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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Mar 08, 2004
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Mar 8 Notes

This is the first week of the Indian Wells Masters, and it is the first time that it is a 2-week event .. The men's main draw only starts by saturday and doubles rounds will mostly be next week .. As of now, Praksh Amritraj is effectivley inside the cut for the singles qualifying .. Not sure if he has recovered well enough from the injury two monthsa back to play this week - but he has not withdrawn from the list yet .. I will try to find out tomorrow and will try to make a trip up there if he us playing in the two-round qualies on wednesday and thursday .. The qualifying draw itself will be made only Tuesday night .. The doubles main draw for LP and MB would be made by around Friday.

The India F2 $10K ITF "ONGC" futures is underway at Kolkata .. The qualifying rounds got done today, with 6th seed Jaco Mathew and unseeded Gurmehar Singh making it in .. Gurmehar had a pretty good upset of the 8th seed in the qualies .. The main draw wildcards went to Ajay Ramaswami, Somdev DevVarman, Manoj Mahadevan and Tushar Liberhan .. Rohan, Sunil, Vijay Kannan, Mustafa, Vinod, and the two Vishals are in the main draw directly .. See the Kolkata futures page .. By the way, the Saturday Club that is hosting this event has a really nice website for the event .. Compact, elegant, crisp and informative website .. The jazzy and cumbersome websites at the big pro events (and the utterly useless, worst website of the whole ATP tour, the one at Chennai Open) should take note ..  I noiticed that the Kolkata futures website had a creative new thing - a blinking spot with the upset results, which is a first I have ever seen on any tennis website .. It's a small thing but I wish more websites would consider doing things like that for the serious tennis fans! .. Kudos go to tournament director Jaideep Mukherjea and the web ffolks there for the website .. Some of the qualifying matches were done at the South Club also, but the main draw is at the Saturday Club.

Harsh Mankad is off this week, and actually for the next two weeks as well .. On the women's side, Rushmi Chakravarthi continues in Australia .. At the $10K Benalla event, she is seeded 4th and faces Stacia Fonseca (USA) in the first round .. In doubles, after two first round losses with Dittman, she has changed partners .. Rushmi is playing with Liza Andriani of Indonesia and they play Diana Julianto (INA) and Monthinee Tangphong (THA) ..

Mar 7 Notes

There have been six times in ATP events when LP and MB faced each other in doubles .. Every one of those matches turned out to be gripping classics .. If you expected anything different today at the $1M Dubai Open final, you were mistaken .. They again went after each other and in the end Mahesh managed to even his doubles record against LP at 3-3 .. [F] (1) M.Bhupathi/ F.Santoro d. (2) J.Bjorkman/ L.Paes, 62 46 64 .. In the first set MB-FS jumped ahead early with a break in the 4th game to 4-1 .. They got a second break in the 8th game to go ahead .. In the second set, things tightened up considerably, as breaks were hard to find .. In the 10th game, JB-LP got the timely break to send it to the 3rd set .. Once again no breaks till the very last game when MB-FS clinched it ..  The match took slightly over 2 hours ..

Here is the record of matches between these two .. Indianapolis 99 -- [R2] LP-Delaitre d. MB-Pavel, 64 26 63 .. Hamburg Masters, 02 -- [R2] MB-Gambill d. LP-Cibulec, 62 46 76(5) .. Indian Wells Masters 03 -- [R2] LP-Rikl d. MB-Henman, 62 36 62 .. French Open 03 -- [QF] LP-Rikl d. Bhupathi-Mirnyi, 36 75 63 .. Wimbledon 03 -- [SF] MB-Mirnyi d. LP-Rikl, 67(6) 64 76(7) 63 .. And then today's match .. So, neither has ever been able to beat the oither in straight sets .. Eealrier on I used to view these matches with some sort of disdain - with a bit of disgust and detachment .. I am used to it more now and find it rather interesting when these two play each other, especially because of how close their record is againt each other and how competitive  the matches have been .. From a pure tennis fan standpoint, these matches have been doubles classics though - I was fortunate to see one of the matches at Indian Wells last year too .. I don't think these two enjoyed playing each other when they had to first do it at Indi in 99, but now they too must be feeling more of a healthy competitive spirit in these matches .. I don't want to see many more of these till the Olympics though .. The sooner they get their matters in order and get back together on the tour, the better .. I will keep talking about this, though I don't think Lee and Hesh need reminders - based on what they have been saying they are trying to find a way to get back together early enough.

This is the 33rd title for Mahesh and his 7th title since last April .. MB-Santoro shared $59,450 and LP-Bjorkman shared $31,500 .. MB gets 300 points and LP gets 210 points from Dubai .. Leander's points from last year's Dubai title had already fallen off from his list last monday, but he has now defended the points from the Del Ray beach ATP title last year which falls off this monday .. He still has a lot of points to defend this month (225 from the Indian Wells SF and 350 from the Miami final last year) .. Every point he gets now helps LP to keep his ranking high over the next 3 months when he loses most of the 2000 odd points he now has from last year when he was doing very well with Rikl (225 at Hamburg, 450 at FO, 120 at DenBosch, 450 from Wimbledon) .. MB, on the other hand had a terrible time till French Open last year when he got back with Mirnyi; so he has nothing much to defend for a while.

Mar 6 Notes

Disappointed in our hockey teams (it's coach's?) inability to take care of well-expected problems against Pakistan today - 4 of 4 in penalty corners by Abbas - come on, we have got to be prepared to do better than that, even if he is the best at what he does .. Hopefully the talent of the team will come through despite all the messing around by everybody else, they will qualify for Olympics and a certain Dhanraj will be taken back in the team .. Anyway, back to tennis -

Great news from Dubai .. All set for one more of the classic Paes vs Bhupathi matches! .. Both the top seeds won their semifinals easily today .. In the afternoon match, [SF] (1) M.Bhupathi/ F.Santoro d. P.Pala/ P.Vizner, 61 76 .. Some late resistance from Pavel-Zizner but Hesh and Fabrice have been pretty strong in this event .. Then in the night match, [SF] (2) J.Bjorkman/ L.Paes d. R.Nadal/ T.Robredo, 63 64 .. Again som late resistance as the Spaniards got a break back from 2-4 in the second to even it at 4-4, but Lee and Jonas took care of business with another break right there .. So we are on for a brother-in-arms final tomorrow!!

The Chennai futures title was won by Mazur in three stes today .. The qualies for the $10K F2 futures in Kolkata has started - I will post the draw soon.

Mar 5 Notes

The $1M Dubai ATP semifinals are tomorrow .. [SF] (1) M.Bhupathi/ F.Santoro vs Petr Pala (CZE)/ Pala Vizner (CZE) at about 4 pm and then [SF] (2) J.Bjorkman/ L.Paes vs Rafael Nadal (ESP)/ Tommie Robredo (ESP) in a 9 pm match.

At the Chennai futures, Vishal Uppal got going only in the second set against Dmitryi Mazur in the semi today; it was a a bit too late, as he went down 16 67 .. Mazur plays Filip Urban (POL) in the final .. Ghouse-Uppal, the pair with the best domestic success since the Kirtane cousins time (and actually with a better record than them), won the doubles title today .. They finished the 3rd set of the semi first and then won a tough three-setter in the final against Aniola and Urban pf Poland .. See the Chennai futures page.

Harsh Mankad got a walkover in the doubles semifinal at the $15K USA F6 futures and they are in the doubles final (on Sunday) against 3rd seeds Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Nicolas Todero (USA).

Mar 4 Notes

Good to see both LP and MB doing well at Dubai .. Both got to the doubles semifinals .. [QF] (2) J.Bjorkman/ L.Paes d. P.hanley/ N.Zimonjic, 63 36 63 .. [QF] (1) M.Bhupathi/ F.Santoro d. N.Davydenko/ F.Lopez, 61 63 .. Their semifinal opponents will be decided tomorrow and the SFs will be on Saturday, I think .. Leander is the defending champion at Dubai and it would be good for him to pick up some points ..

At the $15K USA F6 futures, and Harsh Mankad went down in the R2 to Bobby Reynolds (USA,450) in a close match, 63 36 67(3) .. Harsh actually even had one match point on Reynolds' serve at 5-4 in the 3rd set but today was just not his day I guess .. HM and Michael Kosta are in the doubles semifinals with a walkover today .. They play Thomas Blake and Doug Bohaboy tomorrow ..

At the $10K in Chennai, the last remaining seed Sunil Kumar fell today to Tai-Wei Liu (TPE) .. Vishal Uppal became the lone Indian semifinalist, as he beat qualifier Ikramov .. See the Chennai futures page.

At the $10K Warrnambool ITF, Rushmi Chakravarthi lost in the R2 to Sophie Fergusson (AUS,538) by a 36 16 score .. At the $10K ITF in Benin City, Nigeria, top seed Megha Vakharia won the first round over Alanna Broderick (JAM,987) 63 61 but then went down to a 15 year old unranked Bulgarian girl, Desislava Mladenova, 57 62 57 in the second round .. That is quite a surprising loss - hope Megha is not injured or anything .. Iciri Rai lost 46 46 to the 6th seed Dominique Van Boekel (NED,640) in the first round .. Megha and Iciri are in the doubles semifinal though .. Seeded 3rd, they beat Martina Stigliano and Eleonora Taddei of Italy, 60 62 and then beat Dalia Vranceneu and Jessica Weyreuter (ARG) 63 62 to make the SF where they play Zuzana Cerna (CZE) and Franziska Etzel (GER).

Basically this hasn't been a good week for singles for anybody, except Vishal Uppal.

Mar 3 Notes

Pretty good start by Leander and Jonas at the Dubai Open first round today .. [R1] (2) J.Bjorkman/ L.Paes d. Wayne Black/ Kevin Ullyett (ZIM), 63 64 .. This is the first ATP doubles win for Leander since the first round at the Montreal masters last August .. Lee had played one match at the Australian Open with Cibulec but went down in three sets there .. Black and Ullyett are a very good team (one-time US Open champs) - so this was a good win today.

Mahesh and Santoro play the QF against Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) and Feliciano Lopez (ESP) tomorrow (thursday) at 2 pm .. Paes-Bjorkman will also be playing in the evening - their QF is against Paul Hanley (AUS) and Nenad Zimonjic (SER).

At the $15K USA F6 in McAllen, Texas, Harsh Mankad had a trouble-free 60 62 win over his doubles partner, qualifier Michael Kosta (USA,874) .. He plays a talented 21 year oild tomorrow, Bobby Reynolds (USA,450), who was the #1 player in the final rankings last june in US college tennis .. This will probably be a touogh test, as Reynolds who has partnered Rajeev Ram (USA) in some events for doubles, is someone who has been coming up in the ranks .. It is never easy in the US futures as usual .. HM and Kosta had won their first round of doubles yesterday, 64 16 63 over Yu Wang Jr and Peng Sun of China.

At the India F1 $10K ITF "TNTA" futures in Channai today, the seeds kept falling, as all the top seven seeds fell in the first two rounds, leaving Sunil Kumar Sipaeya, the 8th seed, as the highest ranked player remaining in the QFs! .. Sunil beat Somdev .. Sunil Kumar now plays qualifier Tai-Wei Liu of Taiwan, in a matchup between the Asian Junior Champions in 2001 and 2002, when Sunil and Tai-Wei won the ITF Asian Closed titles in Delhi .. Vishal Uppal is the other Indian in the QF, as he beat Vijay Kannan in a match where reportedly Vijay played a bit more of a net game than is usual for him - I suppose that is a dangerous tractic against VU who is very good at that stuff .. After two tiebreakers and three sets, Uppal moved on .. Vishal Punna went down in the R2 .. See the Chennai futures page.

At the $10K ITF event in Warrnambool, AUS, 7th seed Rushmi beat Jaslyn Hewitt (AUS), once again in easy straight sets, 64 61 .. She now plays Sophie Fergusson (AUS) .. But once again Rushmi and Mireille Dittman (AUS) went down in an upset in the first round, despite being seeded 2nd .. They lost 67(1) 46 to the qualifier Aussie pair, Bree Calderwood and Deanna Roberts.

By the way, next week's Indian $10K futures is on claycourts in Kolkata .. At a new club that is hosting a futures for the first time .. The Saturday Club .. I had not noticed that in the fact sheet and had assumed it would be at the DKS courts as usual, because it is on clay .. Jaideep Mukherjea is the tournament director for this clay court event at the Saturday Club .. According to the Telegraph today, the final of this futures has been moved back by a day due to the television schedule - a conflict with the cricket ODI against Pakistan .. The newspaper also says that Bengal Tennis Association is trying to bring another futures to the city in May .. That is good to know.

Mar 2 Notes

Leander's first round doubles match at Doha will be on the schedule for tomorrow I think.

At the $15K McAllen challenger, Harsh Mankad plays qualifier Michael Kosta (USA,874) in the first round tomorrow .. Kosta is HM's doubles partner this week, and they play the first round today against Yu Wang Jr and Peng Sun of China.

At the $10K ITF futures in Chennai, five Indians have advanced to the second round, as the top three seeds all fell.. Vijay Kannan pulled the big upset yesterday over 3rd seed Rohan Bopanna .. Rohan, coming back from injury, could not get his serve going and was frustrated all day, as Vijay reportedly only had to play solid tennis .. Most of the firt round matches were done today .. Vishal Uppal beat Mustafa Ghouse and Vinod Sridhar went down after a great start against the 4th seed Kedriouk .. Somdev DevVarman, coming back after a 2.5 moth break, had a good start with a win over qualifier VM Ranjeet .. Dmitryi Mazur, who had beaten young Tushar Liberhan in the final qualies yesterday, upset the top seed Enev easily today .. The second seed Tereschuk retired in the second set due to a stomach problem .. Wildcrd Vishal Punna got revenge for his loss last week to Ajay Ramaswamy, who again had to come through qualies .. I hope they will give Ajay a wildcard next week in Kolkata .. Sunil Kumar had no problems against wildcard Jaco Mathew, and the 4th wildcard Kamala Kannan couldn't do much against the 5th seed Yordan Kanev .. See the Chennai futures page.

No news on how Rushmi is doing at the $10K in Warrnambool, AUS, and about Megha and Iciri at the $10K Benin City, Nigeria ..

Mar 1 Notes

Mahesh and Santoro moved on to the QF at the $1M Dubai ATP .. Mohammed Al Ghareeb who is perhaps the only player from the Gulf in recent years to do much in pro tennis, had a fnatastic first round in the singles earlier today - he had a wildcard and took #96 Dennis van Scheppingen to three sets in a 67 63 67 loss .. He also had a good start against the top seeds in doubles who were soon down 0-3 and 1-4 .. But then Hesh and Santoro stepped on the pedal and I am sure Ghareeb-Hueberger didn't know what hit them .. 9 straight games later, MB-FS led 64 40 and they comfortably advanced with a 64 62 win ..

Two rounds of qualies are done at the $10K ITF "TNTA" futures in Chennai .. Four Indians are in the final qualies - 2nd seed Ajay Ramaswamy, 15th seed Tushar Liberhan, Nitin Kirtane and VM Ranjeet .. Nitin had an upset of the 6th seed, and Jeevan surprised the 4th seed as well .,. Good show .. Tushar now has the toughest Q3 match, against 3rd seed Dmitryi Mazur ..  In the main draw, Rohan Bopanna is the second seed and faces Vijay Kannan in the first round .. I will post the draw as soon as it comes in, at the Chennai futures page.

At the Benin City (Nigeria) $10K final on Saturday, top seed Megha Vakharia could not repeat the combeack magic she had in the previous two rounds and went down to the 3rd seed Channelle Scheepers (RSA,505), 16 36 .. Chani was ranked as high as #161 a year back and then had an incredible tail spin -- but she is coming back up again .. Chani, if you remember, had lost to Sania in the Florida $10K semis, which was really her first good tournament after 18 losses in a row (!) at the challenger level; I assume she was playing through some injury or something .. Anyway, the loss shouldn't be counted as an upset for Megs .. Megha had won the previous two rounds, 67(1) 62 61 over Dalia-Diana Vranceneau (GER,NR) and 46 60 60 over 7th seeded Susanne Aigner (AUT,685) ..  No such comebacks in the final though .. Megha is at another $10K in Benin City this week.

The singles draw is not out at the $15K USA F6 futures in McAllen, Texas, where Harsh Mankad will be the 3rd seed .. By the way, for the fourth US futures in a row, the guy who beat Mankad went on to win the title - this time at the F5 in Harlingen, Nicolas Todero, won two more in easy straight sets after beating HM, and took the title .. Hopefully this week Harsh would be the one doing it .. Arun Prakash was in the qualies and won the Q1 match 60 60 over Jack Hernandez (USA) .. No news on his Q2 yesterday against the top seed Peng Sun (CHN,575) ..

Rushmi Chakravarthi is at the Warrnambool $10K in Australia .. Seeded second in the doubles draw, but the singles draw wasn't out when I checked last.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Mar 1 ..

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.