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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the week ending on Jan 31, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2005)

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Jan 31 Notes

Terrific news today .. Shikha Uberoi (USA,149) qualified into the $170K Tier-III Pattaya City WTA in Thailand .. In the final qualifying round today, she pulled off another good comeback, eventually shellacking Tatiana Poutchek (BLR,218), 26 62 62 .. In the main draw, she faces the 3rd seeded veteran Spanish lady, Conchita Martinez (ESP,43) .. Conchita hasn't played all that well in a few months, but nontheless an upset would be incredible, if SU can pull it off .. Qualifying in has given Shikha over 11 WTA points already, and she will move up from #149 by about 6 or 7 spots ..

Today's rankings show two Indian women in the top-150 for the very first time ever (even though one of them is currently listed under USA, but expected to change that soon) .. Sania at #132 and Shikha at #149 ... Who woulda thunk this was possible, even 6 months back?

The big news today is that the legend of legends, Martina Navratilova would be coming to Hyderabad .. Oh boy, what a job by Mahesh adnd CGK to makeit happen .. It would be something that Hyderbad tennis fans can remember for ever -- the day they went down and watched the great one play doubles .. She will decide whom she would play with, once she gets in town .. According to the list of players sent out in the press release from Globosport today, both Sania and Shikha are in the main draw .. SM will get a wildcard, and it appears that Shikha has made the main draw .. There are three withdrawals (Dokic, Cervanova and Nakamura) from the initial list (but none of the top 9 or so players have withdrawn yet, I believe) -- I think that put Sescioreneu, Bychkova and Uberoi in the main draw .. They would have found a way to give SU a wildcard anyway though.

The ITF grade-2 "Adidas" Junior international has started in Delhi .. The big upset of the day was by 15 year old Parija Maloo, ranked 732, who upset the #167 ranked sixth seed  Else Potgieter in a comeback after dropping the first set at love! .. Great job .. 14 year old wildcard Poojashree Venkatesh also had an upset win today .. Otherwise things went as expected .. See the Delhi juniors page for the results.

I was rather surprised to find that two Indian juniors are playing this week at the prestigious "Le Petite As" u14 tournament in Tarbes, France .. Ronak Manuja from Pune, 13 year old who is #5 in the domestic u14 ranks; and Prerna Mythri from Andhra Pradesh, 14 years old, who is #3 in the u14 ranks .. They both got main draw wildcards there .. Ronak plays Marcelo Astorga from Mexico and Prerna plays a qualifier TBD .. Not sure how they got the wildcards, but great to see our kids out there.

Jan 30 Notes

Some good news from $170K Pattaya City WTA in Thailand, about Shikha Uberoi (USA,157 -- hey, high time her country affiliation changed to IND) .. She has reached the final round of qualies there .. Seeded 3rd in the qualies, she beat Olha Savchuk (UKR,288) in the first round and then Meng Yuan (CHN,322) in a good comeback today, 26 64 76(5) .. Always good to see Indian girls beat those doughty Chinese girls who fight tough .. Shikha plays the tough 8th seed Tatiana Poutchek (BLR,222) tomorrow in the final round .. Go Shikha!

Some bad news to report .. Somdev "Buji" DevVarman got injured a few days back as he tripped and fell while jogging in Virginia ..Fell on his wrist which is in bad shape .. Nothing serious but he will miss a few weeks of play in college tennis, along with the chance to play at the big Memphis ATP qualies, where he had earned a wildcard by playing and winning a tough event last month .. Get well fast, Buji! .. Somdev, by the way, debuted in the US college rankings this month at an incredible #22 !! .. That is truly phenomenal for a freshman player to go that high .. For comparison, somebody as good as Harsh Mankad, who reached the college #1 in his third year, went inside the top-50 only in his second year .. Buji has hardly played one semester of tennis .. A 17-4 record with a whole slew of top-100 wins would give you that kind of terrific rankings .. He is pretty down about the little injury though ..

The second ITF junior event in the Indian circuit, the big grade-3 "Adidas" tournament, is all set to start in Delhi tomorrow .. The girls' draw has become considerably tougher than at Kolkata, but the boys event loses a bit of shine, with Rupesh Roy not playing this one -- not sure why he is not playing .. Even last week he had not enetered the event and had come in as a wildcard .. He is not listed a s a wildcard for this week .. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, set to go past Rupesh as the #1 iIndian junior, will be the top seed at Delhi .. The singles title yesterday at Kolkata along with some points from the doubles final will move Jeevan to right around #60 in the junior rankings .. The big fight is expected to be between Jeevan, Vivek Shokeen and Sanam Singh .. On the girls' side, Madura Ranganathan (IND,127) joins second seed Sandhya Nagaraj who should now be going inside the top-100 with the Kolkata title points .. Sandhya and Madura are the only seeded Indians and they come in as second and third .. The final qualifying rounds got completed today .. See the scores in the Delhi juniors page ..

Jan 29 Notes

Every now and then we get a "feeling" about a young player as the next big one to make some news .. I have been getting that "feeling" about Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan for a while .. Just from following the improvement in his results and the way he wins matches - but as always, I never get to see any of these kids play .. The 16 year old won the title today at the Kolkata Grade-3 ITF, beating the 5th seed Xiao-Peng Lai rather easily in straight sets -- he had lost to Lai, who is an year older, last year at the same event in Kolkata in the QF in straight sets .. Jeevan is really beginning to come to his own .. In fact, it was double joy for us today, as the top seeded Sandhya Nagaraj (IND,123), also a 16 year old, had a straight win in the final over the 2nd seed Dominice Ripoll (GER,181) .. Sandhya's game has improved a lot too, according to a report in our forum .. See the Kolkata Juniors page ..  Congrats to both the winners .. Now, let us keep this going to the more prestigious grade-2 in Delhi, starting on Monday .. A few more players are joining, especially on the girls' side, where the draw at Kolkata was relatively weaker.

No confirmed news yet about which big name(s) will be coming down for the Hyderabad WTA in a week's time .. Mahesh and CGK Bhupathi have been working hard to pull something off .. Today's Deccan Chronicle reported some comments from CGK Bhupathi, who said that a lot of the finances came through only a couple of weeks back and so they could only get into a game a little late, as far as appearance money is concerned .. They could probably handle one big name, may be two with the appearance money budget (btw, it is rather refreshing to see a tournament director speaking plainly about this!) .. He said that appearance money is not the issue in Martina Navratilova's case; just that she has other current commitments, and so it is up in the air .. Hope the legend can manage to somehow come .. For others, yeah, money would talk .. Let us see what happens .. Already we are probably in good shape, as the biggest name is of course Sania! -- who needs anybody else? .. Those like the usual favorites Tammy Tanasugarn and Iroda Tulyaganova would all add color anyway ..

Jan 28 Notes

At the Wrexham challenger in UK, 4th seeded Mustafa Ghouse and James Auckland were upset by Michael Ryderstedt (SWE) and and Pavel Snobel (CZE) 75 64 in the quarterfinal .. Not sure where Mustafa will be playing next week .. I did not see his name in the entry list for the 4-week $50K UK satellites startiung on Monday (where Harsh Mankad is expected as one of the top seeds) ..

At the $10K in Qatar, Jaco Mathew and Woong-Sun Jun (KOR) lost in the semifinal to the 3rd seed Swiss Pair, Stephane Bohli and Michael Lammer after a tough fight, 36 62 67(2) .. Young Jaco has really played quite well in doubles lately, though his singles results have been a bit patchy .. Good to see him making his best effort to create a break for himself in the pro tour.

At the Kolkata grade-3 ITF juniors, a true "next big hope" for Indian tennis, Jeeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,85), reached the final with a tough comeback win 36 76(5) 63 over the other big hope, Vivek Shokeen .. The top seed Rupesh Roy, lost in the semi though .. Jeevan turned 16 only a couple of months back, and I expect him to make some big waves in the next two years if all goes well .. 17 year old Vivek himself is no easy foe, as he has done rather well in the satellite pro events and has a top-900 rank now .. Rupesh was a winner last year at the Kolkata grade-3 and will now lose some points .. Of course, there are two more ITF junior events to go -- hopefully RR can get back into it and keep his top rank, though I believe Jeevan may over take him in two weeks with a rank near top-70 with the points from Kolkata .. Jeevan runs into the 5th seed Xiao-Peng Lai in the saturday final .. On the girls' side, the top two seeds, Sandhya Nagaraj (IND,123) and Dominice Ripoll (GER,181) are in the final .. Sandhya had a surprisingly easy 62 61 win over the 3rd seed Yulia Parasyuk (RUS,224) ..

Jan 27 Notes

At the $25K+H Wrexham challenger in UK, James Auckland and Mustafa Ghouse, seeded 4th, advanced to the QF without sweating much, on a walkover from the British wildcards Jamie Delgado anmd Joshua Goodall .. They play Michael Ryderstedt and Pavel Snobel in the QF on Friday.

Jaco Mathew is at the $10K futures in Doha, Qatar this week .. Jaco and Woong-Sun Jun beat Chul-hee Lee (KOR) and Hyun-woo Nam (KOR) 64 76(5) and then got past the second seeds David Novak and Martin Vacek as the Czech pair withdrew at 2-0 in the first set .. In the semifinal they play the 3rd seeded Swisss pair, Stephane Bohli and Michael Lammer .. Earlier in the qualies first round, Jaco had lost 46 26 to Sunu Wahya Trijati of Indonesia ..

At the ITF grade-3 "ONGC" junior tournament in Kolkata, the 3rd seed Sanam Singh got upset but the other top seeds from India -- Rupesh, Jeevan, Vivek, Sandhya, etc advanced to the SF  .. See the Kolkata Juniors page.

And, oh, STOP PRESS!! .. Sania has got a wildcard to the Hyderabad Open!!! :-) Yeah!!!  .. Just kidding .. Of course this was fully expected -I don't think there has been a more assured wildcard to anybody in the history of WTA, ever! .. Hope the girl would be fine to play without causing any damage to thant gimpy ankle .. She reportedly met Andrew Leipus the physio guru of the Indian cricket team, at Mumbai .. She is back in Hyderabad to absolutely an tumultous and chaotic welcome as usual  .. She might go back up to Mumbai to see Leipus again ..

We should see an update of the entry list to the Hyderabad Open by tomorrow .. Tournament director CG Krishna Bhupathi had said that Iroda Tulyaganova (UZB) a fan favorite down there would be given another wildcard .. That leaves only the gold/silver exempt wildcard available to use, I guess .. Names like Dokic have appeared for that .. It also seems that Martina Navratilova might come down too (though that news is unconfirmed) - I assume that may be only for doubles, but I am not sure .. That would be big for the tournament if the legend shows up - I hope she does! .. I assume Shikha Uberoi deserves one wildcard, but she was only a few spots ouot from the main draw, and they may know that she is making it directly .. Anyway, let us will wait and see --- I have no inside info at this point but I think we will have some news releases soon from Globosport.

Jan 26 Note-2

Not a whole heck of a lot happening in tennis for us .. The only serious event is the ITF grade-3 in Kolkata .. That has reached the quarterfinal stage, and most top seeds are all alive on the boys side but only three seeds have reached QF on the girls' side .. Tejesvi Rao went down today, but Rupesh, Jeevan, Sanam, Vivek are all in the QF .. Top seed Sandhya is the only Indian seed remaining, but Poojashree, Shivika, Tejaswini and Asha are in rge QFs .. See the Kolkata Juniors page.

On the injury front -- just saw the entry list based on doubles ranks for the ATP events for the Feb 7 week, and Leander has not entered .. So it will bet least a 4 weeks break for him .. Mahesh also is not playing doubles in the next two weeks (unless he decides to play with a singles player and decides to sign in later) ..

Here is an article in the Times of India with some
interesting comments from CGK Bhupathi - Sania's coach at one time, and I believe a continuing advisor for her -- here is something he said, (quote) "She showed an amazing attitude right from the first day. She made friends with me. She didn't treat me as a coach, but took the relationship to a comfortable level, which few kids are able to, as I am rather strict. But she took the yelling and would convert it to a joke," he laughs .. That is an interesting angle -- indeed, I have always felt that Sania's best quality is something that goes beyond tennis -- which is that she stays positive and seems always eager to take on the world and enjoy it .. Her confidence comes from that positive approach.  CGK also said something else (probably referring to some changes put in by Coach Bob Brett - "Sania had the muscle memory and talent to unlearn her faulty serve, learn a new one and retain that memory even without help. It's this ability which will catapult her into the top 10" .. Well, that speaks also about the determination that Sania has .. By the way, this is something I like about CGK.  He has his own opinions and interesting angles on everything, which I like -- he may not always be right I suppose, but he has a certain eye for analyzing the details in his own way to form his opinions; and he is also willing to say it out, rather than keep it to himself like many Indians do.  Those of you who have been in our chatroom over the years when CGK has been there, I am sure, would remember many interesting opinions from CGK, uncluding about Sania - about whom his expectations were always very very high! ...

Jan 26 Note-1

Not a good day, as the Australian Open hoopla ended for us today with Mahesh Bhupathi and Todd Woodbridge bowing out to the 5th seeds Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett, 67(3) 36 in a close match .. One break each in either set for our guys .. Then a final break by the Zimbabwe pair in the 8th game of the second set proved decisive .. MB-TW had a last chance to extend the match with a 30-40 break point in the final game, but WB-KU saved that one and converted their first match point to reach the semifinal .. So, mahesh and Todd had their seven match win streak snapped.

On the heals of the news on Sania's ankle problem, there is more bad news on the injury front .. Just found that Prakash Amritraj withdrew yesterday from the two Mexican futures (on Jan 31 and Feb 7) that he had entered earlier .. Medical withdrawal .. I guess he is not recovered from the injury that kept him out of the Delhi futures last week .. I will try to find out how he is doing , but this will now be at least a 4 weeks break.

Not much surprise at the ITF grade-3 juniors in Kolkata in the few first round matches done yesterday .. One name that I notice is Mohammed fariz from Tamil Nadu, who had upset the top seed in the qualies earlier, and reached the second round with an easy upset win over an Uzbek player .. Otherwise it was mostly all doubles on Tuesday .. See the Kolkata Juniors page ..

By the way, here is an article in today's Indian Express by Micky Aigner - Hyderbad's second girl in Melbourne - about Punam Reddy .. Though she lost, I think she played well there, and it is extremely heartening to see a newspaper article on her, despite her loss .. Who said Indian newspapers only write the hot story of the day ? .. Good job, Micky.

Also, there was a nice article in the Rediff.Com yesterday - Harsh Years .. Very well researched piece - also with a lot of frank comments from Harsh Mankad .. The good news is also that he has found a sponsor to handle at least small part of his expenses .. I was surprised that Rediff.Com had the guts to put a front  page link to that article saying, "Harsh Mankad - Indian Tennis' Big Hope"  -- we are known to lose hope on our players very fast, and it is nice to see that has not bought the naysayers' word that if you don't crack top-100 by 22 you are not worth it! .. Good job, Deepti Bhatnagar .. Especially nice to see these articles, when many newspapers are jumping on the bandwagon and are bringing out their very best gossip and fashion writers to talk about SaniaMania!  

But then again, Rediff.Com also had a bit on the front page, advertizing Sania singing on Rediff radio .. Hmmm, I didn't know that the girl can sing! .. What next?  Sania, the Kuchipudi dancer?  :) :) .. But really, though I worry about Sania's time being wasted on these things, it is great that the girl can handle all this - and it will only help Indian tennis by getting young girls interested in tennis as a glittering career.

Jan 25 Notes

MB-TW play the doubles QF on the big Rod Laver arena to kick off the wednesday action at 11 am (5.30 am India .. 12 am London .. 7 pm TUE New York) .. They play the 5th seeds Black-Ullyett, who seem to be in good form, having dropped no sets in three matches so far .. The winner of this match will get an unseeded but not necessarily an easy team, the surprising singles-pair Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Waske, who upset the top seeds Knowles-Nestor in the first round itself .. They too haven't dropped a set so far.

Some sobering news from the Deccan Chronicle, which reports that Sania's ankle injury is not that minor .. Quoting in whole (as the newspaper articles are not archived there) - “The MRI scan (done on Monday) has revealed swelling on the left ankle bone and I have been advised to rest for at least two to three weeks,” Sania told Deccan Chronicle from Mumbai ... That certainly throws her preparation for the home event, starting on February 7, out of gear. “It will affect my training sessions in the build-up to the Hyderabad Open,” Sania acknowledges ... “For the time being I am not practicing. I’ll see how I feel next week, probably next Monday, to assess the situation,” she said ... Sania said she was “seeing another physio tomorrow here in Mumbai,” reason why she would not be coming back home to Hyderabad on Tuesday .. Hopefully she will be OK in a couple of weeks time.  Get well fast, Sania!

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Jan 24 ..

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