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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Jan 26, 1998

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Jan 27 Note-1

Wow ! That was anything but a cakewalk ! .. MB and Vis beat Kinnear/Miyagi, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 just now. The match got started finally at 7.30 pm there after Miyagi had a quick loss in her doubles match. MB/V were in trouble, down a break at the beginning of the second set. They came back and got two breaks to tie it up at one set each. Then the long final set. MB/V tried hard for a break in the 4th game, taking it to a couple of deuces, but failed. Then MB/V got broken at 3-4 and were behind 3-5. They held serve for 4-5 and the fireworks started. K/M were serving at 40-15, at matchpoint. MB/V fought back to force deuce. It went from there to deuce to match point to deuce.. for ever. Finally MB/V got the break to tie it up at 5-5. Then the next game went to deuce, but MB/V held. The final game off K/M also went to deuce. K/M fought off a matchpoint against them there, but finally our pair took the match home with a break. The match took about an hour and 45 minutes. MB is now in the quarterfinals of men's doubles and mixed doubles !

In the meanwhile, The Woodies are in the semifinals with a 3-set win over Lobo/Sanchez. Their opponents will be the Davids (MacPherson and Wheaton). By the way, Galbraith and MacPherson were right back out there playing a mixed doubles match after that marathon doubles match against each other for 5 1/2 hours ! This time MacPherson lost in the MX-D, and Galbraith won his MX-D (..and he had *another* tiebreaker in that 2 setter.. make it 4 tiebreakers and one 13-11 set in 6 sets in a row.. Is there a Society for Prevention of Cruelty against Tennis players ?.. :-)).

The LP/MB doubles quarterfinals against Gimelstob/MacPhie is today (Wednesday at AO, Tuesday evening in the US).

If you haven't seen it, check out the links to fanclub member Prakash Hemdev's site for pictures captured from NetCam at the LP/MB final-16 match against Hewitt/Smith. Click here.

Jan 26 Note-2

Mahesh's match is delayed because Nana Miyagi, the female half of his opponents, has only just started playing her doubles match. So, the start of his match will probably be delayed a good 2 to 3 hours (if at all it is played Tuesday night there at the AO). Why was Nana's match delayed ? Because, a classic doubles war was going on for close to six hours on that court !!! .. David MacPherson and David Wheaton against Patrick Galbraith and Brett Steven. The final score of this match just finished, is 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 13-11, the Davids won it over Goliath.. oops.. Galbraith's team who were 12th seeded. .. Total time - 5 hours 34 minutes.. (They play 5 setters from quarterfinals onwards at the AO). How about that ?.. Anyway, all the schedules are a bit messed up due to this.

Here is the report in The Hindu (by Nirmal Shekhar, the only Indian reporter down in Melbourne) on yesterday's LP/MB match against Hewitt/Smith : The 16-year old Hewitt, who won the Adelaide tournament earlier this month to become the newest Aussie prodigy, is quite a popular star and there was a good crowd in court No.2 for the match .. The fans had little to cheer about in the first set but both Hewitt and Smith started serving better in the second set and came very, very close to taking the match into a decider .. Serving to stay in the set in the 10th game, Bhupathi was down 15-40 but the Indians confidently fended off the two setpoints to hold to 5-5 and dominated the tiebreak where they led 6-1, allowed the Aussies a service point and finally closed out the match on the next point.

Jan 26 Note-1

Mahesh plays the final-16 mixed doubles tonight at the AO.

In case you didn't see the score from the front pages, Leander/Mahesh took care of the Aussie kids, Hewitt and Smith, 6-0, 7-6 (7-2) last night. Easy. Stroll in the park, till the kids showed some resistance in the second set. Anyway, the Dynamic Duo is now in the quarterfinals. They play Gimelstob and MacPhie.

Bad news today, again, for Manoj Mahadevan. He lost the junior doubles, with Eugenij Cariov (LTU), 6-2, 6-2, to Michael Llodra (FRA) and Andy Ram (ISR), seeded 5th .. The kid keeps running into seeds. Tough luck for him.

Good news for Nirupama, as the AITA, the Delhi Tennis Association, and the Tamil nadu Tennis Association have each announced Rs 2 lakhs each for her. That is a good $15K to go with $12K or so she made at the AO. Good to see the indian tennis organizations waking up. I have received some good reports on the sponsorship and agency fronts too. Will report if anything substantial develops that is not confidential.

Jan 25 Note-1

Mahesh and Leander play this afternoon against Hewitt/Smith.

The Junior Singles draws at the Australian Open have come out. India's Manoj Mahadevan (16 yr old highschool boy from Madras, trained at the Krishnans' Tennis Center) is in the main draw. At least we have one ! .. At the US Open, none made it in (even though Harsh Mankad and Manoj Mahadevan were in the doubles draw). The top 6 seeds are (1) Luis Horna (Peru), (2) Julien Jeanpierre (France), (3) Robin Vik (Czech Rep.), (4) Olivier Rochus (Belgium), (5) Wei-Jen Cheng (Taipei), and (6) Aisam Ul-Haq Quereshi (Pakistan). Manoj is unseeded, and has a tough first round match against the 14th seed today. Nice to see Pakistan's Aisam in there at the top. Aisam and Wei-Jen were two who took part in the prestigious Orange Bowl junior tennis tourney in the US last month (no Indians did) that Nicolas Massu of Chile won. The first round matches involving Asian Players are:

Manoj Mahadevan      IND  vs. Jakob Adaktusson       SWE (15)
Raimonds Sproga      LAT  vs. Danai Udomchoke        THA (14)
Nathan Healey        AUS  vs. Aisam Ul-Haq Quereshi  PAK (6)
Ryota Taguchi        JPN  vs. Pracharapol Khamsaman  THA
Quichee Wong         NZL  vs. Wei-Jen Cheng          TPE (5)

On the girls' side, there are no Indians, which shows the sad state of affairs in Indian women's tennis. The top six seeds are: (1) Kristina Triska (Sweden), (2) Evie Dominikovic (Australia), (3) Katarina Srebotnik (Slovak Rep.), (4) Zsofia Gubacsi (Hungary), (5) Jelena Kostanic (Croatia), and (6) Kildine Chevalier (France). There are a ton of Asian girls in the draw, though none are seeded. Indonesia has been chrning them out ! .. The only girl of Indian ethnicity is Kavita Krishnamoorthi who is from Canada. Here are the Asian girls in the first round :

Linda Tajnai         AUS  vs. Li Na                  CHI
Wynne Prakusya       INA  vs. Suchanan Viratprasert  THA
Kyung-Mi Chang       KOR  vs. Melanie Clayton        AUS
Melissa Dowse        AUS  vs. Frederika Girsang      INA
Remi Uda             JPN  vs. Kate Pinchbeck         AUS
Alexandra Stevenson  USA  vs. Eny Sulistyowati       INA
Orawan Wongkamalasai THA  vs. Natalie Grandin        RSA
Sybille Bammer       AUT  vs. Jin-Hee Kim            KOR
Rika Fujiwara        JPN  vs. Denira Penic           CRO
Karen Butler         AUS  vs. Kavitha Krishnamurthy  CAN

3 Indonesians, 2 Thais, 2 Japanese, 2 Koreans and 1 Chinese and not one Indian. This is nothing new, as we rarely have any on the girls' side, and it's a crying shame. The Indian tendancy is to blame the oraganizations (AITA, etc), but we should place higher blame on the society and especially the Indian parents who rarely give any encouragement to their daughters to pursue tennis seriously. Nirupama who got the family support for leaving school after her 12th standard and pursuing tennis, is a rare pioneer .. Things have got to change ..

The Junior doubles draws are not out yet. Manoj should be in there.

Jan 24 Note-3

Here are the 8 teams in the bottom half of the final-16 in doubles (prequarterfinals have started, but LP/MB are playing only tomorrow, Monday).

Jonas Bjorkman (SWE)   [ 18] & Jacco Eltingh (NED)     [  3]  ( 5) \
Sandon Stolle (AUS)    [ 39] & Cyril Suk (CZE)         [ 22]  (11) / \
Olivier Delaitre (FRA) [ 35] & Fabrice Santoro (FRA)   [ 34]  (13) \ / \
Ellis Ferreira (RSA)   [ 12] & Rick Leach (USA)        [  9]  ( 4) /    \
Justin Gimelstob (USA) [ 70] & Brian Macphie (USA)     [ 89]       \    /
Donald Johnson (USA)   [ 24] & Francisco Montana (USA) [ 26]  (10) / \ /
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)   [351] & Luke Smith (AUS)        [339]       \ /
Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)  [  8] & Leander Paes (IND)      [ 10]  ( 2) /

In the upper half, the 3rd, 8th and 12th seeds are alive to pose challenges to the Woodies, on the way to the finals (hopefully against LP/MB).. Gimelstob and MacPhie upset Eagle/Florent yesterday, 6-2, 6-2, which was rather surprising. If LP/MB move to the quarterfinals, it could be against Johnson/Montana. They have beaten J/M the last two times (Montreal and Cincinnati Super 9s) .. We will have to wait... First they need to dispose off the Aussie kids.

Jan 24 Note-2

The men's singles final at the South India Tennis Championship was won today by Marcus Hilpert (Germany), over Vasudev Reddy, 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 .. Vasu came back a couple of times from being down breaks in the first set, but fell apart in the second .. In the women's doubles final, the sisters Archana and Arthi Venkataramans defeatied Aarthi Ponnappa and Sai Jayalakshmi 7-5, 6-3.. See previous note below for other results completed yesterday.

The next tournament in India is the Rs. 2.50 lakh AITA ranking tournament, Century Club Open, in Bangalore, starting Monday. Marcus Hilpert and pretty much the same group of people will be going up there. Marcus has made a good bit of money, by winning all these titles in India. Basically you have to at least reach the finals of these events to break even, but Marcus has been winning most of them. The only Indian who has stood up to him and beat him so far, is Syed Fazaluddin (at the Chandigarh Satellites), who is back in Temple University in the US .. Incidentally, Marcus was asked recently (after he won the national grasscourts championship at Dulijian, Assam) what he thought of playing for India in Davis Cup. At ATP #472, he will be #3 in India above ATP #566 Prahlad Srinath. He said he would certainly give it some thought if asked, but surrendering the German passport and becoming Indian would be a tough decision (his mother is Indian). At 26, his priority has been trying to make whatever money he can, out of pro tennis.

Jan 24 Note-2

Some interesting news items about AITA. From The Hindu : At the end of a press briefing to announce the Indian Davis Cup team, AITA president Mr. R. K. Khanna was asked what the national body would do to support Nirupama's professional career in the future. His immediate reply was, "Do you know who was responsible for getting Nirupama a wild card into the Australian Open?... she was able to get a wild card only because of my personal equation with the president of Tennis Australia, Mr. Geoff Pollard.'' .... Now, this is interesting. I don't want to question anybody's integrity, and Mr. Khanna must have indeed talked to Mr. Pollard, but the fact is that Nirupama was the one they had to give the wildcard to, as the highest ranked top-200 player from an Asian country without a direct entry in the main draw (which I understand is the MOU stipulation between the Asian Tennis Federation and Tennis Australia, .. unless they have escape clauses in there). If Korea's Park had a ranking a few spots lower, she wouldn't have made it into the main draw and would have received the wildcard. In any case, if Mr. Khanna also took personal interest in it, that is of course creditable. Reports I am receiving from Delhi are that AITA has warmed up considerably to supporting Nirupama, and have recently decided to organize two press conferences showcasing her in Bombay and Delhi, next month. Good deal !

Here is Nirmal Shekhar's report in The Hindu, on LP/MB's second round match: Playing Wayne Arthurs and Andrew Kratzmann of Australia, Paes and Bhupathi hardly put a foot wrong as they raced to a 6-2, 6-3 victory in a little over an hour on show court No.4. With both the Indians returning well, the Aussies were up against the wall and before they knew what hit them, they were down 1-5. They fought hard to hold to 2-5 before Paes served out the first set. In the second, the Indians broke Arthurs' serve in the first and ninth games, the second time for the match with Paes setting up the matchpoint with a forehand crosscourt return winner and Bhupathi closing it out with a backhand crosscourt return winner. .. Hey, it is tough to give much more details on a whitewash match that got over in a hurry !

Uzma Khan (as expected) won the South India Tennis Championship singles at Madras. The men's singles finals are on Saturday.. The results are (courtesy: Indian Express): Men's Singles (SFs): Marcus Hilpert (Ger) d. Rohan Wadhera (Mah) 6-3, 6-2; Vasudeva Reddy d. Vijay Kannan, 6-2, 6-4. Doubles (Final): Marcus Hilpert & Gaurav Natekar d. Vasudeva Reddy & Praveen Kumar 6-2, 6-3. (SF): Hilpert & Natekar d. CV Anand & R.Balaji 6-0, 6-1; V.Reddy & P.Kumar d. Rishi Sridhar & Anand Radhakrishnan 6-1, 6-4. (QFs): Hilpert & Natekar d. Rohan Wadhera & Vijay Kannan 6-3, 6-2; V.Reddy & P.Kumar d. Vinod Sridhar & Rajkumar Gopalan 6-2, 6-1; Anand & Balaji d. Meenakshi Sundaram & Prem Prakash 6-2, 6-2; R. Sridhar & A.Radhakrishnan d. Suresh Kumar & Karthik Kumar 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. Women singles (Final): Uzma Khan d. Arati Ponappa 6-4, 6-1 (SF): Arati Ponappa d. Archana Venkataraman 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-2; Uzma Khan d. Sai Jayalakshmi 6-4, 6-3. Doubles (SFs): Sai Jayalakshmi & Arati Ponappa d. Aparna Srinivasan & Reetu Sethi 6-0, 3-6, 6-1; Archana/Arthi Venkataraman d. Uzma Khan & Trishna Williams 7-6 (7-1), 6-3. (QFs): S.Jayalakshmi & A.Ponappa d. Sandhya K & Samritha Sekar 6-2, 6-3; A.Srinivasan & R. Sethi d. Preethi Rao & C Nandita 6-3, 6-1; Archana V & Arthi V d. P.Sandhya & Jothika Choksi 6-2, 1-2 (conceded). See earlier results below.

Jan 24 Note-1

No matches for Leander or Mahesh today; so let's do some tidbits.

Something from a Polish newspaper, Zycie Warszawy (Warsaw) - a Grzybowska wykonala obowiazek, jakim - dzieki korzystnemu losowaniu - jawilo sie przejscie dwoch rund. Polka byla faworytka w meczu z Hinduska Vaidyanatha i potwierdzila to rozmiarami zwyciestwa: 6:2, 6:1. .... Hinduska ?.. Is that what they call Indians there ?.. Cool !.. Jai Hind !

Here is something from the Italian Newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport. (2/24/98) by Vincenzo Martucci: Tamarine, coi suoi vent'anni e il suo grande anticipo, è la simpatica mascotte delle minoranze del tennis. Che si fanno valere con la regina d'Indonesia, Yayuk Basuki (27 anni, n. 24 Wta), con le giapponesine che hanno adottato Claudio Pistolesi (allenatore di Suzuki e della Saeki), con la prima indiana a comparire in un torneo del Grande Slam: Nirupama Vaidyanathan, 21enne n. 196 della classifica, anche lei con papà campione (ma di cricket). Che dice orgogliosa: «L'India ha una buona quotazione tennistica: i Krishnan, padre e figlio, i fratelli Amritraj e il bronzo olimpico Leander Paes che, con Bhupathi, l'anno scorso ha vinto 6 tornei Atp e ha giocato il Masters. Ma solo uomini. Ci sono state giocatrici promettenti ma non sono state incoraggiate. E nessuna finora era diventata professionista, adesso sogno di entrare fra le prime 50 del mondo». .. I don't know what they are saying, but they sound scared.. after Niru upset one of their players and looking at facing our guys in the Davis Cup soon.. :-)

Yet another item (from Amitava Das Gupta in The Telegraph, Calcutta): Davis Cuppers from Calcutta : Dilip Bose, Naresh Kumar, Akhtar Ali, Premjit Lal, Jaidip Mukerjea, Chiradeep Mukerjea, Shyam Minotra, Gaurav Misra, Zeeshan Ali, Leander Paes, Syed Fazaluddin... That is a pretty impressive list. Other than Krishnans and the Amritrajs, everyone else, pretty much.

Talking about Shyam Minotra (the current chairman of the Davis Cup selection committee), he is quoted in all newspapers as to have said Fazaluddin is the first Indian to win a satellite after Leander. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think Mahesh won a satellite leg in India in late 1995 or 96.

Jan 23 Note-2

Mahesh and Caroline Vis finished off their opponents Pimek and Grande, 6-2, 6-0 in just over half an hour, to reach the final-16 in mixed doubles today (saturday down under). Mahesh must be sick of opponents just falling down prostrate in front every time. Hey, somebody give the man a fight. He is not even getting match practice. Now he gets a rest day on Sunday (which is not that good, because he may end up playing two matches, both the doubles and mixed doubles final-16s, on Monday).

Jan 23 Note-1

The fanclub asked.. and they have been granted .. Now there is a page that you can bookmark that will always automatically bring you (after a 3 second delay) to the current week's news/notes. Please go there and keep a bookmark, if you prefer not having to go through the LP/MB/NV pages to get here.

That match last night started and ended by the time we blinked. LP/MB thrashed the Aussies 6-2, 6-3 in about 50 minutes. Now they are in the final 16 and face Hewitt/Smith. That match should be tomorrow (Sunday in Melborne, Saturday here in the US). The kids have been looking good too, and they may schedule it at one of the bigger courts as there will be enough Aussies supporting their wunderkind and his buddy. Should be a good match, and may be the kids can a learn a few things from the Indian masters.

Here is what The Hindu had about the first round thrashing of Mirnyi/Sargsian earlier: Paes seemed to have overcome his problems with his stomach muscles and showed no signs of discomfort. But it was Bhupathi who was the star of the day as he served confidently and returned wonderfully well to play a near-perfect match .. "The stomach didn't bother me at all today. I hope it stays that way,'' said Paes.

Mahesh Bhupathi and Caroline Vis will play their first round mixed doubles match today (at about 7.30 pm PST in the US). Come on over to the chatroom to follow the match progress.

Jan 22 Note-2

Hey, talk about the devil and the devil writes newspaper articles ! .. Here is the link to Bud Collins' article on Nirupama Vaidyanathan in the Melbourne newspaper, The Age .. Interesting stuff, in Bud's own inimitable style.. He didn't come up with any ABCs this time though .. :-) ..

LP/MB play in another hour or so (around 10 or 10.30 pm PST, USA). The 3rd opponent for the winners are set. Lleyton Hewitt and Luke Smith. They won a tremendous match over a very good Adams/Kitinov team, 6-3, 6-7, 14-12. That 3rd set must have been a dandy which went on and on .. Anyway, these two kids are good. They were a top junior doubles team a while back (if I remember correctly, Manoj Mahadevan and a partner lost to them sometime last year.. may be at AO ?.. need to check on that). In other doubles matches, Goellner/Prinosil beat Brandi/Messori too (they had beaten Knowles/Nestor yesterday) .. remember Brandi/Messori ? .. They were one of the few teams out of the top-10 who could beat LP/MB since they started the hot streak last April. Italian team, whom LP/MB may face at Genoa in the Davis Cup in April ... but anyway, they are out.

Jan 22 Note-1

Good news and bad news on thursday. Leander and Mahesh seemed to have no problems at all against Mirnyi and Sargsian in the first round. 6-2, 6-2.. slam dunk.. murder city.. baybee (OK, my Dick Vitale impression there for basketball fans :-)). M/S did not even seem to get a point off our guys' serve. They now face Wayne Arthurs and Andrew Kratzmann Friday night at about 6 pm (thursday late night in the US). They have played Arthurs with Kitinov in the past and beat them. Leander gets more than a day to rest, which is good. If there were no injury flare-ups for Leander in the first round match, they should be fine in this one. The winner will play Hewitt/Smith (these kids had a straight sets win over Gould/Kerr) or Adams/Kitinov.  A surprise loss in the first round was Knowles/Nestor who lost to Goellner/Prinosil, 7-5, 7-5. Otherwise, the matches have gone as expected so far. The Woodies advanced in straight sets; so Woodforde's injury is alright too, as in Leander's case. But then again, the Woodies and LP/MB are in a higher league where they can beat a lot of people even with their legs tied down to cement blocks !

Now the bad news. Nirupama lost 6-2, 6-1 to Magdalena Grzybowska. This was not exactly unexpected, as Grzyblahblah is a very talented young player who is making some noise herself. Niru certainly should be proud, for putting "Indian women's tennis on the world map", as Nirmal Shekhar says in The Hindu. He also reported that the media was abuzz with questions on who the heck Nirupama was. The most impressive report is that no less a media icon than Bud Collins (who is in the tennis hall-of-fame at Newport, and from whom the aforementioned Dick Vitale must have learned all the tricks of the media trade) was asking about Nirupama. Bud supposedly coined the term ABC (Amritraj-Borg-Connors) in the early seventies. Hey, how about a KLM-NW (Kounikova-Lucic-Martina-Nirupama-Williams) fly-high club ?.. Just kidding.

In other news, the quarterfinals are done at the South India Tennis championships at Chennai. Two kids are looking good there. Vijay Kannan defeated Gaurav Natekar earlier on, and is in the semis. Uzma Khan who has been beating everybody for the last year is at it again, too. The results are .. Men: Marcus Hilpert (Ger) bt Vinod Sridhar (TN) 6-4 6-2; Vasudev Reddy (IOC) bt KG Ramesh (Rlys) 6-3, 6-1; Rohan Wadhera (Mah) bt Anand Radhakrishnan (WB) 0-6, 6-0, 7-6 (7-2); Vijay Kannan (TN) bt Meenakshi Sundaram (TN) 6-3, 6-7 (3-7) 6-1 .. Women: Aarti Ponappa (Kar) bt V Arthi (Kar) 6-3, 6-2; Uzma Khan (AP) bt Aparna Srinivasan (Mah) 6-1, 6-0; Sai Jayalakshmi (TN) bt SK Tara (Kar) 4-6, 6-2, 6-0; V Archana (Kar) bt Reetu Sethi (Mah) 6-4, 6-3 (scores are courtesy: Indian Express).

Jan 21 Note-2

If you haven't noticed, the Nirupama Vaidyanathan Homepage has been up and running. There is a link to a newly-added bio page there. Check it out ! .. Also, The Leander Paes results page is all up-to-date with his current point tally, etc. Upcoming: Mahesh Bhupathi complete singles record for 1997 (soon, I promise..)

Jan 21 Note-1

Leander and Mahesh are playing their first round match today. Still no on-site news from our friends Bill & Merle Benkavich, who I presume are still without email access (that was a minor detail we missed out on ! .. :-)). So, we have to hope that Leander has had a quick enough recuperation from the stomach injury. Anyway, if they somehow pull through the first round against Mirnyi/Sargsian, their next round opponents will be the Aussie pair Arthurs/Kratzmann who defeated another Aussie pair, Ellwood/Tramacchi yesterday. In the doubles draw, there have been no surprises so far with all established pairs advancing (Johnson/Montana, Eagle/Florent, Grabb/Reneberg, Stolle/Suk, DeJager/Koenig, Randall/Waite, Kempers/Oosting, Lobo/Sanchez, and Brandi/Messori). The exception would be Arnold/Orsanic who lost to Alami/Van-Houdt. Philippossis/Rafter lost, but to Albano/Corretja which cannot be considered an upset. In other news, the brand-new US team of promise, Stark/O'Brien, had a good win over a tough South African pair, Barnard/Haygarth. Siemerink/Vacek ran up against Lobo/Sanchez and lost meekly, 2-6, 4-6 (Vacek needs Kafelnikov with him..).

Now, who is Caroline Vis, the new Mx-d partner for Mahesh ? .. She is from Netherlands and is one who should be considered a doubles specialist (ranked #15 in WTA doubles). Not too many big doubles titles, but has won a lot of matches over the last couple of years with her regular partner, Yayuk Basuki of Indonesia, the highest ranked Asian woman doubles player. Now Caroline has Mahesh, the highest ranked Asian Men's doubles player, with her. She knows how to pick 'em , eh ? .. She created a big stir in early November at the Ladies Kremlin Cup doubles finals by being subject to a rare disqualification, for swearing at the umpire (Arantxa/Zvereva automatically won over Basuki/Vis). The reports were that this was way too much punishment for a momentary lapse of reason. She immediately apologized to the umpire and to the fans. Not to condone the act, but apparently she had more than enough reason to be upset on a net-chord serve she let go on a big point, and she did much less than what people like McEnroe and Connors routinely got away with. Anyway, here is a webpage on Caroline. Not much there, except some vital statistics, and you need to know Dutch to understand it .. for instance, "Kremlin Finals (met Basuki)" doesn't mean she met her there .. :-) .. "met" means "with"..

Seb Lareau upset Tillstrom, as well. I bet a healthy LP could beat Lareau, had he advanced .. Even more sadly, Carlos Moya was upset by Richard Fromberg, which means, LP could have played Fromberg after beating Lareau .. :-(

Jan 20 Note-2

The mixed doubles draw is out. It's a 32-draw (the French Open had a 48-draw last year, and the US Open had a 32-draw; it varies). Mahesh is playing with Caroline Vis of Netherlands (seeded 4th). Ther top seed is Woodbridge/Arantxa, followed by #2 Leach/Bollegraf and #3 Galbraith/Raymond. Larissa Neiland, originally to be the partner for Leander (they would have been the 3rd seed had he played) is with David Adams and is seeded 7th. Here is the immediate draw for Bhupathi/Vis (ranks in brackets):

David Adams (RSA)      [ 27] & Larisa Neiland (LAT)  (7) [ 10]  \
Pablo Albano (ARG)     [ 36] & Mercedes Paz (ARG)        [ 51]  / \
Andrew Kratzmann (AUS) [ 59] & Kerry-Anne Guse (AUS)     [ 41]  \ / \
Daniel Nestor (CAN)    [ 16] & Brenda Sch-McCarthy (NED) [ 44]  /    \
Kent Kinnear (USA)     [ 84] & Nana Miyagi (JPN)         [  9]  \    /
Joshua Eagle (AUS)     [ 38] & Rennae Stubbs (AUS)       [ 28]  / \ /
Libor Pimek (BEL)      [ 44] & Rita Grande (ITA)         [ 50]  \ /
Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)  [  8] & Caroline Vis (NED)    (4) [ 15]  /

Nirupama Vaidyanathan's doubles ranking of 164 is a bit lower than needed to get in; so she is not in the draw.

Jan 20 Note-1

The news is terrible from down under. Leander has a stomach muscle injury from last week at Sydney and that was why he had such a terrible time in his first round match against Tillstrom. Here is what Nirmal Shekhar reported in The Hindu (our own guys down there seem to be having internet access trouble ? .. no direct reports yet): "Anything over the shoulder hurt. I just couldn't serve half as well as I can and it's a pity it had to happen,'' said Paes, who pulled out of the mixed doubles - he was to have played in the company of Larisa Neiland - and promptly left to see a doctor .. The doctor had his stomach taped and advised him two days's rest. ``He said if I got treated every day, I could still play doubles. But I have to maybe take a week off after that for complete treatment,'' said the Indian Davis Cup star who has requested a Thursday start in doubles .. Anyway, If he can somehow play the doubles matches, he can certainly take a few days break before Dubai. We will try to get some news on LP's recuperation.

Leander was at Nirupama's match on Monday along with her coach David O'Meara and were among the first to congratulate her on the historic win. The tournament director Paul McNamee was happy to see the Asian wildcard helping exactly how it was meant to and said he hoped Indian women's tennis would benefit from this. Here are the excerpts from The Hindu report: It was a brilliant effort from a player ranked 196 .. Nirupama's tennis was something of a revelation. She has improved so much in the last 12 months that she seems a different player altogether. Coach David O'Meara has made a few technical adjustments to her game, something that has certainly helped. But what is even more striking is her attitude on court and her ability to control the big points. Pizzichini has been playing in the Slams since 1993 and was ranked No.45 in December 1996 although she ended 1997 at No.86. The diminutive Italian is a superb competitor with impressive groundstrokes - attributes that saw her stretching Martina Hingis to three sets at the French Open last year .. In the first set, after trading early breaks, Pizzichini stepped on the pedal at 5-5 and wrapped up the set in quick time. What is more, she opened up a 2-0 lead in the second before Nirupama stormed back in style, hitting lovely passes, going for her shots and bringing them off on the big points .. Pizzichini seemed touched by nerves early in the decider as Nirupama raced to a 4-0 lead. The inspired Indian then allowed the little Italian two service games before closing out the match confidently with a backhand crosscourt winner. "This is really a dream come true. I am so excited,'' said Nirupama ..

The mixed doubles draw is not out yet. Also, no news on Mahesh Bhupathi. Mx-doubles should be starting by thursday. Nirupama is playing women's doubles today (wednesday in Melbourne already) at 10 am there. Will report scores later.

Jan 19 Note-4

Here is the immediate draw in women's doubles for Nirupama Vaidyanathan at the AO (they are in the 1/8th of the draw with the 8th seeds Lisa Raymond - Rennae Stubbs) :

Seda Noorlander (NED)    [ 80] & Noelle Van Lottum (FRA)     [117]  \
Nathalie Dechy (FRA)     [175] & Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND) [164]  / \
Sung-Hee Park (KOR)      [ 48] & Shi-Ting Wang (TPE)         [ 45]  \ /
Ines Gorrochategui (ARG) [ 35] & Irina Spirlea (ROM)  (13)   [ 36]  /

The first round match looks to be winnable, and then it gets tougher .. Hope she moves on.

In other news, Mark Woodforde retired injured in the 3rd set of his singles match yesterday. Apparently he is still in the doubles draw with Todd Woodbridge and will play. He was about to lose in straight sets in singles and his foot was hurting; they expect there to be no seriuous damage, but medical examination results are awaited. Hey, I wanted to see that LP/MB vs Woodies dream final.. Get well, Mark !

Jan 19 Note-3

The doubles draw just came out. LP/MB have a pretty darn good draw for the first three rounds (that is what you normally get for being seeded #2). Here it is (with individual doubles rankings in brackets)

David Adams (RSA)      [ 27] & Aleksandar Kitinov (MKD) [ 47] (15) \
Richard Fromberg (AUS) [167] & Jamie  Holmes (AUS)      [173]      / \
Jed Gould (AUS)        [408] & Jordan Kerr (AUS)        [374]      \ / \
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)   [351] & Luke Smith (AUS)         [339]      /    \
Wayne Arthurs (AUS)    [ 98] & Andrew  Kratzmann (AUS)  [ 59]      \    /
Ben Ellwood (AUS)      [342] & Peter Tramacchi (AUS)    [191]      / \ /
Max Mirnyi (BLR)       [ 94] & Sargis  Sargsian (ARM)   [140]      \ /
Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)  [  8] & Leander Paes (IND)       [ 10] (2)  /

Hmm.. there are 10 Australians in that group of 16 players. No established doubles teams here (except for Adams/Kitinov and the talented wildcard junior pair of Hewitt and Smith who have played together a lot). Mirnyi and Sargsian are the first opponents and they are both good doubles players who have very occasionally played together too. If LP/MB play like they can, without getting overconfident (and allowing people to get back in the game in the second sets, as they often do), they should have a pretty easy passage all the way to the quarterfinals. The adjacent 8-team draw is much, much tougher with teams like Eagle/Florent, Lareau/Norwal (seed-7), Tebbut/Tillstrom, Johnson/Montana (seed-10), Henman/Roesset, and Dosedel/Pimek. A ton of damn good doubles players and teams there. If I were to guess, E/F, J/M or even T/T will advance to the quarterfinals from that group to face LP/MB's groups quarterfinalist.

In other interesting developments in the doubles draw, Stark and O'Brien are playing together ("Thank you Lord" must be what US tennis fans starved for a Davis Cup doubles team would be saying to this !..Good luck to them). That explains why Lareau is with Norwal. Eltingh is playing with Bjorkman .. I guess this is a temporary thing, since Haarhuis is injured; anyway, Jan Apell, Bjorkman's old partner who recently joined him after a long injury layoff, is playing with Wayne Black.. I was waiting to see how Bjorkman/Apell would be, back together.. now we'll have to wait longer for that.. Bjorkman's last year's partner, Niklas Kulti is playing with Byron Black .. Pimek and Talbot have split up and have new partners .. Dan Vacek is playing with Siemerink, and Kafelnikov is nowhere to be found .. David MacPherson is playing with David Wheaton, and Trevor "El Tank" Kronemann is missing .. Knowles/Nestor is back together (am I mistaken, or weren't they supposed to be splitting up ?..). And, finally, Jeff Tarango has a new partner, Jens Knippschild (he has trouble keeping partners or what ?.. :-))

Jan 19 Note-2

Nirupama Vaidyanathan's win in the first round at the AO is the first time that any Indian woman has won a round at a Grand Slam event. It's about time Indians recognized what Nirupama is all about. Heard yesterday that the total endorsement income she has, despite becoming the first Indian woman to crack into the world top-150 in ages, is a grand total of ZERO even now. What she needs desperately is a travelling coach. David O'Meara in Florida (also coached Leander earlier; was at the Brittania-Amritraj Tennis center, if I am not mistaken) is who she likes to have around as coach, but travel costs money and she has financial problems in buying her own ticket to tournaments (she only made about $15-20K last year, and that's not enough for even buying racquets). Time for somebody to wake up and find the marketability in this woman. She has only turned 21 in december, and has several good years and unlimited potential ahead of her. Once again, if anybody who is reading this has any ideas on sponsorship/support, drop me (R. Jayakrishnan) a line (email).. A few of us are trying to help (she does not even have an agent representing her, as of now).

The new ATP rankings are out, and there is no big change in LP's and MB's rankings. LP is at #124 in singles, MB is at #223. Doubles rankings remain the same. Prahlad Srinath has come up to #566 and Syed Fazaluddin has come up (from being previously unranked) to #801 in singles. They are the 3rd and 4th highest ranked Indian players.

The South Indian Tennis championships have started in Chennai. Marcus Hilpert is the top-seed (that dude does not want to leave India, huh ?). Prahlad just pulled out of it (that's fine.. no ATP points there). On the women's side, Uzma Khan has won the first round easily. I will occasionally post some notes here on that tournament.

The AO doubles draw is not out still.

Jan 19 Note-1

It is 1 am out here in California.. why am I up ? .. 'cause I wanted to get some good news after that Leander match .. and sure, there is !

Nirupama Vaidyanathan didn't disappoint. She just pulled off the biggest win of her career !!.. Defeated #89 Gloria Pizzichini .. Just cut her down to Pizza and Fettuccini .. 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 .. How about that ? .. Nirupama was in trouble after allowing a break in the 12th game and losing the first set 5-7, and then falling behind 0-2 in the second. Well, she broke back, and really never looked back, in winning 12 of the next 16 games. She now gets some 32 points, and will get her ranking back up inside the top-160. Yeah, Go Niru ! .. Her next round opponent will be Magdalena Grzybowska who beat Cataline Cristea, 6-3, 6-2 easily.