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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Feb 25, 2002
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2001)

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Feb 25 Notes

LP-MB are the top seeds and get a singles-entry players in the first round - James Blake and Todd Martin, at the $400K San Jose ATP in California .. They are scheduled to play in the evening .. By the way, check out the San Jose ATP official web site .. This is the very first time that I am aware of, in any ATP tournament, ever, that two doubles players were listed in the player list at the web site with photos and details (except perhaps Chennai ATP - and even they have not consistently done it) .. ATP does not make an entry list for doubles and players only sign in at the event for the doubles draw; so the tournaments never list doubles players early .. At San Jose, they had got a commitment from LP and MB to play and had been listing them for a couple of months .. The San Jose tournament's ticket phone line message has been showing Agassi, Hewitt, Roddick and the Indian Express as the prime attractions for a while too .. That is also unheard of - a tournament talking about a doubles team coming to play, on the ticket line .. Then I was surprised to see the schedule page today - where they have listed only them with a nickname, as the "Indian Express - Paes and Bhupathi" ! .. That is also interesting, because the schedule pages normally only have official names .. I assume that the tournament is trying their best to get the vast Indian community in the bay area to show up .. I guess the pressure is on LP-MB to perform!

Here is the draw for LP-MB (upper half) ..
1 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes    vs S J.Blake/ T.Martin        \
  J-L.deJager/ R.Koenig vs S X.Malisse/ D.Sanguinetti / \ _ Final
3 B.MacPhie/ N.Zimonjic vs W S.Draper/ L.Hewitt       \ /
  L.Friedl/ P.Luxa      vs   C.Haggard/ T.Vanhoudt    /

The seeds in the lower half are, #2 Black-Ullyett and #4 Florent-MacPherson.  Not an easy draw and the matches against the singles-entry teams are tricky and unpredictable - Blake and Martin may turn out to be quite difficult - Martin is quite an experienced doubles player.

465th ranked wildcard Rushmi Chakravarti upsetting #354 Helen Crook (GBR) 63 46 63 to make the second round was the good news today at the $25K challenger in Delhi, where none of the Indians came through the qualies, only Sania Mirza and Radhika Tulpule even making the 3rd round of qualies .. Sania did upset Archana venkatraman and 6th seed Sai Jayalakshmi in straight sets to reach the final round of qualies .. The main draw is tough for the Indians .. Sunitha Rao (USA) gets the top seed Angelika Bachmann in the first round too .. Sai and Rushmi advanced to the quarterfinals of doubles today .. See qualifying and main draw results in the Delhi challenger page.

At the $15K USA F5 futures qualifying rounds -- 15th seed Ajay Ramaswamy (IND,898) has won three round to reach the final qualies - he beat three unseeded players, Kristopher Iverson (SWE), 62 60, Treveor Spracklin (USA), 64 62 and Steven Bijl (NED), 75 62, and now faces Eduardo Pacheco of Mexico in the fial qualies .. Rajeev Ram (USA) has also reached the final qualies.

Feb 24 Notes

Sorry for a day of break, but nothing much was going on .. LP-MB's doubles draw for the San Jose ATP is not our yet .. LP could have made the qualies cut but probably couldn't get there quickly enough from Memphis by Friday night .. Shuai Peng of China beat Sunitha Rao (USA) in a good match where Sunitha reportedly played well in a 63 76(3) loss yesterday at the $10K Mumbai ITF final .. See the Mumbai satellite page for all the scores ..The Chinese stayed patient and ran down everything all day against Sunitha's aggression .. That seems to be typical Chinese tennis these days on the girls' side -- many of their girls are so well-trained at that .. Ajay Ramaswami is at the $15K USA F5 futues qualies draw .. I was surprised to see him in the US just before the Indian futures are set to go in a couple of weeks .. 15th seed Ajay was to play Kristofer Ivarsson (SWE) first in a 4-round qualifying event - no results with me yet.

A bit disappointed not to find any Indians in the qualies at the San Jose and Dubai ATP events and the Vietnam challenger .. Vietnam challenger qualies actually had 11 vacant spots they couldn't even fill .. San Jose had one vacant spot .. Nobody would have made the Dubai qualies this time, but we have had people there in the past - Fazal made the draw last year as a wildcard for having won the all-nation rournament in Dubai.

Feb 22 Notes

I could have almost sworn when the mumbai futures started that Shuai and Sunitha would be in the final, but I normally don't do predictions out of respect for other players - especially Manisha there, who I thought could go all the way if she was in good form .. Anyway, Shuai Peng and Sunitha Rao (USA) reached the finals - Shuai was made to sweat by Suchanan from Thailand in a 16 76 63 match while Sunitha had absolutely no problems in upsetting the 5th seed Camilla Kremer 62 63 .. She has picked up 6 WTA points including 2 bonus for beating top-500 players .. The doubles title went to Annabel Blow and Dominika Luzarova (they had beaten the second seeds Rushmi and Sai yesterday) .. See the Mumbai satellite page.

Fed Cup regionals loom large in two weeks and we have to be a bit concerned - hopefully all our women players will do better next week .. Actually, though Sai is not in her best singles form, not having her there could cause us problems in the all-important doubles matches - Sai-Rushmi are still the most established Indian pair .. I hope some doubles combinations will be tried out next week at the challenger, with an eye to the needs week after (but India is not known for such careful planning :-)) ..  Another thing I wonder about, is what Jahnavi Parekh is up to ? .. After her college career finished in the US last June, she has not played much except for playing and winning the title at a tough ITF $10K satellite in Texas in one week last summer .. She was one whose services could have been very useful at the Fed Cup, but youngsters Sheetal and Sonal will be hopefulyl ready to support Manisha and Rushmi.

Feb 21 Note-2

Gambill and Roddick had a terrific day today at Memphis .. First, they both dropped the first sets in their singles matches and came back with bang .. Roddick was down 57 04 but won 12 of the next 15 games to advance in his match, and then Gambill dropped the first set 4-6, only to win 12 of the next 13 games to advance too .. So both were flying high on confidence coming into the doubles match, and sure enough they did not let the reputation of the Indian Express deter them - the youngsters went after LP-MB and pulled off an upset of the top seeds to cap their day! .. [QF] M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes l. J-M.Gambill/ A.Roddick, 67(4) 46 .. I had another busy day and could not follow the whole match .. The Indian Express was down 6-7(4), 2-3 and facing serve .. Our guys seemed to be fighting tooth and nail trying to get the break back, taking JG-AR to decues at 2-3 and 3-4 and then for a last-gasp attempt at 4-5 .. They did have a break chance at AD out at 4-5 in the second set but the Americans wouldn't fold and came through winning the last three points .. The match took and hour and 15 minutes, and it's one of the rarer cases when two top singles players have managed to beat LP-MB, though Gambill and Roddick are not a "scratch combination" and have played doubles together in the past - which makes a difference.

It *may be* possible for them to fly down to San Jose and try for the singles qualies - but I am not sure if LP would make it into the draw with his ranking - probably only doubles for them next week as well, at the San Jose ATP in California.

I have added all of today's results at the $10K women's Mumbai satellite page .. Manisha went down in three sets to the 5th seed Kremer from Belgium - all the newspaper reports talk about Manisha getting some bad calls in the 3rd set and getting terribly mad - unfortunately affecting her concentration too .. Oh well - hope she gets to pick up many more points next week in the challenger .. Sunitha Rao is cruising and she is also getting a lot of fan-support there; they seem to have adopted the Indian American, as she is all who is left in the semis .. 6th seed Suchanan Viratprasert (THA) has been quietly advancing so far - she faces Shuai Peng of China who is a very tough customer.

It seems that Saurabh Singh, the junior boy who seemed to be the most improved player after the Indian junior events, was down with a stomach problem in Bangladesh and actually did not play this week at Dhaka .. The Bangladesh newspaper reports which I gave below about him losing to Alex Miotto, etc must be wrong (actually ITF themselves had the wrong info on this - they have now corrected it - he retired in the first set of his first match after a couple of games) .. Anyway, that's unfortunate - I was hoping that Saurabh could pick up some good wins and add to his great show in the Delhi and Chandigarh events where he won back-to-back singles titles .. Hopefully we will get to see him make a move in the Eastern junior events next month.

Feb 21 Note-1

The Indian Express play at the $725K Kroger St.Jude ATP at Memphis today .. [QF] #1 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes vs (s) J.M.Gambill/ A.Roddick .. The match is scheduled on the center court for THU 6.30 pm (FRI 12.30 am London, 6 am India) .. Come to our chatroom for score updates.

I have not seen the scores, but at the Mumbai $10K, Sunitha Rao (USA) advanced to the semifinal upsetting the 4th seed Dominika Luzarova (CZE), and she will face 5th seed Kamilla Kremer (BEL) who beat Manisha Malhotra, the last remaining Indian :-(

By the way, there has been some serious talk about Sunitha Rao considering playing for India, though she is born and brought up in the US - there have been some newspaper articles from Mumbai where her dad Manohar Rao, a 20-yr immigrant to the US, has been quite outspoken about the treatment she has received in the US .. He is perhaps right that people have not looked at her with the kind of interest that the #1 (or #2) top US junior normally gets - I mentioned this earlier this week and had made my own observations on this over a year back too .. On the other hand, Manohar Rao does have a reputation for being outspoken etc (to say the least!) - so we will see what transpires .. Interesting thought - having Sunitha, Sania and Isha (all 16 and under and all three in the top-50 junior ranks right now) anchoring an Indian team for a few years! ..  There are a lot of cases of americans of immigrant parents playing for the parents' country - and very often chemistry the player has with the parent country is the key ingredient for it to be successful .. I don't know much about Sunitha and her situation.

Feb 21 Note-1

AITA announced that Napaporn Tongsalee (THA) whom they had offerred a wildcard to, I believe at the request of the Asian Tennis Federation, is not coming for the challenger next week, and so the wildcard has now reverted to Sheetal Gautam, who will join Rushmi and Sonal as wildcards .. AITA also said that if Rushmi makes the draw directly, which is quite possible, then Radhika Tulpule will receieve the WC .. Cool!

Feb 20 Note-3

Things went somewhat by the book today, though Sheetal and Rushmi did put up some good fight in three set losses in the seocnd round at the $10K Mumbai women's satellites .. Sai is still not at her best, and 2nd seed Manisha still appears a bit rusty while advancing to the QF after another three-setter where she however showed her grit in coming back from dropping the first set again .. See the Mumbai satellites page for scores .. Sunitha Rao (USA) easily made the QF and has been playing solid tennis there ..

I did not have much doubts about Isha Lakhani grabbing the title today in Bangladesh - the only question was whether she would be physically OK after all the matches she has played in the last 5 weeks .. That is about 41 matches in 32 days by my count, where she had 4 titles in singles and had a doubles title and two doubles finals to go with it .. She finished off her utter and complete domination of the subcontinental circuit with the title today, beating third-seeded Wang Ting Wen (TPE) 64 36 64 .. "The top Indian was very much on the offensive with a combination of attacking groundstrokes, top-spins and lobs to take the first set .. But in the second as Lakhani began to feel the effects of playing a number matches without break, her opponent seized the opportunity .. Yet like a true champion she raised her game in the deciding set.  To the cheers of the crowd in the special enclosure and among them was her relieved mother, left-handed Lakhani eventually triumphed", says The Daily Star (Dhaka) ..  Isha will now be ranked around #45 next week and is now assured of entries at all three remaining grand slam juniors .. She could not make it a double crown for a second week in a row though as she and Maya Rosa (INA) lost 57 67 to Ting Wen Wang and Kao Shao Yuan of Taipei .. Amanjot Singh and Wu Yi Chang (TPE) won the boys' doubles title beating Jaco Matthew and Somdev Dev Varman, 75 63 .. Alex Miotto (GBR) won the boys singles title ..

Feb 20 Note-2

Just heard this detail about how LP-MB pulled off the first round win against Bjorkman-Gimelstob on Monday at the Memphis ATP, from a fan .. Can you believe that after dropping the second set 2-6 and generally stinking up the place, so to say, they were down 5-9 in the tiebreaker, facing QUADRUPLE MATCH POINTS!! .. from the depth of despair, they reeled off six points in a row there to win the match with an 11-9 supertiebreak! .. To do something like that with Bjorkman facing them across the net is something special .. If anybody thought the Indian Express were no longer pulling out these kinds of magic acts - think again! ..

Feb 20 Note-1

LP-MB's QF doubles match against Gambill-Roddick is not in today's schedule at the Memphis ATP .. They may be playing tomorrow.

I must be really losing my marbles! .. Yesterday I talked about Isha missing the satellite this week - and Danny (thanks!) reminded me about the Dhaka grade-3 juniors this week .. I cannot believe that I forgot all about the second Bangladesh grade-3 .. I was talking about it till last friday and simply forgot about it afterwards .. Yes, there is another one going on there this week .. Well, what do you know - Isha Lakhani is in her SIXTH final in the last eight events, after beating Egyptian Noha Mohsen (#191), 62 57 61 yesterday .. She must have lost a bit of concentration in the second set - but I won't blame the girl for anything at this point, after the kind of run she has been on .. She is in the final against Ting-Wen Wang (TPE,125) .. Isha is also in line for a double crown just like last week - she and Maya Rosa (INA) moved to the final beating Noha and German Sarah Raab 75 62 .. In the final today, they play Wang and Kho Shao-Yuan of Taiwan - who beat Khushmi Chheda/ Wen-Hsin Hsu (TPE), 61 62 in the other semi .. The boys' doubles final is between Amanjot Singh and Wu Yi Chang (TPE) against Jaco Mathew and Somdev KD Verman .. So, disregard the last paragraph of the last note, as professorial absend-mindedness! :-)

Earlier scores for Isha -- [R1] Soon-Mi Soe (KOR), 61 62 .. [R2] d. Udanthi Narahenpitage (FRA), 60 64 (that's an impressive win - remember that Udanthi is the girl of Sri Lankan origin from France, who was unbeatable in the Colombo grade-4 last month) .. [QF] d. Yung-Jan Chan (TPE), 61 63 .. As for other Indian girls there - [R1] Sharanya Pattabi d. Punam Reddy, 64 63 .. [R2] l. Noha Mohsen (EGY), 64 64 .. [R1] Krushmi Cheddha d. Ishrat Sultana (BAN), 60 61 .. [R2] l. Hyun-Young Bae (KOR) ?? ..

The results were not very encouraging on the boys' side for Indians (results below) .. Somdev and Saurabh Kohli reached the QF level but went down to the top seed and last week's winner, respectively - both from Taiwan .. Saurabh Singh went down to last week's runner-up .. So, it is fair to say that, despite successes in some events from Saurabh, Somdev, Jaco, Tushar, etc, none made an impressive enough show in the 6-week subcontinental circuit - "impressive" means picking up enough points to move them into the top-60 or so to position oneself to qualify them for a grand slam junior entry - and that would have required consistency and "fire in the belly" throughout this circuit, which was tough and more competitive than in the past, but not the toughest set of junior grade-3/grade-4 events in the ITF calendar .. On the other hand, Saurabh Singh did look good in a couple of events before fading a bit in the last couple of events.
[R1] Somdev K Dev Varman d. Sree Amol Roy (BAN), 62 75 .. [R2] d. Alamgir Hossain (BAN), 75 61 .. [QF] l. #1 Tai-Wei Liu (TPE,50), 46 26 ..
[R1] Saurabh Kohli d. Veraputt Doakmaiklee (THA), 76(2) 62 .. [R2] d. Tzu-Yang Lin (TPE), 62 76(4) .. [QF] l. Wang-Cheng Hsieh (TPE), 75 46 26 ..
[R1] #4 Saurabh Singh d. Immanuel Prabowo (INA), 2-1 (retd) .. [R2] l. Alex Miotto (GBR), 67(3) 06 ..
[R1] Chatwinder Singh d. Nihal Advani, 64 64 .. [R2] l. Natapong Pongkunsub (THA) ..
[R1] MV Abhay Prakash l. Shahrear Haider (BAN), 62 60 .. [R2] l. #5 Hisham Balbaa (EGY), 63 57 67(6)
[R1] Arka Mondal d. Yi Min Wu (TPE), 61 63 .. [R2] l. Wang-Cheng Hsieh, 16 06 ..
[R1] Punna Vikas d. Seung Jae Lee (KOR), 62 62 .. [R2] l. #1 Tai-Wei Liu (TPE,50), 26 57 ..
[R1] Jaco Mathew l. Tzu-Yang Lin (TPE), 26 61 36
[R1] Rishi Behl l. Jong Guk Ho (KOR), 46 46

Feb 19 Notes

LP-MB will play the QF doubles at the $725K Memphis ATP against Gambill-Roddick on wednesday or more probably thursday.

The news from Mumbai is hardly flattering, as none of the Indian girls performed better than expected today - and pretty much all of them seem to be low on match practice and not in their best form .. Sheetal advanced over Ankita, but Sonal, Sania,Samrita, and Liza went down in the first round .. Sonal's loss to a qualifier was a disappointment .. 2nd seed Manisha had a big struggle, dropping the first set at 3-6 and then having to go through a 3rd set tiebreaker before moving on - hopefully the rust has gone away in her case .. Sania could not upset the 8th seed Sunitha Rao (USA,460) who was a top-15 junior player last year .. Sunitha is 17 and has reached some junior grand slam semifinals as well, but she has not played much junior events lately (by the way, though she had similar results as Ashley Harklerod, these two being considered the top two US juniors, she always seemed to be taken as an afterthought behind Ashley in the US - just my opinion .. I am glad to see Sunitha playing in India) .. Anyway, Sunitha was expected to be a tough matchup for 15 yr old Sania, who went down 36 36 .. Manisha, Sai, Rushmi and Sheetal are the only ones in the second round .. Sheetal now runs into Shuai Peng, with Rushmi and Sai facing the 4th and 5th seeds respectively - all tough R2 matches .. There are actually more quality players at this satellite compared to other $10K women's events in India that I can remember .. see the Mumbai satellite page.

AITA has announced the wildcards for the $25K challenger next week in Delhi .. Rushmi Chakravarti, Sonal Phadke and Napaporn Tongsalee (THA) .. I am not sure how Napaporn got a wildcard - perhaps due to some arrangement with ATF or something .. Some of our players have occasionally got a wildcard in some Asian events, so we can't complain .. Sania Mirza, Ankita Bhambri, Liza Pereira and Nandita Chandrasekhar got the wildcards into qualifying .. I like it that Sania is in the qualies, rather than the main draw .. It is more important to get match practice and hopefully move into the main draw ready to play the experienced pros, than to get thrown in there and have trouble .. Rushmi is right now the first in the qualifying waiting list (Sunitha Rao just ahead of her made it in this week), and could possibly make the main draw by the end of the week to join Manisha who is already in the main draw - if so, Sheetal will get the main draw wildcard according to the AITA release .. Radhika Tulpule and Sai Jayalakshmi are expected to be seeded in the qualies with good chance to make the main draw .. The original entry list is at the Delhi challenger page.

By the way, why is Isha Lakhani not playing at the Delhi challenger (say, qualies) next week ?? .. Here is what the ITF had to say today in their weekly junior round up - "In the girls’ singles in Bangladesh Isha Lakhani from India extended her impressive record. Lakhani picked up her second successive and fifth title total by beating No.1 seed Pichaya Laosirichon (THA) in the final. This win extends Lakhani’s win/loss record to 26-2, pretty impressive!" .. That is well-deserved praise from ITF .. She is ranked #53 this week, and as I said only Niru and Sania have been ranked higher as far as I remember from India - to do that from just 7 ITF events is breath-taking, in my view .. Anyway, I thought the Mumbai satellite would be one were she could have played (as she is from there), but she was playing last weekend in Bangladesh and perhaps it was a good idea to take a break after two weeks of continuous playing (and actually 5 weeks in a stretch with only one loss) ..  I thought she could have gained by playing the qualies or even the main draw of the Delhi challenger next week against some quality competition though - anyway, I don't see her in the entry applicant list, nor is she in the wildcard list from AITA .. It appears (to me) to be a lost opportunity  - but 16 yr olds do have to do some school work also, after being away for 5 weeks, and perhaps that's the reason.

Feb 18 Note-3

A tough win that LP-MB had to pull out today at memphis, against two very good doubles players .. [R1] #1 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. J.Bjorkman/ J.Gimelstob, 76(6) 26 (11-9) .. I could follow only part of the second set today .. LP-MB dropped serve after deuces in games 3 and 7 in the second set .. Had break chances against JB-JG in the 4th and 8th games, but they could not convert them .. But in the supertiebreak, they came through, to win a 1 hour 45 minutes match..  They now face a couple of guys who made the entry on their singles ranking - Gambill and Roddick, who beat the last doubles entry, Crichton-Llodra, 64 76(5) today .. The second round may be on wednesday.

Feb 18 Note-2

Here is the draw for LP-MB who are the top seeds at the Memphis event - they play today, as I said below.

1 Mahesh Bhupathi/ Leander Paes   vs    Jonas Bjorkman/ Justin Gimelstob
  Tim Crichton/ Michael Llodra    vs  S Jan-Michael Gambill/ Andy Roddick
3 Bob Bryan/ Mike Bryan           vs  W Mardy Fish/ Jeff Morrison
S Xavier Malisse/ Sargis Sargsian vs  W Tommy Haas/ Glenn Weiner
  Leos Friedl/ Petr Luxa          vs    Andre Sa/ Thomas Shimada
4 Brian MacPhie/ Nenad Zimonjic   vs    Marius Barnard/ Robbie Koenig
  Wayne Arthurs/ Martin Damm      vs  W James Blake/ Todd Martin
2 Ellis Ferreira/ Rick Leach      vs    Andrew Florent/ David MacPherson

Pretty good doubles draw, that! .. The "S" teams are the ones who got entry based on their singles ranks .. The doubles entry cut was at a ranksum of 135 (11 teams there), and cut for the two spots based on singles ranks was a ranksum of 102 (Malisse and Sargsian) .. Good to see Roddick, Gambill, Martin, Blake, Malisse, Haas, Fish, etc, all playing doubles - that is one way to get some spectators to watch doubles and learn about the "real" doubles teams!

Feb 18 Note-1

LP-MB are at the $725K Kroger St-Jude tournament in Memphis, Tennessee! .. That is the first time they are playing at that tournament in the Elvis Presley land - the Indian Express rolls into graceland, I guess .. So we will let Leander off the hook for not playing qualies (:-)) - he wouldn't have made the qualifying cut there because of a smaller 16 player draw - and I think this time both LP and MB had reached there early enough .. They have a tough first round match against J.Bjorkman and J.Gimelstob, though .. I have not seen the draw yet, but LP-MB play this evening at about 6 pm (7 pm NY .. 12 midnight London .. 5.30 am Tue, India), +/- 1hour .. There will be live score updates in our chatroom .. Come on in!

The main draw matches started at the $10K women's satellites in Mumbai today .. I didn't like the draw, as it pitted Radhika Tulpule against Rushmi Chakravarti and Sania against Sunitha Rao (USA), etc .. Anyway, Rushmi beat Radhika easily 62 62 .. Shruti Dhawan, who like many of the Indian women out there may be low on match practice, not having had many tournaments lately, went down to 6th seed Suchanan Viratprasert of Thailand in straight sets .. The second seed manisha and others like Sania, Sheetal, etc have not played yet .. Still not sure if Sai is back to her old form, as she had another struggle in winning the first round - against Archana Venkatraman, who is capable of making people struggle with her brand of tennis though .. The one I said we should keep an eye on, Shuai Peng of China started with an upset of the 7th seed Annabel Blow of Britain .. Qualifier SK Tara stretched the top seed Shelley Stephen (NZL,280) to three sets before losing .. See Monday's results on the Mumbai satellite page.

Karan Rastogi, among our top hopes in the junior levels, who had been out for the last 4 months with a back trouble, got back to competitive tennis last week, winning an AITA zonal event in Mumbai, beating Aditya Madkekar in the final 06 64 62 .. He may still be a bit rusty, but will be going to the Eastern circuit next month to get back into the swing of things .. Good to see him out there.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Feb 18 ..

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.