's turn to break Niru as 30-40 .. We had a tiebreaker going .. NV was up a minibreak but was soon down by two .. She faced triple set points at 3-6, fought off two and fell at 5-7 .. Engrossing set, to say the least ! .. Second set: The second set also started badly for Niru, as she was broken in game 1 to fall 0-2 .. Kimberly seemed to be cruising, holding her serve at love .. NV steadied herself, held serve and took KP to 2 break pts in the next game, tying it up at 2-2 .. She was soon serving deuce again, but took it to 3-2 .. Then Niru stepped it up and took four straight points off Po's serve to go up 4-2 .. Once again deuces off NV's serve, but she again came through for a 5-2 lead, and soon it was a set apiece .. Third set: For the third time in a row Niru allowed Po to get an early break, dropping serve in game 2 to fall 0-2 .. True to style, she was quickly back in it, breaking Po in the very next game and putting the set back on serve ! .. After a couple of relatively uneventful games, NV was in trouble serving at 2-3 .. Dueces .. She fought off four break attempts, and finally held for 3-3 .. Then she had Po on the ropes in the next game at deuces (what else ?) but she pulled off the break to go up 4-3 .. Niru held serve at 40-15 .. I am sure Kimberly didn't know what hit her, or Niru was all over her for the final kill making her choke, as she couldn't get a point in the next game on her own serve .. Niru forced the final break for the win !!

The break sequence was, [set1: NV broken in games 2, 8 and 12, KP broken in games 7, 9 and 11] [set2: NV broken in game 1, KP broken in games 4 and 6] [set3: NV broken in game 2, KP broken in games 3, 7 and 9] .. Niru got broken 5 times and Kimberly 8 times!

Niru has defended most of her points from last year's 3rd round apperance at the AO qualies .. Let us hope she can finally pull off that 3rd round win this time, though this kind of tiring matches are never the best preparation for Niru! .. Like they say here in the US, "You Go Girl!!" ..

Jan 13 Note-2

The Nirupama match started half hour earlier than the LP match, but has been a barn-burner, evenly poised at 6-7(5), 6-3, 2-2 as I type .. Later with details of that.

LP has reached the final round of qualies ! .. Paes d. Frantisek Cermak (CZE,346), 6-2, 6-2, basically in a laugher .. Leander started off well, going up 30-40 and breaking Cermak on the first chance .. He kept cruising, and broke FC again in the 5th game to go up 4-1 .. LP wrapped up the set at 6-2 with no trouble .. He kept up the pressure, converting the second break chance in game 1 of the second set to go up .. Our man did face a break attempt in the next game, but he held to go up 2-0 .. The first set pattern repeated as Leander broke Cermak again in game 5 for a 4-1 lead .. LP had a match point in game 7 at 30-40, and then at AD out, but Frantisek somehow held on for dear life .. LP served it off in the next game.

Jan 13 Note-1

Nirupama is scheduled to play the second match on court 18 against Kimberly Po (about  11.45 am Friday, Australia .. 6.15 am India .. 4.45 pm PST, Thursday, USA) .. Leander's match against Frantisek Cermak is the 3rd one on court 5, starting at about 2 pm Friday there (8.30 am India .. 7 pm PST Thursday, USA)

At the Hyderabad futures today, Srinath and Saurav (unseeded, as they used the Dec 13 rankings for seeding there) have once again reached a final ! .. They may have had a bit of luck in the run they had at Chennai, but that doesn't mean that they are pretty darn good as a pair - they are looking very much like the second best pair from India in doubles, making the Kirtanes and Uppal-Ghouse pair sit up and wonder "where the hell did they come out of" ??  .. By the way, I finally got the official draws and results (thank you Steve!) and found some of the missing results .. The newspapers have covered this futures rather poorly and I was yet to see who the top seeds in doubles were, and what happened to them .. Just found that Sandeep Kirtane and Fazal were the top seeds, but they lost in the first round - to who else, the "double SP", Prahlad-Panja, 6-3 6-4 !! .. Double-SP today beat  Boris Borgula and Kobi Ziv, who had upset the 3rd seeds Groen and Layne in the first round .. Curiously, Nitin Kirtane played with Radim Zitko - but they lost in the first round to Uppal-Ghouse, who lost in the semis today to Widhiyanto and Pramono of Indonesia .. The Indoneisan Pair face the Indian special tomorrow in the final.

Talking of double-SP, the big show last week pushed up Srinath's doubles ranking to #240 as the Indian #3 above Fazal at #292 .. Following Fazal are Nitin Kirtane at 314, Saurav at 324 and Sandeep Kirtane at 327 .. The final at the futures gives Sri and Saurav 8 more points which should bring Saurav closer to 300 and above Nitin Kirtane now .. Talk about dream weeks for him!

Back to the futures, the semifinalists are Svarc, Ram, Delinbeuf and Golovanov .. Looking at the way Delinbeuf and Golavanov have played, it looks like Srinath and Fazal did indeed run into two hot players in the first round .. This happens in the futures sometimes when some upcoming guys make a move out of nowhere .. Nitin reached the QF, but partly helped by the fact that he was drawn in the top 1/8th of the draw which was vacated by the top seed Quereshi who was a no-show .. Nitin struggled a bit against Lucky loser Suwandi Suwandi in the second round but pulled it off in three sets with two tiebreakers in the second round to pick up two ATP points .. Vinod, saurav, sandeep and Vishal got one point each for reaching second round ..

I have also added the complete qualifier results - and there are some interesting results there .. The impressive show was by young Kamala Kannan, who deserves a good look by everybody .. This guy has been one of the less talked-about ones, but one who has had some quality wins  .. He beat the 16th seed Kusdaryanto of Indonesia and then the #1 seed Miles MacLagan of Britain (ranked #464)  .. Sometimes such "quality wins" say a lot about a player (one reason why I hold somebody like Harsh Mankad in high regard as he has beaten a lot of good players like Barry Cowan, Danai Udomchoke, Srinath and Fazal) .. My favorite line is by a sports radio talk-show host here in the US (Jim Rome) who says, "dudes, the scoreboard doesn't lie" :-) :-) .. Anyway, 17 yr old Kamala is ranked 3rd in the under-18 section of AITA behind AV Rao and Shivang Mishra now - and don't forget that he was a member of the 16-and-under team that took India to the ITF world final-16 in 1998 .. In the main draw, Kamala Kannan again had a good match, stretching the 5th seed Nir Welgreen to three sets .. It's time this kid also got some props .. Vijendra Laad is another one who did well in the qualies, upsetting the 6th seed Suwandi Suwandi .. Take a look at all the qualifier results and everything else at the Hyderabad futures page.

Jan 13 Note-1

Leander won his first round qualifier match - LP d. Ville Liukko (FIN,177), 6-3, 7-6(3) .. LP started a bit shakily, facing two break points after deuces in the first game, but he held .. He had to serve at deuce once in the 3rd game as well .. LP was again down 0-30 in game 5 and was broken in the 4th break point he faced, to fall behind 2-3 .. This seemed to finally light the fire in Leander, as he went on to win 16 of the next 18 points, breaking Liukko twice to win the set 6-3 ! .. Leander seemed to continue to hold serve easily in the second set .. At 3-3, LP had a break chance at 30-40 off Liukko's serve, but he held .. LP faced trouble for the first time in the set in game 10, when he was down 0-30 and faced a set point at 30-40, but he held to make it 5-5 .. Then we proceeded tp the tiebreaker .. LP went up by two minibreaks quickly and to 6-1 .. After Liukko served twice avoiding match pts, LP finished it on his own serve at 7-3 ..

LP next plays Frantisek Cermak (CZE,346) who beat Bjorn Phau, 7-6, 6-4 .. DeChaunac and Ondruska are the other winners in Leander's bracket.

Niru plays Kimberly Po (USA,127) next .. Stephanie Foretz and kerry-Ann Guse are the other winners in the bracket.

Jan 12 Note-4

Nirupama won her first round qualifying match at the AO over Jaslyn Hewitt, 6-0, 6-2 just now .. The first was over very fast in about 19 minutes, but the second set, despite the easy-looking scoreline was far from easy, and it took almost 45 minutes to complete .. After Jaslyn held serve for the first time to go 1-0 up, Niru was facing match points at 30-40, but she held after a few deuces .. In fact games 3, 4, 6, and 8 all went deuces, but Niru came out on top every time after protracted games .. Now she awaits the winner of the Po-Ramon match ..

Jan 12 Note-3

Here are the qualifying draws for LP and NV:

9  Leander Paes          (IND,137)  vs Ville Liukko     (FIN,177) \
   Frantisek Cermak      (CZE,346)  vs Bjorn Phau       (GER,313) / \
   Sebastien De Chaunac  (FRA,217)  vs Takahiro Terachi (JPN,257) \ /
23 Marcos Ondruska       (RSA,161)  vs Satoshi Iwabuchi (JPN,279) /



10 Kimberly Po           (USA,127)  vs Mariam Ramon     (ESP,146) \
   Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND,207)  vs Jaslyn Hewitt    (AUS,920) / \
   Eva Bes               (ESP,163)  vs Stephanie Foretz (FRA,173) \ /
16 Kerry-Anne Guse       (AUS,135)  vs Lucie Ahl        (GBR,167) /
LP's draw does not look too difficult at all .. For Niru, after the first match, it gets tough .. As I type this, Niru is up 6-0, 1-1 on Jaslyn .. Go Niru .. LP's match later ..

Jan 12 Note-2

The qualifier draw ius out at the Australian Open and Leander, seeded 9th (his entry rank is #137 this week), is playing Ville Luikko (FIN,177) in the first round [5th match on court 8, at about 5 pm thursday, +/- an hour .. That is 11.30 am India .. 10pm Wednesday PST, USA] .. Nirupama gets an easy-looking first round match against wildcard Jaslyn Hewitt (AUS,920) in the first round [3rd match on court 11, about 1.00 pm Thursday .. 7.30 am India .. 6 pm PST Wed., USA] .. At the Hyderabad futures, Nitin Kirtane is the only Indian who reached the quarterfinals today .. More later .. As usual, we will have our chatroom open during the two matches starting in a few hours .. There will be ball-by-ball updates.

Jan 12 Note-1

Yikes .. Top seed Srinath and 6th seed Fazal fell in the first round at the Hyderabad futures .. Come on guys, get your act together! .. You both are supposed to be playing Davis Cup for India in a few weeks and this is not the way to start the year .. Srinath's loss was surprisingly bad (26 06), and he said it was the worst match he played in his life .. Fazal should have come ready to beat the qualifier he played too .. What's going on here ?? .. Well, let us wish them best still, and hope that they would both start playing well like they can .. Vinod Sridhar advanced against a qualifier, Sandeep and Nitin moved on, Saurav Panja beat SK Shivshankar and Vishal Uppal had a good win against an Indonesian .. See the Hyderabad futures page for scores from Tuesday.

We should know in the next 12 hours or so, about whom Leander is playing at the Australian Open qualies .. See the official site for draws which should come up by Thursday morning in Australia .. My update here may be a bit later.

Sunil Kumar reached the QF easily at the Thiruvananthapuram u18/u16 AITA tournament .. Amanjot Singh was beaten by Jaco Matthew of TN .. I stand corrected about the girls draw there .. Quite a few good players are there in the QFs (may have had bye in the first round), like Isha Lakhani, C Nandita, Sania Mirza, etc ..

Jan 11 Notes

The remaining three final qualifier matches were done at the Hyderabad futures yesterday and 6 main draw doubles first round matches were also done .. The main draw singles start today (Tuesday) .. Two seeded foreign teams lost in the doubles R1 yesterday .. For good news, two more Indians qualified in - S.K. Shivshankar and Vijendra Laad, joining Kamala Kannan who qualified yesterday .. I have not seen the draw yet, but the results are at the Hyderbad futures page.

There is a junior AITA ranking tournament (u18 and u16) at Thiruvananthapuram this week, and interestingly Sunil Kumar is playing out there .. There are some good junior boys there, but the girls draw looks rather week, except for Krushmi Cheddha and Kerala's Sandra Sashidharan, based on what I have seen so far .. I will add a page for the tournament if The Hindu continues to report the results.

Jan 10 Notes

By now I suppose everybody knows about Saurav-Srinath losing the doubles final yesterday, 5-7, 1-6 ..

I am out of town, but created a page for the Hyderabad futures underway .. Kamala Kannan qualified in, but Manoj and Rohan lost in the qualies .. Take a look at the Hyderabad futures page .. Again, my updates will be patchy till thursday.

Jan 9 Notes

The doubles final is starting right now at Chennai .. Check out http://www.goldflakeopen.com for the final score .. Since it is starting rather later after a long singles final, I will probably miss the final score .. As I will be away for a couple of days, there will only be small updates here from now till wednesday night in the US.

#4 seed Golmard won the titl in singles, beating Hantschk 63, 67, 63 just now.  Congrats to him.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Jan 9th ..

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.