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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Feb 15, 1999

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Feb 15 Note-3

The Davis Cup at Sogwipo, Korea, will be played on outdoor hardcourt, according to a newspaper report .. That is a surprise, as I thought most countries would pick clay against India .. By the way, if India wins this tie, the next tie against New Zealand will be at Christchurch on synthetic hardcourts, as decided by New Zealand today .. They had a huge fight between Waikato and Christchurch for hosting the tie, but looks like money guarantee won out in the end! (source: New zealand newspapers).

Feb 15 Note-2

The Davis Cup team left today for South Korea from Delhi .. LP, MB, Srinath, and Fazal (Vijay Kannan is the standby, but he is playing for Delhi at the national games at Imphal, Manipur) .. Rico Piperno, the coach, Jaidep Mukherjea, the captain, and Dr. Vece Paes, the team doctor, are accompanying the team .. All four are in good health, which is one good thing ..

The new rankings show Leander at #83 and Mahesh at #270 .. Srinath is #376 and Fazal is #573 .. The team ranking for LP-MB is still #2 .. They have 721 points to 561 for the Woodies, who have moved up behind them to #3 now, after theuir San Jose title .. The individual ranks also remain the same at #2 and #4 for MB and LP .. Nirupama stays at #173 in singles and #242 in doubles ..

I have added the patchy results from the two AITA mini- and sub-junior (under-14 and under-16) tournaments at Thiruvananthapuram and Chennai over the last two weeks, to the results page (see the Thiru. & Chenn. results page) .. Anant Sitaram of AP was in the finals of both u-16 events - he lost at TVM to Pratim Parikh, but won the next leg title .. Mekha Vakharia (Mah) won the girtls' u-16 title at both places, over Sasha Abraham and Isha Lakhani .. The u-14 titles went to Chatwinder Singh of Chandigarh and Arun Prakash (TN, from the Krishnan Center) .. The funny (may be not-so-funny) story was about the second leg final, where Chatwinder Singh conceded the match after falling behind 0-6, 1-2 to Arun, as his dad took his bags and left - the boy had to apologize and concede the match ! (source: Indian Express) .. The girls' u-14 titles went to Sasha Abraham (AP) and Isha Lakhani (Mah), who both did well by reaching one u-16 final each too .. So, this is what our real young kids were up to, when the 16-and-up kids were at the ITF tournaments in Delhi and Chandigarh ..

The national games have started at Imphal, Manipur - only patchy news so far on tennis there .. Vijay Kannan had a 6-2, 6-2 win for Delhi today over Vasu Reddy (AP) .. What has happened to Vasu - he has been totally away for a while and did not compete in any of the futures and challengers (he was at the satellites last november) .. Good win for Vijay! .. RK Bhat and company are representing Karnataka in Srinath's absence (Sri had the gold last time when it was at Bangalore) .. If I see enough results that we can make sense of, I will add them into a page and archive it .. Depending on who have gone there, Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, etc would be contenders .. Vijay and Vishal for delhi would be a tough pair, but if both the Kirtanes and/or Harsh Mankad is playing for Maharashtra, they would be tough too.

The Bangladesh leg of the ITF junior circuit must have started today - stay tuned, and I will post any news that comes by .. Nomi Qamar has gone back to Pakistan, but Nida Waseem has gone to Bangladesh .. Not sure which Indian kids have gone there .. By the way, I saw a newsbit last week that AITA came up with Rs 1 lakh for travel to tournaments for 15-yr old Sunil Kumar, whom we have a lot of hopes on .. Certainly a thoughtful gesture.

Feb 15 Note-1

The South Korean team for the Davis Cup this week, as announced by ITF is, Hyung-Taik Lee (#259), Yong Il Yoon (#326), Dong-Hyun Kim (#811), and Hyeong-Keun Song (#1079) - don't let those rankings fool you - Yong Il Yoon has been up in the 150s before and has wins over Leander and Srinath (at Asiad 94 and 98), and their doubles pair Lee-Yoon beat a damn good Bhupathi-Fazal team at this Asiad .. Their captain is Won-Hong Joo .. The matches start at 11 am on Friday and Sunday, and at 1 pm on Saturday (doubles) at Korea ..

Some history over the last 22 years - Korea leads India 3-2 .. The first was a white-wash of Korea 4-1 in India by Vijay, Anand, Shahi Menon and Ramesh Krishnan (perhaps the best ever Indian Davis Cup team, names-wise?) .. Menon was leading 2-1 when he retired for that one win Korea had .. They did not get a set off India in the four wins, including one by the young Ramesh .. Korea got revenge in Korea in 1979 against a Nandan Bal, Shankar Krishnan, Shashi Menon team 3-2 .. They beat us again, in India, in 1989, over a Zeeshan Ali, S. Vasudevan team, 4-1 .. Then the huge 5-0 demolition by Korea in 1990 on clay in Korea against a team with Zeeshan, Vasudevan, Rohit Rajpal and Leander Paes, 5-0 .. To this day Leander talks about that one when he was just 16 yers old - he and Zeeshan lost 7-9 in the fifth set of the doubles! .. Leander got his revenge the next year, 1991, in India when he pulled off a win in the 5th match, after Ramesh had lost the 4th match to Chang of Korea in the 5th set (Ramesh had won his first singles and LP had lost his, but RK-LP won the doubles to put us up 2-1 before Korea came back) .. From then on, India has basically been in the world group for most of the years and had not played much Davis Cup in Asia .. This is the 6th tie between these two - once again we can expect slow clay out there waiting for us!

Davis Cup Roundup - New Zealand had a huge scare in China, but won it 3-2 at Sen Zhen in China - Mark Nielsen had to beat Yu Shang in the fifth match to advance New Zealand to the final round (against the IND-KOR winner) to decide who gets to play a September tie for World Group qualifying for 2000 (against somebody in the World Group in 1999) .. Brett Steven, their top player was there for the doubles with James Greenhalgh, but I am not sure why he did not play singles (which were by Alistair Hunt and Mark Nielsen) .. Anyway, they await their opponent in April, and hopefully it will be India .. Two teams from Asia-Oceania will play the September World Group qualifier, and the other team will be decided in the April tie between Uzbekistan and Japan - who both won this weekend .. Uzbekistan beat Pakistan 4-1 (Aisam had one upset win - over Vadim Kutsenko! - and I believe Aisam was also hampered by a knee injury), and Japan beat Lebanon 4-1 - Mahesh's old doubles partner for the US collegiate national championship, Ali Hamadeh had a rather surprising win over Satoshi Iwabuchi, but that's all Lebanon could do .. Those two ties were played this past weekend - The NZL-CHN tie was played a week earlier and the IND-KOR tie is being done a week late (after ITF and Korea agreed to push the dates by one week, which allowed LP and MB to play in Dubai, and Srinath and Fazal to be at Lucknow) ..

In other Asian Davis Cup matches, in the lower groups (reminder - there are some 3-4 levels (groups I, II, etc), each with about 8 teams, in each region - Asia-Oceania is one of the 4 world regions .. Each year, a couple of teams play to qualify to the higher group for the next year - the worst couple of teams get demoted to a lower group - India is in the regional Group I, trying to qualify for the World group comprising 16 teams from all regions) .. Thailand, who got demoted to Group-II after a tough fight that featured Aisam and Paradorn earlier which put Pakistan into Group-I, had an easy win this weekend over Kazakhstan .. Sri Lanka lost to Iran 3-2 in Group-II, and I believe Iran plays Thailand to pick one team that moves to group-I .. Indonesia beat Qatar 5-0 in Group II .. Philippines beat Chinese Taipei 3-2 in a comeback, which was a minor surprise - Ling-Bin Chao (former Benny Widjaya of Indonesia, now with Taiwan) lost his 4th match (retired hurt) which would have clinched it for TPE and would have had him facing his former team-mates of Indonesia in April, to try to move up to Group-I in Asia-Oceania .. The 4 losing teams of Group-I will play later this year to decide who moves down to Group-II .. As usual, read that very carefully, if you are not sure of how Davis Cup works - I know, everybody gets confused by Davis Cup, which is the fun part, actually.

In the other regions of the world, here are some interesting results - Canada lost to Colombia in their Group-I tie in the American Zone, in a surprise .. Nestor was there, but not Lareau (both are top-110 players - Columbia only had #271 and #519 ranked Hadad and Tobon!) .. Canada didn't even know who would be there by the weekend for the Davis Cup, as that depended on whether Lareau and Nestor would get into the San Jose ATP tournament draw and lose early enough, during the week :-) .. Nestor missed the draw by a spot and reached Cali, Colombia and Lareau played at San Jose .. Anyway, Simon Larose, Jocelyn Robichaud, and Fred Niemeyer played against Colombia who had Miguel Tobon and Mauricio Hadad .. By the way, I remember Fazal beating Larose in canada last year and losing in three sets to Tobon .. The key win was Tobon upsetting Nestor in the first singles .. Then Larose lost to Hadad before Nestor and Robichaud won the doubles for Canada to stay alive .. Then Hadad beat Larose (as Nestor was strangely rested) to clinch it for Colombia .. Jocelyn Robichaud won the dead singles in the end .. I am sorry, but Canada has no business losing to Colombia .. They would have played Chile in the world group qualifier next .. I thought I would mention it here to show how some treat Davis Cup, and how unexpected results occur .. India has always had the tradition of our best showing up if they can stand up and serve the ball, though .. Anyway, Chile was without the injured Rios, but their young brigade led by Nicholas Massu was enough to get over a Mark Knowles-led Bahamas (you might remember Massu coming to India in late 97, the last time they played a world group qualifier and lost to India - the way Massu has looked lately, I probably wouldn't want to play them now!) ..

In other news, the Woodies won the San Jose tournament doubles .. I believe they were defending a title there and their rankings wouldn't change much, individually .. They should move up to #3 in team ranks .. Wayne Black and Sandon Stolle won the Dubai title .. LP and MB will lose some 200 points off their totals as they didn't defend their points at Dubai last year, but their rankings won't change ..

More later, with new rankings, junior info etc.

Feb 14 Notes

Nothing much by way of news - it's the lull period before any Davis Cup .. Anyway, in case you didn't see the update on the Lucknow challenger page yesterday, Tuomas Ketola of Finland won the title over Mose Navarra of Italy ..

Feb 13 Notes

Check out this article in the Gulf-News, UAE, about the quarterfinal doubles loss for Leander-Mahesh at Dubai .. It looks like they didn't have a good day and Eagle-Florent were playing very well .. The article has a nice color picture of our duo too.

I have to make one more correction in the Lucknow challenger results - once again, two newspapers reported two different scores yesterday for a doubles semi match - between 2nd seed Carraso/Velasco and 4th seed Marquez/Van-Houdt .. Now it seems the 4th seeds won the match - they didn't lose as one newspaper reported, as I said below (they even said that they lost because they were tied after the QF match which was completed earlier in the day - it looks like somebody misread the scorecard and just created a story!) .. I cannot remember a challenger in India this poorly reported on by various newspapers. I have corrected the Lucknow page .. Awaiting the finals scores from today.

Feb 12 Note-2

At the Lucknow challenger, Tuomas Ketola beat Noam Behr and 4th seed Mose Navarra beat Ota Fukarek to reach the finals today .. The top two seeds are in the doubles final too .. Actually, the match of the day was the quarterfinal win by Nuno Marquez and Tom VanHoudt over Ota Fukarek and Oscar Ortiz, started yesterday and completed today - the second set in the comeback win went to a 17-15 tiebreaker! .. Marquez-VanHoudt were so tired, they lost their semifinal later today to Carrasco/Velasco .. Both ethe finals are tomorrow (Saturday) .. See the results at the Lucknow Challenger page ..

India and Pakistan went 1-1 today in the finals at the Chandigarh ITF juniors tournament .. Just like top seed Sheetal letting Nida Waseem of Pakistan go after leading 6-1, 4-1 in the semifinal yesterday, it was top seed Kedar Tembe on the boys' side who let Nomi Qamar comeback and win the match and title after Nomi trailed 2-6, 1-4 .. Good fight from Nomi .. India did get revenge through Radhika Tulpule, the 3rd seed, who beat Nida Waseem in the third set tiebreaker today to win the girls' title .. It's good to see Radhika get the title - she has been in the shadow of Shruti, Sheetal, etc for a while .. The boys title went to AV Rao and Sunil Kumar, who made up a bit for disappointing their hometown crowd by getting upset by the Pakistan kid in the singles .. The girls doubles final was won yesterday by Sheetal and Shruti .. See all the results in the Chandigarh Juniors page .. All in all, an interesting tournament with a lot of close matches .. Nomi over Sunil, Kedar Tembe over Kedar Shah, Nomi over Tembe, Nida over Sheetal, Radhika over Shruti, Radhika over Nida - these were all matches which reportedly could have swung one way or other .. Actually 9 of the 12 semifinal and final matches were tough three-setters .. Always good for the youngsters to play those kinds of matches and gain experience .. Now the caravan moves to Bangladesh for two weeks at Dhaka and Rajshahi ..

Feb 12 Note-1

If it's any consolation, none of the 4 seeded teams made it to the doubles semifinals at the Dubai Open .. :-)

I got a whole bunch of corrections on the scorecards I had for the Lucknow challenger, from ITF, via Steve Gocha .. There were some mistakes in published newspaper reports (many actually - in about every newspaper that has reported on this challenger on and off) .. Wildcard Wesley Whitehouse did not win the second round as I reported earlier, but lost to Tuomas Ketola ..

There were also some interesting things that happened in the qualifiers, which went unreported .. First of all, both Sandeep and Nitin Kirtane had some big upsets in the first round of the qualies, before they bowed out in the second round .. Nitin beat 7th seed Martin Lee (GBR, 332) , 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Sandeep beat 8th seed Andrew Richardson (GBR, 387) - I am yet to find the score for that match .. These two wins against two Britishers who aren't strangers to grasscourts, went totally unreported in Indian newspapers, but happen to be perhaps the best two upset wins Indians have had in these 6 tournament challenger-futures sequence .. Such a pity that this kind of upsets did not occur in the main draws of these events from Indians .. Anyway, the forgotten men of Indian tennis, the Kirtane cousins, could not repeat the upsets for two more qualifier rounds, though .. I wish some correspondent from our newspapers out there had reported on those matches (I don't think any of the regular national correspondents were out there though) .. I would have given Nitin a wildcard into the main draw just for that win over a player ranked 700 spots above him, instead of Wesley Whitehouse (why do we keep caring about this South African kid ? .. I fail to understand it - yes he is very talented, but so are many other kids .. there may be some inside stuff that nobody is telling me :-)) .. The 500 odd $$ for playing in the main draw is not bad money for our players, you know  .. Anyway, see the updated Lucknow challenger page .. I will report on Friday's semifinals later today.

At the ITF junior ranking tourney at Chandigarh yesterday, there was more bad news (for Indians, I guess) - top seed Sheetal's unbeaten streak (both doubles and singles) over three tournaments came to an end in the three-set semifinal against Nida Waseem of Pakistan, whom she had beaten last week at Delhi .. Nida said that the type of clay surface suited her game .. In another upset semifinal, 3rd seed Radhika Tulpule beat the second seed Shruti Dhawan (who suddenly looks a bit shaky in her matches, bowing out before the finals in three consecutive junior ITF tournaments) .. Radhika has come close to matching Shruti and Sheetal often, so it's perhaps not an upset .. On the boys' side also we will have an Indo-Pak battle, as 17-yr old Nomi Qamar (PAK) upset another seeded Indian kid, 15-yr old Punna Vishal (so Nomi has scaled 8th seed Sunil Kumar, 2nd seed AV Rao, and 6th seed P Vishal) .. He now faces top seed Kedar Tembe in the final - Tembe had a three set win over Kedar Shah, where he took a toilet break while down a break 2-3 in the 3rd set and then won 4 games in a row to clinch it .. Shruti and Sheetal won the doubles title, once again beating Radhika Tulpule and Radhika Mandke .. See all the results in the Chandigarh ITF Juniors page ..

At the same time as the 18-and-under Internationals at Delhi and Chandigarh, there have also been two AITA mini- and sub-junior (u-16 and u-14) tournaments - last week and this week at Thiruvananthapuram and Chennai (Trivandrum and Madras for those who still live in British Raj days :-)) .. I still don't have all the results from both places, but will compile and post whatever I have, soon.

There won't be much tennis news over the next few days from the senior players .. LP, MB, Srinath and Fazal won't be playing till next Friday at Korea .. Nirupama is still on vacation/practice and isn't expected to play anywhere till Fed Cup in Bangkok (Feb 22-29) .. So, I will be talking a bit more about our junior players in the next few days.

Feb 11 Notes

Leander-Mahesh lost this afternoon at Dubai in the quarterfinals to Eagle-Florent .. 6-3, 6-4 (may be 6-4, 6-3, but anyway a straight sets loss) .. I am told there is nothing wrong with either, injury or anything - they just lost! .. That is very unusual for them, and I would begin to wonder if they are having motivational problems in the "somewhat smaller" tournaments they play - a problem that most top doubles teams have often had, though LP-MB have always been impressive in their consistency in not losing to teams they normally beat (Eagle-Florent, good as they are, have lost many times to our dudes) .. If that is the case, they shouldn't play world series tournaments and just focus on the grand slams, super 9s and may be a few championship series tournaments and play singles otherwise .. I may be overanalyzing a bit here, though .. Now it will be a week break and practice for the Davis Cup at Korea next weekend for our guys.

By the way, Sunil Kumar did lose to Nomi Qamar at the ITF juniors at Chandigarh in the first round on tuesday - I had wondered about that match .. Today's Tribune (Chandigarh) says that it was 6-1, 2-6, 4-6 loss in a match where the Pakistani teenager "impressed with great ground strokes and played a perfect match with no unforced errors at all," .. That's good to know that one needs to do that to beat the 15-yr old Sunil Kumar in three sets - I was surprised of that result .. Sheetal and Shruti are in the final of doubles once again .. I have added some more doubles results, etc, at the Chandigarh juniors page.

Feb 10 Note-2

The server was down for a few hours today - sorry if many of you couldn't see the scores I had posted earlier for the LP-MB doubles win at Dubai .. The system went down soon after I posted that .. Leander and Mahesh play the quarterfinal tomorrow, Thursday, there.

The Lucknow folks will have such a warped idea of Indian tennis right now - can't blame them, as every main draw match with an Indian has so far been a loss .. Three singles and three doubles matches .. The last hope was the Fazal-Hiplert pair and they went down in straight sets today too .. I hope Fazal is not badly demoralized after all the losses .. Just chalk it up as a learning experience, and move on .. The whole year is ahead of him. At least he has that huge improvement in doubles rankings to show for the season .. Frankly, if Fazal had played the Indian satellites (which he missed due to a injury-medical technicality), he would have picked up a lot more points and wins .. The series of three futures and three satellites presented us with *only* top-500 caliber players - in every damn match, and it's not that surprising that our players had all those losses. There will be many other futures and satellites with more reasonable competition around the world, and let's hope Fazal and Vijay can get some wins in those to get the confidence back. As for today, the Israelis were the big winners, as 3 of the four won and reached the QFs - qualifier Amir Hadad's win over Burrieza being the most impressive .. Two more seeds fell though - Tramacchi and Ran .. Wesley Whitehouse is justifying the wildcard given to him - he is in the QF .. See all the results in the Lucknow challenger page ..

At Chandigarh, Nomi Qamar, the 17-yr old Pakistani kid I had mentioned earlier as a good upcoming one from there, pulled the big upset over 2nd seed AV Rao .. It's fair to say that I had hoped for more from AV Rao and Karan Doctor and both have so far been a bit inconsistent in their matches .. I have not seen all the earlier results in any newspapers, but if I am not mistaken, Nomi was supposed to play 15 yr old Sunil Kumar in the first round, so I assume Sunil Kumar lost to him .. Top seed Kedar Tembe is in the semi .. 15-yr old Punna Vishal (good to see him getting some big wins after a while - he had looked very good even last year) is also in the semi .. .. On the girls' side, Sheetal and Shruti continue their collision course, as they are in the semis in the opposite halfs .. Radhika Tulpule, who is the next best after these two based on results, is also in the semi, with a win over 5th seed Marta Malinowska (Poland) .. See all the results in the Chandigarh juniors page. Also check out this article in the Indian Express about the Pakistani kids who are touring India, and how the PTF is taking tennis development seriously.

Feb 10 Note-1

Aw.. Finally a win this week! .. LP-MB won their first round match just now at Dubai, 7-6, 7-6 over Pablo Albano and Daniel Orsanic of Argentina .. A friend who I talked to in Dubai, who had talked a press reporter who saw the match says that they reportedly "played like ****, in a horrible match" .. :-) .. I guess that's what champions can do - win even after playing horribly .. They play Eagle-Florent in the quarterfinal - they will have to play better against those guys!

No news yet from Lucknow, on how Fazal's doubles match went ..

At the Chandigarh ITF Junior tournament, no big shockers on Tuesday .. Parantap Chaturvedi lost to second seed AV Rao in a surprisingly lopsided 0-6, 1-6 match .. Kedar Shah upset 4th seed Mark Weaver of Britain .. 7th seed Saif Ali lost .. Kedar Tembe (top seed) moved on .. I assume Sunil Kumar (8th seed) beat Nomi Qamar of Pakistan .. The top 2 seeds, Sheetal and Shruti moved on to 3rd round in girls' singles (final-8, I believe) with easy wins .. See the results at the Chandigarh ITF juniors page (only some results there).

Feb 9 Note-2

Now I am seriously depressed .. Fazal had yet another loss .. and now all three Indians are out in the first round at the Lucknow challenger .. In a repeat of the first round match at Calcutta, Fazal lost to Noam Behr (ISR, 266), 4-6, 2-6 .. Yes, all our players have been playing all these much higher ranked opponenents, but I hoped that *somebody* would pull an upset or two somewhere, and it was not to be .. This sequence of futures and challengers have helped only in getting some tough match practice for our guys, and not much else .. Also, Vishal Uppal and Mustafa Ghouse bowed out in doubles too, though to the second seeds, Carrasco/ Velasco .. That makes it zero wins for Indians in ATP matches this week .. Fazal and Marcus Hilpert are yet to play their first round doubles .. See the results at the Lucknow challenger page.

Feb 9 Note-1

Leander Paes lost to Johan Van Herck (BEL,116), 4-6, 3-6, this afternoon at Dubai .. This loss surprises me somewhat, after the good form he showed last week .. It is always a pain to play the qualifiers who have had good match practice, right after flying into a place .. I wonder if Leander could not get much on-court practice out there ? .. Anyway, I will await any news coming from there .. I am a bit disappointed - for some reason I felt he was about to do very well in singles there .. Oh well, we are used to this never-ending ups and downs from Leander.

No news from the Lucknow challenger yet - not sure if my on-again-off-again fax machine is the problem ..

There was only girls' matches completed at the Chandigarh ITF world ranking tournament, due to rain .. The hardcourts where the boys were to play, remained wet .. See the results from yesterday at the Chandigarh ITF juniors page ..

Feb 8 Note-3

Now I really have a sinking feeling .. Both Srinath and Vijay Kannan went down today in straight sets in the first round at the Lucknow challenger .. Kannan played 8th seeded Motevassel closely in the first set, but once again couldn't do anything more .. Chalk that up as the 8th or 9th loss in a row for Vijay, who has not won a match since the satellites in Novemeber, I believe .. Some baptism by fire for the youngster .. Fazal plays his first round tomorrow, and hopefully at least he will get out of the funk he is in .. But then again, that is the kind of competition at these challengers .. Ask Marcos Ondruska, #138 and top seed here (he was #2 seed last week), who went down in the first round for the second week in a row .. 3rd seed Cabellero and 6th seed Zingman also lost today .. In doubles, Nitin and Sandeep Kirtane lost surprisingly tamely, 1-6, 1-6 to Couto and Cunha-Silva, who are a good team, but not *that* good, I thought .. The results are at the Lucknow challenger page.

At Dubai, LP is scheduled to play Van Herck late in the afternoon on Tuesday .. Kuerten won today and awaits the winner of that match, in R2 .. In doubles the qualifiers who will be facing LP-MB in the first round are the Argentinians, Pablo Albano and Daniel Orsanic, not necessarily a very easy team ..

Feb 8 Note-2

Pretty nice weekend for India, huh ? .. Has everybody recovered from intoxication in seeing the Pakistanis eat all those Kumblekais and all the foreign players being made to eat grass at Calcutta ?? ..

The new rankings show Mahesh going all the way up from 356 to 268 (ataboy!) .. Leander has moved up ten spots to 84, and now has the second highest point total of his career at 605 (He had 611 right after beating Sampras last August, when he was ranked at #73 - The rankings are rather weird at times) .. Srinath and Fazal are at about the same rankings (377 and 579) .. Fazaluddin has cracked top-500 in doubles, and is at #499 now - 5th best in India (behind LP, MB, Nitin Kirtane at 451 and Sandeep Kirtane at 480) .. Quite impressive - he was at 1306 with 1 point about 8 weeks back and now he has 71 points from 6 tournaments .. Let's hope LP brings up his ranking a whole bunch more this week at Dubai .. Also, Fazal and Sri will hopefully lead the challenge at the Lucknow challenger, where there are only three Indians in the main draw .. I will probably start receiving direct results from Lucknow only from Tuesday, so we may have to wait till the newspapers bring up the scores tonight there ..

Nirupama, who had dropped last week from 159 to 174 after defending only about half of her points from last year's Australian Open, moved up one spot to 173 this week .. Sai Jayalakshmi is 471, Manisha Malhotra is at 503 and Archana Venkataraman is at 575 .. None of them have played in a while now (pity that we still are doing nothing much to bring women's futures tournaments to India) .. Niru is at 241 in doubles ..

The ITF World Junior ranking tournament is at Chandigarh starting today .. Kedar Tembe and AV Rao are the top two seeds for the boys' draw .. Sheetal and Shruti are the top two in the girls draw .. 15 yr old Sunil Kumar, who won the title at Delhi last week is seeded 8th this week .. Interestingly, the boys' matches are played on synthetic plexicusion hardcourts and the girls' tournament is on clay ! .. So, Chandigarh doesn't always have events on grass [courtesy:  Tribune, Chandigarh, and Indian Express] .. See all the info at the Chandigarh juniors page ..

Feb 8 Note-1

The $50K+H Lucknow Challenger (grass) draw has come out .. It starts Monday .. The qualifying rounds got done Sunday, and only Nitin and Sandeep Kirtane reached even the second round among Indians (by the way, I wish one of them had got a wildcard instead of Whitehouse .. Oh well..) .. Wildcard Vijay Kannan once again gets a seeded player, 8th seed Oren Motevassel (ISR,234) .. Srinath gets the Italian, Igor Gaudi (ITA,275) and Fazal gets Noam Behr (ISR,266) .. [source: Times of India] .. See the qualifier results and the main draw at the Lucknow challenger page ..

Feb 7 Note-2

For the $1,150K Dubai Open, Leander is placed in the upper quarter of the draw .. Here is the upper half of the singles draw with Feb 1 rankings:

 1-Alex Corretja     (ESP,  2) vs   Andrew Ilie        (AUS, 54) \
   Younes El-Aynaoui (MOR, 36) vs   Peter Korda        (CZE, 76) / \
WC-Leander Paes      (IND, 94) vs Q-Johan Van Herck    (BEL,116) \ / \
 8-Gustavo Kuerten   (BRA, 21) vs   Juan Antonio Marin (CRC, 73) /    \
 4-Greg Rusedski     (GBR, 10) vs   Sjeng Schalken     (NED, 46) \    /
   Wayne Ferreira    (RSA, 25) vs   Francisco Clavet   (ESP, 29) / \ /
   Nicolas Escude    (FRA,107) vs   Nicholas Kiefer    (GER, 39) \ /
 6-Albert Costa      (ESP, 16) vs   Hicham Arazi       (MOR, 41) /

Not bad .. Magnus Norman (50), Wayne Black (88), Johan Van Herck (116), and Stephane Huet (179) were the four qualifiers, and so, Leander has got the second lowest ranked player as his opponent .. In the main draw, 73rd ranked Marin of Costa Rica (wasn't he in Spain ? .. moved to CRC ? .. Not sure) was the last direct entry .. If I were bold, I would predict Leander playing Aynaoui in the QF and Arazi in the SF, in an upset-ridden upper half - but I am not sure I am that bold .. :-) ..

In doubles, here is the upper half of the draw:

 1-M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes      vs   Qualifier/ Qualifier \
   J.Eagle/ A.Florent      vs   M.Tebbut/ C.Suk      / \
   T.Carbonell/ C.Haggard  vs   W.Black/ S.Stolle    \ /
 4-P.Norval/ K.Ullyett     vs   W.Arthurs/ N.Broad   /

The 2nd seeds are Delaitre/Santoro and the 3rd seeds are Johnson/Montana .. We will know by late MOnday who the qualifiers facing our dudes will be ..

The wildcards for the Lucknow challenger have gone to Srinath, Fazal, Vijay Kannan and Wesley Whitehouse (South Africa) .. Former Wimbledon junior champion Wesley has got so much of goodwill from India - this is the 3rd wildcard in a year for him (Chennai ATP, Vadodara challenger and now Lucknow challenger) .. I am sure some Indian players would be less than happy about it, but then again, nobody other than perhaps Nitin Kirtane, Harsh Mankad and Vinod Sridhar has shown that they deserve such a wildcard offer, though .. Harsh is probably skipping the challenger anyway, to finish off some exams etc ..

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending Feb 8..