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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Jan 18, 1999

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Jan 18 Note-1

The doubles draw at the Australian Open came out today - here is the top-quarter draw till the semifinal (the latest, Jan 18, individual rankings shown in brackets - I have also shown the year-end ranking of each team in 98, if they placed inside the top-400):

 1-Mahesh Bhupathi   [IND,  3] / Leander Paes      [IND,  4] (  2)  \
   Edwin Kempes      [NED, 92] / Peter Wessels     [NED,113] ( 37)  / \
   Francisco Roig    [ESP, 42] / Javier Sanchez    [ESP, 33] (---)  \ / \
   Doug Flach        [USA,101] / Mark Merklein     [USA, 84] (---)  /    \_
   Jared Palmer      [USA, 61] / Jeff Tarango      [USA, 53] ( 56)  \    / |
   Jamie Holmes      [AUS,154] / Todd Larkham      [AUS,169] (---)  / \ /  |
   Byron Talbot      [RSA,126] / Slava Dosedel     [CZE,160] (---)  \ /    |
16-David Adams       [RSA, 34] / John De Jager     [RSA, 35] ( 75)  /      |_ to SF
 9-Martin Damm       [CZE, 22] / Cyril Suk         [CZE, 11] (130)  \      |
   Richey Reneberg   [USA, 37] / Jonathan Stark    [USA, 43] ( 47)  / \    |
   Menno Oosting     [NED, 68] / Laurence Tieleman [ITA,135] (---)  \ / \  |
   Lan Bale          [RSA, 80] / Andrew Kratzmann  [AUS, 64] (---)  /    \_|
   Fernando Meligeni [BRA, 88] / Andre Sa          [BRA,132] (---)  \    /
   Wayne Arthurs     [AUS, 55] / Peter Tramacchi   [AUS, 54] ( 36)  / \ /
   Neil Broad        [GBR, 33] / Andrew Richardson [GBR,201] (---)  \ /
 7-Olivier Delaitre  [FRA, 12] / Fabrice Santoro   [FRA, 20] (  8)  /

The good news is that the draw till the semifinal is not exactly a very difficult one - the bad news is that the first round match is not all that easy - that match is very important, as LP-MB needs to get a win under their belt after 4 losses in a row in previous matches with injury problems .. The year-end team rankings give an indication of whether they have played together much, and Kempes/Wessels have indeed played a lot of doubles together (with 400 odd points last year) - those kinds of teams can trouble you if you are not 100% .. I would have liked an easier team at first .. But I believe LP-MB are fine, and none of this is a concern.

The other seeds in the upper half are 4-Ferreira/Leach, 14-Florent/MacPherson, 11-Eagle-Grabb, 6-Galbraith/Haarhuis in that order .. the bottom half has [5-Bjorkman/Rafter, 12-Johnson/Montana, 13-Norval/Ullyett, 3-Knowles/Nestor] in quarter 3 and [8-Lareau/OBrien, 10-Kafelnikov/Vacek, 15-Black/Stolle, 2-Woodbridge/Woodforde] in quarter 4 .. Certainly, our guys have the easiest quarter on paper ..

There are some so-called "dangerous floaters" - Kempes/Wessel, Palmer/Tarango, Reneberg/Stark, Arthurs/Tramacchi in Quarter 1, Mirnyi/Olhovskiy in Quarter 2, Goellner/Prinosil, Kuerten/Lapentti, Gimelstob/MacPhie in quarter 3, and Novak/Rikl in Quarter 4 .. Watch out for them.

There is the sophisticated (:-)) arm-chair analysis of the doubles draw .. We keep getting better at this .. Of course, no group of fans in the world follow the doubles scene more closely than the Indian Express fans, right ?

The doubles qualifiers have all been completed, I presume, though I have not seen the results .. Nirupama did not make it to the women's draw .. Also, the mixed doubles draw is not out yet - it should be out in a day or two.

Jan 17 Note-2

Leander lost his match to Davide Sanguinetti (ITA, #49), 4-6, 4-6, 1-6 .. We followed the match closely, with the constantly updated stats page at the official website .. Basically Leander seemed to be a bit rusty on his serve at first and made 5 double faults in the first 3 service games - it was a somewhat close set, but DS broke him in the 5th game and served it off at 6-4 .. LP had close to 20 unforced errors in the first set itself .. LP seemed to play better at the beginning of the second set, till he served two double faults in the 7th game to fall back one break and then lose the set .. He took Sanguinetti to a deuce in the 8th game, but he held and took the second set at 6-4 too .. At this point, it seemed as though Sanguinetti, who himself had been making a lot of unforced errors himself to cut down on the errors and start hitting a few more winners .. He broke LP in the first game of the 3rd set and it was basically over at that point .. Despite the 1-6 scoreline in the 3rd set, LP did win quite a few points off DS, had only one double fault and did not seem to be falling apart due to any effect from the old injuries or anything .. For the match, LP won about 70 points to DS' 90+ points, which indicates it wasn't a blowout .. I am not sure if we should be encouraged by this performance - but I feel that he may be fine now for doubles play .. A Leander who is not near 100% has often lost even worse than this in the past - so I take it as a positive that he did play a reasonable match, after a 9 week injury period (he hadn't touched the racquet till 12 days back! - though I didn't say it here, I fully expected a loss) .. I am hopeful of doubles .. If you want to feel better, remember that LP lost 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 to a not-so-hot Tillstrom last year at AO, when he was not coming off such a long layoff from singles! .. We will wait for any details from Nirmal Shekhar's report in The Hindu tomorrow.

The doubles draw is still not out.

The Asian challenge ended on the men's side, with the Asian wildcard Takeo Suzuki (Jpn, #115) going down after a huge 5-setter fight with 2nd seed Corretja .. He was even serving for the match in the 4th set when Corretja broke him back to take it to a tiebreaker and then pulled it off in the 5th .. Pretty impressive of the 22 yr-old Suzuki to be playing his first grand slam match on the center court against the #2 seed to pull up the curtains at the AO, and to do that much .. LP has a worthy one chasing him for the Asian #1 spot .. He plays in a similar style as LP too (according to LP) .. In this match he won 90+ points off 168 net approaches ! .. That style of play is not dead just yet.

Jan 17 Note-1

Leander Paes' first round match Monday at the AO is scheduled as the 3rd match on court 4, where the action starts at 10 am - so it should start at around 2 pm (8.30 am Monday India, 7 pm PST, Sunday, USA) .. Come to our chatroom for ball-by-ball score updates .. Sanguinetti was one of the more consistent players during 1998, coming up from below 150 in late 97 to top-100 by 1998, and then moving up to top-50 by mid-98 .. He prefers clay and had some of his best wins on that surface, but the proof of his all-court skills may be his quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon, the only grass tounrament he played last year .. The lowest ranked player he lost to last year was of course, Mahesh Bhupathi, at the Genoa Davis Cup (he did atone for that later with some good Davis Cup wins) .. He had a bad 6-1 6-2 loss to Vicente (#52) two weeks back at Doha, and then a 6-3 3-6 2-6 loss to Zabaleta (#59) at Auckland this week, both in first round - but he has certainly had better match practice than Leander, who has not played singles since that injury-plagued loss at Stockholm 10 weeks back .. How good this match turns out depends on what kind of playing shape Leander is .. That is totally unknown for now - let us keep our fingers crossed and have fun in the chatroom.

The second round of qualifiers at the Ahmedabad futures got done today .. According to Sharda Ugra of The Hindu, a few more top players have entered in this tournament - some who skipped Chadigarh because it is on grass which a lot of foreign players don't have the guts to play on (:-)) .. The top seed expected is Filippo Messori (#329) of Italy .. Srinath is the 4th seed, and the top seed at Chandigarh, Amir Hadad, is only the 7th seed at Ahmedabad .. The competition at these Indian tournaments has been amazing .. Timing is what causes a lot of it, as there aren't too many places to play at right now (too cold in most places around the world) .. Anyway, the qualies have been a bit more competitive too, with those like Karlovic who made the main draw at Chandigarh playing qualies .. Seven Indians made the second round, but only 3 are standing, going into the 3rd round to choose 8 qualifiers - Nitin Kirtane, Sandeep Kirtane and Saurav Panja (Pakistan's Aisam Quereshi is also in the final round) .. Artem Derepasko of Russia (a top-5 junior player in the world) who was in the main draw last week, is the top seed in the qualies and is in the final round .. I think Saurav plays Nitin and Sandeep plays Aisam in the qualifying round - so we will have a couple more subcontinentals in the main draw to go with 2 direct entries (Sri, Fazal) and 4 wildcards (Vinod, Harsh, Vijay, Vishal) .. Thank God for wildcards! .. Rohan Bopanna, Mustafa Ghouse, Anand Radhakrishnan and Praveen K Sreenivasan lost in the second round .. Sunu Thomas of USA, who has Indian ancestry, lost in the 2nd round too; Bobby Mahal, Canadian-Indian seems to be not playing here .. Manoj Mahadevan and S. Zaman lost in the first round .. I was expecting a bit more from Manoj and Mustafa this season, but these things happen .. See the results at the new Ahmedabad Futures page ..

Nirmal Shekhar's article in The Hindu says that Nirupama had fought off 5 match points off Kleinova's serve yesterday before losing .. Pity.

Jan 16 Note-2

Once again, Niru fell just a bit short in the final round of qualies, despite a huge fight till the end - amazing how often he goes down fighting hard in the final qualies .. Today it was a 4-6, 4-6 loss to Sandra Kleinova, but I don't think the scoreline tells you how close the match was .. there were 4 breaks by Niru and 6 by her opponenet, as it went back and forth, with the sets ending with Niru trying hard to break Kleinova once more to tie it up .. Niru was up a break at 4-2 in the second set, when she got broken and it became 4-3 .. She had Kleinova immediately at deuce, but she held for 4-4 .. then it waa Niru's turn to go up to deuce and Kleinova converted the one break chance she got there .. It was trouble with Kleinova serving at 5-4, and Niru couldn't get out of it, despite taking SK to two deuces for a last time .. The match stats seem to show that the only difference in this match was the 7 double faults from Niru (only 2 by SK) and her 36 unforced errors (25 by SK) .. Both had 18 winners each .. Niru won 63 points to 73 by SK .. The match took almost an hour and half, which tells you how closely fought each game was .. A few less errors from Niru could have pulled the match in her favor.

There was one upset in the final qualies today, as the second seed Watanabe went down to Dementieva .. So, I think Nirupama is now #3 in the waiting list for a luckyloser spot (behind Watanabe and Julie Pullin) .. I doubt if there will be three withdrawals from the main draw, but stranger things have happened.. There were a bunch of injuries to players in the last two weeks - Applemans had an injured wrist last week back at Gold Coast (she pulled out from the Hobart tourney this week), and then there were 4 injury retirements at the Hobart tourney - Brandi had an injured leg muscle, Morariu had an injured right elbow, Ruano-Pascual had a strained leg muscle, and then Halard-Decugis had a strained stomach muscle .. At Sydney this week, Spirlea retired before her second set with an injury too .. That is about 6 players who are hobbling just before the AO, as far as I know .. I would expect most of them to play though - so don't get your hopes up for Niru to make it in as the 3rd lucky loser .. We will see .. For now, she may try to get into the doubles qualifiers, though I am not sure if she will have a good enough partner to make the entry .. the qualifier doubles draw is not out yet. We will see it in a few hours.

Nirmal Shekhar of The Hindu is at Melbourne, and reports on Nirupama (excerpts): Nirupama Vaidyanathan seems to be playing the best tennis of her career. On Saturday, Nirupama played wonderfully aggressive tennis in beating Louise Latimer of Britain 6-3, 6-1 ... Nirupama has shed a little weight and is moving better than ever on the court. Against the British girl, who was hell- bent on running down everything, Nirupama didn't put a foot wrong as she served well and attacked relentlessly for a comfortable victory on a warm afternoon ... ``She's certainly gone up a notch or two since last year,'' said David O'Meara, the former Britannia Amritraj Trust coach who works with Nirupama during the major tournaments .. About Leander, Nirmal writes, On Saturday, Paes's coach, Bob `Nails' Carmichael did not seem terribly excited about Paes's level of preparation or his fitness ... ``He had a severe attack of bronchitis recently and he has just played one doubles match in the last two months. It's not ideal preparation. But let's see,'' said Carmichael .. Let us hope LP is in good playing shape.

The doubles draw is not out yet .. Some doubles news - Lareau/Nestor won the Sydney Open title Saturday, beating Haarhuis and his new partner Galbraith .. We should take Haarhuis-Galbraith as a pair who could make some noise this year .. todd Woodbridge played with Lleyton Hewitt at Sydney, as his Woodforde is still recovering from the freak finger injury on the non-serving hand .. Here is an article on the Woodies from The Age, that talks about whether they are on the way out .. It's good reading..

At the Chandigarh futures today, Amir Hadad made it a double crown by beating fello countryman Eyal Erlich .. The qualifiers have started for next week's Ahmedabad futures.. I have only seen a couple of qualifier results (only Indian Express reported it online) .. the Kirtanes are playing there, and both had first round qual wins today. Nitin beat Pirc Sasha of Slovakia 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, Sandeep had an impressive 6-1, 6-2 win over Krusic Gregor of Slovakia, Anand Radhakrishnan beat Kambargimath 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, and Rohan Bopanna beat Dyson Art of Canada 6-3, 6-1 ..

Jan 16 Note-1

Nirupama's final round qualifier match against Sandra Kleinova is scheduled for 11 am, Sunday, in Australia (5.30 am, Sunday, India and 4 pm Saturday, PST, USA) .. See the official scoreboard page during the match and come to our chatroom during the match for score updates (I may not be able to post the results here and at her page till a few hours later) .. Interestingly, with the number of lower-ranked players who have made it to the final round, Nirupama has a chance to be as high as #2 in the waiting list for a lucky loser spot, if there are no upsets in the other 7 matches - but realistically I expect her to end up around 3rd or 4th without much chance to get in if she loses, so she better win this match .. A lot of money is at stake for playing in the first round (I believe 7 or 8K extra dollars) and I am sure she will play her best today .. Incidentally, close to 40% of her total earnings of $28K last year came from that upset win in the first round at the Australian as the Asian wildcard entry.

As for Niru's opponent Sandra Kleinova - she seems to be playing well again, after a truly horrible year in 1998, when she slumped from a ranking around 40 to 165 .. Her best year was in 1997, which she started at around #125 and ended at near the top-40 .. In the 97 Australian Open, she was a qualifier entry who reached the main draw 3rd round with wins over Papadaki, Pratt, Serna, Whitlinger and Sidot .. She cracked top-100 then .. She kept moving up - reached the SF at Prostrojev, had wins over Van Roost, Kandarr, etc, at various places to get inside top-65, and ended the year at #42 with a win over Basuki at Leipszig and over Spirlea at Zurich .. But 1998 was a totally different story - she kept on losing in the first round of every tournament and ended with a 9 and 34 record with only one good win to show for the whole year, over Kruger at Hilton Head .. That's the summary, based on the WTA's database .. She is a good all-court player who likes to be at the baseline, likes carpet and hardcourt best, is not great on clay and has wins on grass too. Based on her easy win over Surina De Beer yesterday, she is in form again .. This will be a good match between her and Niru today.

On the men's side, it appears that the AO qualifier entry closed as low as around ATP 400 .. Guys like Paradorn Srichaphan, Takahiro Terachi, etc, were in it .. I believe Mahesh could have made the draw .. My guess is that he chose to take an extra week off in India, for rest after so many weeks of continuous playing .. He would have had to leave by Tuesday this week to get there and play the quals which started on thursday, and there was probably no guarantee that he would make the draw .. Plus, ATP gives way too few points (only 10 or 12) for qualifying in a grand slam, for three rounds of tough matches - so taking the extra rest is probably better for MB.

The wildcards for the second leg of the Gold Flake Aces futures circuit at Ahmedabad next week have been announced - they will go to Vijay Kannan, Harsh Mankad, Vinod Sridhar and Vishal Uppal .. I had to look again a few times to make sure that it was indeed Harsh Mankad in that list ! - it has not been often that he has got any help .. With the change in surface from grass, it may have been good for these guys to play some qualy matches, but considering the competition in the qualies, this is better .. Plus, they won't get all exhausted by the time they play the main draw first or second round .. I assume Srinath and Fazal are already in the main draw .. If Vijay doesn't find a good senior partner (such as Fazal or a good foreigner) what would be nice to see would be that Vijay Kannan - Harsh Mankad doubles pairing .. they are good friends but have not played together since winning the satellite masters and picking up 33 points in November .. Anyway, the qualies start today (Saturday) at Ahmedabad .. the Indians who have wildcards in the qualies are - Manoj Mahadevan, Rishi Sridhar, Vijendra Laad, Anand Radhakrishnan, Rohan Bopanna, Avinash Arun, Anjan Viplav and S K Shivshankar. As usual, S.Zaman, Mustafa Ghouse, Saurav Panja, etc will make the qualifier direct entry .. I wonder if the Kirtanes will be playing at Ahmedabad; they were missing at Chandigarh.

Jan 15 Note-3

Nirupama Vaidyanathan continues to show that Australia is her favorite tennis country .. She moved to the final round of the qualies by beating Louise Latimer (#165, GBR) easily, 6-3, 6-1 just now, in 63 minutes flat .. Once again she kept getting stronger as the match went on and would not let her opponent get back into it. The first set took 37 minutes and had one early trade of breaks before she broke Louise for a second time.  The second set was all Niru and was over in 26 minutes .. She won 79% of the points off her first serve to 58% for her opponent, and hit 17 winners to Latimer's 11 .. Niru gets 16 total points (4 bonus) for winning two rounds .. She can get an extra 8.5 points for winning the 3rd round qualies tomorrow and playing in the main draw.

In tomorrow's final round, she will not have to play a higher ranked player once again, as Sandra Kleinova (#161, CZE) upset the 15th seed Surina DeBeer (#145, RSA), 6-3, 6-1 just now, and will face Niru (#160) .. But, Sandra is not necessarily an easier foe - she was ranked as high as #41 early last year .. Niru will need to play her best once again.

At the Chandigarh futures, it was all Israelis today as they won 2 singles semifinals and a doubles final - all in comeback three setters .. In the doubles final, Fazaluddin and Cedric Kauffman lost, 7-5, 5-7, 4-6 to the second seeded Israeli pair, Erlich and Hadad .. Still a very good doubles tournament for Fazal who will make another big jump up in the doubles rankings with the 12 points for his first doubles final in a futures event .. All the reports are that Fazal has significantly benefitted, both in the game strategies and confidence on the doubles courts, after all his matches partnering Mahesh where Hesh got him to play his best .. The singles final is between top seed Hadad and 3rd seed Erlich .. See the results at the Chandigarh futures page.

Jan 15 Note-2

The singles draw has come out at the Australian Open .. Leander doesn't have a very easy draw, though it is not a killer draw .. Leander plays Davide Sanguinetti (ITA, #48) in the first round, and the winner plays the winner of the Karol Kucera (7th seed) vs Fernando Vicente match .. The others in the group of 8 looking to advance to final-16 are Marat Safin, David Prinosil and Guga Kuerten. The main draw matches starts from Monday.

They have not posted Saturday's qualifier schedule yet, so we don't know when Niru plays Louis Latimer.

Jan 15 Note-1

Good start for the year by Nirupama - she celebrated Pongal by taking out Eun-ha Kim (#174, KOR), 7-6(4), 6-0, just now, in the last match to be completed today at the Australian Open qualies !! .. The first set started rather evenly with each getting a break early, but as the set went on, Niru started getting stronger and stronger .. She took Kim to deuces in games 10 and 12, serving out her own games with no trouble at all .. In the tiebreaker, Niru got off to a quick start, getting two minibreaks off Kim to go up 3-0 - then she just had to hold on for a 7-4 tibreaker .. The first set took 59 minutes, but the second set was all Nirupama who finished it off in 20 minutes, not allowing Kim to even attempt to do anything! .. Niru firerd 5 aces to none by Kim .. The key stat is that she won 86% of her points on first serve, and hit 19 winners to 9 by Kim .. In the match, she won 73 points to Kim's 47 - basically it was domination by Nirupama here.

Louis Latimer (GBR, 165) upset the quals 6th seed Patricia Wartusch in 3 sets today, and so Niru will get to play a slightly lower-ranked player in the second round too (though it doesn't mean Latimer is an easy foe) !! .. That match will be tomorrow .. In the other half of her draw, Sandra Kleinova and Surina DeBeer are into the second round .. Niru gets 8 points for the qualy win including 2 bonus points .. It will all help, as she has 32 points to defend from last year's Aus Open first round win. Go Niru!!

Jan 14 Note-2

Forgot to give you a warning earlier - The Australian Open is here already !! .. I should remember that the sun rises down under almost a day earlier than here .. Anyway, it's already Friday there and Nirupama is scheduled to play the qualifier first round .. The matches have started, but she is scheduled to play the last match on court 19, against Eun-Ha Kim of Korea (#174) .. She has a reasonable draw, and has a chance to make it in with a couple of possible upsets. The draw is,

 6-Patricia Wartusch     (AUT,134) vs Louise Latimer     (GBR,165) \
   Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND,160) vs Eun-Ha Kim         (KOR,174) / \
   Sandra Kleinova       (CZE,161) vs Mashona Washington (USA,159) \ /
15-Surina De Beer        (RSA,145) vs Karen Cross        (GBR,152) /

Eun-ha Kim is not an easy matchup for Niru, but let's hope for the best .. Australia is 19 hours ahead of PST, USA, and 5.5 hours ahead of India, if anybody wants to check out the online score updates at the official AO site .. I will report the score at the Nirupama page during/after the match.

At the Chandigarh Open, the 1st seed Amir Hadad and the 3rd seed Jonathan Erlich, both of Israel are in the semifinal .. The good news is that Fazal and his French partner Cedric Kaufmann upset the top seeds Simon Aspelin (SWE) and Jocelyn Robichaud (CAN) today to reach the final !! .. This gives Fazal 12 points already, and he can make it 18 with a title .. This is Fazal's first doubles final in a futures event .. It is interesting that his first and only singles final (and title) came right there at Chandigarh last year .. He isis nicely making up for that tough early exit in the singles. Go Fazal !

Jan 14 Note-1

Good news - this week's news release from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) confirms that the extra challenger tournament this year, promised earlier by AITA has indeed entered the calendar! .. The $50K challenger, sponsored by Flash Sports (the sponsor of the $75K challenger last month and its repeat at the end of this year) will be from March 29 onwards at Delhi .. ITF also mentions that the 4-week satellites scheduled for next month (Feb 22 - Mar 20) remains, unfortunately, as a $20K circuit - what ITF calls a "developmental circuit", which I affectionately call a "developmental circus" .. My complaints apart, at least we will have some tournaments for our women, and that's good .. A press friend wrote to me saying it's not such a bad idea to have that circuit and I don't fully disagree, though I hate the idea that the players will have to play three weeks for no points and then play one week for up to 5 pts .. Our women players feel the same way too .. The argument in favor however is that, in the absence of a domestic circuit, they need tournaments with prize money to get some match practice .. Fair enough, as it is the equivalent of four weeks of 2.25 lakhs tournaments (with at best 3 to 5 foreign players) .. The problem is really not with AITA organizing it - my problem is with the ITF, who have this unjustifiably poor point system for the satellites for women (no such circus exits for men, who get up to 30-50 pts from 4-week satellites) .. I am not sure if our upcoming players like Sai and Manisha, who are already up near the top-600 would get motivated enough to play 4 weeks with not much chance for upward mobility (plus, there is the Bangkok Fed Cup coming during that period too) .. Anyway, back to the challenger - it's certainly nice to see Flash Sports and AITA sticking to their promise.

Talking of match practice for Indian women players, there was one domestic open tournament last week at Delhi that I did not report much on - Shruti Dhawan won the thing (I will try to add some results at our results pages soon) .. One interesting news item from there - an old name reappeared, and that is Nikhila Natrajan, now a correspondent for Indian Express, who tried out a comeback and won a couple of singles and doubles matches there .. Nikhila was a very promising under-14 player not too far back (with even a win over Nirupama once!) .. See what all the new enthusiasm for women's tennis in India can do! .. FYI.

Jan 13 Notes

Today wasn't good for Indians at the $10K Chandigarh futures - All three who made it to the second round lost to higher-ranked opponents, and perhaps only Harsh Mankad put up any sort of a fight .. Vishal Uppal, who looked very good in four matches here (three in the qualies) was expected to do better on his favorite grass surface, but was perhaps tired after those matches - Kamesh Srinivasan of The Hindu also mentions that the weather conditions may have made the grass surface a bit slow too .. As for Vinod Sridhar who lost today to the top-seed Amir Hadad (ISR), the surface does not suit his style and experience - but he shouldn't be too disdappointed after picking up a win here and an ATP point (all three got $200 each too - good money) .. The good news today was that Fazal and Cedric Kaufmann of France had a good doubles win, to make it to the semis - that gives them 6 points each .. Fazal's doubles rankings continues to improve; he seems to have decided to take it seriously too, playing with different partners and gaining valuable match practice .. See all the results in the Chandigarh futures page, which I have reorganized in the usual readable format.

In other news, the new rankings this week show Leander at 93, Mahesh up about 40 spots at 347 .. With the points from the challengers, Srinath and Fazal are at career-high 354 and 517 respectively .. Fazal will lose the 12 points this week from last year's Chandigarh futures, but should still be around 575 next week.

Jan 12 Note-2

Vishal Uppal has been playing some terrific tennis at the Chandigarh futures .. He arguably had the best wins in the qualifier rounds, and he followed it up today (Tuesday) with a terrific upset of the 3rd seed Martin Hromec !! - How about that ? .. As Vishal reportedly said, "If I cannot pull it off on this grass surface, where else?.." Yes, we still have some who clearly can dominate on grass with potent serve and volley tactics .. That was not all the good news of the day for India as 19-yr old Vinod Sridhar from the Krishnan Center, who I believe showed the best promise at the end of last year, has started the year off with a very good win too - over Bobby Mahal of Canada .. Vinod admitted to not being able to play serve and volley (no grass courts in Chennai!), but was good enough to still pull it off! .. With Harsh Mankad, who advanced yesterday, we now have three who have reached the second round and picked up a point each. Great .. Vishal and Todd Meringoff had a good win over Harsh Mankad and Mustafa Ghouse in doubles too, today .. Anyway, I am very glad to see three moving on - I had expected three to reach the second round - though Fazal and two of the current three was my calculation! .. See all the results at the Chandigarh futures page .. End of my quick note.

Jan 12 Note-1

One Indian qualified into the main draw and one indian lucky loser also moved in yesterday (Monday) .. The good news is that lucky loser Harsh Mankad played a second match on Monday and pulled a terrific win over Todd Meringoff to move to the main-draw final 16 ! .. The earlier good news of the day was Vishal Uppal, who has had a very good qualifier tourney, winning the 3rd round to enter the main draw (he hasn't played the first round yet) .. Otherwise there was plenty of bad news Monday, as 4 Indians lost in the qualifier final round, and then to make the day really rotten, three main draw wildcards (Fazal, Vijay Kannan, and Manoj Mahadevan) lost, though all in fighting three-setters .. Fazal had a very hard loss in a 3rd set tiebreaker to Andy Ram, one of the most promising young Israeli players (I believe it is the second loss for Fazal against Andi, from my memory) .. Same with Vijay and Manoj .. Vijay keeps running into top players, as he was beaten by the 3rd seed Erlich of Israel .. I don't think this policy of continuing to give Vijay wildcards is helping him in getting enough match practice through qualies, and I hope his confidence doesn't get shattered with these tough main draw losses one after the other ..

But the day clearly belonged to Harsh Mankad, who once again shows that AITA's policy of acting as though he does not exist among our young players is unfair .. He beat Todd Meringoff (ranked about 150 spots above him), 6-2, 6-2, in 69 minutes flat yesterday .. That is very impressive .. The win gives Harsh one point as well .. It shows good spirit on his part to come back after a qualifier loss earlier, to pull off a good win. .. I see that wildcard Vinod Sridhar and qualifier Vishal Uppal are to play the first round on Tuesday .. We are down to just these three already, from India.

By the way, Bobby Mahal of Canada (I believe still studying at UC Berkeley, and in their tennis team), who has some Indian ancestry, was one of the 8 qualifiers into the main draw .. Another is Aisam Quereshi of Pakistan .. See the Chandigarh results page ..

The tuesday matches must be done by now .. I have to run, I will update the scores from Tuesday, sometime within a day - sorry, I am a bit busy with the conference I am at..

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 ..

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending Jan 11 ..