Notes for the week ending on Feb 03, 2003
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Feb 3 Note-1
Great news! .. Manisha Malhotra just finished her match in center court winning the 3rd and final round of qualies .. [Q3] M.Malhotra (IND,345) d. H.J.Kim (KOR,299), 76 64 .. How about that? .. One of her best wins on the pro tour .. And she becomes the first and only Indian to qualify into a WTA event in India! .. Manisha showed a lot of her grit today, coming back from (I believe) two breaks down at 0-4 in the first set to even it at 4-4, and then saving two set points at 4-5 to send it to a tiebreaker .. I think she went up 3-1 in the second set and cruised to a win from there, converting her first match at 5-4, 40-30.
See the Hyderabad WTA page .. The main draw is set to start around now, as a couple more qualifying matches are getting done. Sania/ Mary vs Rushmi/ Sai is the featured night doubles match on the center court.
The doubles draw is also all made - Manisha made the main draw as a direct entry with Kim Grant (RSA) .. That is very nice, considering that her original partner Chanda Rubin withdrew in the last minute ..
Feb 2 Notes
Our Premjit fundraising effort is inching towards Rs 1 lakh, but not there yet .. Would have been nice to do more, but considering the short time before the Hyderabad benefit match, I am thankful to about 20 contributors for the quick response .. I need to tell Mahesh an amount who will take our word and advance a cheque rightaway, as I wait for all your cheques to come to me. Right now, please email me a pledge amount .. I need your pledges by Tuesday 6 am Indian time, as Mahesh needs to handle this before leaving for Delhi that day for Davis Cup practice .. So, please hurry up!
Isha could not pull off another upset today, as she went down to Manisha at the Hyderbad qualies second round .. Manisha is the sole Indian in the final round .. The big upset today was Sunitha Rao fallin in the round two .. The main draw starts tomorrow .. Sania and Mary Pierce have been drawn to face wildcards Rushmi and Sai in a nice matchup tomorrow .. See the Hyderabad WTA page ..
Check out the Hyderbad Indian Open website for all kinds of stuff! ..
At Delhi, Somdev pulled off the double crown in the ITF grade-3 juniors! .. He beat Ivanov in the singles final and then teamed with Karan Rastogi for an easy double final win also .. See the Delhi juniors page. Somdev impressively steady and focussed tennis!
In other news, a couple of men's challengers have appeared in the AITA domestic calendar for April .. Thank You Lord! .. It's been a long time since we had a men's challenger .. This is good news.
Feb 1 Notes
Too many things going on this morning .. All in the middle of the really sad news about Kalpana Chawla and the shuttle crew .. God bless them!
First of all, unranked 17 yr old wildcard Isha Lakhani pulled off an incredible upset at the qualies in Hyderabad, beating the 3rd seed Maria Vento-Kabchi (VEN,167) 64 76(1) .. How did she do that? .. To say I am stunned would be an understatement .. That is the biggest upset I have probably ever heard of, in Indian women's tennis .. Yes, Niru has had higher-ranked scalps, but this is something else .. Four Indians made it in, with Manisha Malhotra (345) beating Ekaterina Kozhokina (RUS,382) 63 62, Rushmi Chakravarthi (384) beating Maki Arai (JPN,647), 61 63, and wildcard Archana Venkatraman (928) upsetting Valeria Bondarenko (UKR,667) , 26 61 62 .. Wildcards Ankita and Megha could not get past seeded players, Ankita falling to 6th seed Jie Zheng (CHN,182), 46 26 and Megha to #4 seed Sunitha Rao (USA,176), 26 36 .. Alena Yaryshka (BLR,458) beat Sai Jayalakshmy (500), 62 75 .. See the Hyderabad WTA page.
Isha and Manisha face each other next; so we will have at least one Indian in the final round on Monday .. Rushmi gets #6 Jie Zheng next and Archana gets the 8th seed Tian Tian Sun (CHN,223) .. Both look very tough matches .. Indian-American Sunitha Rao plays Zi Yan (CHN,289) next ..
The other bad news today was that Chanda Rubin got injured at the Tokyo semis and had to with draw from Hyderbad .. This happened after the qualifying draw was made yesterday, and so one wildcard got wasted and now there will be one extra lucky loser spot from the qualies [correction: The UNI report was wrong .. Andrea Vanc from the qualies did move up to the main draw before the qualifying matches started, but apparently after the qualifying draw was made]
The main draw is also out .. Later about that .. Sania gets Evie Dominikovic in the first round .. One of the better matchups, considering the top players in the draw.
Karan Rastogi lost in a three setter at Delhi ITF grade-3 semis today, but Somdev reached the final .. See the Delhi juniors page.
Jan 31 Note-2
The qualifying draw was made at Hyderabad today and I have added the draw in the new Hyderabad WTA page .. Three indians, Manisha, Rushmi and Sai made the qualifying draw directly .. Four Indians got wildcards - Isha Lakhani, Ankita Bhambri, Megha Vakharia and Archana Venkatraman .. The first three wildcards are rather automatic, as they have been the top three recent juniors .. What is really bugging me is that the Bondarenko sisters from Ukraine, Kateryna and Valeria ranked 637 and 667 showed up and made the qualifying draw directly (Valeria may have been the last direct entry I guess), while I see at least three Indian girls ranked above them, Sheetal, Sonal and Radhika not there .. What gives? .. Did they not even try to take a chance and go down there? Ah, that's frustrating .. Fortune favors the brave - I know I say that cliche so many times here, but I had to repeat it once more .. That was sad, unless those three had some particular reason for not taking a train to Hyderabad.
Jan 31 Note-1
Things are heating up in Hyderabad for the $140K Indian Open WTA .. A few players have arrived for qualies already .. One notable name is Sunitha Rao (USA), for whom I believe Hyderabad is the ancestral town .. Isha Lakhani and Megha Vakharia are also there practising on Thursday, along with Sania Mirza, according to the Deccan Chronicle .. Ankita Bhambri is also going down there soon.
At the Delhi grade-3, rain washed out the whole day's play .. The semis got postponed, and that means Ankita Bhambri had to give a walkout to the top seed Montinee Tangphong, as she has to leave for Hyderabad tomorrow .. It apperas that there is a good chance for rain tomorrow as well, in which case everything gets messed up. They might even have to move the matches to Chandigarh (where the next week's grade-3 is) or even cancel the whole thing. We will see.
I had forgotten about the ITF u14 South and Central Asian junior tournament that is going on in Sri Lanka this week .. Arnav Jain, Agnel Gladwin and Kaushik Das have reached the boys semifinals, but on the girls side, Gayathri Krishnan, Ashmitha Easwaramurthi and G. K. Shwetha have all gone out at theQF stage .. Gayatri did beat the 8th seeded Sri Lankan girl, before falling to the second seed from Kazakhstan in a three setter .. See the details in this article in The Hindu ..
Jan 30 Notes
At the grade-3 ITF juniors in New Delhi, the quarterfinals went mostly on predicted lines, with the top two Indians in either draw making it to the semis .. Karan Rastogi had a 64 61 win over last week's Kolkata grade-3 winner Dmytro Tolok .. That is a really nice win for him, and I am encouraged by the focus Karan is showing these days .. The second seed Somdev Dev Varman also made the SF, after dropping a second set tiebreaker, but storming back with a 6-0 third set .. Young boy Rupesh could not sustain his upset run past the QFs .. On the girls' side, Ankita Bhambri and Sanaa Bhambri took their "appointed spots" in the semis .. Sanaa is down with a cold and may need to recover fast to do well in the semi, which is against a qualifier Irinia Tsymbal of Ukraine who has been smoking players out so far .. Her older sister Ankita now plays the top seed Montinee, who beat 14 yr old Madura easily .. Ankita's QF win today over the 3rd seed is technically an upset, but not in reality - she is ranked below 200 only because she has played only one junior event in a whole year (the runner-up finish to Sania at the Asian Juniors where she had wins over some good ones like Isha and Kartiki) .. Ankita seemed not satisfied, according to UNI, saying "It was rather an ordinary show...I have to pull up my socks and perform better if I have to reach the finals" .. That's rare for somebody to say that after upsetting the 3rd seed in straight sets, but I love it .. That is the right spirit - never be too impressed with what you do, and always look for more! .. The scores are all in the Delhi juniors page .. Somdev/Karan and Sanaa/Madura are in the doubles semis as well.
Jan 29 Notes
Japan announced their Davis Cup team for the upcoming Davis Cup in Delhi (Feb 7-9) .. No big surprises - 1) Takao Suzuki (133,349), 2) Goichi Motomura (226,391), 3) Jun Kato (507,215) and 4) Thomas Shimada (1332,67); singles and doubles ranks shown .. 26 yr old Suzuki and 29 yr old Motomura, the two highest ranked Japanese in singles are automatic entries .. 27 yr old Shimada is the doubles specialist .. Kato is ranked below a handful of other Japanese but is perhaps in the team as a younger member - he is 22 years old .. The Indians' singles rankings would make us the underdogs, but at Delhi on grass, with Leander Paes still cooking, we should be expected to win, barring unforeseen problems.
Just to make sure that you have all seen the crisp website that the Hyderabad Indian Open WTA has, here is the link - www.wtaindianopen.com .. Those of you who saw the piece of crap website Indiatimes.com and IMG put up for the Chennai open know that they should take some lessons from this site about how to do it .. Actually I saw a whole thread on the Hyderabad website in a WTA bulletin board where a lot of people were wishing that some of the larger WTA tournament would learn from this website! .. No news releases from Hyderbad today, as things seem to be pretty well set and ready to go ..
In a very nice gesture, the tournament will honour Premjit Lall, our dashing Davis Cup devil from the late 50s to early 70s, with a benefit match .. Premjit has been in bad times lately and is now confined to a wheel chair .. Here is the news item from a couple of days back - "Globosport will fly in and host Premjit's contemporaries, Ramnathan Krishnan, Jaideep Mukherjea, S P Mishra, Shyam Minotra, and Rabi Venkateshan at Hyderabad for the event. Akthar Ali, who spent many a magical moments alongside Premjit, is also expected to be present, as will Tournament Director and former Indian Junior Champion, Mr.Krishna Bhupathi" .. Globosport will also present him a gift cheque.
--- Those of you reading this, and the members of the fanclub, who would like to contribute towards adding to Globosport's gift cheque for Premjit, please contact me .. Just an email would do for now .. The amount is less important than the thought behind it .. We only came to know of this a little late, but there is still a week to do something .. Just a quiet thing and we are not doing it to create any hoopla or news .. Premjit deserves it, as I am sure all of you Indian tennis fans would agree! ---In other news, a few Indians were at the qualies for the first leg of the 4-week Australian satellites the past weekend .. Vishal Uppal was the 3rd seed but got upset in the 3rd round of the 4-round qualies by Sebastien Swierk who went on to qualify in the next round .. Gurmehar Singh went down in the Q2 round .. Ashutosh Singh was the 16th seed but went down in the Q1 ..
For the ITF grade-3 juniors in Delhi, I have updated all the results including those from the second round completed today, at the Delhi juniors page .. There were some late matches yesterday that I had not mentioned .. One was the big 63 16 63 upset of the 4th seed and last week's runner-up Chatwinder Singh (#98), by young Rupesh Roy of Kolkata .. Rupesh is still just 13, turning 14 in a couple of weeks .. That is impressive from the young boy who is showing the kind of results that probably no Kolkata boy has shown since Leander .. So much so that we even had a discussion earlier in our forum about how he could still be only just about 14 .. Age is never a sure thing in India and people always wonder about these things .. I don't know of Rupesh and I generally assume innocent until proven guilty .. I don't think anybody should worry about Rupesh in any event .. I would be impressed with Rupesh's results even if he were 16 years old (actually he IS the #1 in the 16s rankings in India) .. Heck, his results would be pretty good even if he were about 3 years older (he is #4 in the under 18 ranks too!) .. I hope his coaching and general development is coming along well, though .. A lot of Indian kids show uncanny talent at that age, and one problem that happens is when they win so much with the kind of game they have, making it difficult for any coach to change the style of play or teach the kind of things that are needed for modern tennis at the higher levels later .. I think we really do have something special in this boy Rupesh .. I hope everybody have learned from past mistakes and proper arrangements are being made for his coaching .. Nice to know that Paes en Sport is handling Rupesh, but they have been awfully quiet lately as far as news is concerned, so I don't know much details about definite plans on Rupesh.
Anyway, back to the Delhi event, Rupesh is in the QFs with another win today .. In fact the top Indian names in both the draws are in the QFs .. Top seed Karan Rastogi and second seed Somdev are both looking good .. Karan has hardly been troubled so far, but now faces last week's winner .. Somdev beat last week's semifinalist from Korea .. On the girls's side Ankita Bhambri, Sanaa Bhambri and Madura Ranganathan are also in the QFs .. I am glad to see a good number of top-250 quality foreign kids playing these event, which is certainly has a good grade-3 quality field, though a bit thin in the top-100 on the girls's side .. Thassha Vitayaviroj, last week's winner in the Kolkata grade-3, was beaten in the first round by the 8th seed Zhukova of Russia who herself was upset by a qualifier, Irina Tsymbal of Ukraine in the second round .. In my opinion, Ankita is the odds on favorite to win the girls' title, barring something totally unexpected.
Jan 28 Note-2
Actually it turns out that Manisha and Chanda may not need a wildcard into doubles anyway .. Their rankings are #23 and #199 .. A rank of 222 would almost surely get them in as a direct entry .. So, I assume theirs is a wildcard granted only if it's needed .. So there may still be one double wildcard available .. Come to think of, with an injury protected doubles rank around 200, even Niru *could* make it if some top partner could be found, but that is not that easy .. OK, since it was the consensus fanclub opinion in our forum that the best would be to see Niru playing at least doubles, let me start the fans' cheer - WE WANT NEE-ROO .. NEE-ROO, NEE-ROO ! :-) ...
[I'm not trying to make life difficult for Niru, Hesh and CGK .. just putting down our wish, if anything could still be done :-)]
I have added today's results at the Delhi ITF juniors page .. The only bad news was that Tushar Liberhan got upset .. Karan was in top form in a 40 minute 60 61 win, and Somdev had to play a three-setter .. Nice win for Madura.
Jan 28 Note-1
Today's announcement from Hyderabad .. Manisha Malhotra will get a wildcard in doubles and will be playing with Chand Rubin! .. Excellent news .. The only other thing that would have made this a perfect event for us fans would have been seeing Nirupama also there in some capacity .. No news on that .. Now that both doubles wildcards are also gone, I guess that's that and the real pioneer of Indian tennis will not be there at the first WTA event in India .. I am happy for Manisha though; I don't know how CGK and Hesh keep pulling the strings to get all these things done, like getting Pierce and Rubin to play doubles and all that!
At the Delhi juniors today, Karan, Somdev, Madura, etc advanced .. I will update the Delhi page, as soon as all the scores are available.
There was an article in the Deccan Herald yesterday that mentioned Leander having a hip flexor injury .. This seems to be one that keeps recurring after every strenuous couple of weeks for him for a while .. Here is the news excerpt - Paes, who strained his right hip flexor muscle, during his second round doubles match, has pulled out of this week’s ATP Tour event in Milan and will stay on in Australia for rehabilitation. His next event will be India’s Davis Cup opener against Japan in New Delhi to be played from February 7 to 9 .. “There’s no question of pulling out of the Davis Cup,” Paes said. “I am hoping to get into Delhi by this weekend and then access my fitness and decide whether I can play singles and the doubles.” .. Hope LP will be fine and there will be no problem for Davis Cup.
More from the article - “This is going to be my year,” Paes told Deccan Herald from Melbourne. “When I pulled out of the circuit last November to prepare for the 2003 season I was ready again to play some tough tennis. I want to get some good results in doubles and in mixed doubles with Martina in the other Slams. I also want to do well in Davis Cup and above all I want to keep myself fit for the Athens Olympics.” .. Cool!
I had seen Vishal Uppal and a couple of others in the qualifying entry list for the 4-week Australian satellite circuit that started this week .. Not sure if they went there though ..
Jan 27 Notes
Busy day for me, hence the slow update .. Nothing much going on in Indian tennis anyway .. The Delhi juniors has started but it rained today and only 2 matches were done.. That's about it .. More news tomorrow.
.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Jan 27 ..
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.