Notes for the week ending on Jan 22, 2001
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Jan 22 Note-1
Leander also went down in mixed dubles second round, which completes a pretty unproductive trip to the Australian Open for our boys - though they both seemed to play well and all the losses were close ones .. #3 E.Ferreira/ C.Morariu d. L.Paes/ L.Raymond, 75 76(3) .. Our guys actually stayed close in the match, due to converting both the break chances they had, as opposed to 3 of 7 by the other guys .. 63 points to 77 by the opponents, which means the other guys were playing somewhat better ..
Jan 21 Note-2
Mahesh's campaign at the AO ended just now .. P.Tramacchi/ R.McQuillan d. #7 M.Bhupathi/ A.Sugiyama, 76(3) 76(6) .. Yet another close loss .. The stats were all close, with the Australians converting 1 of 4 break chances and our pair converting 1 of 5 .. Actually, this was one of tha very rare cases when the losing teams actually won more points than the winning team - 86 to 82 .. I could not follow the match online, and have no other details on it - basically it came down to closing out tiebreakers again, I guess .. Let us hope LP and Lisa would keep it going .. They will be playing soon, by about 2.30 pm there.
No news on how the qualies have gone at the Bangalore futures .. Also starting Monday is the ITF Grade-4 junior international in Delhi, wher Amanjot Singh, Vinod sewa, Rohan Gajjar, etc will be playing along with Sania Mirza, Megha Vakharaia, Nandita Chandrasekhar, etc, on the girls' side.
Jan 21 Note-1
At the Australian Open, LP and MB .. are both playing on Monday (Sunday night USA) .. Mahesh and Sugiyama play Rachel McQuillan and Peter Tramacchi at 11 am on Court 3 (that is 5.30 am India .. 12 am London .. 4 pm SUN Los Angeles) .. Then Leander and Lisa Raymond play 3rd seeds Ellis Ferreira and Corina Morariu on court 2 at about 1.30 pm (8 am India .. 6.30 pm SUN Los Angeles) .. Finally Sunil Kumar plays his first round in the junior draw, the 5th match on court 5 at about 6 pm (12.30 pm India .. 11 pm SUN Los Angles) .. Some of us fans will be in the chatroom, on and off, during the matches.
The junior draw came out today and Sunil Kumar did not get any breaks, as he is drawn to face the 2nd seed Roman Valent of Switzerland, the 3rd ranked junior payer in the world .. Parakash Amritraj (USA) faces the 10th seed Santiago Gonzales of Mexico .. The two terrific kids from Taiwan, Yen Hsun Lu and Yeoo-Tzuo Wang are the 3rd and 5th seed respectively .. Unseeded Pramote Malasitt of Thailand is the only other Asian in the draw .. On the girls' side, the 7th seed is Sunitha Rao of USA .. There are three Taiwanese girls there - 16th seed Su-Wei Hsieh, along with unseeded Chia-Jung Chuang and Chin-Wei Chen .. From Indonesia, Angelique Widjaja is the 13th seed and Dea Sumantri is unseeded .. Da-Jung Hong (KOR) is the other Asian in the draw .. India, Thailand and Japan have no representative this time on this time.
Good news from yesterday at the Kolkata futures, as Fazal and Tomashevic picked up another title, running their win streak to eight matches .. They beat Levinsky and Navratil, 76(6) 62 .. 6th seed levinsky won the singles title, beating the 3rd seed Martin Spottl, 76(3) 76(3) .. See the Kolkata futures page .. The next futures is at Bangalore, and some qualifying results may be kown soon .. The entry list I saw did not show Sri and Fazal playing there, but that may not be the final list .. We will know soon.
Jan 20 Notes
Leander and Lisa Raymond also started their campaign well yesterday, serving accurately for an easy win .. L.Paes/ L.Raymod d. T.Perry/ B.Stewart, 64 61 .. The key stat was the 81 percent first serves for our pair .. The match took an hour and 9 minutes, and they were hardly troubled much .. The opppnents were unable to convert any of the five break points they had and LP-LR made use of 4 of the 11 chances they had ..
Both leander and Mahesh have an off day on Sunday at the AO ..
The bad news yesterday was the fighting loss for Srinath in an up and down match at the Kolkata futures semifinal .. He went down 64 36 67(5) to the 6th seed Levinsky .. A very good tournament for Sri, despite the loss - good to see him back .. Fazal and Tomashevic will be playing the doubles final today.
Here is a very interesting article in the The Hindu by Kalyan Ashok on how successful last week's futures at Jorhat was, and on the wonderful hospitality provided there .. Raktim Saikia, the well-liked secretary of the Assamese Tennis Association and all his friends there deserve kudos .. The foreign players seemed to have been shocked to see how nicely the event was conducted. It was good to see such a nice competitive field there, too.
Jan 19 Notes
Mahesh and Ai Sugiyama have started their run on a winning note .. M.Bhupathi/ A.Sugiyama d. D.Rikl/ K.Habsudova, 75 76(9) .. MB-AS converted their first break chance at AD out, to go up in the 3rd game of the first set .. It didn't last, as DR-KH broke right back in the next game to tie it at 2-2 .. Our pair had a break chance in the next game as well, but they couldn't make use of it .. Mahesh served another love game .. Two doublefaults by Habsudova gave our pair two more break chance in game 6, which also went wasted .. Actually MB-AH had break chances in about every other game .. Then they got a break in the 11th game and picked up the set at 7-5 .. In the second set, there were some more trading of breaks, but it went in the end to a long tiebreaker .. MB-AS went up a minibreak at 5-4 with Rikl doublefaulting, but Mahesh did the same and it was back on serve .. At 9-9, Mahesh served an ace to go up 10-9 .. This was followed by a double fault by Habsudova to end the match .. The match took an hour and 45 minutes, and was close throughout with our pair winning 95 points and the opponents 90 points .. 67% in first serves by MB-AS and 58 % by DR-KH .. The rest of teh stats were all about identical .. 6 aces by MB-As, 5 by DR-KH .. 4 of 11 in break chances by MB-AS and 3 of 7 by the other ones .. And our pair move on!
Jan 18 Note-2
7th seeds Mahesh and Ai Sugiyama play the first round in mixed doubles on Friday at the AO, against David Rikl and Karina Habsudova .. 4th match on court 18, scheduled to start at around 4 pm (that is 10.30 am India .. 5 am London .. 9 pm THURS Los Angelesz) .. Come to the chat room ..
As for the Indian Epress, they were in a devastated mood after the first round loss, but vowed to fight on .. In my email to the fanclub before the match, I mentioned a little problem we have all seen lately from LP and MB, both in singles and in doubles together - which was that they seemed to be suddenly having some problems while being up, in closing out sets - something they were very good at, before .. Same thing seemed to have happened in the match against Eagle-Florent .. They were up with a break at the right time in game 11, but dropped serve while serving for the first set .. Fell behind 2-6 in the tiebreak, pulled up to 5-6 and then lost it .. In the second set, they dropped serve first, then won 4 in a row to go up a break at 4-1, and once again had trouble staying ahead, losing the next 5 games in a row .. It's a strange pattern which has repeated many times recently, but I think it comes down to just some little bit of "edge" they need to still get back .. Don't despair - I would be much more worried if they ever started getting blown away by good teams .. Nothing like that - they seems to be losing some very close sets by the skin of their teeth every time .. They will be fine; give them time .. One other problem they have always had was that they were slow starters in most tournaments - struggling a bit in the first couple of rounds against lesser teams, but they were able to play themselves into events, as they were not facing the seeds early .. Now they have a bit of a problem, because of the ranking .. LP's ranking needs to come up by about 30-40 spots from the 80+ it is at now, and then they will be seeded in all big events .. Not a big deal -- as in the case of their initial climb up the ladder in 1997, a win at a Super 9 or something will do the trick (as at Montreal in 1997) .. I am waiting to see them at Indian Wells in a few weeks - I will be there, and I am sure they will get going, with the best fan cheering them on and all that! :-)
We have some great news from Kolkata, as we seem to have our old #3 back, just on time for the upcoming Davis Cup in three weeks .. Srinath is kicking some serious behinds this week .. Today it was the 2nd seed, #367 Tomashevic who got kicked around by Srinath Prahlad at the Kolkata futures .. A 64 60 shellacking from Sri, who fired in 5 aces and had everything going his way, strangling the Uzbek in the process .. This is terrific news, and I am sure Ramesh Krishnan and Nandan Bal must be the happiest men out there to see the sudden resurgence of Srinath - as it was unclear if Mahesh would be able to play two singles matches along with doubles, due to shoulder concerns .. It was looking all gloomy in the ITF circuit back home, and we really needed Sri to get back to his old ways .. Welcome back, dude! .. We missed ya! .. Srinath plays the semifinal against the 6th seed Jaroslav Levisnsky tomorrow .. Say what you want about him being 27 and supposedly "over the hill" and all that, but when he is healthy and playing like he can, Srinath is undoubtedly the Indian #3 .. Hope he stays healthy .. In doubles, Fazal and Tomashevic continued their winning streak, reaching semifinal today .. Kannan-Bopanna had reached semi yesterday .. See the Kolkata futures page.
The subcontinental ITF junior series has started this week in Sri Lanka with a grade-4 event .. The tour now continues through four grade-4 events at Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata, followed by Rajshahi (Bangladesh) and then a grade-3 finale at Dhaka in successive weeks .. Good news today from Sri Lanka, as Amanjot Singh won the boys title and 40 points .. Amanjot was the runner-up there last year, with Sunil Kumar winning the title .. This time Amanjot won it over Jaco Matthew (from BAT, I believe) .. That is a good start for the year by 16 yr old Amanjot - he needs to pick up at least an extra 100 points in the next 3-4 weeks to poise himself for a run at bigger events with a top-70 rankings (he is at #116 this week) .. On the girls' side, Nandita Chandrasekhar was the defending champ, but went down in the semis this time - not too many Indian girls seem to have gone there this time .. 16 yr old Jacco Matthew will move up around 200 spots from his #408 ranking with the runner-up finish .. He was also the doubles champ this week, winning a gruelling 76 67 76 final with Yahya Dannio of Malaysia, against Liu Tai Wei and Ching Yao Lun of Taiwan .. That took 2.5 hours, before he played the singles final against Amanjot, losing 26 46 .. The caravan moves to Delhi this coming week.
Jan 18 Note-1
The seeds have remarkably been holding, which is not very usual in grand slam doubles .. the 9th, 10th, 11, 12th and 14th seeds won today, following the top 6 seeds' win yesterday .. That means our pair went down, as they were playing the 10th seeds .. What else to say ? .. It is quite disheartening - and so we continue to wait for our pair to get back to their best form, which has lately been seen only in a couple of matches in their Tokyo Open title in October and then in a couple of matches at the WDC last month .. Eagle-Florent d. Paes-Bhupathi, 76(5) 64 .. I have no energy to write anything else on this.
Jan 17 Note-3
AO mixed doubles: LP is playing MxD with Lisa Raymond, and MB is playing with Ai Sugiyama .. LP-LR play Todd Perry and Bryanne Stewart in the first round and MB-AS play David Rikl and Karina Habsudova - not scheduled yet .. MB-AS are seeded 7th, drawn to face the top seeds Woodbridge-Stubbs in the QF .. LP-LR are unseeded, and are drawn to face 3rd seed E.Ferreira-Morariu in the second round .. As I say before every grand slam, I am generally never in favor of our guys playing mixed doubles these days (I think all it gives is more chances to get injured, unless one goes all the way and wins it or something, which is always something) .. But there is an old malayalam (tamizh?) saying about "aaTiya kaalum paTiya vaayum" (legs that danced and throats that sang) being very tough to force off the big stage, especially when they can still dance and sing pretty well! .. Tough to get our two champs to stop playing MxD; they enjoy it too much, and they are way too good at this stuff .. OK, there is my obligatory complaint, before cheering them in MxD :-)
Jan 17 Note-2
The Indian Express will get going on Thursday (tonight in the US) at the AO, facing the #10 team Joshua Eagle and Andrew Florent of Australia .. They play the 5th match on the big show court 1, following the Hingis-Seles match againt the top seeds Raymond-Stubbs .. The start time should be about 5.30 pm (12 noon India .. 6.30 am London .. 1.30 am WED night, New York), perhaps a bit later .. The chatroom will be active, as usual during the match.
As in singles, the seeds have held up well so far in the first round at the Australian - Top seeds Nestor/ Stolle, #2 E.Ferreira/ Rikl, #3 W.Ferreira/ Kafelnikov, #4 Bjorkman/ Woodbridge, #5 Lareau/ O'Brien, #6 Kulti/ Mirnyi, #13 Hill/ Tarango, #15 Gimelstob/ Humphries, etc have all won .. The top few seeds are some strong teams .. The only big casualties today were the 7th seed and current WDC champions, Johnson-Norval going down to the Chennai semifinalists, Cermak/ Fukarek ..
At Kolkata today, Srinath pulled off another upset, this time a 63 62 job on the 8th seed Donovan September, to reach the quarterfinals .. Fazal went down 67(6) 36 to Luke Milligan of Britain, though .. Rohan Bopanna and Vijay Kannan, who had upset Ghouse-Uppal earlier, pulled off a long upset win today to reach the semifinals of doubles .. They beat Viktor Bruthans and Joseph Nesticky, ranked a 1000 spots above them in sum-rank .. I will update more results in the Kolkata page soon.
Jan 17 Note-1
I finally got the official info sheet for the Kolkata futures; but it confused me .. It said, "South Club", but the surface was listed as "red clay", not grass .. Just got confirmation from a player's dad that it is indeed being played on clay .. So, I stand corrected .. Heck, when I hear South Club, I think of only grass - and info was coming very slow to me to confirm .. But really, what the heck are they doing, playing on clay there? :-) .. That makes Fazal's upset of Suwandi seem more impressive to me, than it did yesterday! .. 4th seed Suwandi (#420) is a very good clay player, as are all Indonesians .. Fazal should get more credit for his abilities on clay than he has been getting.
Jan 16 Note-2
The doubles match had a packed crowd - should easily be the largest crowd Niru has ever played in front of .. The Williams sisters did not disappoint the crowd .. S.Williams-V.Williams d. R.Kolbovic-N.Vaidyanathan, 61 63 .. Renata started serve in the match and held, aided also by three unforced errors from the sisters .. In game 3, Niru went through 5 deuces, with the sisters breaking her on their 4th break chance .. Our girls did fight in the next game, taking the sisters to three decues including a break point, but they couldn't convert it .. Then Renata dropped serve, and it went downhill from there, with the Williams' getting stronger, and RK-NV unable to hold serve at all .. The Williams won 11 games in a row, when Niru decided that she wasn't going without holding serve .. She held in game 6 of the second set .. Then they broke Venus Williams in the next game to make it 2-5 as well .. The next game saw two match points with Renata double faulting once (she had quite a few double faults in the match), but our girls held on to prolong it .. Then Serena served off the next game for the 61 63 win .. Nice little fight by our girls in the end, but of course you need much much more than that to beat the opponents they had today .. The sisters were 5 of 13 in break chances, and RK-NV were 1 of 3 .. Our girls won 45 points and the sisters won 68 points .. The match took 55 minutes .. I am sure this was a big experience for Niru.
Jan 16 Note-1
I promise this is the last late update, for now .. Changed our house today and it took a bit of time to hook up the computer and get going ..
Nirupama is on the schedule for wednesday at the Australian Open -- doubles first round with Renata Kolbovic, against the mighty Williams sisters .. The match is the 4th and final one on show court 1 .. Start time is about 3.30 pm there (10 am India .. 4.30 pm London .. 11.30 pm Tuesday New York), may be up to an hour later .. We will have chat while following the live scores in our chatroom during the match ..
By the way, Nana Miyagi is injured and that's why Niru had to scramble and squeeze in with Renata as the last direct entry into doubles .. Actually Rohit Brijnath had a terrific article at the rediff.com site yesterday about qualifiers, which talked about how Nirupama's ground pass for AO was ending on the 14th and how the players in the qualies become nobodies if they didn't qualify -- about the agony and ecstacy of the qualies and on LP and Niru going down; quite a brilliant piece of writing, as Rohit Brijnath so consistently produces .. Anyway, Niru did become "somebody" by making the doubles draw, I guess .. Now, she will really become "somthings else" if a miracle happens somehow - but these are the Williams sisters we are talking about and even the best optimist in me has gone hiding! ..
The good news today was from Kolkata, where Fazal and Sri pulled off nice upset wins .. Fazal upset the 3rd seed Suwandi Suwandi of Indonesia, and Srinath beat Oliver Freelove (5th seed last week, and actually wold be seeded this week had the first and 3rd seeds withdrawn instead of being no shows .. Fazal's win is not as much of a surprise, as he has been in decent form and this is his home turf, the South Club grasscourts .. Srinath on the other hand had looked like he wasn't able to even buy a win, returning from injury and being rusty .. To see him win on grass, not his preferred surface, is great! .. By the way, both Vijay Kannan and Mustafa Gouse had qualified in yesterday, but went down today, along with Vishal Uppal and Saurav Panja, the wildcards (the 4th wildcard, Anand Radhakrishnan had lost yesterday) .. Good to see at least Fazal and Sri keeping flag fluttering for now! .. see the Kolkata futures page.
A terrific win (finally!!!) to report for Sunil Kumar! .. Yesterday at the prestigious Grade-1 Australian Hardcourts tournament, Sunil Kumar upset the 5th seed and world #9 Michal Kokta of Czech republic, 61 16 63 .. The bad news was that today he went down to Lester Cook of the US, in a close three-setter, 63 26 57 .. Lester is very talented, ranked #77 but rising .. The win over Kokta is the first top-10 win for Sunil (and a first for any Indian in many many many years!); actually he had had only one top-50 win before .. It is exciting to see him begin to win some big ones like that .. He needs to learn to be consistent though .. Winning one rund at this tournament gives the same points (30) as a title in a grade-5 event .. 16 yr old rajeev Ram from the US was a qualifier at the same event, and has won two rounds, including an upset of the 16th seed there .. Prakash Amritraj went down in the first round.
College news from US -- Harsh Mankad reached the Big-10 conference singles championship final yesterday .. I am not sure of the results in the evening final - he was to play the second seed Jason Marshall of Purdue University (I believe Jason was a doubles partner for Srinath in Greece last year!) .. Harsh is actually the top seed there; so this was expected, but still a good showing - never easy to win 5 matches in a row in a 64-draw college tournament! .. I think Ajay Ramaswamy will be playing the SEC conference champinships soon .. Ajay had a terrific fall season when he shot up from nowhere to the "stratosphere" of US college rankings at #8, which is amazing - so I am keeping an eye on him too.
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.
.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Jan 15 ..
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.