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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the week ending on Jan 24, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2005)

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Jan 24 Notes

Mahesh got the day off on Monday at Melbourne, and is off on Tuesday as well .. The men's doubles QF against Black-Ullyett will be on wednesday there ..

At the Australian Open juniors, 17 year old Punam Reddy put up a big fight but fell short by a little bit in a 57 64 46 loss to Sorana Cirstea (ROM,33) .. Darnit -- That was a really good show by Punam against a top-ranked player (a very talented 14 year old) .. I wish we had sent those like Rupesh down there to play .. I am not sure what's up, but lately there hasn't been any sort of continuity in our plans .. What happened to the nice work AITA did the last few years, sending junior teams to grand slams? .. OK, I guess after the Indian junior swing starting now, we may see a proper plan for sending teams to the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open junior events - at least I hope so .. It was a very important part of AITA's junior development schemes, and it should not be dropped .. Let us not rest on our laurels for producing just a Sania or a Karan or a Somdev .. We need a pipeline and it should be maintained.

The grade-3 ITF "ONGC" junior international has started in Kolkata .. Today's big news wer upsets by Karina Ahuja over the talented 4th seed GK Shweta, who has had an up and down time lately .. Karina has shown some spunk in recent months as well .. Continuing his fine run at the Bangladesh grade-3 was the 16 year old, Tejesvi Rao, who promptly upset the 7th seed Vaja Uzakov (UZB,190) .. I have not seen this week's ranks, but Tejesvi's latest rank would make this technically not an upset I suppose .. Rupesh, Jeevan, Sanam and Vivek, the top four seeds, all advanced nicely .. On the girls' side, another upset was by the wildcard Gayatri Krishnan, Ramesh Krishnan's elder daughter .. See the scores in the Kolkata Juniors page ..

Jan 23 Notes

OK, everybody has recovered from the excitement of the SaniaMania at the Australian Open, I hope? .. I had a busy weekend, and so this update is a day late .. Meanwhile, quietly but with a couple of tougher wins, the 3rd seeds Bhupathi and Woodbridge have reached the quarterfinal at the Australian Open, stretching their win streak to seven matches now .. In the seocnd round they had defeated the Russians Igor Andreev and Nikolai Davydenko on Saturday, 64 46 62 .. In the 3rd round today, they got past Alberto Costa and Rafael Nadfal in a close comeback three-setter, 46 76(2) 64 .. Just one break in the first set by the Spaniards, no breaks in the second, a trade of breaks in the 3rd and then a final break by the MB-TW in a long 2 hour 31 minute match .. Up next for them in a Tuesday quarterfinal are the 5th seeds Wayne Black of Kevin Ullyett of South Africa .. By the way, Leander's partner Nenad Zimonjic, playing with a makeshift partner Wesley Moodie, has reached the 3rd round now, with an upset of the tough Belgian 12th seeds Malisse-Rochus.

Hope you all read the 150 million articles in the Indian press about Sania's show, including the kind of junk that some newspapers wrote on Sania's glamor and hair style and boyfriends (so far none, I believe!) .. Many Indian newspapers, especially the online sites write tabloid-like useless junk these days .. Anyway, Amitava DasGupta of The Telegraph from Kolkata took the trouble oif finally getting a few words from coach Bob Brett, who has been rather quiet through the Mania .. See this article - "Bob Brett not surprised by the Sania Mirza show" .. Quote - Brett was in Australia till Friday to attend a couple of meetings .. “I met her (Sania) early in the week and advised her to rely on strengths and not be afraid to take the chances… didn’t get a chance to speak to her before the Serena Williams match as she was too busy with phone calls from India,” Brett said, laughing .. This is something that Sania and her management firm, Mahesh Bhupathi's Globosport, should  be careful about .. That is the time spent away from tennis when she has become an even bigger celebrity .. I read to my horror somewhere that there is even an offer for her to act in a movie! .. On the other hand, Sania has so far handled the time pressure over the last couple of years extremely well .. Now, even an hour a day away from tennis matters would affect her tennis, because at the highest levels of the tour, one has NO margin of error .. Everybody should take a deep breath and let the young girl concentrate on tennis .. If that takes brutal NOs to some people requesting Sania's time, so be it.  Tennis is what has got her here, and it is what will take her much higher too .. Time for another trip to Bob Brett and more work, away from the limelight (well, after the Hyderbad Open, I guess).

Back to news -- The $15K in Delhi was won by the incredibly consistent competitor from Germany, Simon Greul .. He won the final beating Sunil Kumar Sipaeya .. Sunil has assured himself the India #1 ranking in two weeks based on this .. Pretty good show by the youngster .. Greul on the other hand finished his 6th week in India starting from November when he played 4 weeks of satellite .. His record in that period is a sizzling 30-1 in matches .. He picked up 36 more points from two futures weeks to add to the 45 from the satellites - the 81 points were good enough to bring him up from near 400, back to top-250 .. Amazing stuff ..

Mustafa Ghouse was at the Wrexham challenger qualies in UK this weekend .. He lost in the first round in a tough one to a wildcard, Dominic Inglot (GBR), 76(6) 16 26 .. Oh well ..

At the Grade-3 in Bangladesh this week, 16 yr old Tejesvi Rao (IND,230) reached the final in a rgood run that included an upset of the second seed Siributwong Kirati (THA,139) in a 57 64 63 comeback semifinal win .. He went down to Aidil Faisal (INA) who had upset the top seed Huai-En-Chang (TPE,73) earlier .. Tejesvi and Sumit Gupta were also runners-up in the doubles final .. Thats is good enough to move tejesvi into the top-175 of junior ranks ..  GOod job by the young boy .. On the girls' side, the second seed GK Shweta went down in the semifinal.

The juniors congregate at Kolkata in the coming week, for the grade-3 event on the DKS clay courts that kicks off the three-week Indian swing .. The following two weeks events are the grade-2 at Delhi and the grade-3 at Chandigarh .. All the top Indians juniors are expected - Rupesh, Jeevan, Sanam, Vivek, Sumit, Tejesvi etc on the boys and Madura, Sandhya, Punam, Shweta, etc on the girls' side .. Tara Iyer (IND,109), in the US, will be missing .. I was hoping to see Rupesh at the Australian Open, where he would have made the entry with his #54 rank, but no such luck .. I am not sure why he was not sent .. Punam Reddy (IND,131) was the only one who went.

Jan 21 Notes

Oh well, what can I say - I had to go somewhere in the last minute and ended up missing all of Sania's match .. Damn damn .. If you happened to be one of the unfortunate few who missed seeing Sania, here is a report of the details of Sania's match .. Or you can go to the Australain Open thread in our forum and find all kinds of details and opinions by fanclub folks who saw the match ..

Basically, the problem was that Serena started the match serving her very best, probably the best we have seen from her in a while (she had 12 aces in the match!) .. When Serena comes redy to play like that, it is tough on anybody, let alone an 18 year old who is playing her first grand slam .. Sania took a while to handle the pace from Serena ... It became a totally different match after Sania held serve once .. The second set saw some really incredible play from Sania .. She made Serena work hard, taking her to a few break pooints .. After she dropped serve at 3-3, Sania showed tremendous fight, coming up with some superlative play to save two match points (everyone talking about a running forhand, etc), to push it farther .. At 4-5 she could not come up with a break on Serena and it was over .. In fact, Serena was suffienctly impressed with what Sania offerred and gave her an unusually longer pep talk at the net after the match .. Again, even in loss Sania showed everybody a glimpse of what is to come in the future .. Work on some variation in the serve, get a bit more patience in the game occasionally and improve the court mobility a bit, and she is bound to go places!

Key stats:  27 pts won by Serena to 13 by Sania in the first set .. This turned around to a very close 33-29 point advantage to Sania .. Take out the ace advantage Serena had in the second set, and we see that Sania actually won more points on points that weree actually played .. I say, WOW! .. Sania had 2 aces, one each in each set and cranked up her serve to 111 mph (178 kph) which is really quite a high level of serving .. Serena served up to 197 kph (123 mph!) which is great even by her standards .. Serena was 3 of 5 in break attempts, Sania was 0 of 3 ..  Basically the match was closer than the scoreline indficates .. 56 minutes.

In other matches, Mahesh and Woodbridge moved on to the second set with a 64 46 62 win over Igor Andreev and Nikolai Davydenko .. They face Albert Costa and Rafael Nadal of Spain in the third round.

Great news from Delhi ... Sunil Kumar Sipaeya reached the final of the $15K futures with an easy 64 61 win over Dennis Istomin (UZB) .. When Sunil gets into a grrove like this, he has shown that he can beat anybody .. Come on man, let us beat Greul and take the tile .. By my count, Sunil KUmar will edge ahead of Harsh Mankad in two weeks as the Indian #1, at least for a brief period - depending on how Harsh does in the British satellites that he gous to for a month now .. It would be very nice to see the 21 year old coming to the top of the list in India .. He is still one of our bright hopes, though many seems to have forgotten Sunil Kumar who created so much news once, winning the national championship at age 16 .. Go SKS! .. Harsh Mankad and Ajay Ramaswami easily won the doubles final today ..

Jan 20 Notes

Sania's match start time on Friday will be quite a bit later than expected as the men's singles matcg between Gaudio and Hrbaty is a barnburner at 67 76 76 02, having gone over three hours already .. Sania's match is the 3rd match there; so it may be at least 4.30 pm when it starts (that is 11 am India, 5.30 am London, 12.30 am New York) .. Come to out chatroom for scores during Sania's match!

Great news today from Delhi, as Sunil Kumar Sipaeya upset the top seed Sherwood to reach the semifinal at the $15K .. Fantastic win by Sunil!! .. Ajay went down to Greul .. Harsh and Ajay are in the doubles final ..
See the Delhi $15K page for all the scores .. More later

Jan 19 Note-2

Forgot to mention in the middle of all the sania news, that Mahesh and Woodbridge advanced wednesday evening to the second round of dooubles with a not-so-easy win, 75 75 over the Aussie pair, Chris Guccione and Nathan Healey .. One late break each in each set in an 80 minute match ..  They play the second round against Igor Andreev and Nikolay Davydenko of Russia ..

Too many newspaper articles on Sania to list here - I am sure you all have seen the incredible coverage in the Indian newspapers (unless you have been sleeping under a rock somewhere :-)) .. Sania plays Serena Williams on Friday at about 2.30 pm on the big Vodafone Arena .. Also, MB-TW play doubles at around the same time ..

At the $15K Delhi futures, most Indians went down today, and now 6th seed Sunil Kumar and unseeded Ajay ramaswami are the only ones in the QF .. They run into the two hottest players, top seed Sherwood and the second seed Greul respectively .. See 
the Delhi $15K page for all the scores ..

At the grade-3 junior ITF in Bangladesh, 16 year old 7th seed Tejesvi Rao has reached the semifinal .. 3rd seed Sumit Prakash Gupta, who had done well last two weeks, retired in the first round though .. On the girls' side, the 2nd seed Shweta Kakhandki is in the semis after beating the 6th seed, but 3rd seed Sandri Gangothri was upset by the 7th seed in the QF .. Sumit and Tejesvi finished runner up in doubles, as well.

Jun 19 Note-1

Nirupama Sanjeev had predicted today while talking to the Times of India that Sania could beat Petra Mandula, but I don't think anybody in their wildest dreams could predict that the Hyderabadi would go out and completely crush, chew and spit out a top-100 player in 50 minutes flat .. But this girl does what nobody before her has done, and Sania just became the first Indian woman (heck, what woman - she is still out little girl!) to reach the 3rd round of a grand slam .. [R2] Sania Mirza (IND,166) d. Petra Mandula (HUN,84), 62 61 .. She won 10 of the last 11 games, by the way .. That is a total shellack job of the highest quality! .. This is the first time since 1998 (when Leander reached his only 3rd round in a grand slam, at the US Open) that any Indian is reaching the final-32 of a GS event .. Sania gets 66 points, including 8 bonus in this round and 2 in the last .. That would take her point total to 266 and her ranking to about #129 or so .. Up next is possibly Serena Williams .. Bring on the Compton Comet .. I am sure the Hyderabadi Hydrogen Bomb will be ready!

Here is how the match went -

[Set-1] Sania had three break chances at 30-40 and ADs out in the 4th game .. She made an error on the second but broke Petra in the third BP .. But a couple of mistake by Sania made it a 30-40 point on her serve in the very next game, where Petra came up with a winner .. 3-2 on serve again .. Way too many mistakes by both players, with SM having 8 unforced errors and Petra doing worse with 11 of them .. Sania again had a double break point in the 6th game, forcing the break at 30-40 to go up 4-2 ..  The problem was that Sania just could not seem to hit her first serve at all, hitting only 2 of her first 17 first serves in her first three service games .. She finally hit 5 first serves in the next game and stayed alive, saving one break chance .. 5-2 up .. Then she tightened the noose with two winners and had Petra down 0-40 in the next game .. Converted her first set point itself! ... 6-2 !!

[Set-2] Sania had an ace while holding serve to 1-0 .. In the second game, Sania let go off two BPs, but she converted the third for a 2-0 lead .. Basically she figured out, it seemed, that all she had to do was to play steady and force Petra into more and more mistakes .. She was up 3-0 quickly, one break up ..  Petra held serve in the 4th game, but Sania again had her down at 0-40 in the 6th game, going up to 5-1 in the second BP .. Now it was all Sania, as she came up with the goods in the next game to finish it off ..

[Stats]:  Sania converted 5 of 11 break points and Petra did 1 of 2 .. 10 winners and 13 unforced errors from Sania, with 11 winnersd and 40 errors from Petra .. I am sure many of those errors from Petra were actually forced by Sania .. It is not easy to handle a girl who strats blkugeoning you with her forehand which is one of the best in the women's circuit, from what we hear .. Sania hit 13  of 24 in first serve sin the second set after a very poor start of 2 of 17 early in the first set .. Two aces by Sania, one of them at her highest speed of 176 kph (110 mph) today .. 4 double faults .. 1 ace and 6 double faults by PM .. The first set took 29 minutes and the second was over in a mere 21 minutes ..

Go Sania !!! .. I am numb from all the excitement !!!

Jan 18 Notes

Sania's second round match is about to start (it's wednesday in Australia) in half hour, at about 12.45 pm in Melbourne (7.15 am India, 1.45 am London, 8.45 pm  New York)  .. Come to out chatroom for scores! ...

Later in the evening, at about 4 pm, Mahesh and Woodbridge play their first round against Chris Guccione and Nathan Healey of Australia .

Bad news today from the AO, as the doubles draw came out, with no Leander Paes in it .. I suppose he did not feel well enough to play .. Zimonjic will play with Wesley Moodie .. Mahesh and Woodbridge are the 3rd seeds, in the lower quarter of the upper half, with a potential QF against the 5th seeds Black-Ullyett.

More bad news, this from Delhi, as both Harsh Mankad and Karan Rastogi went down in the first round of the Delhi $15K, losing to Uzbeks ranked quite low, HM in two tiebreaker sets and Karan in three sets .. Not sure what happened to them both, but the losses were very unexpected .. ArunPrakash Rajagopalan had a nice upset win .. Good to see Jeevan and Arun in the second round, along with Sunil, Vijay, Ajay, Vinod, Vishal and Vivek .. 
the Delhi $15K page ..

Jan 17 Note-2

Sania's next round opponent will be Petra Mandula (HUN,84) who upset #37 Flavio Pennetta .. As Sania said in an interview (and rightly pointed out even befgore that by Daniel in our forum), Petra is known for the best drop shots in the business .. Sania needs to be ready for some good court coverage and also in trying to move around her opponent, who is supposedly not too mobile herself? .. The match will be on wednesday - the schedule time not known yet .. Meanwhile, here is the article from the Australian Open by Nirmal Sekhar of The Hindu .. Good to see that we have a good correspondent down there to follow Sania ..  Accortding to what Sania said to S.Kannan of the Hindustan Times, her parents are not with her - which is unusual because one of them is always there with her .. Both Imran and Naseema Mirza are on their Haj trip to Mecca - and it is clear that prayers have not gone unanswered so far! ..

here are a couple of pictures of Sania at the AO (courtesy AP):

Sania at the AO 2005 first round .. Sania at the AO 2005 first round

No update yet on whether Leander's injury has healed enough for him to play at the AO .. I think he will have to decide pretty much within a day or so if he is playing .. As we know now, there is no fracture or ligament tears on his ankle - just soft tissue damage and some swelling .. Hopefully he is good enough by now and can play doubles.

At the $15K in Delhi, there was some bad news .. Prakash Amritraj withdrew due to some shoulder pain .. Damn, PA just cannot seem to get going these days .. Hopefully it is nothing serious, but anything connected to shoulder is always very worrisome, especially in the case of hard servers like Kash .. The best win today was by 16 year old Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, a big future hope for us .. Jeevan beat wildcard Navdeep Singh in an easy 63 63 match .. Navdeep was a top-100 quality junior player last year, and is quite a good player .. It is a good indication of h ow far the y oung kid Jeevan has come .. Remember that Jeevan had finished just outside the top-10 in the Pakistan satellites and picked up three ATP points a few months back .. He now has one more .. Vijay Kannan, Sunil Kumar won today .. I still hvae not seen the draw, but some results and matchups are at the Delhi $15K page ..

In other news, I have posted the entry list for the Hyderbad Open WTA, coming up in three weeks time (Feb 7th), at this forum thread .. Pretty good entry list, led by Tammi Tanasugarn of Thailand .. We are still awaiting news on whether a Gold exempt player can come down on a wildcard .. There was some news that Jelena Dokic was a possibility .. That would be great, but the tournament should be in good shape with a lot of the top Asian players all showing up hungry for wins .. The entry closed three weeks back and Shikha's and Sania's ranks of #159 and #169 at that time placed them just outside the direct entry, at #5th and #9th in the witing list .. Both would of course get wildcards if needed, but it would be good if the cut moves down a bit and at least one of the two would not need a wildcard ..

Jan 17 Note-1

Yes folks, we have an Indian winning a round in back to back grand slams .. At the US Open it was India-born Shikha who made news, and now at the Australian Open, it is Sania who has done the job .. [R1] (WC) Sania Mirza (IND,166) d. (WC) Cindy Watson (AUS,285), 36 63 60 .. And with that we have most probably got a woman player in the world top-150 for the first time in over 8 years since Niru did it in 1996 .. For a whole while at today's match, it did not look like we would see that, with Sania playing an error-filled match .. That she could make nearly 45 errors and still win a match talks about her abilities to WIN a match .. That is what Sania is - a winner! ... Big congratulations go to the 18 year old ..

Here is how the match went .. [Set-1] Sania had a break point at 30-40 in the first game .. CW held after three deuces .. Sania saved double BPs and then one more in game 2, but dropped serve .. 0-2 .. Up 40-0 on CW's serve quickly with two winners .. Broke her at 15-40 .. She held serve at love to even it at 2-2, winning 8 of 9 points in a row out there .. Trouble started at 3-4, as she started making one unforced error after another .. In fact, she had 11 winners to 9 UEs at one point.  We blinked and she had committed 7 unforced errors in a row and had dropped serve at 15-40 in the 8th game .. 3-5 .. She had a break point at 30-40 in the 9th game.  Cindy held on and came up with a winner at set point after that .. Sania again dropped servge immediately, with more unforced errors, and it was 0-2 soon in the second set .. [Set-2]  Sania had a break point on Watson's serve at 1-2 but could not convert it. Then she finally got even on the next break point at AD out to even it at 2-2 .. Three more errors saw Sania dropping serve once again at 2-3 .. Sania came in strongly at 3-3 with a couple of winners to force a break again and make it 3-3 .. She held serve easily and continued to put pressure on Watson's serve, earning another break at 30-40 .. Now Sania was back in business at 5-3 .. She made sure of not making mistakes (now Cindy had become very mistake-prone) ... 3-6 6-3 .. [Set-3]  Sania started well, immediately breaking Watson at 15-40 .. She continued to make some mistakes but helped by errors from Watson also, she stayed ahead, going up to 4-0 quickly ..  Now it was a whitewash ... Sania kept on winning the games even though Cindy was taking some points .. Basically SM won 10 games in a row to finish it off in style .. Actually she served an ace, the only one of the match from either player, in the final game! ... Stats:  Sania cranked up her serve up to 175 kmph (110 mph) and had an average speed of 154 kmph .. 32 winners and 43 unforced errors to 19 winners and 36 UEs by Cindy .. 7 of 12 break points by Sania and 4 of 13 by Watson .. The match took an hour and 28 minutes ..

Sania awaits the winner of the match between Petra Mandula (HUN,84) and the 30th seed Flavio Pennetta (ITA,37), that match starting right now .. The second round will be on wednesday .. She now rises in ranking from #166 to about #144 or so, with 34 extra points to take her total to 234

Time for some celebration ... I will go drink some chai .. Damn, I have followed this girl here for years, even from the early days when whe was winning grade-5 junior events in pakistan as a 13 year old and nobody knew her .. Feels great to see things come together like this and our hopes slowly coming true .. Go Sania, Go ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Jan 17 ..

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 playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan