TENNIS INDIA - tennisindia.org - TENNIS INDIA

.. Leander Paes Page .. Mahesh Bhupathi Page .. Nirupama Sanjeev Page ..
.. Indian Calendar/Results/Rankings .. Indian-Tennis Chat .. Fan Club .. 

LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Feb 16, 2004
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2003)

.. Add your thoughts/messages in the Forum page ..

Feb 16 Note-1

How about this? ..  Ankita Bhambri upset the second seed Wynne Prakusya (INA,198) 75 60 to make the main draw at the ING Vysya Hyderabad Open !!! .. Most incredible stuff by the 17 year old .. Wynne is supposedly not in her best shape, but she was good enough to beat Rushmi 60 62 yesterday and and to come back and win a doubles match this evening .. So this seems to be a match were Ankita did not give Wynn any room to come back and forced her to give up!! .. Way to go, Ankita ..  Neha beat Shikha to make the main draw as well .. So we have FOUR Indians in the main draw! .. See the Hyderabad WTA page for all scores.

Ankita picked up 9.25 big points including 2 bonus points for today's win and one for her upset of Matic on Saturday ..That raises her point total from 17 to 26.25 and her ranking will move up next week from #600 this week to around #495 next week!!

It almost became even better today, as Isha Lakhani made an impossible comeback on the 6th seed Jelena Kostanic (CRO,65) before going down in three sets 36 64 26 .. That she was able to take a set of such a highly ranked player itself is amazing.

Mahesh Bhupathi is in the draw this week at the $842K Rotterdam ATP, top seeded with Max Mirnyi .. They play Michael Kohlmann and Rainer Schuettler in the first round .. MB may have taken off to Rotterdam from Hyderabad .. He never gets to see the full tournament .. Last year he had to leave by wednesday because of the Davis Cup in the weekend .. This time it is the week after Davis Cup but he has to play in Rotterdam .. Hey, he is a professional, so playing tournaments is what he has to do - not running them .. So Hesh won't be at Hyderabad for the rest of the week.

Leander is not playing the week -- I am noit sure when exactly he and David Rikl will get together and restart .. As I said earlier, Rikl has been away for a few weeks because his wife delivered a baby recently..

Rohan Bopanna just told me that his arm is feeling fine and the walkover yesterday in Kolkata was a cautionary thing.

Feb 15 Note-2

It was a shellacking day for young Ankita Bhambri today as she double-bagelled(!!) experienced Archana Venkatraman to move into the final round of qualifying [well, actually the WTA spreadsheet shows a 60 60 score; I am not sure if that was the scores] .. She now runs into the 2nd seed Wynn Prakusya (INA, 194) who also seems to be in great form, as she gave Rushmi Chakravarthi no chance at all today in a 60 62 win .. Two big upsets today were by the Indian-Americans Uberoi sisters, Shikha and Neha, who upset the top seed and the 5th seed to make the final qualies against each other! .. So, we are assured of one more Indian in the main draw .. By the way, there is news today that both the sisters are planning to play for India .. Shikha was actually born in Mumbai .. Both are first cousins of Bollywood's Vivek Oberoi according to the Deccan Chronicle (I never knew that) .. That the sisters, who both speak fluent Hindi, have only India in their plans is great to know .. Heck, their names says spell out their destiny - U-be-ROI  (ROI stands for Republic of India or Resident of India :-)) ..

The draw came out and it is not great for Isha and Sania .. Isha runs into the 5th seed Jelena Kostanic (CRO, 66)  and Sania faces the 4th seed Nicole Pratt (AUS,57) .. Isha plays Monday in the inaugural match on center court right after the opening ceremony at 3 pm .. By the way, Isha and Shahar Peer upset the second seeds in the douboles qualies and will play the final qualies Monday evening as well .. See the Hyderabad WTA page for all details.

Things are well set to go, and there is some nice press coverage for Monday -- All the newspaper correspondents have got there .. There was an interesting item in S.Kannan's Hindustan Times article - "the word is that Mary Pierce took a cool $150K last year for apperance money" .. Well, that is the kind of money needed to get those top names -- this time the government put up only just enough for the $140K prize money, while you need many times that to run an event like this .. Even city billboard advertisement expenses were cut this time, but they have made sure that the court details and the player hospitality details are still done well, because that is important to keep player participation for the futures .. With the title sponsor on board, and with the government expected to continue higher levels of support (assuming Mr.Naidu continuing as CM), hopefully the future will be bright .. I am glad that the tournament weathered the worst storm this year - and they were close to even cancelling the event at one time, now we hear .. The entry for the public is free .. This is really not such a surprising things as it may first seem .. Due to the general public's inability to pay big money, the gate collection never really amounts to much in India and big money has to come from spornsorship .. It makes more sense to create a great atmosphere with a big crowd in the stands .. Hey, really where else in the world can you see this level of tennis for free? -- Come on Hyderabad, get out there! ...

Rohan Bopanna has been playing this week at an Oil company event in Kolkata! .. I assume he is out there for mostly only for some light hitting, as he gets ready to play in two weeks at the Delhi futures, after over 2 months of injury layoff .. Lots of good players there though, Sunil Kumar, Vijay Kannan, Vinod Sridhar, Ajay Ramaswamy, Saurav Panja, etc .. Rohan won a matxch yesterday and gave a walkover to Saurav Panja today (hopefully just to be careful, and nothing is wrong) .. Sunil Kumar beat Vijay and Vinod beat Saurav Panja to reach the finals today.

Feb 15 Note-1

I am a bit upset that not a singles newspaper gave any coverage for yesterday's big win by 17 yr old Ankita Bhambri over the #259 ranked 8th seed .. For that matter, there has hardly been much buildup in the newspapers about the Hyderabad Open .. Come on, where is our press? .. Write something folks -- what happened to the old idea of newspapers finding news and writing stories -- should the wire service agencies send ready-to-go stuff for everyone to write?? .. Argh! ..  

And I saw some 150 newspaper articles today, or it seems so, about the silly idea of the Indian cricket team touring Pakistan now -- as though the sky will fall if we wait .. And wait we should, till we find a solution to problems like Kashmir with the pest country and we have at least some indication that the brainwashed anti-Indian people there (even if they are a minority) have changed their views .. Makes me mad to hear of all this talk about a cricket tour suddenly solving all the issues with the pest country .. Like all the past tours helped in either side doing something about the problems! .. This is silly kneejerk euphoria, and my view will stay that way till we hear of any realistic fundamental change - and that would be something like our obstinate government(s) and the pest country's brainwashed (mistaken) people getting ready to really compromise on something .. Till then not a damn thing will change, regardless of the number of articles our press writes .. We give the pest country too much importance, and through that we lose the ability to compromise, which only countries with people who truly believe in their superiority and position of strength can really do! .. Anyway, I digress - I should stick to tennis reporting .. sorry about that.

Back to what bugged me, here is Ankita, who has hardly got the kind of attention she should have got over time .. Perhaps (in my view) it was partly due to a bit of haphazard tour planning which has prevented her from making any news in the juniors like she could have .. Isha, Sania, Megha, and even sister Sanaa have got so much more ink than Ankita .. She does something very impressive now and hardly anyone notices .. The local newspaper, Deccan Chronicle, was the only one that even put up today's scores online .. And they too did not notice Ankita's upset win .. Well, let us hope Ankita, Rushmi or Archana can come through to the main draw with an upset of Wynn Prakusya.

By the way, Deccan Chronicle also had a story on how Mahesh Bhupathi dashed down to the airport after finding about Iroda's withdrawal in the morning, to get Sonal Phadke from the airport .. They had to announce in the airport PA system and all that and finally had to get her literally out from the aircraft .. Tournament director CGK Bhupathi said that Sonal was nearly in tears Friday night as she missed the qualifying draw .. Good job by CGK and Hesh for doing all that .. Sonal lost her match, but I am sure she is glad to have got the chance to play .. At least the tournament showed they cared (and I suppose I should do my sly remark about that other big Indian professional tournament at this point? .. Nah, I will skip that :-)) .. Anyway, I am sure CGK was feeling bad probably also because a qualifying wildcard had gone to Shahar Peer of Israel, the AO junior champion who showed up .. Touching story, actually ..

Feb 14 Notes

Great news from the Hyderabad Open qualifying first round today .. 17 year old Ankita Bhambri pulled the huge upset over 8th seed Antonia Matic (GER,259)  in straight sets 64 64 and Archana  Venkatraman upset Maki Arai (JPN, 465) also by the same score .. These two now face each other to make it to the 3rd round .. In the same quarter of the draw, Rushmi Chakravarthi easily beat Sai Jayalakshmy and faces the 2nd seed Wynn Prakusya in the Q2 .. One more upset would put an Indian in the main draw, which will be fantastic .. By the way, it seems there was one more withdrawal after the qualifying draw was made friday night, but before the matches started, because I see the draw to have been change today with 4th seed Galina Fokina (who was the next-in for main draw) going into the main draw and one more spot clearing up .. So, Sonal Phadke made it in to the draw .. Megha put up a brave fight to Shelley Stephens before falling to #370 Shelley Stephens (NZL) in three sets .. Liza Pereira, Sonal Phadke, Iciri Rai and Punam Reddy could not mount much of a challenge it seems .. See the Hyderabad WTA page for all scores .. I don't know who withdrew from the main draw, but I fear it may be Marion Bartoli, as I saw that she has been injured .. I hate these last-minute withdrawls .. WTA really needs to get their act together on this.

Just got an update -- it seems Iroda Tulyaganova was the last minute withdrawal and they learned about it at 3 am on Saturday .. That is crazy .. Oh well, what can we do?  There are still a ton of  talented young and upcoming players there.

The official site for the tournament is http://www.wtaindianopen.com .. They have not started the score updates but I expect them to continue the fine job they did last year on that - with all the changes going on till the last minute, I assume they have had trouble updating the official draws etc, so far

There was some big announcements yesterday from AITA after the director board meeting presided over by the official president, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, the indian foreign minister .. AITA asnnounced that they will enter into an arrangement/contract with a select band of upcoming players "through which they would be supported either completely of partly for their further  Development towards becoming World Class Tennis Players", as AITA says .. The players are: Karan Rastogi, Somdev Varman, Divij Sharan, Tushar Liberhan, Rupesh Roy, Sanam Singh, Megha Vakharia, Sanaa Bhambri, Tara Iyer, G.K. Shwetha .. That is a good list with the only prominent names missing being ArunPrakash, Sunil Kumar, Vishal Punna and Ankita Bhambri .. Sania, Isha and Rohan Bopanna are with Globosport .. Sunil Kumar may still be wiith Paes-en-Sport .. Harsh Mankad has been with, well, himself, as always :) .. In the junior ranks, Jeevan's name is missing too .. Anyway, it is always nice to see support arrangements, and hopefully real cash will soon be going to the players soon .. By and large AITA has ben coming through with at least some help lately for juniors' travel, etc, though the players will continue to complain that it is not enough - which is not unusual around the world.

AITA also announced the travelling team for the upcoming Asian grade-1 junior events, Mar-Apr in East Asia (Malaysia / Thailand / Philippines/ Japan) .. Boys: Karan Rastogi, Divij Sharan, Tushar Liberhan, Rupesh Roy, Sanam Singh, Navdeep Singh .. Girls: Tara Iyer, Sanaa Bhambri, Madura Ranganathan, Poonam Reddy .. Coaches: Ms. Shalini Thakur (Girls), Mr. M. Balachandran (Boys) .. Jeevan and Kartiki will have legitimate beefs about being left off the team, all the selected players are deserving ones ..  This is the first time that we are seding a female coach to handle the girls! .. Shalini Thakur was playing till recently, if I remember correctly ..

Feb 13 Notes

Well the Indian Open has just changed their name to Hyderabad Open, with ING Vysya Bank as the title sponsor .. Just on time before the start of the event .. Interestingly, The Hindu had reported today that the State Government had only pout up 75 lakhs this time (the effect of elections, I am sure), as opposed to 4 crores last time .. Note that 75 lakhs is hardly enough to cover the totoal prize money .. Still, that was good money of couiirse form the state and Hesh thanked the government today, according to the Deccan Chronicle  which says Mahesh was all praise for the “amazing support from the Andhra Pradesh government.” ... "Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu loves sport and that’s what keeps this tournament alive for a long time. We hope to get better and better and make it a big event,” Mahesh said ... Mahesh also said sponsorship was hard to come by in tennis since corporates were “more interested in cricket and Bollywood.”  ... Anyway, great to see Vyasa bank also step up, and it looks like everything is set to go ..

There was one bad news item today, and that is the last minute withdrawal of  Alicia Molik of Australia -- she would have been the top seed had she come, but I suppose she is not that interested in the few points after she made a good bundle with an unexpected 4th round show in the Australian Open recently, which saw her move up a bit in rankings .. Saori Obata (JPN, 39) will be the top seed now .. Evgenia Kulikovskaia made the main draw with that withdrawl which Globosport folks came to know of only with an hour to go for qualifying sign-in to close today .. I had seen on a women's tennis forum late yesterday, however, that she was withdrawing  - which is why I talked about last-minutes withdrawals below .. Oh well -- good that everybody else is showing up .. There are a whole bunch of rising young talent in this tournament though .. You will hear more about some of them later, I am sure .. The quality of tennis will be good, and at this time I personally don't think Tammi will be able to defend her title, barring the inexplicable infusion of a serious dosage of form that Thai players always seem to get in India! ..

In other news, the Telegraph (Kolkata) reports that Rohan Bopanna is out there getting into playing shape at an Oil company tournament which seems to be somewhat of an exhibition, with Sunil Kumar, Ajay Ramaswamy, etc .. Great to hear that .. That means he will be playing at Delhi in two weeks and is getting into shape.

The ITF Chandigarh doubles titles went to Jeevan-Navdeep and Thongdach-Wickmayer .. Great job by Navdeep and Thongdach to win double crowns.

Now on to an important matter .. Here is an article that basically ruined my mood completely today, with some comments from Mahesh in the Times of India - "Hesh-Lee is just a Davis Cup pair" .. It says, India's dream of an Olympic gold in tennis at Athens in August this year is still alive, what with the Mahesh Bhupathi - Leander Paes duo staying together to realise it. However, the pair is unlikely to keep the Indian flag flying high at Grand Slam events.  "Leander and me play a couple more Davis Cup matches for India before the Games and should be able to give the Olympics a good shot," Bhupathi said here on Friday. The pair had forged a successful partnership in the recent Davis Cup rubber against New Zealand. "But as far as the Grand Slam events are concerned, including the upcoming French Open, I am still with Max Miriny.." ... Come on Hesh, that won't do, man, and I know you know that! .. At least as far as we fans can figure out, you guys need much more than just another Davis Cup match against Suzuki-Shimada to get ready for Olympics .. Though Hesh is the one quoted here, he may be talking about what Lee and Hesh have decided together .. As always, I look at these things as joint decisions (or joint no-decisions) by Lee and Hesh together .. I am not interested in figuring out who is responsible, who is initiating what, whether they are talking to each other at all, and if they are saying no to playing with each other .. That kind of details hasn't really mattered for quite some time .. As far as all of us are concerned, Lee and Hesh will ultimately be remembered jointly for whatever the Indian Express does, or whatever they fail to do that they could well have done .. Reverence and blame will both be equally shared by both as well .. So, for their own sake, and for the country's sake, they should do whatever is needed ..

I have written a few times in the forum (yeah, I admit, it is my own sneaky way to start some pressure on our champs) that these two should play from French Open onwards for the sake of Olympics .. The reason is just that I think a big title is very important before the Olympics.  Remember that their last big title together was THREE years back at the French Open on the first reunion tour .. Are they the force they once were? -- Yes, they can well be, and we fans would feel that way .. But I know for sure that the guys they will be playing this year at Olympics won't look at them as a pair they used to be .. THAT is where a big title is important - to put some fear into their opponents as well, and make sure that they are both ranked high enough for a top 4 seeding at Athens .. And I don't know of any other courts out there where they can possibly walk in with two days of practice and mow down people likethey can on the clay at the French Open .. Heck, they are on a twelve match win streak out there for crying out loud! .. A title there is the perfect way to get going in the "shock-the-world 13-week tour that ends with an Olympic medal" .. To be brutally frank, though neither would admit it, I think they will NEED a title like that before they can truly believe they can get past the Bryans and Santoro-Llodra who may already be prohibitive favorites to win the Olympics medal .. I do not believe (and it hurts me to say this) that they can beat those teams right now, unless they play a good amount of time together and believe in their own ability to do it - then of course they are the best team in the world .. To "give it a shot" at the Olympics is not going to work ...  I know Hesh and Lee both know this fully well, and I don't have to lecture them on this - everything they have earned so far is based on the work they have put in and the desire/drive they have shown, and I don't think either of them believes in the "chalta hai" manner of just showing up and expecting good things to happen .. It *never* happens that way - instead, karma catches up with you and even conspires with the draw goddess .. After all, we went through the Sydney heartbreak .. I would rather they NOT play Olympics and would rather keep my memories of everything great they did, than for ever feel that they failed in that one thing we all wanted them to do MOST, because they could not take that tough step needed to make it happen

Now, if you need more proof of what I am asking for, we only need to look at what happened in 2000 .. Max Mirnyi - who else? - was playing some big events (Rome and Hamburg super 9s) with Daniel Nestor .. Well, they split a week before the French Open, and Nestor started with a fellow-Canadian, Sebastien Lareau .. Lareau meanwhile was playing Gimselsttob with whom he even won a title at Memphis .. They had also just reached the final at Orlando (and lost to a Siemerink and, who else, Paes!) .. Well Lareau-Nestor joined together a couple of weeks later at French Open .. They played together from then on for 8 events, mostly QFs at FO, Wimbledon, etc, and a Toronto title at home -- but the eighth week saw then climb to the stratosphere, beating Woodies in the final and picking up the Gold for Canada .. They played only one match together after that (a loss at Stuttgart) and that was the end of thatr partnership, both eo fthem going their own separate ways again .. Moral of the story - you need to start early - and the last winners started with French Open .. I didn't know that they had done exactly what we have been asking LP-MB to do, till I checked the record just now, by the way! .. Heck, we fans also may know a thing or two, eh? ...

I know it is a tough decision to make, as I assume they really have no desire to play with each other for the rest of their career and prefer other partners on the tour (but I guess the same was probably true of Nestor and Lareau as well, who always played with Bahamanian Knowles and American O'Brien as their partners) .. I will be perfectly fine with Lee and Hesh going back from US Open onward to other partners .. Actually most of us fans have just not complained over the last two years when they were playing with others after a failed attempt for a year on a reunion .. We have accepted that as their prerogative, because it is their professional career to make money and win titles the way they want to .. Obviously we also  understand that they will have to probably decide to play this year together and make a promise for the next three grand slams to play together, if they ditch Mirnyi and Rikl for FO and Wimbledon .. That is tough to do ..

Well, we will reduce the demands if that is not all possible at all, and if they have already promised Mirnyi and Rikl to be partners at the next three grand slams (I don't know if they have) -- Can they at least get a minimum of 10 matches together before Olympics? .. How about Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Toronto and Cincinnati in the four weeks leading to Athens? .. That sounds relatively painless for me .. Not sure that is enough, but I guess that *might* do it for Olympics .. Not the ideal preparation but we cannot complain if they at least did that much .. After Olympics they can go back to their partners .. I hope at least a four-event preparatory tour will come through, and we will be celebrating the "6 weeks for Gold" that goes down in history! ..

I always feel strange trying to put pressure on Lee and Hesh, as I respect and like them immensely, but a man has got to say what a man's got to say, I suppose.

Feb 13 Note-1

Quick updates (more later) -- I have posted the qualifying draw for the the Hyderabad WTA .. Eight Indians made it into the qualies, three through wildcards .. I see that 16 year old world #3 junior Shahar Peer, who became the Australian Open junior champion recently, showed up with a wildcard! -- Cool!! .. The very talented Uberoi sisters, Neha and Shikha, also showed up from the US for the qualies, as did 16 yr old Fuda from Japan who was #7 in the juniors last year .. The tournament has turned into a bigtime showcase of young talent .. Wonderful ..  Rushmi vs Sai .. Megs, Ankita, Iciri, Archana, Punam also in the draw ..

Navdeep beat Jeevan in the final at the Chadigarh ITF grade-3 .. AITA has announced the 10-player Indian junior team for the Asian circuit (Mar-Apr) - I have posted that in the forum.

Feb 12 Notes

There is official confirmation from WTA today about the defending champion Tamarine Tanasugarn and those like Iroda Tulyaganove having confirmed their participation at the Hyderabad Indian Open .. This is sort of the nervous time, because the way withdrawals work in WTA everything gets messed up till the last minute (unlike ATP events where the list does not stay this fluid) .. There are usually a player or two who would withdraw this late, though -- hopefully there won't be any of that .. By the way, I believe the current 5th highest ranked player, #57 Nicole Pratt (AUS) was a silver exempt entry - her name was not in the original list, but a top-ranked "silver exempt" player can put the name late into the "next in" list and move into the draw if there are withdrawals .. She made it in, and I believe no wildcard is needed for her ..  Let us see how it all shakes up .. The qualies are about to start in a couple of days, and time to turn the light on down there in Hyderabad! .. Let's go!!!

At the grade-3 ITF juniors in Chandigarh, 15 year old Jeevan Nedunchezhian (#145) had the big upset of the top seed Rupesh Roy (#51) to reach his first grade-3 final against Navdeep Singh (#84) who took care of #77 Faris Khatib of Britain .. Jeevan's straight sets win was sweet revenge against Rupesh who beat him last week .. That is impressive work by Jeevan and it gives him enough points to move inside the world top-120, which is great for someone as young as him .. By the way, if I am no mistaken, Jeevan is the grandson of the long-time doyen of Tamil Nadu politics, the late VR Nedunchezhian who was former AIADMK president and state minister, probably known to anyone who follows South Indian politics .. Jeevan has a chance to even make the top-100 with a win tomorrow, but Navdeep, about to turn 18 next week, is no easy foe .. Great to see another all Indian final in the boys' section .. To boot, the doubles final also will be between Indians, as Rupesh and Sumit face Jeevan and Navdeep .. I wish I could get even a minor dose of thrill from the girls' side though, as we finish a five-week circuit with hardly much to talk about .. Madura lost to Thongdach and Parul lost to I-Hsuan today, with Indian girls losing in douobles as well .. See the Hyderabad WTA page ..

So we have only Indians in the finals on the boys' side and no Indians at all playing in the two girls' finals tomorrow .. To say that I was throroughly disappointed at none of our girls making a real break through after 5 weeks of the south asian circuit, would be an understatement .. I am getting impatient to see the next batch of ITF top-50 caliber top talent to come from the girls' side .. We are continuing to draw a blank since Isha, Sania, Ankita, Sanaa and Tara -- and it has been like 18 months, which is too long for the pipeline to run dry in the juniors (one player with junior top-30 potential need to emerge every 6 months, and that should be the goal!) .. Based on the pictures I have seen of our girls, I think a lot of them need to really get serious about their physique, diet, and work out regimen .. Some need to seriously lose weight and many need to put some muscles on, etc .. Boys seem comparitively better in this regard at this point .. Age 14-17 is when these things get really refined, and that is the time to start the hard work which become habit later on .. If our girls think getting into the weight room is only for the boys, all they need to do is to take a look at pictures of those juniors like 16 yr olds Tathiana Golovin (FRA), or Jarmila Gajdosova (SVK) or 15 yr old Marina Erakovich (NZL)! ..  If you wonder why some of these players are able to blow people away, it is also because they put int the hard work in the gym .. Just my opinion ..

Feb 11 Notes

News from Globosport today -- Sania Mirza has been awarded a wildcard for doubles and she will be partnering world #11 Liezel Huber (FRA) at the Hyderabad WTA! .. Normally I would complain wbout wildcards to foreign players, but this is a good move by WTA Indian Open .. Gives a better chance to showcase the pride and joy of Hyderbad, Sania, a bit more .. She is after all the one who puts fannies on the seats down there .. Great experience for Sania to be playing with a top-notch doubles player and I wouldn't be surprised if these two are able to win a couple of rounds and go deep in the draw too.

I have updated the latest updated entry list for the Indian Open in the Hyderabad WTA page .. One withdrawal - 8th seed Czink .. The qualifying list has moved up significantly and it looks like at least 7 or 8 Indians will make it, including four wildcards in the qualies .. One main draw wildcard is yet to be named, I think.

At the Chandigarh grade-3 ITF, 15 year old Jeevan Nedunchezhian reached his first grade-3 semifinal with a nice upset of the 4th seed Martin Sayer (HKG,106) .. Jeevan now runs into Rupesh Roy, who keeps on going .. The other semi will be between Navdeep and Faris Khatib of Britain .. On the girls side, Parul Goswami who turns 18 next month and is in her last year of juniors, pulled another upset and reached the semi, where she will face the top seed I-Hsuan Hwang, who has been virtually unbeatable in the circuit .. The other semifinal will be between Thongdach (THA) and R.Madura who came back from a set down to beat the 8th seed today .. The big wins have eluded Madura so far in the South Asian circuit, but hopefully she can bring her best game tomorrow ..

Feb 10 Notes

Time to start getting excited about the "Glam Slam" of South Asia, the Hyderabad Indian Open WTA .. I have posted the latest entry list I have, from last week, at the Hyderabad WTA page .. Quite a quality list with fifteen world top-100 players expected in Hyderabad .. Based on this week's ranking, there will be six top-60 players at Hyderabad in cluding two top-40 players as well .. As of now,  Alicia Molik of Australia and Saori Obata of Japan will be the top two seeds ranked #34 and #39 .. They will be followed by Marion Bartoli (FRA),  Tammi Tanasugarn (THAS), Nicole Pratt (AUS) and Iroda Tulyaganova (UZB) ifrom the top-60 .. The final two seeds as of now, will be Jelena Kostanic (CRO) and Melinda Czink (HUN), and all the seeds are ranked in the top-70 .. Wonderful .. Consider that a top-70 player would hardly move up even seven or eight rankings spots with the points from even a title at a Tier-IV event .. So I don't know how an event that pays $140K total attractes all these top players .. The Chennai Open ATP that pays nearly three times as much in prize money has never had that many top-100 players, for instance .. Even considering that women have fewer events than men and need to make money whereever they can, it is still impressive .. I had heard that AP may not have enough money to throw around this time due to the elections out there and so I guess these players are not even being paid any big apperance fees or anything either .. The word of mouth, that this is a well-conducted event, must also be helping .. By the way, the official announcement came today about the second wildcard going to the Indian #1 Isha Lakhani, as expected ..

By the way, I hope the Indian players are all planning to travel to Hyderabad for the qualies .. Last year I thought about three of our ladies did not go there, proibably thinking hey wouldn't make the draw, and we found Uzbek players ranked below them making the draw - hopefully oiur players would gran as many spots in the qualifying draws as they can.

In other news, the entry list for the men's $10K+H futures starting in Delhi on the 23rd, is also out .. It is posted in our forum .. Rohan Bopanna is in the list - which is nice .. Hopefully he will be recovered and recuperated form the shoulder problem by then ..  Harsh Mankad is stays in in the US for the three $15K futures for now - he is 6th in the entry list for next week and 4th in the entry list for the following week, but we will have to wait and see if his injury would be healed enough for him to play.

At the Chandigarh ITF grade-3 juniors, seven seeds each have reached the QFs .. Three Indian boys (Rupesh, Jeevan and Navdeep) and four girls (Madura, Punam, Vandana Parul) have reached the quarterfinals .. The only big upset so far has been last week's semifinalist Kartiki Bhat going down in a tough three-setter to Parul Goswami today .. See the Chandigarh juniors page for all the scores ..

Today's ITF worl rankings look good! -- Nearly four players in the world top-50!! .. Karan (#5), Divij (#33), Tushar (#39) and Rupesh (#51) .. Navdeep Singh (#84), Sanam Singh (#129) and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (#145) are the next three players on the boys's side ..On the girls's side, following #23 Sania are #46 Sanaa Bhambri, #58 Tara Iyer, #93 Kartiki Bhat and #99 Madura Ranganathan .. Kartiki and Madura just cracked the top-100 .. Punam Reddy is at #142, as we find seven and six players each in the world top-150 from either side.  That sounds great!

Feb 9 Notes

In the latest Davis Cup rankings from ITF, India has now moved up to #13 !! .. Two spots up from our earlier #15 rank, with a few bonus points for an away tie .. That is fifth among all the teams that are expected in the world group playoffs late in the year -- eight teams ahead of us who are in this year's WG QF are already in the world group for next year, having won their ties this past weekend .. The four WG losing teams ahead of India (AUS, RUS, ROM, CRO) and the four who are behind us (CZE, CAN, MAR, and AUT) are already in the draw for the September WG qualifying playoff for 2005 .. India is currently the highest ranked team that is vying for a spot there through one more regional tie .. If we beat Japan away in April (a tall task!), India may end up as among the top 5 in the filed of 16, on Davis Cup ranking .. But that may still not be enough to get us a  top eight seeding and get us a winnable tie in the WG playoff (eight seeds are drawn against eight easier unseeded teams), because ITF may continue to disregard their own rankings and their stated criterion of double team strength and basically use just the ATP singles ranks as effectively the sole criterion for seeding .. Anyway, that is all later -- we need to beat Japan first before thinking beyond that .. I will say more after 9 weeks, once we get past JPN.

The rankings are based on points from four years of performance in the DC (earlier years with lesser points) .. In Asia-Oceania Davis Cup rankings, Australia is #1, India is #13, Thailand #16, Uzbekistan #21, Japan #30 and Indonesia is #34 .. Did you know that Britian is #22, Germany is #28 and Italy is #39?

Nothing much going on, as the women are getting ready for qualies at the WTA Indian Open (Hyderabad) this coming weekend, and the men are waiting for the Delhi F1A futures the week after (Feb 23rd) .. On the junior side, the Chandigarh frade-3 is this week ..

LP and MB are off for this week and both would be out playing the tour in a week or two .. I hope Rohan Bopanna may have started hitting the ball again, but I' mot sure how soon he wil be playing - I will try to confirm from Bofors on that .. Prakash also hopefully will be getting  back on court in a few weeks .. Harsh is in the entry list for next week's $15K futures in Texas, but he is going to see how his groin/thigh strain feels by the end of the week before deciding whether to play ..

An interesting bit from the PTI article on Paes' 5th match win yesterday - Paes later admitted verbally sledging New Zealand’s Simon Rea in the deciding Davis Cup tennis rubber here today, but only because home team captain Bruce Derlin started it .... Davis Cup debutant Rea raced to a 3-0 lead over Paes in the first set of the deciding match ... Paes said that’s when the taunting started and it was Derlin who shot from the lip first ... “The Kiwi captain, who knows I’m four feet away from him when I came back out (on court), said 'You must be feeling the pressure now',” Paes said. “I thought, 'all right, boy. You have started the game, so let’s go.' .. “It worked to my advantage.... Once that happens, I’m coming at you.” .. Man, that made me laugh .. Bruce Derlin has got to be incredibly naive to try something like that with Leander, because pretty much everybody with any experience in Davis Cup Asian regionals know what not to do against Lee! .. Anybody who has tried that kind of stuff on Lee has paid for it because that is the kind of thing that drives Leander, but Derlin is a newby as a captain; I guess he learned his lesson .. By the way, this Bruce Derlin business started in the first match itself, as he was doing things like screaming to justify blatantly partisan line calls against Mankad; so much so that Mankad refused to shake hands with him at the end of the match -- it is clearly in bad taste for the captain to do that kind of stuff, especially when the opponent is struggliung with a strapped thigh and injury and all that too .. Anyway, Lee did exactly what was needed! ... All right, boy, says Lee -- classic!

Feb 8 Note-3

The road is tougher from now on in Davis Cup, as we are looking at playing Japan away, and then Russia away in the playoff if we advance :-)

The Indonesians almost pulled off a big upset at home on Japan today, as Terachi retired against Widhiyanto in the 4th match to make it 2-2, and then Simpatiaji led by 2 sets to nil .. Motomura pulled off a comeback to win a 5-set fifth rubber to earn the right to play India at home ..  That tie will be in April, to decide who advances to play the October playoffs for the 2004 world group final-16.

The world group playoffs will be between 8 regional qualifiers (2 from Asia) and the 8 losers of the first rouond 2003 WG ties this weekend .. Eight teams will be seeded and be drawn against 8 others .. Most of the seeded teams in the WQ playoff will be this week's losers.. India, if it beats Japan, will not be seeded because of ATP singles ranks  .. Looks like there will be at least two biggies in the playoffs, as Russia got shocked by Belarus and Australia were upset by Sweden ..That means, using my never-failing predictive powers on how the Davis Cup draws will turn out, if we beat Japan in two months, book your tickets for a trip to Russia :-) .. Actually Australia in India would be a pretty bad too.

Feb 8 Note-2

By the way, congratulations go to Leander for equalling the great Ramanathan Krishnan in all-time wins this evening! .. Ramanathan had a 69-28 record (singles and doubles combined) in Davis Cup .. LP now is 69-29 ..  Actually, but for Ramanathan coming back at the age of 38 to win one match after six years since his previous match in 1969,  Lee would have the record today in most wins! ..  In singles, LP is 44-20, in second place behind Ramanathan at 50-19, and ahead of Jaideep Mukherjea at 39-23 .. In doubles, LP has just moved ahead of Premjit Lall (24-12) with a 25-9 record .. Amazing numbers - and they are especially impressive when you consider the number of times Lee has had to do it with his back against the wall, knowing that a loss from him would pretty much mean that we would lose the tie .. Today's match also made Leander the player with most Davis Cup matches in India's history -- Now he has 98 matches .. To underscore the point that he has played three matches a a pop almost every times, the 98 matches have come in just 34 ties .. For comparison, Ramanathan Krishnan's 98 matches came from 43 ties, and Jaideep Mukherjea's 97 matches also have come from 43 ties .. In fact, I just ran some stats, and Leander Paes has played most matches per ties, among anybody who has played over 30 ties in Davis Cup history - an incredible 2.88 matches per tie .. With the win today, he went past Balazs Taroczy of Hungary with 95 in 33 ties (2.87 avg) .. The next closest in Davis Cup history is Alex Metreveli (RUS) who played 105 matches in 38 ties (2.76 avg) .. LP is now in the 12th spot in all-time wins, behind Ramanathan Krishnan at #11 in Davis Cup history .. And he is not done by any stretch of imagination fany time soon .. Incredible numbers.

Feb 8 Note-1

INDIA WINS!! .... INDIA WINS!!! .... and Leander Paes is God ..

He has broken the hearts of many countries' fans in the past, and now for the 3rd year in a row he has broken the Kiwi hearts -- I am sure they will never forget him .. And I finally have the feeling that I can forget the crimes by the Kiwi Onny Parun who broke my heart as a young boy back in the 70s .. [Match-5] Leander Paes d. Simon Rea, 36 75 63 62 .. First of all, hats off to the young guy Simon Rea who played way beyond what anybody could have expected of him based on what he has done in the US college tennis etc .. It was no mean task he was facing, to go up against one of the very best closers in Davis Cup .. And he was immediately up a break at 4-1 and kept that up to take the first set on Leander .. To say that there was gloom in our chatroom would be an understatement .. But we knew that Lee would come back - the only doubt being about whether he was physically able to do it this time .. Second set .. and it goes neck and neck .. Finally when I called the stadium, they told me it was 6-5 on serve ..  But I knew one thing right then .. I KNEW .. Well, knew enough to predict that Leander would be breaking Rea in that game .. He has played enough Davis Cup to know that he HAD TO break REA right there, and we knew he knew he had to do it .. And that was exactly what happened .. According to TennisNZL, the game was a long one with many point and in the end Leander pulled off the break to even it and get himself back in it .. We all heaved a sigh of relief and the celebration was pretty much on .. We knew LP would do it from there; no doubts anymore .. The next two sets were a breeze .. And all is well with the world .. The sun rises in the east and Leander wins the matches that we want him to win.

Earlier, Vishal Punna seemed to start with a flourish, as he led with an early break too, but Nielsen came back on him ... V.Punna l. M.Nielsen, 46 36 16 .. Considering that this was his first match, I think Vishal played well.

Up next for us seems like Japan in Japan, unless Indonesia pulls an improbable upset .. The usual Suzuki-Motomura-Shimada team, I expect .. That will be iin early April, and hopefully PA and RB will also be healthy by then ..

Time to really start talking about the tournament that we are all proud about -- The WTA Hyderabad Open ...  Though I have not seen the proper press release yet, I may as well release the news on the second wild card, as CGK Bhupathi (who was with us in the chatroom during the LP match) did not object to it ---  as you may have guessed, the Indian #1, Isha Lakhani has got the second wildcard .. Go Isha !! ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Feb 09 ..

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.