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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Feb 9, 1998

(Previous week's notes) ( Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index)

Feb 9 Note-4

Kannan Srinivasan's article in Hindustan Times mentions Leander to have direct entries at all 4 Asian challengers. LP also said that Mahesh has been given wildcards at the first two challengers (Singapore and Ho ChiMinh City). That is good news. The Indian Express says Leander's ranking is hurt by the cancellation of the Shanghai tournament (where he had 85 points last year in January). Not really true. The Shanghai tournament is very much there this year too, in the ATP calendar. It is rescheduled to October 5th, as part of a three-tournament Asian swing; Shanghai, Singapore and Beijing. Indian Express (SK John) reports LP to have said that he hardly got much practice in December due to all the commercials being shot, and that it hurt him at the AO .. By the way, several Indian newspapers reported wrongly today that LP/MB won 5 tournaments last year. I don't know where that report came from (may be from Dubai?), but they won SIX last year. Chennai, Prague, Montreal, NewHaven, Beijing, Singapore (they also won three challengers at Singapore, Prague and Jerusalem). Hey, the fanclub doesn't appreciate anybody reducing our guys' achievements ... :-)

In other news, Nirupama, Rushmi Chakravarti and Arti Ponnappa have started Fed Cup training at Delhi. The Mumbai and Delhi events (both $10,000) on the WTA tour, will be the weeks after the Fed Cup. The earlier dates I had from a few months back showed them to start next week (if I remember correctly, they were postponed when the Mumbai and Ahemedabad ATP challengers came through in the last minute), and I was wondering if our top women players would miss it due to Fed Cup. The ITF web site has updated the schedule today showing the new dates .. Nirupama hasn't decided if she would be playing those two events .. Also, the Chandigarh ITF juniors ranking tournament has started. Fewer foreigners on the boys' side (the Danish kids at Delhi last week, including the finalist Jakob Paulsen, aren't there). No big upsets in the first round, except for DHAITA's Shruti Dhawan beating the 3rd seed, Tina Tagwercher of Austria. Another routine two-sets job by Uzma Khan. Vijay Kannan and Sanzaruz Zaman have won their matches too. Here are the results.

Feb 9 Note-3

Take a look at this draw for Dubai ! ..

1-BHUPATHI/PAES v. BROAD/NORVAL           \
GRABB/NOVAK v. EAGLE/FLORENT              / \
3-GALBRAITH/STEVEN v. WC-GROEN/IVANISEVIC \ / \
APELL/BJORKMAN v. KITINOV/VIZNER          /    \
Q-QUALIFIERS v. CARBONELL/ROIG            \    /
ALBANO/NYBORG v. 4-STOLLE/SUK             / \ /
WC-BECKER/HENMAN v. CORRETJA/SANCHEZ      \ /
WC-KIEFER/RIOS v. 2-JOHNSON/MONTANA       /

That is the toughest draw I have seen in a non-grand-slam ATP event in quite a while ! .. The established teams have appeared enmasse here. LP/MB face Broad/Norwal, and potentially Eagle/Florent, Galbraith/Steven and Johnson/Montana .. Or any of a whole bunch of other teams who can jump up and bite ! .. This is simply incredible .. Actually Johnson/Montana has a slightly easier half of the draw. I could comment on the possibilities of about 10 different teams out there to win it, but I won't. Let's just watch the fun ! .. Whoever wins the $78K would have truly earned it here.

Feb 9 Note-2

The doubles field also is a stellar one at Dubai. LP/MB are #1, and have #3 seeds Galbraith/Steven in the top half. The other half has #2 seeds Johnson/Montana with #4 seeds Stolle/Suk. It could be a tremendous pair of semifinals if all four teams win their first two matches. Johnson/Montana won the $515K Marseille Open this weekend. .. As though the seeded teams weren't enouogh, there is also the former #1 team, Apell/Bjorkman in the doubles field !

Feb 9 Note-1

Well, it seems the earlier info was a bit inaccurate. Leander had not yet reached Dubai. He was in Delhi for a short visit Monday, and was leaving for Dubai, says our fan club contact from there ..

Nirupama landed at the Delhi airport at the same time as Leander, Sunday night, and (wouldn't you expect this?) there was nobody to pick her up ! .. Come on AITA .. send somebody to do that ! .. anyway, it was a good thing LP was there; he gave her a lift. She will be there for Fed Cup training this week.

Leander says the extra week in Melbourne has helped a lot and his stomach muscle injury is completely healed. He is raring to go, and was looking forward to the 4-challenger series starting next week to bring his singles rankings up. He had expected not to get a WC at Dubai and expects that he will have to play some qualifiers at tournaments without banking on wildcards (if he picks up 120-150 points at the challengers, he will get back inside the top-110, and start getting direct entries again). He has 15 points to defend in 4 weeks and basically just 22 pts to defend in 4 months (ie, till French Open). His ranking will keep on going up now (Check out the revamped LP results page, and look at his ATP Points Tally)

Asked about the Davis Cup (April first week), Leander said, "I know Italy will be tough, but we will be in Genoa from Lipton's Championship well in time to get practice on clay.'' .. When someone tried to ask 'tough' questions, about the Davis Cup team selection, Leander chose to be diplomatic and said, "That is the selection committe's job.. I chose an individual sport so that I do not have to get involved in such things,'' .. (By the way, a couple of days back the Khaleej Times newspaper in Dubai had quoted a Telegraph newspaper report from Calcutta to be saying that LP/MB were critical of team selection .. I didn't see that Telegraph report, but my inside info is that Mahesh was critical of the process AITA has followed in the past, as he felt Prahlad Srinath should always have been in the team, and that he was impressed with Fazaluddin's experience having played abroad .. in other words, what AITA has done *now*, by including Prahlad and Fazal is something MB seems to be happy with.. it's the haphazard selection process in the past that is to be criticized .. well, the press folks have a way of trying to create havoc if they can, don't they?). Kind of timely to talk tennis politics; after all, we are playing Italy; .. and not many countries have the kind of tennis politics that Italy has. The Italian Tennis Federation elected a new president this weekend (former player Ricci Bitti). They had a president for 20 years, Paolo Galgani, who was virtually booted out recently due to all kinds of attacks on his management style from players and coaches .. AITA and RK Khanna often get criticized in India, but I guess they do things right in the end, though they look clueless and just 'don't seem to get it', as some press folks have told me in the past ..

In other news, Mikael Tillstrom is confirmed for the Chennai Gold Flake ATP tourament. Add him to the list with Rafter and Becker.. The expectation is that the entry list will be much better than last year, based on last year's success. The problem again is that LP/MB will have to show up in Chennai with jetlag right after the weekend davis Cup matches. If the Vadodara challenger comes through the week after Chennai, they will be playing on hardcourt, clay, hardcourt and grass in successive weeks. Talk about adjustments !

Feb 8 Note-2

Here is the Sunday evening report from our onsite man, Michal Chojnacki, from Dubai:

At #216, Wibier is one spot ahead of MB, and he is a very good player .. LP almost lost to him in a 2.5 hour 3-setter on the grasscourts at the Newport ATP last June (I saw that match), having to come back from a break down at 3-5 in the 3rd .. Wibier is a never-give-up type fighter. That was the first time LP was playing him .. Exhausted after that match, LP said Wibier surprised him a bit .. Mahesh threw his racquet ?.. rather rare for him .. He shouldn't do that, as I am sure he knows; it never helps to get upset .. Since Michal doesn't mention any wildcard for LP, I assume he didn't get one.. Leander is pretty much resigned to making his singles move during the challenger series from next week on. That's alright. It is always better to take it slow after groin, muscle or hamstring injuries.

Feb 8 Note-1

Mahesh has won one round of qualifiers according to the Khaleej Times, Dubai .. Straight sets win over Jim Grabb (#343). He has two more rounds to go.  Khaleej Times has been having exclusive articles on Mahesh so far.. Mahesh is one of their own, having grown up in Dubai and Muscat, you know ! .. They also have some bits on the draw. Top seed Bjorkman will take on a qualifier. Marcelo Rios (#2 there) plays Brett Steven. Alex Corretja is #4. Bruguera (#5) against Jeff Tarango. #6 Felix Mantilla vs Karim Alami. Defending champion Thomas Muster (#7) meets Sandon Stolle. #8 Goran Ivanisevic takes on Carlos Moya. Hicham Arazi will play #3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov. A tough first-round match will be Tim Henman against Boris Becker. According to the Gulf-News, the wildcards have gone to Becker, #98 Sandon Stolle and #52 Carlos Costa. Not sure whom they have given the three special exempts to ..

Awaiting any onsite news for Sunday from Michal Chojnacki...

Manisha Malhotra lost in the semifinals of the Collegiate indoors tournament in Dallas, in three sets. Still a good job by her and Margie Lepsi there for the Univ of Tennessee, having upset the 4th seeds in the quarterfinals earlier.

Feb 7 Notes

The fanclub's tentacles are everywhere ! .. Our own Michal (Wieslaw) Chojnacki reports today from Dubai. He caught up with Mahesh at a practice session with Nicolas Kiefer earlier today. Mahesh twisted his arm in practice on Friday .. it's minor, and he is fine which is why he was practicing again today, but he had asked to postpone his qualifier match to Sunday. The good news is that Mahesh thinks that LP could probably get a wildcard into the singles. That would be great.. I thought that wasn't going to happen. LP wanted to rest as much as possible to take care of his stomach muscle injury (that's a good idea, those kinds of injuries go away only with rest), and he is not playing the qualifiers. Here is what Michal sent us (you see, he is a teenager tennis nut, and also runs a free weekly newsletter service, so he likes to do interviews .. ) :

Michal tells me taht a couple of other matches have been prosponed: Sandol Stolle v Mikel Grused, Lars Jonson v Josh Eagle. He hopes to bring us the results and possibly the full draw soon. Take a look at Michal's homepage for a picture of the Dubai tennis stadium and other interesting items ..

Feb 6 Note-3

Manisha Malhotra and Margie Lepsi pulled an upset 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, over the 4th seeded pair of Agnes Muzumel and Courtney Chapman of the Univ of Mississippi, and have reached the semifinals of doubles at the ITA collegiate indoor tournament in Dallas today. She could not pull another upset over the 3rd seed, Tedjakusuma of Nichols' State, losing 6-7(1), 7-6(3), 2-6 .. Her doubles first round win was over Cecilia Hincapie / Ziemena Rodriguez (Univ of Auburn - Montgomery), 7-5, 6-3.

According to Indian Express, Uzma Khan has been given permission to play at the last week of junior tournaments, the Chandigarh ITF Inernational Junior ranking tournament next week, before joining the Fed Cup team in Delhi by the weekend. I am not sure if anybody should play that many matches as she has been, in a row for three weeks.. we will see.

Feb 6 Note-2

Hey, we have our onsite fan club representative ready, at Dubai ! .. Just got email from Wieslaw Chojnacki, that he will again be at the tournament (he is actually a ball-person there !).. Inside scoop: Mahesh was spotted having dinner a few hours back in a restaurant.. Tim Henman was also with him. Cool to get such inside news.. Will later find out how the qualifiers go.

As expected Uzma Khan made quick work of Yvonne Muesburger, 6-1, 6-3, to win the girls title at the ITF international junior ranking tournament at New Delhi today .. On the boys' side, Vijay Kannan took care of Jakob Paulsen (Denmark), 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 .. The Danish boy showed his temper often, and lost focus, while Vijay was all business after taking some time to adjust and losing the first set. This makes it *another* all-India sweep (it was a 4-title sweep for Indian kids at the ITF ranking tourney in Sri Lanka last week too). Uzma gets abother double. That is 10 singles wins and 8 doubles wins in 13 days for her. Go get some rest, girl ! .. Actually, she will be at the Fed Cup training camp in delhi next week. Vijay and Uzma will both get 30 ITF ranking points each ..

Feb 6 Note-1

News is really hard to come by, from Dubai. Mahesh has already reached there for the qualifiers during the weekend. Not sure of the wildcards yet (LP had applied for one). They announced a couple of days back, that Petr Korda would be the #1 seed (Bjorkman was expected originally to be the top seed, till Korda did his scissor kick acrobatics to the AO title last week), but today's news is that Korda has withdrawn to rest his bad back. There is a fanclub member in Dubai (Wieslaw Chojnacki), who has been off the net for a while. If he gets his modem up again and gets in touch with us, we will have detailed reports from there.

The Bangkok Post reported that Antionio Juan Marin (#93), Alex Calatrava (#108) and Jacobo Diaz (#120) are the top players at the Bangkok challenger coming up in 4 weeks. Leander Paes and Oleg Ogorodov are in the direct entry. The Thai junior #1, Danai Udomchoke, has received wildcard entries at the first 3 challengers (Singapore, Hochimin City and Bangkok). Mahesh has a wildcard at Singapore. Leander needs to pick up some points and get back his Asian #1 position, which, as of this week, has gone to Oleg ... Did you notice at the LP front page top that he is still the #1 tennis player in Asia, who is only temporarily #2 in singles ?.. :-) ... Hey, till Oleg gets up into the top-10 in doubles too, that will stay that way ! ..

Good news from the US: Manisha Malhotra, ranked #17 in singles in the US Collegiate circuit, has won her first round match at the ITA collegiate indoor championship at Dallas (the 3rd leg of the collegiate "grand slam" as they call it) and reached the final-16 there. Playing as the #1 player from the University of Tennessee, she defeated Mary Carlisle White of the University of Florida yesterday. If you remember, she was in the finals of the national grasscourts in December and she pushed the red-hot junior Uzma Khan to the very limit in a 2.5 hour 3-setter (An-na Lee of Korea is the only one to beat Uzma in a few months, actually !) .. Manisha had won the 1993 national clay court championship, before leaving for the US .. she had won the national doubles championship last year too .. As I said earlier, Uzma and Manisha are looking to be the immediate future of Indian women's tennis, after Nirupama (others like Rushmi Chakravarti and Arati Ponnappa are pretty talented too). Due to the college commitments, apparently Manisha cannot take part in the Fed Cup for India in Thailand (AITA said last week that they "repeatedly" tried to contact her, but I wonder if they ever told her she had made the team, without which it wouldn't be easy for her to reschedule her college commitments .. let me leave it at that .. she will hopefully get her chance to play for India soon, as she is graduating this semester) .. Nirupama said last week of her interest in having 21-yr old Manisha as a regular doubles partner on the pro tour. Manisha and Margie Lepsie of Tennessee are currently ranked in the top-5 in collegiate doubles (was as high as #2 last year) and she is in the doubles draw at Dallas too. She is the only Indian who qualified to be among the US collegiate players at this tournament. Vikrant Chadha at the Univ of Georgia is the top Indian male collegiate player in the US, but he has had a patchy year so far with some back problems, etc (after finishing very strong at the end of last year), and is not at Dallas. By the way, talking of Indian players in the US, Divya Merchant was with the top-ranked Univ Florida women's team last year. She graduated last summer and has been training and taking some time off before deciding if she wants to turn pro. She hasn't yet. Anyway, I will update on how far Manisha progresses at dallas.

Feb 5 Notes

At the ITF Junior tournament in New Delhi, Uzma Khan is in the finals of Girls' singles, after a straight sets win over the Austrian, Marian Sohm, 6-4, 6-0. She will face Yvonne Meusberger of Austria in the final. Uzma who hasn't lost a singles or doubles match in ages, also won the doubles title today, with Trishna Williams, defeating the DHAITA pair, Shruti Dhawan and Sheetal Gautam, 6-3, 6-4. On the Boys' side, the 7th seed Vijay Kannan crushed Ravikiran Bhatt, 6-1, 6-1, and reached the singles final against 6th seed Jakob Paulsen of Denmark, who beat the wildcard Kedar Tembe, 6-1, 7-6(7) .. Ravi Kiran Bhatt and Rohan Boppanna won the doubles title beating Dennis Sirotin and Edward Koifman (both of Kyrgistan). Hope India gets a clean sweep with the singles titles also tomorrow. Here are the complete results from Delhi.

Feb 4 Note-2

Terrific news from India. The Telegraph (Calcutta) is reporting that Vadodara, Gujarat, is applying for a $50,000+H challenger, the week after the Chennai ATP tournament. Here are some excerpts from The Telegraph : Vadodara may soon host the biggest Challenger-level tournament in India. IPCL, the proposed sponsors, has applied to the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) via the All India Tennis Association (AITA) for a $ 50,000 (plus hospitality) Challenger from April 13-18 .. The ATP clearance/refusal will not come through till at least the end of this month, but the organisers have already decided on the site - the IPCL cricket stadium which has hosted quite a few one-day Internationals. Six grasscourts will be set up on the fringes of the ground - three in front of the pavilion and three at the opposite end. Davis Cup non-playing captain Jaidip Mukerjea, who has inspected the site, is likely to act as the technical advisor if the Challenger comes through. I say, yeah, go for it guys! .. heck, why not ? .. Just when you think grass is almost all gone from the ATP challenger series (if I am not mistaken, only two or three of over 100 challengers last year were on grass), we come up with one in India. Good show, if they pull it off .. I do notice that they applied to ATP "via AITA" .. now, that is rather important, as the Indian challengers last year got all messed up due to the fight between AITA and a private party .. By the way, India has never had a 50K+H challenger (equivalent in points to a $75K challenger, for providing the H, hospitality). We have only had 25K+H or 50K .. I guess MB and LP would probably welcome the chance to stay in India for another week after the Chennai Open (the ATP tournanment that week is 56-draw Japan Open on hardcourts, that they can skip, before proceeding to Europe or US for the clay season).

7th seed Vijay Kannan pulled an upset over the 2nd seed Mik Ledvonova from Denmark, at the Delhi Junior ITF tournament today. However, the first seed, Sanzaruz Zaman lost to the 6th seed Jakob Paulsen of Denmark. Zaman has been playing well, having won the championship in Srilanka last week, but here he was apparently having serious thigh injury problems, even sitting down on the court once, unable to move. Commendable job by Zaman, still fighting through three sets. On the girls' side, Uzma Khan continues her unbeaten streak.. 3 Indians and a Dane on the boys' side, and 3 Austrians and an Indian on the girls' side, going to the semis. Complete results are here

Feb 4 Note-1

Got some information about the Bangkok challenger (3rd in the series of 4 challengers LP and MB will be at, Mar 2-8) from our fan club member in Thailand, Ms. Jan Kongtako. She says, as of now, only two Asians (Leander Paes and Oleg Ogorodov) are in the main draw and Danai Udomchoke, the Thai junior #1, has a wildcard. Things will change later, and will report if any news comes along.

The Junior tennis players have all come back from Colombo last week and are at the ITF Junior Tournament in New Delhi. On the boys' side, no big upsets till yesterday, and Vijay Kannan and Sanzaruz Zaman are both looking good, through to the quarterfinals. A few more foreigners on the girls' side, where 5 of the seeds are out before the quarterfinals.. Again, the top seed, Hyderabad's Uzma Khan, who started with a double-bagel win in the first match, has moved to the quarterfinals. Surprising that there was only ONE Pakistani in the draws. There are quite a few Austrians, and a couple of SriLankans, Uzbeks and Kyrgistanis there. Here are the complete results till Tuesday.

Feb 3 Notes

Nothing much happening.  Will be a few more days before the Dubai tournament heats up, for LP and MB. Nirupama is also resting (at Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu) before proceeding to Delhi next week for Fed Cup preparations.

A note on the Fed Cup competition starting in Thailand in two weeks (16th). India is in the Group II competition, with Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Pacific Oceania, Pakistan, Singapore, Syria and Tajikistan (what the heck is Pacific Oceania ?..) .. Group I competition is between China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Uzbekistan and Thailand. I am not fully sure of the format, but I believe each group's competition is separate.

Some news on Indian kids who were in SriLanka last week for the 15th Sri Lankan International Junior tennis tournament (organized with the ITF, International Tennis Federation). News has been very patchy from there, but Indians had a clean sweep winning all four titles. Uzma Khan (when was the last time she *lost* a match ?..) won both singles and doubles titles there on the girls side. India's Sanzaruz Zaman won the boys' singles. Some results: Boy's Singles (F) S. Zaman (India) d. Rohan Saikia (India) 6-4, 6-1 (SF)S Zaman d. V Kannan 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) R Saikia d. V Kamala Kannan 6-4, 6-3; (QF) R. Shaikia d. S. Ranaweera (Sril) 6-1, 6-4; S. Zaman d. K. Tembe 7-5, 7-6; (2-seed)V. Kannan d. C. Y. Chung (TPE) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 (PQF) Samitha Ranaweera (Sril) d. (1-seed) P. Ravishanker (Ind) 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 ; Boys' Doubles (F) Rohan Saikia (Ind) & Vijay Kannan (Ind) d. D. Rao (Ind) & Saif Ali (Ind) 6-1, 6-2 (SF) D. Rao & Saif Ali d. P. Ravishanker & V. Kamala Raman 6-2, 6-3 R. Saikia and V. Kannan d. K.Tembe and S. Zaman 6-1, 6-2 (QF) Tembe & Zaman d. Hun Tko Minh (TPE) & Chin Yie Kim (TPE) 6-4, 6-2. Girls' Singles (F) Uzma Khan (1-seed) (Ind) d. Marion Sohn (Austria) 6-1, 6-4 (SF) Uzma Khan d. Yvonne Meuberger (Austria) 6-3, 6-2 (PQF) Juch Beatrice (Austria) d. 2-Tan Lyn-Ying made 6-2, 2-6, 6-3; Uzma Khan d. Saroja Gunatilleke (Sril) 6-0, 6-0; (8-seed) Sheetal Gautham (Ind) d. Walterova Dominica (Czech Rep.) 6-3, 6-2 Girls' Doubles (F) Uzma Khan (Ind) & Tan Lyn Lin (Malaysia) d. R.Tulpule (Ind) & R.Mandke (Ind), 6-4, 6-0. (SF) Uzma Khan and Lyimyin d. G. Sheethal (Ind) & Sharuti Dhawan (Ind), 6-4, 6-2; R. Tulpule and R. Mandke d. Shu Yu Ting (TPE) and Yang Ling (TPE) 6-1, 6-2 .. (Compiled from partial reports in Daily News, Colombo, and Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad)

Feb 2 Note-2

I made a mistake in my earlier calculations and forgot that ATP points fall of after 52 weeks, and not after 365 days. So the Shanghai points for Leander did fall off.. Ouch, 80 from there, and 20 from AO last year gone. Leander is down to 280 points and a ranking of 157. Get back up there Lee !!!! .. As for Mahesh, he is up to #217. The individual doubles ranks are at #7 for MB and #9 for LP; .. The team rank is #3 .. all as expected. By the way, Mahesh's 44 points from Tokyo last year will fall off on 16th of Feb. He is safe for the Singapore and Hochimin City challengers. If he doesn't pick up points at Singapore, he *could* run into trouble for direct entry at Bangkok the week after, with a ranking down closer to #265 .. all my calculations, which are never guaranteed to be perfect ! .. :-) .. We will wait and see.

Feb 2 Note-1

The Telepgrah (Calcutta) is reporting today that Mahesh has had interest from at least half a dozen top women stars to partner him in mixed doubles at the French Open. The newspaper reports seem to be based on some comments by his coach, Enrico Piperno. Mahesh may be considering either Serena Williams or Mirjana Lucic as a potential partner at the FO, and both have shown interest. Apparently the reason why he did not partner with Rika Hiraki is that she, despite being a very good player, is a bit too short and he had to cover a lot of ground. "Caroline Vis is a good player too, but Mahesh may opt for Lucic or Serena", Rico is quoted to have said. The newspaper says MB will play the qualifiers at Dubai later this week, but that LP has applied for a wildcard (..not sure if it is confirmed that he won't play the qualifiers there.. possibly he may opt for 3 or 4 days more of rest to heal the stomach muscle injury, before getting there for doubles.. VERY doubtful if he would get a wildcard. The earlier reports were that he won't).

Leander's ranking is about to nosedive. The 20 points from AO last year fell off last week, so he should be down to 359 as of today, which will place him at around 130. The 80 points from Shanghai last year fall off Feb 2nd, that is today, but I understand that it will show up on the rankings only next week. Then his point total will be down to 280, the lowest he has had in a year and half (last time he was that low was in the weeks right after the 96 Olympics). That means his rank will be around 160 next week. Will wait and see if ATP drops those 80 points this week itself. He needs to get his injuries healed and make his run in the four challengers that follow Dubai, and I am sure he will !

Feb 1 Note-2

The scores from the Bangalore AITA ranking tournament are: Men's Singles Final: Prahlad Srinath d. Marcus Hilpert (Ger), 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 .. Women's Singles Final: Sai Jailakshmi d. Archana Venkatraman, 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 7-6 (8-6). Prahlad had to again pull out a comeback act, after being down a set and a break in the second set. Interestingly, two Indian newspapers (Deccan Herald and The Hindu) have erroneously reported that this is Marcus Hilpert's first loss against an Indian during his recent Indian trip where he played 7 tournaments: The 3 ITF Futures at Delhi, Chandigarh and Indore, the West Bengal championship, the National Grasscourts championship, The South Indian championship, and this AITA ranking tournament. Well, the newspapers are wrong on this. Our own Syed Fazaluddin beat him lock-stock-and-barrel, 6-2, 6-2 in the Chandigarh Futures semifinals. Still, a very good win by Prahlad over an ATP-400 caliber player. The several comebacks Prahlad has made recently shows the fighter in him, and his ability to adjust. Prahlad made Rs 20K for the win. The Hindu is also reporting that Prahlad got 20 ATP points. I think that must be a mistake. This is only an AITA event and one only gets the AITA points for this (even the $10,000 ITF futures title, worth about Rs 50K gets you only 12 ATP points. The Hindu must have got mixed up on this).

Mahesh is in India now. MB said in an interview with The Hindu that he has a wildcard to the Singapore challenger, starting on Feb 16th, the week after the Dubai tournament. That's good assurance, but I wouldn't think he would need a wildcard to enter that challenger; with his #223 ranking, he should be in the direct entry (his current ranking should move up a couple of spots with the 5 points he got from the qualifier first round win at the AO.. His next points to fall off are on Feb 23rd, some 44 at the Tokyo challenger last year, but that will happen only after the Singapore week, and the Vietnam challenger week that follows.. will check on that..). Also, apparently Leander is still in Australia, getting some massage therapy etc to get rid of the stomach muscle scar tissue problem, before proceeding to India or Dubai.

Feb 1 Note-1

Second seed Prahlad Srinath upset first seed Marcus Hilpert at the 6th All Indian Open Ranking tournament in Bangalore today, in a 3 set comeback, to win the singles title .. Sai Jailakshmi (#2 seed) won the women's final, over Archana Venkataraman, in a tough 3 setter with 2 tiebreaker sets .. By the way, Vijay Kannan and Uzma Khan didn't play at Bangalore because both are at Colombo, SriLanka, for the International Junior tournament there (Vijay lost in the singles semis, but Uzma is in the final of both singles and doubles, as of yesterday) .. More later..