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

Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the week ending on Feb 20, 2006
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2006)

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

Feb 20 Notes

There is a news report today that Leander Paes was in Mumbai and has decided to have the next Davis Cup tie, against Pakistan in early April, at the CCI club courts in Mumbai on grass .. It is great to see the Davis Cup move to a new place .. I have criticized LP and AITA quite a bit her and in our forum for not moving the Davis Cup ties to different venues, and I have also been after the Mumbai tennis folks for a while about their not bringing big events to the big city ..  I guess I get both my wishes with this! .. It hasn't made to sense to me why Mumbai has been unable to conduct a men's challenger for years or a Davis Cup for decades - though the latter was probably never really their fault! .. I have been getting sick of the Kolkata-Delhi shuttle service for years and we have all complained for a while in our forums about Davis Cup "not moving south of the Windhyas" .. It will help to take Davis Cup to more cities and get the fans (and more importantly the aspiring kids in those cities) to have some fun rooting for India with tricolor on their faces and drum beats in the stands - something the fans in Delhi seem too jaded to do these days, reportedly! .. What better than a tie against Pakistanis? ..

I don't think there are any grass courts at CCI currently, though .. They may have to put in some grass in a hurry, I suppose .. It is a no-big-advantage type of decision against Pakistan who also have grass courts as their preferred surface .. I had always believed that it is worth trying a hard-slippery clay surface like at the Madras Gymkhana in Chennai - at least Mankad and Bopanna are comfortable on that surface, and it is good to have some other strange surface options with us - not just grass .. On the other hand, the Pakistanis are not much worse than us in playing on clay either; so who knows! .. Sometimes I feel that we overstate how good our players are on grass though .. PA, RB and HM are certainly very comfortable on grass and will generally beat anybody under top-200 without grass experience, but against very good grasscourt players, we are yet to see them pulling off upsets like LP and MB have done in the past .. Aisam Qureshi is a very good grass player and Aqeel Khan generally seems to perform much better on grass than on other surfaces .. Hvaing said that, Aqeel did look quite alright at Madras Gymkhana last year when he played the futures (which Mankad won; but Aqeel had a top-350 win and reached the QF there) .. I guess the bottomline is that generally no surface is particularly more advantageous than any other, if we are playing Pakistan .. So, this is a safer pick - in that we would otherwise take Prakash out of the equation if we pick anything but grass or hard .. I might have preferred a hardcourt surface actually, come to think of it, for this tie.  But no big complaints - and as you can see, I am quite indecisive on what would work this time .. We will trust LP's judgment I guess .. Heck, the fan fervor should be enough for our players to beat Pakistan even if we play the match on moon-rocks .. If you can't get up and ready to beat the little bug-country next to us on whatever surface, you shouldn't be playing Davis Cup for India .. Go Leander and party, get going with your plans ..

Leander and Mahesh are both at the $782K Rotterdam ATP this week -- [R1] Mahesh Bhupathi/ Wesley Moodie (RSA) vs Novak Djokovic (SCG)/ Andreas Seppi (ITA) .. [R1] (3) Martin Damm (CZE)/ Leander Paes vs Mario Ancic (CRO)/ Thomas Johansson (SWE) ..

Sania Mirza is set to play the featured high-octane evening match at the Dubai WTA tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7 pm against Martina Hingis .. Sania is in the doubles draw there with Maria Vento Kabchi (VEN) and they play a tough first round (probably wednesday) against Maria Kirilenko and Anastasia Myskina of Russia ..

Sania moved up to a career-high #73 in doubles in today's rankings, with the doubles title at Bangalore .. She is #36 in singles .. Making nearly a 100 spot jump in the singles ranking was Isha Lakhani with her R2 at the Bangalore WTA - Isha moved up to #388 ...

The big news today is the impressive run by unseeded Neha Uberoi through the qualifying rounds at the Tier-III Copa Colsanitas Seguras Bolivar WTA (yeek, that is a mouthful for a tourney title!) .. In Bogota, Columbia .. 341-ranked Neha upset the 258-ranked 4th seed in the qualies, Tina Schiechtl of Austria, by a stunning 61 62 margin .. That is the third straight set win by Neha in the qualies.  She also got some help in the main draw, as she now runs into a fellow qualifier, Sara Errani (ITA,293) .. I am sure she has it in her to upset Errani for her first WTA main draw win too .. Go Neha!! ..  I assume her match will be on wednesday - not sure .. This is the second time that she is qualifying into a WTA main draw; she had done that at the Hyderabad WTA two years back ..

Harsh Mankad (IND,222), in the last week with a top-225 ranking (he is expected to drop to about #270 next week after 38 points fall off from his current total of 159), is at the $15K USA F4 futures in windy Brownsville, Texas .. He is the second seed and faces a qualifier Johan Brunstrom (SWE,932) in the first round .. In doubles, Harsh is playing with Jeremy Wurtzman (USA) and they are seeded first .. Their R1 is against a Mexican pair, Daniel Garza and Carlos Palencia .. HM will play two weeks of futures and then will try to see if he can get into the qualies of the big Indian Wells masters.

Rohan Bopanna (IND,231) was to be at the AUS F2 futures in Wollongong this week, but seems to have withdrawn .. I saw the draw just now and he is not in it .. Will need to find out what is up with Bops.  Hope he is alright .. Looks like the Kyoto challenger in 2 weeks is the next one for Bops (and also Prakash) ..

Feb 19 Notes

For a pair that has played only three events together in a year, Liezel Huber and Sania Mirza are pretty good together .. They have gone 9-1 in their matches, with titles last year at Hyderabad and now at Bangalore! .. In the final today, [F] (2) Sania Mirza (IND)/ Liezel Huber (RSA) d. (3) Anastassia Rodionova (RUS)/ Elena Vesnina (RUS), 63 63 .. This was a much better match than they played yesterday, in terms of errors .. Liezel is superb at the net and Sania has the ability to pull off some of those "how did she do dat?" shots though she made her share of mistakes today - perhaps a bit fewer than yesterday .. This is Sania's second WTA doubles title.

Forgot yesterday to report the qualifying round result for Karqan Rastogi at the Rotterdam ATP .. He could not do much yesterday against the 7th seed Alex Calatrava (ESP,201) in a 16 46 loss.

Good work by Neha Uberoi (USA,343) at the $175K Tier-III WTA in Bogota, Columbia .. Earlier today, she beat Carla Tiene (BRA,380) 62 61 in the Q1 and then followed that up with a Q2 win also today, 61 75 over #443 Estefania Craciun (URU,443) who had upset the 6th seed in the Q1 .. Neha now faces the 4th seed Tina Schiechtl (AUT,262) in the Q3 tomorrow .. Neha wis in the doubles main draw there with Maria Fernanda Alves (BRA) .. They face the second seeds Agnes Szavay (HUN) and Jasmin Woehr (GER) in the first round.  Jasmin retired in her Q2 singles matchtoday - so I am not sure if the second seeds will play doubles.

Kamala Kannan was the only Indian among eight players to qualify into the first leg main draw for the $25K+H four-week satellites in Delhi this weekend.   Mustafa Ghouse fell to Purav Raja today and Purav then fell in the final round today .. I will start a page soon.

Mahesh/ Moodie and Leander/ Damm will be at the Rotterdam ATP this week for doubles.  Harsh Mankad at the USA $15K futures and Rohan Bopanna at the AUS $15K .. Shikha is still out of commission.

Feb 17-18 Notes

Well, Sania Mirza is alive in doubles at Bangalore and has made sure that she will bring crowds in through the weekend .. She and Liezel Huber took their record together in three events to 8-1 with a totally hard-fought 75 67(6) 64 match .. The crowd was incredible, making Liezel quip later that she had "never seen something like that and probably never will!" .. Here is a fabulous onsite fanclub member match report by our own C'conked in the fan forum .. In the final they play Anastassia Rodionova and Elina Vesnina .. Rodionova was coached by Manisha Malhotra some time back - not sure if she still is .. In singles, the final will be between third seed Mara Santangelo and 6th seed Jelena Kostanic .. Unfortunately, 17 year old American Vania King's dream run ended in the semifinal with a retirtement due to a bad stomach ..

The draw came out for the Tier -II $1M Dubai Open WTA next week, and Sania has got a very tough first match .. Against Martina Hingis (SUI,48) .. Hmm, I would pay to see that match .. Not sure how well Sania can do though - she is oince again bandaged up (a bad elbow now) and that has affected her play both in the singles loss - though I don't think she has mentioned it .. As C'conked mentioned in the forum, the elbow is indeed troubling her a bit.

In other news, the qualifying first round has started in Delhi for the 4-week satellites .. I will post the score soon .. Mustafa Ghouse, Gurmehar Singh, Kamala Kannan, Vijay-Sunder Prashanth, Purav Raja, Aditya Madkekar, Ajay Selvaraj, Agnel Gladwyn, Dipesh Rao and Sandeep Choudhury and Vijit Sehgal advanced to Q2 today but Vishal Punna went down against the 9th seeded Korean Hyun-Woo Nam .. 5th seed Jaco Mathew and 7th seed Tushar Liberhan were also was upset today .. Mustafa plays Purav next .. See the forum thread on these satellites for some discussions.

Neha Uberoi is at the Bogota WTA qualies in Columbia, drawn to face #380 ranked wildcard Carla Tiene (BRA) .. She plays Q1 on Sunday and if she wins, the Q2 also.

Feb 16 Notes

At the Bangalore Open WTA today, Isha Lakani (IND,488) was overmatched in her second round match at the Bangalore WTA against Yuliana Fedak (UKR,123) in a 36 36 loss .. Sania and Liezel Huber came through with a hard-fought 76(10 26 64 win in the doubles semifinal against Martina Muller (GER) and Silvija Talaja (CRO) .. They play Koryttseva and Peer in the semifinal, which will be on Saturday.  Good that there will be some Sania-mania into the weekend, at least in doubles .. The tournament can really use help right now, as a lot of the top players have fallen .. See our Bangalore WTA page for all the scores..

Yet another super-tiebreaker loss today .. Mahesh Bhupathi, playing with Fabrice Santoro (FRA) for just this week and seeded third at the $650K Marseille Open in France, were upset by Julien Knowle and Jurgen Melzer of Austria, 76(4) 57 (10-5) .. MB now goes to the Rotterdam ATP next week and is expected to rejoin Wesley Moodie, his regular partner.

Nothing much else happening today.

Feb 15 Notes

Bad day, bad day! .. When Sania, Harsh and Rohan all lose, it is indeed one.

Sania had no problem in the first round of the Bangalore Open in a 62 62 win over Martina Muller (GER,102) yesterday, but she had a terrible outing today in a 62 57 26 loss against Camille Pin (FRA,110) in the second round .. Sania made 85 unforced errors, mostly due to some clevel moonballing and extremely sharp retrieving by Pin .. Sania herself said afterwards that she "perhaps should have been more patient" .. I wonder if all the criticism and armchair advice from seemingly ALL quarters about becoming a patient and calculating player etc are getting to Sania .. Count me in among the very few remaining people who say she should just keep playing her "I don't care for the devil" tennis.  That is what she is to her core, and that is what got her here .. She should throw away all these advices about "strategery" and just hit the felt off the ball .. Try a few things here and there to add more variety and work slowly on any serve mechanics and serve variety/placement issues (ie, things that are not instinctive items on court, but planned ones), but when the ball is in play, she should not be thinking "strategery" .. Those who are advising her to change her style are totally unaware of what made Sania what she is .. I agree that what I am saying would possibly leave her with the same ranking or lower ranking for a longer time, and perhaps she would never get to number one etc, but the other option may just completely take her away from her ability to play big tennis against big players -- because I think her core abilities won't let her play "strategery" tennis better than a lot of players who have been playing and training that stuff for ever .. Of course, practice "strategery" (I love that word coinded by GW! :)) a lot but let that become part of her, rather than commit to doing it in matches .. Be yourself, Sania! .. If people say you are being hard-headed and arrogant, so be it .. If you go down, do that with guns blazing, not doing "strategery" and looking foolish .. Having said that, damn girl, you cannot do 85 unforced errors in a match and hope to win it :) .. Cut that down, please. Matches against players like Pin would help immensely though .. Hats of to Camille - I just didn't think such players were still there on the WTA tour.

Sania and Liezel Huber won the doubles forst round there with a 64 64 score over Tzipora Obziler (ISR) and Angelique Widjaja (INA), the only win to talk about today .. Isha got a gift in the first round yesterday as qualifier Katerina Kachlikova retired at 1-4 with an eye infection .. Isha plays tomorrow .. Ankita played a pretty good match in a 57 36 loss to Kaia Kanepi, where the match was reportedly closer than the scoreline, but no breakthrough for her yesterday.  Now we have Isha left in singles R2 and Sania in the doubles QF.

At the $50K Joplin challenger in Missouri, Harsh Mankad reportedly played a pretty good match today for most part, but could not prevent one break each in the two sets against Jeff Morrison (USA,153) .. 46 36 loss .. Morrison has been a pain in the neck for Indians, with one win over Prakash (62 63) and two over Mankad (who did play a close game a few months back in a two tie-breaker loss) ..  Harsh had even more heartbreak later in the day, as he lost a barnburner doubles match after a comeback .. 63 36 (14-16) loss by HM and Jeremy Wurtzman (USA) against American pair, Alex Kuznetsov and Scott Oudsema .. Nice comeback in the match, but these super-tiebrekers stink .. Both teams had a few match pts .. HM and JW messed one match point each, but they also got unlucky in the end as a netchord bounced over Harsh who was at the net at 14-15 .. But I think this has still been a pretty damn good week for Harsh because he finally seems to have got a bit of his touch back .. That was indeed a very good win over a red-hot Andreas Beck in the first round, who incidentally was ITF's player of the month for January! .. Harsh proceeds to Texas for two $15K futures there .. He has a lot of points dropping off on Feb 27 (36 pts) .. More dropping in early April (24 pts) .. This would be time to pick up some good points .. He seems to be getting in to decent form just in the nick of time though ..

More bad news .. Rohan Bopanna, seeded second at the Australia $15K futures was upset 67(4) 63 64 by Andrew Coelho (AUS,604), and eighteen year old who has been red-hot too .. He reached the SF of the Burnie challenger last week with upsets of those like #131 Yen-Husn Lu! .. Once again, Indians seem to be showing a knack for drawing hot players at these events .. But then again, Bops played a good match in the loss .. RB and Luke Bourgeois (FRA) had a 76 64 win over the Aussie pair of Carsten Ball and Andrew Coelho in the R1 but fell 67(5) 63 (10-12) in the doubles QF .. Damn, another close supertiebreaker loss for an Indian today.

Feb 14 Note-1

A pretty big win by Harsh Mankad (IND,230) at the $50K challenger in Joplin, Missouri (USA) .. He beat Andreas Beck (GER,242), 64 62 yesterday .. This is actually quite an impressive win for Harsh after quite a few months .. 20 year old upcoming German youngster Beck has been on a red-hot streak this year - since January he has beaten #77 Bracciali, #137 Bastl, #224 Summerer, #256 Mamiit, #285 T.Popp etc, while compiling a 12-4 record in 3 futures (a title and a runner-up finish in the tough GER futures) and two challengers (QF in Heilbronn and R2 in Dallas) .. In yesterday's match, Harsh went ahead in the very first game with a break, but the German broke him back in the second game .. At 5-4, Harsh forced another break to take the set and then simply cruised winning 8 of the last 10 sets and the match .. That is like old Harsh from early last year .. Hope he has got his game back! .. His R2 opponents will be decided Tuesday .. HM will play the R2 and the doubles R1 on wednesday.

At the Bangalore Open, Rushmi and Ankita could not mount much of a challenge in the doubles match completed this evening, going down 26 26 to Martina Muller (GER) and Silvija Talaja (CRO) .. Sania, Isha and Ankita play today .. See the Bangalore WTA page for scores.

Feb 13 Notes

According to the draw released by the International Tennis Federation today, India will host Pakistan in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-I first round relegation playoff tie be played during the April 7-9 weekend. The previous tie between India and Pakistan which was to be hosted by Pakistan in 1973 was played at a neutral venue in Malaysia pretty soon after the last war between the two countries .. Thus the host for this tie had to be determined by a coin-toss. The coin fell India's way in a very important tie today!

India has an unblemished record against Pakistan in five Davis Cup ties in the past, beating Pakistan 5-0 in Lahore in 1962, 4-1 at Poona in 1963, 4-0 at Lahore in 1964, 3-1 at Patna in 1970 and 4-0 in Kuala Lumpur in 1973 .. The venue and surface of the upcoming tie in India will be decided over the next few weeks. As Pakistan is considered very comfortable on grass courts, their favorite surface for home Davis Cups, India may need to rethink the customary plan for playing all the home ties on grass courts, as has been done for over a quarter century. This tie promises to be very exciting; much is at stake, as the loser gets closer to being relegated to the lower tier, group-II of the Asia-Oceania region .. The loser will play a september tie against the loser of the China-UZB tie .. Losing that one would relegate the team to group-II, and they would then require a minimum of two years of regional ties to have any hopes of making it to the world group final-32, which will have to be in 2009 for them .. We need to stay in the Group-I because if we are to make any moves, it will have to be by 2008 .. It is hard to imagine LP and MB available for a sure doubles win for more than another couple of years .. We will just have to try to do it with the current group of players (HM, RB, PA, KR etc) who will simply have to come through and raise their level of play to the next step next two years .. So, let us do whatever we need to, to beat Pakistan and stay in the group-I for next year.

At the WTA Bangalore, Rushmi Chakravarthi fell today 16 26 to Melinda Czink .. Doubles later today for Rushm .. See the Bangalore WTA page for scores.

Rohan Bopanna (IND,233) is at the $15K Australia F1 futures at the Olympics tennis park in Sydney .. He is drawn to face Andrew Coelho (AUS,913) in the first round .. Coelho got a special exempt entry for reaching the Burnie challenger semis last week, with wins over 7th seed #349 Sugiyama and top seed #134 Yen-Hsun Lu .. So, he is a hot player right now. Hope RB is ready .. In doubles there, 4th seeded Rohan nd Luke Bourgeois (AUS) play the Aussies, Carsten Ball and Andrew Coelho.

Good news about the Karnataka challengers in April .. The tournaments hit the ATP calendar officially late last week .. So we are on for a couple of challengers in a long time, over two years .. Chikmaglur will host a $25K+H  starting on April 17th and Dharwad will host another on Apr 24th.  Perfect timing, as our top guys can plan their trip to India for Davis Cup and  stay there for the challengers .. Good job by AITA and KSLTA in pulling this off.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Feb 13, 2006 ..

I am getting some inquiries from US college coaches who are interested in Indian junior players .. I would like to be able to contact Indian players (some of the coaches are inquiring about specific names) .. If any of the junior players are reading this, please contact me .. Or if any of the other readers know the contact emails/address for any junior playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan