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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Jan 26th, 2004
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2003)

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Jan 26 Note-1

LP and MB are off for Monday .. At the Australian, the junior events have started and only Karan advanced today, though both Divij and Tushar put up really good fights in their losses .. (4) Karan Rastogi (IND,4) d. Sunu Trijati (INA,53), 62 62 .. Tushar Liberhan (IND,48) l. (13) Scoville Jenkins (USA,19) 46 63 16 .. Divij Sharan (IND,38) l. Andrew Coelho (AUS,170), 75 67(6) 46 .. I was out and could not follow the matches today .. Up next for the 4th seed Karan Rastogi is Miles Kasiri (GBR,35) .. Sanaa Bhambri plays the R1 on Tuesday.

At the Bahrain $15K futures, Sunil Kumar was the top seed in the qualies with a first round bye .. He beat Rishi Behl in the second round and made the main draw, but runs into the top seed Uros Vico (ITA,291) in the R1 .. 6th seed Mustafa fell in the Q1, as did Nishank Mishra ..

In other news, Harsh Mankad has withdrawn from the USA F3 futures this week .. Not feeling great physically, but no major problems ..  Decided to not risk anything and just prepare indoors for the Davis Cup ..  By the way, for consolation, just like Brian Baker last week, the one who upset Harsh, Frederico Luzzi, went on to win the title today .. At a second $10K event, also in Boca Raton, Florida, Sania Mirza is in the main draw for this week .. She made the draw just before the qualies started, due to withdrawals .. Main draw awaited.

Jan 25 Note-2

Yeek, it looks like a total barnburner for HeshElena that ended in an agonizing loss in the MxD first round .. [R1] (2) M.Bhupathi/ E.Likhovtseva l. Jeff Coetzee (RSA)/ Tina Krizan (SLO), 67(5) 64 (8-10) .. I did not follow the match but just checked the stats and got mad .. MB-EL won 83 points to JC-TK's 81, but our team lost .. I hate this super tiebreak crap .. Why is it taking this long for the tennis folks to get rid of it? .. Just because they want it to end it faster, letting the team that wins fewer points to advance, is wrong .. It is against what the time-tested tennis scoring system has always ensured, which is that the chance for the team with fewer points to advance is very little - though this fact seems to be lesser-known than it should be ..There were five super tiebreak matches in the MxD first round and two of them went to teams which scored  fewer points in the match .. Damm-Morariu with 55 points advancing over 3rd seeds Woodbridge-Stubbs is the other case and that is even more ridiculous .. For the record, the historic record on tennis matches with the normal sets and tiebreakers is that only something like 1 in 30 matches show a "wrong" result .. For example, in three set matches in women's singles, and men/women doubles at the AO so far, this anomaly has happened only twice in 49 matches so far .. If we had supertiebreakers instead of the 3rd set, based on myinformal stats over the last few years, at least 15 of those matches would have gone to the wrong players! .. Scary isn't it? ..  Hey, this was always the reason why there was always a 3rd set when it was tied at two - and the set tiebreakers hardly caused the problems that this supertiebreakers are causing .. The set tiebreakers were put in place after some serious thought a few decades back, and it did not affect a fundamental nature of the fantastic tennis scoring system that allows for so much of drama during the match with so many big/important points but somehow ensured that the better-scoring team won in the end almost invariably .. But this supertiebreaker crap that some tournament directors like for scheduling and TV reasons is just ridiculous .. Why don't we just get the players to toss a coin and just go home after that if it is tied at two sets then? ... I know, it is my worst pet-topic in tennis .. I wish somebody wouold really write on this somewhere and make everybody aware of this supertiebreak stats.

Anyway, the damage is done and Mahesh and Elena are out .. At least this was a close match and Coetzee-Pisnik almost deserved to win .. MB-EL converted 4 of 7 break chances, JC-TP did 3 of 4 .. 5 unfoirced errors from JC-TP and 11 from MB-EL; and that stat basically was the difference, I guess .. The match took 96 minutes to finish.

Both LP and MB have Monday off, based on the posted schedule .. Only junioirs' matches of interest on Monday for us.

The junior draws are out at the Australian Open .. Karan is seeded fourth!!  ..

(4) Karan Rastogi (IND,7) vs Sunu Trijati (INA,53)
Tushar Liberhan (IND,48) vs (13) Scoville Jenkins (USA,19)
Divij Sharan (IND,38) vs. (WC) Andrew Coelho (AUS,170)
Sanaa Bhambri (IND,38) vs Jennifer Elie (USA,84)

Looks like decent matches for Indians in the first round, except for Tushar, who had to face the world #1 last week at the Australian hardcourts and does not get much of a break this time either .. Isn't it great to see Karan seeded that high? -- but that comes with the pressure of winning too, though!! .. Karan is drawn to face the 14th seeded Asian #3 Woong-Sun Jun (KOR,20) in the PQF if the ranks hold up for both ..  Sanaa is drawn to face the 8th seeded Asian #3, ShengNan Sun (CHN,18) in the second round if she gets past Jenifer Elie .. Elis, by the way, is the player who lost to Tara Iyer in easy straight sets last month at the Casablanca Cup PQF in Mexico .. Tara at #66 would have easily made the draw at the AO, but chose not to make the trip to Australia as she had played quite a few good quality events last month - she is back in school and training in the US I believe.

There are three Indians, two Koreans, and one each from Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia in the boys' draw .. Five Chinese, two Taiwanese, and one each from Korea, Japan, India and Indonesia in the girls' draw .. On the boys's side all the top Asians are talking part, but on the girls' side, Sania Mirza, Ryoko Fuda, and Thassha Vitayaviroj are skipping the event.

Karan, Tushar and Divij play on Monday, and Sanaa plays on Tuesday.

Jan 25 Note-1

One of those routine wins by Mad Max today, and they have reached yet another grand slam QF .. [R3] (2) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. Hicham Arazi (MAR)/ Nicolas Mahut (FRA), 63 76(4) .. Here is how it went - [Set-1] The match started with Mirnyi dropping serve .. In addition, they had trouble getting any points on their first eight returns either, and it was 1-3 soon .. Four hot return points in the 6th game gave them triple break points and they levelled the score at 3-3 .. Mahesh had to serve a deuce point in the 7th, but held serve .. Then they put pressure on Arazi's serve and had a 15-40 break point in the next game, forcing him to double fault on the second BP .. All of a sudden our pair was in pretty good control, at 5-3 .. An ace from Mirnyi gave them a set point, and another ace got them the set .. [Set-2]  Mahut was immediately broken at 15-40 .. After that poor start, our pair had won 12 points off the next 16 serves from their opponents .. With Mirnyi now serving really hot with one more ace, our guys soon led 2-0 .. Then, at 2-1, out of the blue Mahesh could not keep any of his first serves in, and was broken at 30-40 ..From there it proceeded without any break points for either side, to a tiebreaker .. In the tiebreaker, they took two points off Arazi's slow serves and cruised to a 7-4 win .. The match took only an hour and 11 minutes .. MB-MM won 69 points to HA-NM's 53 .. Not much drama .. Break sequence - [Set-1: MM broken in game 1 .. NM in game 6, HA in game 8] .. [Set-2:  NM broken in game 1, MB in game 4] ..

MB will be back for MxD in another couple of hours - not sure if I will be able to follow the match ..

Jan 24 Notes

The big news today is the induction of a new member to our Davis Cup team - and it is Vishal Punna .. This may surprise a few, but it is really a pretty good choice by the selectors and captain Leander .. Vishal is a nice story .. He only turned 20 last week, though he has been around in the Indian circuit seemingly for a looong time - actually I think I first talked about him in my daily notes back in 1998 or so when he happend to be the youngest Indian in the ITF junior top-500 as a 14 year old; those days we hardly had u16 players in the ITF junior ranks .. He did not play the junior events - both ITF and AITA events - all that regularly and did not do anything much noteworthy there .. Instead he started on the pro events and satellites the hard way from 1999 onwards .. Again, there were no earthshattering results, but there was indeed an occasional spark .. The first spark came back in early 2002 when the 18 year old beat former top-100 player Laurence Tieleman and then the experienced Indon Febi Widhiyanto in a qualifying event in Dubai .. Some good wins followed, though infrequently, over those like Nitin Kirtane in 2002 .. He probably really came into the limelight as runner-up at the 2002 National Games in Hyderabad where he upset Vijay Kannan on the way to the final .. Vishal also had some wins over good foreign players like Boris Borgula in the ATP top-500, a few months before turning 19 .. He has clearly been playing at a much higher level over the last four months or so, starting from his QF appearance in a British futures with wins over decent players like David Sherwood .. Had some more good wins in the Indian futures also, again over decent foriegn players like top-600 Toshihide Matsui and Matwe Middlekoop .. Then he won the DSCL National hardcourts this last December, though the competition was rather light there .. The final confirmation of how good he is becoming came at the qualifiers for the recent Tata Open ..  Vishal Punna became the first Indian player in six years to reach the final round of the Chennai ATP qualies .. There, after a win over the always-tough Ajay Ramaswamy, he also pulled off one of the biggest upsets ever by any Indian non-Davis Cup players, a win over ATP Top-125 Jeff Salzenstein (USA) in the second round  .. That win right there made him a candidate for the Davis Cup team! .. And here he is .. That is Vishal Punna in a nutshell .. From all I know, he has a pretty good serve and good skills too .. His chance comes in unfortunate circumstances with Prakash Amritraj going down to the quadriceps tear, but the young man will grab the chance and run with it, I am sure .. All the best, Vishal! .. And from the looks of it, he will actually end up playing singles immediately, along with Harsh Mankad on the first day at Ivercargill, NZL, in two weeks (Feb 6-8) ..

At the Australian Open, Saturday is an off day for LP and MB .. MB plays both his doubles 3rd round and Mixed doubles first round on Sunday (tonight for most of us) .. Doubles at around 1.45 pm (8.15 am India .. 9.45 pm SAT New York) and after some rest he will return for MxD at around 5.30 pm .. LP's MxD second round will be on Monday.

At the Delhi $10K, Isha Lakhani finally had her knee injury catch up with her as she was virtually unable to retrieve any balls after taking the first set against 4th seed Montinee Tangphong, who played more error-free as the match progressed but herself admitted that she got lucky with Isha's injhury problem .. These two had beaten each other once before, the last match going Isha's way .. Montinee finished a great week, winning both singles and doubles at Delhi.

Two QF losses to report from the US  yesterday .. Sania Mirza went down 16 61 36 to  the 236th ranked 3rd seed Petra rampre of Slovenia .. On a day when the top four seeds all got upset (not unusual in the US futures), Harsh Mankad went down to the 8th seed Frederico Luzzi (ITA,380), 16 36 .. Again, HM seems to have had a few really good wins with a couple of listless losses in the two weeks in the US .. he did pick up six points in the two weeks and will be at one more futures before going to the Davis Cup .. Hopefully he will do well next week and take good form from the wins and not the form in the two losses, to NZL!

Jan 23 Note-4

At the Delhi $10K Isha Lakhani held the Indian flag up with a gritty comeback win over Thassha Vitayaviroj of Thailand .. Apparently Isha is also injured (knee) .. Man, it is just the first month of a long year and hardly anybody in Indian tennis is healthy (RB, PA, Isha, Ankita, Sonal, Sai .. etc) .. Ankita and Shruti had given a walkover in the doubles QF yesterday due to AB's ankle injury and so no Indian team made the doubles semi either .. Good that Isha will keep the Indian interest till the final day - tomorrow the top seed meets the 4th seed Montinee Tangphong, which will be a tough match especially if Isha is not fully fit .. See the Delhi women's $10K page for draws/ results.

Hey, great news from Dhaka .. Second seed Rupesh Roy won the grade-3 ITF junior title beating the 7th seed and last week's winner, British boy Faris Khatib (GBR,135), 63 63 .. I guess some sort of an "in your face" from Rupesh to the local Newspaper that said yesterday (on his win over Navdeep) that he would have to do a lot more to get past Faris or something like that! .. Top seed Madura Ranganathan (IND,131) went down in a topsy-turvy final to the 8th seed Soon-Mi Seo (KOR,276), 16 61 16 .. Rupesh and Anshuman had won the doubles title yesterday, taking revenge on Jeevan and Sanam who had beaten them in last week's final (Rupesh only played doubles last week at the Rajshahi grade-3) .. The 60 points (45 extra in the best-6 total) and 1/5th of the 50 doub;es pts (30 extra in best six) together add 51 more to his total of 180 ranking points for 231 total and a big jump in rankings from #129 to right outside top-80 .. So, count in one more Indian in the junior world top-100 .. Rupesh is officially still only 14 years old, turning 15 next month .. By the way, I would just like to know his exact age, for God's sake -- because the show this kid is putting on is impressive even for somebody even two years older .. I have heard quite a few people mentioning in hush-hush tones about him being older, and also some counter views that some of it may be way too exaggerated by those who are jealous of how good he is, etc .. Anyway, I don't think the questions on his age are helping the kid at all, and so once and for all somebody should put an end to this! .. We should be knowing exactly where we stand with respect to Rupesh and be making serious plans on getting him to go abroad and get coached at a good place, etc, but this age business needs to go away .. This is the second time I am bringing this up .. Anyway, Rupesh will go to the three immediate Indian ITF junior events with a chance to add on a lot more points to his kitty and qualify into the rest of the grand slam juniors this year ..

Another player who did some noteworthy things at Dhaka was our other top young talent, 15 yr old Sanam Krishna Singh from Chandigarh ..Unseeded Sanam upset the 8th seed Huai-En Chang (TPE,163), runner-up to Faris Khatib last week at Rajshahi, by a score of 46 64 60 in the second round, after a win over Aleksey Tzernov (RUS) in the R1 .. He went on to also beat Hyung Joon Lim (KOR) in the QF, before falling to Khatib in the semi yesterday .. Coupled with the points from doubles final as well, he will raise his ranking by another 30 from #196 .. He was virtually unranked before the Asian Juniors last month where he made QF too .. Pretty impressive for somebody who turned 15 only two  months back (his age is of course legit), to be doing all this .. Rupesh, Sanam and Jeevan are all looking quite good right now, and the two grade-3s and one grade-2 coming up in India will be good fun! ..

Jan 23 Note-3

In the featured night match, the defending champs restarted on their unbeaten streak in mixed doubles - [R1] (4) L.Paes/ M.Navratilova d. Chris Haggard (RSA)/ Emilie Loit (FRA), 63 76(3) .. As this match started well past 9 pm there, way past midnight for me, I didn't follow the match .. But here is a news agency report - Leander played superbly in only his second match back after the brain lesion scare. "He was awesome!," said Navratilova after the match ... Paes, who showed no effects of his long lay-off, said, "I grew up watching Martina playing and am now playing with her. She is a true inspiration. Thank you so much. For everybody in India, it's great to be back."  ... As an after note, Martina added: "Sorry Leander, but Brett Lee's six was awesome," in reference to Thursday's VB tri-series game between India and Australia at the Syndey Cricket Ground ... After an easy first set, Paes and Navratilova met with resistance in the second. Games went with serve till the defending champions were broken in the 11th game. But they broke back in the next to force the tie-breaker ... In the tie-breaker, Paes and Navratilova established a commanding 4-1 lead before Haggard and Loit pulled back to 3-4. But Paes served two aces to clinch victory .. Yes, Lee .. Great to see you back .. Hey, Martina - shut up; Brett Lee's six was a fluke, OK??? :-) ..

Lee is playing fine - aces on the final twoi points and all .. That is a relief .. By the way, here is a very interesting article by our esteemed former Davis Cup captain Naresh Kumar in The Telegraph (Kolkata) today about a call from Leander and other things ..  Naresh Kumar says - Having shed 45 lbs that he had put on due to steroid treatment, he is back to his normal weight. Leander said Martina Navratilova looked at him in disbelief and said: “How did you do it, liposuction?” Intensive training for six-seven hours a day has given him a fat-muscle ratio of 5.5% but Leander has no illusions of instant success" ... 

There was also some important Davis Cup comments in the article (excerpt) - Our Davis Cup tie against New Zealand follows the Australian Open. Leander still needs time and told me: “No way can I be ready to play in the singles.” Rohan Bopanna, our brightest prospect, is nursing an injured shoulder. To add to this, Prakash Amritraj pulled out of men’s doubles on Wednesday with strained/torn quadriceps ... Prakash has informed Leander that he is going back to Chennai. Mahesh Bhupathi has declined to play in the singles. So we will be left with the good, old and faithful Harsh Mankad and the one who replaces Prakash .. It seems that luck has run out for India. But, sometimes the moment produces the man .. Ooh yeek .. That is NOT good news .. We do need somebody to play singles along with Harsh Mankad (and at this point I would rather Harsh tank a match at the Florida futures, go home, and sit down .. With the way the evil goddesses have been after our Davis Cup chances, I am really worried) .. I suppose Punna Vishal, Vijay Kannan or Sunil Kumar would end up having to play .. Hey, who knows - we might have to break in a 16 year old Karan Rastogi with a healthy dose of prayers.

Jan 23 Note-2

Not a walk in the park, but "Mad Max" moved on .. [R2] (2) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. Julien Benneteau (FRA)/ Arnaud Clement (FRA), 67(4) 64 64 .. Here is how the match went .. They traded breaks to start the match, but it was even at 2-2 .. At 3-3, Mahesh had serious first serve problems, hitting only 2 of 9 first serves, and after saving two break attempts and two double faults, they fell behind 3-4 .. Again they got the break back immediately, helped by a DF by Benneteau .. 4-4 .. At 5-5, Mahesh served well hitting 4 of 5 first serves includindg their first ace of the match .. In the tiebreaker, they lost one mionibreak each on MM's and MB's serve and Clement hit an ace to win the set .. Except our guys facing a couple of break attempts early in the set, the second set went without drama till 4-4 when our guys broke bennetau and won the set .. The online scoreboard went off at this point; so I am not sure of the breasks in the 3rd set .. It was 3-3 at one point; I suppose they again got a break in the 9th game .. Good job! ..

Jan 23 Note-1

At the Australian Open, MB's doubles second round is about to start against Benneteau and Clement (about 1.35 pm Friiday .. 8.05 am India, 9.35 pm FRI New York) .. Come to our chatroom to follow the match scores ..

Leander and Martina play the second featured center court (Rod Laver arena) match at night, about 9.30 pm - MxD first round against Haggard and Loit.

Jan 22 Note-3

At the $10K Boca Raton ITF event in Florida, qualifier Sania Mirza notched up a fine win today, upsetting Jewell Peterson (USA,324), 75 62, to make it to the QF .. Jewell had taken out a seed in the previous round .. Go Sania .. SM went down last night in doubles to the top seeds though -- [R1] Natallia Dziamidzenka (BLR)/ S.Mirza l. (1) Jessica Lenhoff/ Kelly McCain (USA), 26 67(3)

At the $10K futures in Kissimmee, Florida, Harsh Mankad continued his good run, beating Brandon Wagner (USA), 62 63 .. He takes on the 8th seed Fe\rederico Luzzi (ITA,380) tomorrow ..

At the $10K Delhi, we have reached the semifinal stage, and only Isha Lakhani remains .. She did have a great win against last week's winner Sandy Gumulya though .. Rushmi and Megha got upset .. Shruti and Iciri also have gone down .. See the Delhi women's $10K page for draws/ results.

Some good news from the grade-3 in Dhaka, as Rupesh Roy and Madura Ranganathan have reached the finals .. [SF] Faris Khatib (GBR) d. Sanam K. Singh, 61 63 .. [SF] Rupesh Roy d. Navdeep Singh, 63 60 .. [SF] Madura Ranganathan d. GK Swetha, 63 61 .. [SF] Seo Soon Mi d. Shen Jung Youn, 63 62 .. Rupesh and Anshuman won the doubles title as well! - Finals: R.Roy/ Anshuman Dutta d. Jivan.N/ Sanam.K.S .. In the girls doubles semi, Lin Yu Ting/ Lee Ya Wen (TPE) d. Sandri Gangothri/ Niroshita.M, 60 60 ..

Jan 22 Note-2

What a wretched day this turned out to be - as I said earlier, we needed some good news, badly, after the Prakash news came in .. We almost got it as Leander and Cibulec played a never-say-die match where they came back countless times from hopeless positions, saving a total of four match points in two sets, only to run out of luck in the end in a close match against two strong singles players ranked #40 and #89 .. [R1] (10) L.Paes/ T.Cibulec l. J.I.Chela/ O.Hernandez, 46 76(5) 36 .. Here is how it went, based on the online scoreboard - [Set-1] Leander started well winning the first two points but then lost four in a row and faced two break points, dropping serve on the second point .. They immediately went to work and broke back to even it off Hernandez's serve .. 1-1 .. Now Cibulec was down 15-40 with the aid of a double fault and he too dropped serve .. Then Chela somehow held on after deuces for the first hold of the game .. 1-3 .. Then Leander had a double fault and faced two more break points and five deuces, but he held serve for 2-3 .. I think the rust must have been gone by now, as they had double break points on Oscar again and broke him to even it in game 6 .. Trouble came back again in game 8, as LP faced break points again - he saved one but then dropped serve .. 4-5 .. Our pair continued to fight, saving two set points in the next game but lost the set .. [Set-2] LP started with a love game .. Cibulec faced double BP in game 3, saved them but was broken at AD out .. LP was again in trouble but saved a break point and kept it close to 2-3 in the 5th game .. And they finally got to Chela in the next game, breaking him to even it at 3-3 .. Our guys again fell behind in the 9th game on LP's serve, as they lost three points in a row from 15-15 .. They had Chela down 0-30 in a last-ditch effort, and some serious drama ensued .. Helped by his second ace, he took it to a match pt .. Double faulted to a deuce .. LP-TC then saved another match point, and created a break point as well - clearly this was an even match and the fight went on till the very end .. Another ace gave Chela a 3rd match pt, but again our guys extended the match .. Now they got their second break point on a double fault again, and they ended the drama there .. 5-5 .. Soon it was a tiebreaker .. Started a minibreak down immediaty .. got that back at 2-2 .. behind a mini at 2-3, got that back at 3-3 .. behind a mini at 4-5 and seemingly in dire straits again .. Drama once again, as this time they got TWO points back from Chela! .. And they converted their very first set pt on Cibulec' serve and just like that we were all even! .. [Set-3] Continued to be a close match still, with neither side giving an inch ..  When LP served his team's first ace and held serve to 2-2 in the 3rd set, both teams had won exactly 97 points each - it was that close .. They had triple BP on Hernandez in the next game and went ahead 3-2, but immediately we saw TC down 0-40 and it was even all over again, 3-3 .. Then in the 8th game LP dropped serve after saving two break attempts and a few gritty deuces .. But this break proved to be costly in the end .. Oscar served it off, though our guys saved one more match pt there.

The match took 2 hours 25 minutes .. Break sequence, to recap - [set1: LP broken in game 1 and 9, TC in game 3, OH in games 2 and 6], [set2: TC broken in game 3, JC in game 6 and 10, LP in game 9] .. [set3: OH broken in game 5, TC in game 6, LP in game 8] ..

If Leander needed some match practice, he certainly got it .. And from the looks of how things went, I think Lee is playing pretty good tennis pretty much rightaway after the layoff .. That itself is impressive .. We will need him, all of him, in all his forms, down in New Zealand in two weeks .. And really, I shouldn't be this down -- after all, Lee is still there and is playing well, and we should be thankful for that .. Just about five months back, I was thinking it was all over, but he is still there, and he is still doing what he was always doing in his career - giving us thrills and near-heart-attacks, whether he won or lost .. Good to see you back, Lee!

Jan 22 Note-1

Oh, the bad news just refuses to go away .. Just found out from Melbourne that it was Prakash who was hurt in the doubles match yesterday .. Quad tear problem - I will withhold the details, but he will miss some weeks .. Are we snake-bit or what? - First Lee, then, Rohan, and now Kash too .. Amazing run of bad luck for Indian tennis .. Get Well Fast, Prakash -- all our prayers with you ..

Correction on the earlier note on the Delhi $10K .. The initial agency reports were wrong - it was Ankita who had the ankle injury and not Montinee, according to Kamesh in The Hindu .. Man, how many injury problems should we hear about?

I am really down now - really need Lee to give us some good news in the doubles match.

Jan 21 Note-4

The mixed doubles draw came out today atthe Australian Open .. [R1] (4) Leander Paes/ Martina Navratilova USA vs Chris Haggard (RSA)/ Emilie Loit (FRA)  .. [R1] (2) Mahesh Bhupathi/ Elena Likhovtseva (RUS) vs Jeff Coetzee (RSA)/ Tina Krizan (SLO) .. Defending champs Lee-Martina are in the upper half and HeshElena are in the bottom half - let us see a final between you guys, champs! .. Still no news on what exactlyt happened in the Prakash doubles match that caused the retirement .. Leander makes the much-awaited return to courts Thursday, in doubles .. 4th match on court 19, at about 3.30 pm (10 am India, 8.30 pm Wednesday Los Angeles) .. We will be in the chatroom during the match .. MB gets Thursday off.

By the way, it was reported in a tennis forum by a fan in Australia that Manisha Malhotra is out there, coaching Anastassia Rodionova (RUS) .. Unseeded Rodionova went down to the 21st seed in the second round of the qualies, but is in the doubles main draw with Evie Dominikovic of Australia .. Actually Manisha was sighted at a Dominikovic match yesterday .. Good to see Manisha doing all this high-profile coaching stuff.

At the $10K Delhi ITF event, apparently only three matches got done today, due to rain .. Ankita advanced as the 4th seed Montinee retired with a bad ankle while down 36 03 .. There was a pretty good upset by qualifier Iciri Rai - 63 63 over the 8th seed Diana Junlianto .. See the Delhi women's $10K page for draws/ results.

Mustafa Ghouse and Benjamin Cassaigne, 3rd seeds, got upset today at the $15K Doha futures by Jacob Adaktusson (SWE) and Ivo Klec (GER), 64 62 in the R1.

Good news from Dhaka, as 5 Indians are in the semifinals of the grade-3 ITF juniors there! -- [QF] G.K. Shwetha d. Kartiki Bhat 76(3) 62 .. [QF] Madura Ranganathan d. Sandri Gangothri 64 64 .. [QF] Sanam Singh d. Joon Lim (Kor) 60 63 .. [QF] Rupesh Roy d. Miles Blakes (Aus) 63 63 .. [QF] Navdeep Singh d. Jeevan.N 63 63  [courtesy: AITA release] .. Swetha's upset of seeded Kartiki is impressive .. She is only 13 years old and is beginning to really create some waves.

After a long time, I decided to update the rankings in our archives .. Though I had archived some domestic rankings off and on since 1999, I was lazy for a while, as AITA was anyway updating them at their site for over a year .. But as they don't archive the previous rank lists, I decided to start keeping them again .. Take a look at the Start-of-Year Rank list links in the Calendar/Rankings/Archives page .. By the way, AITA was quick to stay up with the brand new ITF schemes .. They too started the combined singles/doubles rankings in the u14 and u18 levels, adding 1/4th of the doubles points to the singles points .. AITA is doing it right, using the same point tables for doubles as singles, unlike the messed up system ITF uses, where they say doubles points count for 1/4th while it really only counts less than 1/5th because the points table already has doubles points at 2/3rd to 3/4th levels of singles .. Good job, AITA.

Jan 21 Note-3

It turned out to be a longer match than expected for the second seeds .. [R1] (2) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. D.Bowen/ A.Fisher, 63 46 63 .. Our guys broke Fisher in the 6th game at 30-40 on the first BP of the match, to go to 4-2 .. MB was in trouble the next game, down 15-40 with a double fault, but he saved three break points there, one with an ace, and finally pushed it to 5-2 after 6 deuces .. The set was over soon .. In the second set, Mirnyi ran into trouble at 0-40 in the second game .. saved 2 break points and then dropped serve .. They were looking at trouble at 0-3, as MB was down 15-40 .. Again he saved the BPs and held serve .. Then they broke Bowen in the 7th game to get back in it ..  Then, just when they seemed to be cruising to a quick win, Mirnyi again dropped serve in the 10th game and they lost the set .. They started the 3rd set well with a quick break of Bowen .. Then in the 3rd game, our guys again had three break chances that went wasted .. They had two more in the 7th game which also were saved by Bowen-Fisher .. But they broke them in the 9th gam,e once more to finish it off .. The match took an hour and 40 minutes .. 94 pts by our guys to 79 by the other guys .. We were 4 of 11 in breaks; the other guys were 2 of 10 ..

Jan 21 Note-2

Oh, shoot .. Just whan Prakash and Hyung-Taik Lee had come back from a break deficit and had sent it to a tight tiebreaker, something goes wrong .. Not sure who is injured, but [R1] P.Amritraj/ H-T.Lee l. E.Ferreira/ R.Leach, 67(4) Ret. .. By the way, this was Wayne Ferreira and not Leach's old partner Ellis Ferreira .. Still this was a tremendous show by Prakash and Hyung-Taik in my view .. Prakash dropped serve after two deuces and AD out break chances in the first game .. One double fault hurt him there .. From then on it went with serve, Prakash saving one more BP on his serve in the 5th game but serving the 9th game strongly at love .. At 4-5, they broke Rick Leach and soon sent it to a tiebreaker .. Quickly down a minibreak, but got back even soon .. At 4-4 something went wrong, as they lost a minibreak and then the next two points on WF-RL's serve to lose the set .. They retired at that point .. I am not sure who is hurt - hopefully Prakash is OK ..  As I said, this was a pretty impressive performance, though for just a set, against two guys who had 55 titles between them (Leach with 44 and W.Ferreira with 11); PA has none and Lee has ONE .. Oh well , bad luck in the end .. Mahesh's match just started.

More bad news - At the grade-1 Australian Hardcourts, [R3] (3) K.Rastogi l.Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR,49), 46 46 today ..  Doubles for him and Sanaa still to go.

Jan 21 Note-1

Well, the tournament website refused to give the day's schedule till the first men's doubles match started in the afternoon .. And Prakash's match and Mahesh's match are about to start within half hour to an hour, as I type .. The expected start time for Prakash-HyungTaik doubles match is 2 pm Wednesday there (8.30 am India .. 10 pm 20th New York), +/- 15 minutes .. Mahesh's match will start about half hour later .. Come to our chatroom to follow the match scores, point by point! .. Go Kash, Go Hesh!!

Jan 20 Note-2

At the $10K USA F2 futures, Harsh advanced today with a tough win agains a top US junior -- [R1] H.Mankad d. Greg Ouellette (USA), 76(8) 46 62 .. At the $10K ITF circuit event at the Chris Evert Academy, Sania Mirza qualified into the main draw with a 63 63 win over Mariana Correa (USA, 837) .. She now plays Jennifer Tuchband, a wildcard American in the first round.

A correction on the Delhi $10K results .. According to Kamesh in The Hindu, 6th seed Sai lost today .. She had been troubled by the after effects of some dental surgery last week, and that might explain the bad scoreline against Lisa Tognetti .. I think there was a mistake in the earlier PTI report that Sai won..

I have added this year's latest AITA calendar at our calendar page .. There are three $25K+H men's challengers now listed for June - and again KSLTA seems to be up to their usual "take it to grassroots" business in Karnataka .. Three more new places in the list -- Mangalore, Udippi and Hassan, all within easy travel distance from Mangalore .. I didn't know that there were good enough courts at Hassan and Udippi (Ooh-Doo-ppi, actually), but heck I will take whatever courts they come up with, as long as the challengers get done .. Got to give it to Indians these days - confidence is skyhigh in getting things done.

Jan 20 Note-1

The Australian Open doubles draw did come out today, finally .. Leander is playing with Tomas Cibulec (CZE,29) and they are seeded 10th .. The surprise is that Prakash Amritraj (IND,240) is in the doubles draw!!! .. He is playing with Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR,119) .. I don't know how they made it in, but I suppose it was some sort of a wildcard (may be an Asian wildcard in doubles?), as the maind raw cuts aremuch higher than their sum rank of 359 .. Nice work again by Vijay Amritraj, I am sure -- I have no idea how he keep on pulling off magic like this .. It will be a great experience for Prakash to be playing doubles there .. So the trip to Australia did not go waste .. Mahesh and Max are back to their usual deal - they are seeded second .. Here are the matchups - [R1] (2) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi vs Devin Bowen (USA)/ Ashley Fisher (AUS) .. [R1] (10) T.Cibulec/ L.Paes vs Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG)/ Oscar Hernandez (ESP) .. [R1] P.Amritraj/ H-T.Lee vs Wayne Ferreira (RSA)/ Rick Leach (USA) .. Go Indians! .. LP and MB could run into each other in the QFs .. David Rikl, by the way, is not playing out there; I am not sure what's been up with him .. He has only played a couple of events (with Palmer) since Lee went into the illness layoff.

After so many months, I just updated the Leander Paes page .. Feels so good to talk about hgim playing again!

At the Delhi $10K, there were no surprises or upsets today - Isha, Rushmi, Megha, Ankita, Montinee, etc, all advanced .. In doubles, there are only two Indian teams in the quarterfinal after both Rushmi-Sai and Isha-Megha were upset yesterday .. See the Delhi women's $10K page for draws/ results.

The draw is out at the $10K USA F2 futures in Kissimmee, Florida, my favorite town name in the US -- like somebody has been forever complaining of some sort of osculatory transgression out there ... Harsh Mankad is the second seed and plays wildcard Greg Ouelette a pretty good US youngster .. The draw looks marginally easier this time, and Harsh may run into the 8th seed Frederico Luzzi (ITA,380) in the QF if the rankings hold up.

Sania Mirza moved into the qualifying Q3 round at the $10K in Florida .. [Q2] (7) Sania Mirza d. Karla Porter (USA,1104), 61 62 .. The final qualies is against Mariana Correa (USA, 837) who upset the 9th seed yesterday .. Sania, ranked #351 in doubles, is in the doubles main draw with a good partner - Natallia Dziamidzenka of Belarus, ranked #336 .. They are the 5th highest ranked pair there, but are unseed and run into the top seeded American pair, Jessica Lenhoff and Kelly McCain.

Mustafa Ghouse went down in the Q3 yesterday at the tough Doha $15K qualies, to the 3rd seed, Alexey Kedriouk (KAZ,452) , 06 36 .. Not likely that he would get an Lucky Loser spot in the main draw either, as he is 4th in that list I believe

Good news from the Australian Hardcourts Junior grade-1 .. Karan Rastogi maded the PQF yesterday with an easy win .. [R2] (3) Karan Rastogi (IND,6) d. Matt Symons (AUS,743) 61 64, which brings up [R3] vs Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR,49) .. In doubles, Karan and Divij played a barnburner and advanced to R2 - (7) K.Rastogi/ D.Sharan d. Martin Fischer/ Philipp Oswald (AUT), 76(5) 67(6) 63.

No surprises at the grade-3 Bangladesh ITF juniors yesterday .. Rupesh, Navdeep, Jeevan, Sanam and Kartik Raju reached R2 on the boys' side and Kartiki. Madura, Sandri, and Poojashree advanced on the girls' side .. The bad news was that 3rd seed Punam Reddy who had been coming on nicely lately, had to retire due to a bad back in the 3rd set of her match .. GK Shweta beat Vandana Murali .. I have posted the scores in our forum page on the juniors abroad ..

Jan 19 Notes

Still no news on the AO doubles draw .. I suppose the official website made a mistake and the draw will only be published as usual on Tuesday or wednesday and not on sunday like they promised.

The $10K ITF circuit event started at Delhi today .. Sheetal, Geeta, Iciri and Sandhya made the draw through qualies .. A more competitive field than at Hyderabad last week, as some Thai players like Montinee Tangphong (who never seems to lose while in India) and Thassha Vitayaviroj are in the mix .. In today's matches, Shruti Dhawan upset the 5th seed Tomoyo Takagishi (JPN,494) .. Young qualifier Sandhya Nagraj had a nice win over Po-Kuen Lam as well .. Sonal Phadke, who just returned to India from Dubai where she played the $10K last week and had reached the PQF, ran into the 8th seed Diana Julianto and went down .. In doubles, the top seeds Rushmi-Sai were upset by Montinee and Thassha .. See the Delhi women's $10K page for draws/ results.

Mustafa Ghouse  has reached the final qualies at the $15K Doha (Qatar F1a) futures .. [Q2] (14) M.Ghouse d. Patrick Fredrikson (SWE,1046), 62 63 .. Up next in the Q3 is the tough 3rd seed Alexey Kedriouk (KAZ,452) ..  Nishank Moshra lost the Q2 to the 9th seed Michihisa Onoda (JPN,527) 06 16 there .. Mustafa is in the doubles draw -- [R1] (3) B.Cassaigne (FRA)/ M.Ghouse vs J.Adaktusson (SWE)/ I.Klec (GER)  [Thanks go to our friend in Doha for news!]

Sania Mirza is at the qualies for the $10K in Boca Raton, Florida, seeded 7th .. Started with a win yesterday - Sania Mirza d.(WC) Sabaea Carrington (USA,NR) 60 64 .. She plays Karla Porter (USA,1104) next.

At the Grade-1 Australian Hardcourts ITF juniors at the Nottinghill Pinewood Tennis Club, Melbourne, only Karan Rastogi made the second round .. [R1] (3) K.Rastogi (IND,6) d. Steven Popovic (AUS,94), 75 16 63 .. [R1] Divij Sharan (IND,38) l. Julian Reister (GER,83), 36 64 57 .. [R1] (1) Sebastian Rieschick (GER,1) d. Tushar Liberhan (IND,48) 64 62 .. Tushar's loss against the top seed was not a surprise, but he at least held on for a set .. Close loss for Divij too .. Karan next plays Matt Symons, a talented 15 year old qualifier .. In girls' doubles, [R1] Sanaa Bhambri/ Ayu Fani Damayanti d. B.Bobusic/ D.Cupac 76(4) 46 63, so Sanaa got a bit of revenge on Bobusic for upsetting her in singles .. Karan and Divij are playing together in doubles and are seeded 7th [I suppose they are using the combined singles-doubles ranking for seeding/entry, otherwise with top-10 doubles rankings at year-end, these two would be a much higher seed] .. [R1] (7) Karan Rastogi (IND)/ Divij Sharan (IND) vs vs Martin Fischer/ Philipp Oswald (AUT).

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Jan 19 ..

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.