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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Jan 21, 2002
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Jan 21 Note-1

Rains came down today after a couple of hours of play and most matches got postponed at the Australian Open .. LP's MxD match on Monday is potponed, as are the matches for Amanjot Singh, Megha Vakharia, etc.  Stephen Amritraj (USA) lost 26 16 to the 6th seed Luka Gregorc (SLO,9) .. That's it.

Here are the seeds at the ITF grade-3 junior event in Delhi that starts today -- Boys: 1. Jaco T. Mathew, 2. Rishi Behl, 3. Saurabh Singh, 4. Ivan Kokurin (UZB), 5. Prabowo Immanuel (INA), 6. Somdev Dev Varman, 7. Nihal  Advani, 8. Ivan Kovalev (KAZ) .. Girls: 1. Isha Lakhani, 2. Sanaa Bhambri, 3. Krushmi Chheda, 4. Nidhi Shah,  5. I-Hsuan Hwang (TPE), 6. Elina Arutyunova (UZB), 7. Nivedita Venkatesh,  8. Sandra Sashidharan .. Qualifying final: N. Kiran Kumar d. L. S. Ananth Bhaskar 36 63 62 .. V. M. Ranjeeth d. Jitin Bishnoi 62 64 .. Asaf Cohen (ISR) d. Anish Narang 61 61.. Lior Barbash (ISR) d. Tushar Garg 62 62 ...  I will start a page for results soon.

Jan 20 Note-4

LP plays his MxD second round on Monday at the AO .. L.Paes/ M.Oremans vs G.Etlis/ P.Suarez scheduled for 4.30 pm (11 am India .. 12.30 am SUN night, New York) +/- 45 min .. MB will play his R2 MxD on Tuesday.

The junior singles draws have come out at the Australian Open .. Not too good for our kids .. Sania Mirza is seeded #12 and has a winnable first round match against Ivana Jovanovich (NZL,152), but she would then run into one of two very talented but way under-ranked girls (Samantha Stosur of AUS or Nicole Pitts of USA - either could cause Sania serious trouble) .. Megha Vakharia gets a baptism by fire in her first grand slam junior draw, against the #2 seed Marion Bartoli (FRA,2) .. Amanjot Singh plays wildcard Robert Smeets (AUS), who is somewhat of an unknown, without any ITF or top Australian ranking (but he won a domestic u16 hardcourt event last month and got the wildcard it seems) .. Qualifier Stephen Amritraj of USA doesn't get a break, as he goes against the 6th seed Luka Gregorc (SLO,9) .. Sunitha Rao (USA) is unseeded this time and gets Natasha Kersten (AUS) .. Rohan Gajjar is not in the draw, but I think he will be the first lucky loser entry if anybody fails to show up.

The grade-3 ITF junior international starts in Delhi tomorrow .. Amanjot, Megha, Rohan, etc will miss this (and I believe Karan Rastogi is still recovering from the injury from two months back and has withdrawn, as well) .. Jaco, Isha, Sanaa, Tushar, etc get a great chance for big points .. ITF scheduling is a bit weird on this, giving this event a grade-3 status (60 pts for the winner) while giving the lower grade-3 status (40 pts for the winner) for the next two weeks' events (at Chandigarh and Kolkata) which should have been expected to have a few more kids who return from Australia! .. I wish the schedule had been switched around with Delhi coming after the other two events  .. If I am not mistaken, a grade-3 event has some more stringent requirements on hospitality, that is easier for AITA in Delhi to meet than the Chandigarh or Kolkata organizers .. Anyway, the qualies must have been underway today at Delhi for it.

Jan 20 Note-3

I have updated the AITA domestic calendar with the latest one .. The grasscourts nationals scheduled earlier for Feb 11th at Calcutta has now been postponed to march 25th ..

The Davis Cup Asia-Oceania region first round tie between India and Lebanon is during Feb 8-10 .. The first of two regional rounds followed by a world gorup qualifier this year, to qualify for the world group final 16 .. LP and MB will leave for Lebanon right after the WDC (Jan 29 - Feb 2) .. Harsh Mankad will get there during the same weekend, from the US .. The 4th member Rohan Bopanna and the reserve player Vijay Kannan are both listed in the entry list for the UAE futures during the Jan29-Feb3 week, and they should be getting to Lebanon after that, as well .. Hardly any news about the tie, but I believe they will be playing it indoors (perhaps at the Kahraba indoor courts in Zouk, where they have played some Davis Cup ties in the past) .. Not sure of the surface either ..  If India advances, we will probably travel to New Zealand for the next round (unless Indonesia upsets NZL in NZL in the regional first round, in which case INA comes to India) .. The Lebanon trip is the 5th consecutive foreign trip for Davis Cup for us and we may possibly end up playing a 6th away tie as well, after that!

Jan 20 Note-2

MB and his usual partner Likhovtseva advanced to the round of 16 with a rather easy win in the very last first round match at the AO .. [R1] #2 Mahesh Bhupathi / Elena Likhovtseva (RUS) vs Brian MacPhie (USA) / Lori McNeil (USA), 64 64 .. They traded breaks at first and a break in the 8th game took care of the first set for our pair .. In the second set, MB-EL had NacPhie down 15-40 and converted the second break point to go ahead 5-4 .. Elena served off the final game to finish the one hour 13 minutes match .. The key was that MB-EL stayed away from trouble, facing only one break point the whole match, while converting 3 of 13 chances they had off the other pair .. 4 aces, 2 double faults, 8 winners and 7 unforced errors from MB-EL (5, 0, 13 and 2 by BM-LM) .. The other team played mistake-free tennis but Hesh and Elena were too strong to get past, despite a few more errors they made ..

MB-EL now face the Aussie pair, Sandon Stolle and Annabel Ellwood .. LP-MO face the Argentinians, Gaston Etlis and Paola Suarez .. LP is in the upper half of the draw and MB in the lower half .. Only #2, #6 and #7 seeds remain in the mixed doubles draw after just one round .. Seeds falling early is not that unusual in grand slam mixed doubles, but the 64 61 upset of the top seeds Woodbridge-Stubbs by Michael Hill and Caroline Vis was rather surprising .. Top seeds Bjorkman-Woodbridge were upset in the R2 of doubles as well - by Vibulec-Vacek .. Santoro-Llodra who upset LP-MB won another round and are in the QF now.

The juniors draw will be out soon at the AO.

Jan 20 Note-1

LP and his new partner Miriam Oremans must have clicked well together, as they upset the 5th seeds in straight sets today - [R1] Leander Paes/ Miriam Oremans (NED) d. #5 Donald Johnson (USA)/ Els Callens (BEL), 76(5) 64 .. I don't have the break sequences of the match but bith teams had 8 break chances each, with LP-MO converting two and the others one among those .. LP fastes serve was at 115 mph (184 kph), but they had no aces to 7 by the opponents .. Both teams won over 70% of the first serve points and 50 % in second serves, according to the AO site's stats .. 9 unforced errors by LP-MO to 12 by the others .. 8 winners by our team to 13 by the others .. 85 pts by the Lee-Mi and 80 by Do-Els .. The stats generally favor the other team, but the extra beak conversion decided the match, which took an hour and 35 minutes to complete.

Jan 19 Notes

Mahesh reportedly had a hip flexor injury problem during practice before the first round doubles match at the AO .. I hope he will be recovered by the WDC time, though I think that is the kind of injury that may be a lingering one .. He must be in playing shape though, as I see his MxD match on the schedule for sunday .. Also playing is LP in MxD .. [R1] #2 Mahesh Bhupathi / Elena Likhovtseva vs Brian MacPhie / Lori McNeil .. The match should be at around 6.30 pm (Sunday 1 pm India .. 2.30 am NY) .. [R1] Leander Paes/ Miriam Oremans (NED) vs #5 Donald Johnson (USA)/ Els Callens (BEL) .. This match should be at around 5 pm (Sunday 11.30 am India .. 1 am NY) .. Once again, I raise my obligatory objection to these two playing mixed doubles and wasting time - but we will cheer them though, now that they are playing it! :-)

The qualifying rounds have got done for the Australian Open juniors, with Stephen Amritraj (USA) making it in and Rohan Gajjar ending up as the first lucky loser in waiting, once again .. Last week Rohan made the main draw of the grade-1 Aus Hardcourts as the first lucky loser - hopefully he will make it in again .. I believe Amanjot Singh, Sania Mirza and Megha Vakharia had made the direct entry to the main draw at AO .. Here are the scores from the two rounds of qualies done on Saturday:  [Qual Round 2] #2 Stephen Amritraj (USA,76) d. #15 Vladimir Zdravkovic (YUG,135) 36 63 62 .. #14 Daniel Sebescen (YUG,134) d. #6 Rohan Gajjar (IND,85) 60 64 .. [Qual Round 1] #2 Stephen Amritraj (USA,76) d. Greg Chaine (AUS,558) 63 63 .. #6 Rohan Gajjar (IND,85) d. Dejan Cvetkovic (CAN,238) 61 36 63 .. #12 Sratha Saengsuwarn (THA,122) d. Rishi Behl (IND,147) 63 46 63 .. #14 Daniel Sebescen (YUG,134) d. Sujay V Reddy 75 61 .. Lauren Cheung (AUS,318) d. #14 Sasha Abraham (IND,207) 64 61

I am puzzled by Sasha Abraham, who was ranked near #150 as a 15 yr old a year back but has not been winning any decent matches for a long time .. I remember her giving trouble in late 2000 in South Africa to talented top-100 players like Maretha Van Niekirk, but those days seems to be long past .. Wonder what happened? .. I think her ranking will soon fall to somewhere near 250.

Jan 18 Note-3

Just found a mention of a muscle injury that Mahesh has, in the Hindutsan Times report of the first round doubles match .. That may explain the problems that our guys had in the second round .. Unfortunate, but it does not seem to be a serious injury - I will try to find out more .. They said after the first match itself that they were lucky to win it (LP had to save two match points in the 10th game of the 3rd set before winning the R1 match at 7-5 in the 3rd).

Well, OK, now I can let the cat out of the bag .. I have been wishy-washy about what Nirupama Vaidyanathan has been up to .. Nirupama, who is expecting to be off the tour for a while due to injury, is getting married!! .. She tells me that some newspapers have sniffed out the story already and so I can let the news out .. She will get married on May 23rd in Coimbatore to an Indian software professional she knows from the San Fransisco bay area .. Congratulations, Niru! .. I had no clue about it when I met her and Sanjeev at the Stanford WTA qualies a few months back (not really .. Actually I am quite perceptive and knew something was up, then itself :-)) .. She has been carrying a neck/ shoulder injury for a while, as I had reported earlier - but it's not clear if she would need some sort of surgery ..  She needs to be away for at least 6 months to use the injury protected rankings on her return .. So it seems to be a good idea to use the injury layoff time to take care of marriage as well, rather than to have another disruption of her career in the future .. She swears that she will not disappoint us by changing any of her tennis goals - she will be back in 4 to 6 months .. Let us all wish the lady all the best!  .. This is the year of the weddings in Indian tennis, eh? ..

It seems the WDC in Bangalore from Jan 29th will be called the World Doubles Challenge .. ATP, in their usual clueless ways, seems to have made a big "splash news" that there will be no ATP points for this, and so it is not exactly the year-end WDC - but the champions will be called the World Doubles Champions .. Of course, they did not mention that the usual november WDC does not carry individual doubles points as well, and only gives race points in the normal course (the race points normally not being large enough to change the year-end rankings all that substantially anyway)  .. So there isn't anything really different and I don't understand why ATP can't just call it the 2001 World Doubles Championships itself - after all, the indications are that there will be a better field this time than at the previous couple of WDCs too! .. So an unnecessary press item comes out with no effect other than to undermine the status of one of their own tournaments .. Jeez, ATP's cluelessness in media work never ceases to amaze me .. Anyway, the good news is that KSLTA has found a title sponsor too! .. Touchtel will sponsor it .. I wonder if any $400K event has been ever organized with just 2 weeks notice (thanks pretty much solely to ATP's incompetence) -- Indians are getting a reputation for being able to put these things together fast .. Good job by everybody.

The grade-4 ITF junior international in Sri Lanka concluded today with the 2nd seeded Jaco Mathew winning the boys title beating young Divij Sharan seeded 6th, 61 76(4) .. Top seeded Nanditha Chandrasekhar went down to Udanthi Narahenpitage (FRA) 26 46 in the final .. Udanthi, who beat Nandita in the final is a Sri Lankan born girl from France who surprised everybody out there (including 2nd seed Erico Wada of Japan) .. 2nd seeds Brian Hung and Lai Xiao Peng of Hong Kongbeat top seeds Jaco Mathew and Somdev Varman 62 75 in the boys doubles final .. This event had realtively poor participation for a grade-4 event, as a lot of top-125 players are in Australia .. In earlier results, Divij had upset the 3rd seed Brian Hung of Hong Kong 64 36 75 in the QFs .. Jacco had beaten Franklyn Emmanuel of SRI, 61 63 in the QF and 4th seed Somdev Dev Varman in the semis .. Divij beat Harshana Godamanne (SRI) in the semifinal .. Nanditha beat Punam Reddy 63 64 in the SF .. Vandana Murali was upset 63 61 by Udanthi in the other girls semifinal [sources: Daily News, The Island, Sri Lanka] .. The grade-4 Delhi ITF event starts on Monday ..

Jan 18 Note-2

Nothing much went right today for our guys and the AO plans came toa grinding halt .. M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes l. M.LLodra/ F.Santoro, 36 46 .. A story of 4 missed break points, basically .. [set-1] Things went on serve till 2-2 .. LP-MB had a great chance to go ahead in the first set at 15-40 off Llodra's serve in the 5th game, but they could not convert either point .. Then MB dropped serve in the next game, where he double faulted once and the other guys converted their first break chance to take a 4-2 lead .. The set was over at 6-3 .. Letting the two break chances go was the real mistake for our guys .. The serve speeds seemed to be somewhat unusually low from our guys - some even as low as 65 mph and they only won about 40% of second serve points .. that was a problem, though they won 18 of 21 first serve points .. [Set-2]  After MB held serve easily in the first game, our guys took Llodra to a deuce, but he managed to hold on again .. Our guys' serves seemed to really pick up some pace in the second set and they held serve without problems the first three time .. At 3-3, LP, who was holding serve easily till then, was down 0-30 .. After coming back to 30-30, he cranked up the fastest serve of the day from our guys at 177 mph, but still lost the point to face a break point .. Once again ML-FS converted the one chance they had and the Indian Express was in big trouble, down 3-4 .. They had Santoro down 0-30 immediately, and forced 15-40 double break chances .. Helped by an ace, Santoro won 4 points in a row and our guys had now gone 0 for 4 in BP chances .. That was the end of that .. Our guys held serve to 4-5 but Llodra served it off easily for the win .. Darnit ..  The match took an hour and 2 minutes.

Jan 18 Note-1

Just got back from travel .. Sorry for the very limited updates for the last 5 days.

LP-MB second round match at the AO against Mikael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro has just started (FRIDAY 5 pm there .. 11.30 am India .. 1 am NY) .. Come to our chatroom!

LP-MB won the first round yesterday, 62 57 75 over J.Knowle/ M.Kohlmann .. Tough match but they pulled it off somehow in the end.

Jan 16 Notes-1

Quick updates .. LP-MB play Julian Knowle (AUT) and Michael Kohlmann (GER) in the first round at the Australian THURSDAY (wednesday night in the USA) at about 5.30 pm Australia (+/- 1 hr) .. That is 12 noon India (1.30 am NY) .. LP and MB are in the MxD draw .. MB is seeded #2 with usual partner Elenea Likhovtseva .. Lisa Raymond is playing with somebody else, and LP is playing with Miriyam Oremans - they are not seeded .. Sania Mirza had two good wins, first over Daniella Dominilovic of Australia and then over #47 Linda Smolenikova, but she fell in the final-16 against a talented Elke Clijsters (Belgium) at the grade-1 Australian Hardcourts. Only the 2nd or 3rd top-50 win for Sania - decent show there .. The most interesting news is from Bangalore -- The WDC is coming! .. The postponed and then cancelled World Doubles Championship of 2001 is finally being held! .. From Jan 29 to Feb 2nd ! .. That is in the week after the Australian Open .. Wow, talk about ATP waiting till the last minute .. It seems that KSLTA in Bangalore got the final word of OK from ATP only last night .. I had heard that this was coming through, waited for the final word, and had given up on the thing happening .. Good show, except that it puts a bit of a monkey wrench on the Davis Cup preparations .. More later ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Jan 14 ..

I am getting some inquiries 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 inquiring 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 inquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.