Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the week ending on Feb 20, 2006
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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
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
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
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 ..
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
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
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
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