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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Mar 8, 1999

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Mar 8 Note-1

Here is the doubles draw at the $2.2M Indian Wells Super 9:

 1-M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes      vs    Bye                   \
   T.Carbonnel/ D.Johnson  vs    W.Ferreira/ K.Ullyett / \
   N.Broad/ R.Koenig       vs WC-J.Courier/ C.Woodruff \ / \
 7-P.Galbraith/ P.Haarhuis vs    Y.Kafelnikov/ D.Vacek /    \_ To Final
 3-M.Knowles/ D.Nestor     vs    Bye                   \    /
   F.Roig/ J.Sanchez       vs WC-A.Corretja/ A.Costa   / \ /
   J.Grabb/ J.Palmer       vs    B.Black/ J.Eagle      \ /
 5-E.Ferreira/ R.Leach     vs WC-C.Moya/ M.Safin       /

The bottom half of the draw has 2nd seeds Bjorkman/Rafter (who are the defending champions here), and the 4th seeds Woodbridge - Woodforde, 6th seeds Lareau/O'Brien and 8th seeds Adams/DeJager .. The bottom half also has darkhorse teams like Reneberg/Stark, Black/Stolle, Bryan/Bryan andf Novak/Rikl .. Kafelnikov/Vacek is a troubling unseeded team in the upper half .. Basically, every top team is out there, as we expect at top Super-9 tournaments [Indian Wells is the world' 6th biggest tournament, after the 4 grand slams and the Lipton] .. The winning team here will get 370 pts plus bonus (each player), and $155K (shared) .. LP/MB have not had a title in the last 4 tournaments they played, ever since their big win over Eltingh-Haarhuis for the title at the Paris Super 9 .. But for that determined run to the final at the Australian Open, they have gone out cheaply at four other tournaments during a 5 month period when LP has been mostly injured (Stockholm, Hartford, Doha, Dubai) .. It would be nice to get a title again - even better if it's with a win over Bjorkman and Rafter in the final .. A lot of tough teams to get past before all that though. The Carbonnel-Johnson vs Ferreira-Ullyett match is not in today's schedule, but that may change .. It looks like our guys won't play till wednesday.

The new rankings are not out yet - we will have to wait and see if LP stays in the top-100 this week.

Mar 7 Notes

Not much news to report today .. I have not seen the doubles draw at Indian Wells yet - it should be out by tomorrow morning .. Leander is feeling fine, free from all the injuries after a very long time .. He had reached Indian Wells only late night on Friday, after a delayed flight - I had guessed that, once I saw the score of the qualifier match on Saturday morning! .. Anyway, though the injuries are healed, LP has had to wait before doing full-fledged strength training .. He has lost a bit of weight and needs to regain that now, with a good training regimen .. He feels fine with his tennis form, and is looking forward to the doubles at Indian Wells.

The Goldflake Aces domestic tour will be in its third and final leg at Coimbatore, starting Monday .. According to The Hindu, Sandeep Kirtane leads the points table with 42 (one title and one QF) .. Vijay Kannan and Vinod Sridhar, each with a semi and a final appearance have 34 points each, followed by Nitin Kirtane with 30 (one title - he played only the second leg) .. It seems that there is more benefits in topping the points tally - in addition to a qualifier wildcard at Chennai, the topper will also get a round trip airticket to London and back !! .. Hmm, not a bad idea if it's used to go and play a couple of futures in UK - may be even on grass! .. I have posted some qualifier results from today, at the Coimbatore Goldflakes page.

By the way, the Davis Cup tie with China, 4th weekend from now, will be on grasscourts at the South Club in Calcutta.

Mar 6 Note-3

It took me a while to get back from Indian Wells .. the bad news is that LP lost rather cheaply to Sebastien Lareau, 3-6, 2-6 .. After getting stuck in traffic, I got there a few minutes after 12 pm, when they said the match would start .. The problem was that the first two matches got done in under an hour each, with Sargsian beating Damm 6-1, 6-2, and then LP losing .. So, all I have is hearsay report that LP looked "out of it" today .. So, that does it for singles this week .. LP will lose 74 pts by Monday and will fall close to #100 in ranking .. Then there are 6 weeks with about 125 more poits to defend (7 at Kyoto, 15 from Lipton, 74 from Chennai and 30 from Vadodara) .. He will just have to buckle down and get some points at Lipton, Chennai and at the Delhi challenger where he will be in the next 6 weeks .. He needs to pick up at least 75 points or so to be sure of getting into the French Open draw .. If he picks up no points (very unlikely), he will fall to as low as #120 or so .. Then he gets three months with absolutely nothing to defend, though ..

The doubles draw is not out yet, at Indian Wells.

Mar 6 Note-2

Paes will be playing Sebastien Lareau (CAN, 104) in the afternoon today at the $2.2M Indian Wells Super-9 qualifiers .. LP has ever played Lareau .. They were doubles partners at one time, though .. Should be a good match - I will have the scores by late evening here.

Quick update on the GoldFlake Aces at Chennai .. In the finals today (saturday), fourth seed Nitin Kirtane made it a grand double - he beat top seed Vijay Kannan in singles, and then won the douhbles title with cousin Sandeep, over Vijay Kannan an Rishi Sridhar .. It was a grand double for Sandeep last week at Madurai .. Yeah, the Kirtanes are cooking.

Mar 6 Note-1

Slow week - nothing much happening, except for the Goldflake Aces at Chennai .. The qualifiers start at Indian Wells today - I will be out there, and will bring some news after I get back by late evening, about Leander's match .. I have not seen the qualifier draw yet.

At Chennai, Vijay Kannan had a good win yesterday in the semis - over Sandeep Kirtane in straight sets .. It's great to see Vijay getting an impressive win after such a long time (perhaps the first good win for him since beating Nitin, Sandeep and Harsh Mankad in a row at the satellite masters in November) .. Let's hope it gets him going .. Vijay had lost to Sancdeep in the semis last week at Madurai, and so this is sweet revenge for him .. In the other semifinal, Nitin Kirtane beat Vinod Sridhar, which is also a good win, since Viunod has been playing very well lately .. I will update the final results much later today .. See the Chennai goldflakes page ..

Mar 5 Notes

Kim Das send the news from Singapore that Mahesh and Mose Navarra lost in the doubles quarterfinals to Mike Russel and Mark Draper .. Alright, that means he will be flying down to the US rightaway, and will get 2-3 days to practice and get iver the jetlag before playing doubles at the big Indian Wells super-9 here in California .. Mahesh and Leander are the top seeds in doubles (since they are ranked 2 and 3, they will be top seeds anywhere, basically) .. They get a first round bye, as do the top 4 seeds, and will play only next wednesday or so .. I plan to make a few trips down to Indian Wells (a 2-hr drive for me) and will try to bring as much of news as possible .. LP should be at the qualifiers starting tomorrow (Saturday) .. I assume he is getting to the US right now.

At the Goldflakes domestic circuit in Chennai yesterday, Vijay Kannan was stretched to the limit by Meenakshi Sundaram of Tamil Nadu, who was himself a promising young player over decade back .. According to The Hindu, Meenakshi still shows good fight and court craft and Vijay had to play his best in the end to reach the semis .. 3rd and 4th seeds Nitin and Sandeep Kirtane are in the semis too, along with Vinod Sridhar .. The Hindu says, Meanwhile, the most impressive winner of the day was Vinod Sridhar, the National Games champion. Vinod has been playing some of the best tennis of his career in the last few weeks and he outplayed Vasudeva Reddy 6-4, 6-1 with pinpoint groundstrokes .. See the results at the Chennai Goldflakes page ..

The report is that only one qualifier wildcard to the Chennai ATP Open will be selected from this Goldflake domestic circuit, as opposed to the report I saw a few days back that there will be two .. The Hindu quotes the Chennai ATP Open tournament director, Brian Cooney of Australia, "I am delighted that the Gold Flake Open, which is a world series event on the ATP Tour, is in a position to offer such an opportunity for a young man and an upcoming player," .. Why just one ? .. Does that mean the other qualifier wildcards will not be given to Indians ? .. I am sorry, I look at everything they do at the Chennai Open with suspicion, ever since they gave main draw wildcards to Brian Phau (like, "who????"..) and Wesley Whitehouse ("the next Pete Sampras", undoubtedly, if I am to believe the number of wildcards he has got in India - not too many other places seem to show such respect to him) .. As I said many times before, it was Prahlad Srinath, at the Davis Cup for India and unable to play the quals that weekend, who got jobbed then (he was ranked higher than those two kids too) .. I have been a ctitic of the way that tournament operates ever since - sorry to be that way, but can you blame me ? .. I am told that it's the Australian IMG guys who have made these decisions, but that's hearsay - I don't know .. Anyway, I am still suspicious, but may be they still plan to give some more WCs to Indians in the quals .. Last year they gave WCs in the qualifiers to Manoj Mahadevan, Vinod Sridhar, Vijendra Laad and Sander Groen (no idea where the heck Sander came from, but at least they gave 3 to Indians) - Harsh Mankad, Natekar, Mustafa, Rishi Sridhar, Sandeep Kirtane and Vishal Uppal made it in directly to the qualifiers according to the official scorecards, though only Harsh reached the 3rd and final round of the quals .. We will just wait and see what happens this time, but I don't understand this hoopla about the Goldflake circuit topper getting a qualy wildcard .. The topper may be Vijay, Vinod or the Kirtanes, as it looks now, but they would all get in anyway, based on last year's experience .. It looks like some IMG publicity stunt, to me (there it is, my suspicions, again .. :-)) .. The Hindu quotes Mr.N.Kumar, President, Tamil Nadu Tennis Association, to be saying that the qualifier wild card "will be a great fillip to men's tennis in India.'' .. I am sure he is being diplomatic and generous in his comment, but it gives me a chuckle :-) .. Let's talk about main-draw wildcards, and let' see who get those! ..

The revamped Channai ATP Open website has come up this week at .. It looks nicer than the page last year .. Take a look.

At the Rs 50K AITA ranking tournament for women at Kochi (Kerala), S K Tara of Karnataka won the grand double titles .. I have posted all the results I have seen, at the Kochi women's tourtney page ..

Mar 4 Note-2

Mahesh and Mose Navarra play Michael Russell (USA) and Mark Draper (AUS) in the quarterfinal of doubles at Singapore - not sure when ..

Mustafa Ghouse is playing this week at the $15K Philippines F1 futures .. It's a 64-draw tournament, and he made it into the main draw as a luckyloser .. You have to win 2 rounds to get 1 ATP point in a 64-draw futures, and Mustafa lost in the first round to Andrian Raturandang of Indonesia, 6-3, 7-6(5) in .. Raturandang is a good player, with even a win over Mahesh Bhupathi under his belt .. Mustafa is playing the doubles there with Justin Layne (in the main draw) but no results yet.

More later with today's results from the Gold flake Aces circuit at Chennai - Vijay, Vinod, Sandeep and Nitin are in the semifinals..

Mar 4 Note-1

Kim Das had informed us about Mahesh and Mose Navarra winning their first round doubles match over Barry Cowan and Wesley Whitehouse - it wasn't an easy match at all for the top seeds .. Score: 6-3, 6-7(6), 7-5 .. Here is an article from Thursday's Electric New Paper, Singapore, on the details of the match and a nice photo of Mahesh and Navarra together .. [That link may change - so read it now!] .. It is very professional of Mahesh to play the doubles match to win - though he is playing it only as a nice gesture in return to being given a singles wildcard by S. Uthrapathi, the tourney director, as reported .. Many a player on the ATP tour has the habit of taking goodies (appearance money, etc) from tournaments and then going and tanking their matches .. Having said that, I hope he doesn't get too tired playing doubles there and get disrupted in his doubles game with a different partner - he and LP have an important Super 9 to play next week, at Indian Wells.

At Madras, the Rajasthani tough-cookie, Jagdeesh Tanwar upset the 8th seed, young Vijendra Laad (6-1, 6-1, that too! - yike).. Manoj Mahadevan again had a tough matchup - this time against 3rd seed Nitin Kirtane and lost in 3 sets in a close match .. 6th seed S.Zaman got upset .. Other seeds (Vinod, Sandeep, Saurav, Vijay, Vasu, etc) are all in the QFs .. See the results from Wednesday at the Chennai goldflakes page ..

Mar 3 Notes

Not much news today .. The Goldflake Aces tour is moving along nicely - all 8 seeds are in the final 16 .. Since a veteran player (Manoj Kumar) is actually an organizer for the next week's stop at Coimbatore and wanted to catch a train early, one second round match was played on Tuesday, and Vijay Kannan won easily to reach QF .. Check out this article from The Hindu which seem to say that the veterans are not being overpowered by the youngsters and raises some concerns .. I don't know - everybody seems to be a bit overly concerned lately about the next rung of players, etc .. We just need to see one of youngsters emerging as a force, I guess - and may be it's reasonable to be concerned .. Anyway, see the results at the Chennai goldflakes page ..

There was also an opinion piece (not sure whose) in the Deccan Herald today about the concerns raised about tennis future, especially after the Davis Cup shock in Korea .. I had not yet seen anybody calling for any heads to roll, but this article seems to say that it's time for Jaideep Mukherjea to go .. I really have no comment on that .. The article suggests Ramesh Krishnan as the next captain .. Here is the link for you to read the piece .. Why don't you all sound off in the bulletin board ? - Opinions on a captain-change ? Good, bad ?

According to the Indian Express, The small Rs 50K domestic open at Kochi, Kerala, has reached the semifinal stage - In the semis SK Tara of Karnataka plays Vishnu Preetam (TN) and Jasleen Randhawa (Punjab) plays Nikhila Natarajan (TN) .. Kerala state champion Gayatri Ramesh pulled one upset over 4th seed Padma Preetam (TN) but then lost in a 3-setter QF to Nikhila Natarajan - yes, the same one who is (was?) a correspondent for Indian Express, who used to be among the top junior players a few years back and is on a comeback-trail .. Hey Nikki, did you have to go and do that to my state-mate ? :-)

Mar 2 Note-2

Kim Das informs us from Singapore that Mahesh had a pretty bad day against the 7th seed Jacobo Diaz and lost 2-6, 2-6 today .. According to Kim Das, Mahesh started both sets by being broken .. His service was not on today at all, and there were a slew of unforced errors too .. Any touch tennis he tried was met with punishment from Jacobo, who is a short (5' 8") and agile fellow .. MB showed flashes of brilliance but often too late after being down 0-40 .. Oh well .. There goes that .. MB looked pretty dejected after the match, and sat there by the court for a long while before leaving .. Boy, he has had a couple of tough weeks. As Kim says, may be some good doubles wins (let's win that Super 9 in Indian Wells next week!) would hopefully get his spirits back up.

No news on the doubles matches at Singapore. More later. Vijay Kannan is in the quarterfinals at the Chennai Goldflake Aces - all the rest of the matches today were first round matches. No surprises.

Mar 2 Note-1

Kim Das informs us that all the matches were rained ouyt on Monday at the Singapore challenger - MB did not play hios doubles .. He is scheduled to play singles today (Tuesday), and we will await news on how things are going - the organizers are scrambling to reschedule everything .. Stay tuned for scores soon.

The Gold Flake ATP Open (Chennai, Apr 5-11) entry list is out .. Moya at #4 is the top seed .. Better entry this time than last year when we had probably the worst entry list (closing-rank wise) of any tournament with prize money over $400 .. Much better this time, actually .. There are 6 players from the top-50, which is good .. Strangely, not too many in the 50-80 range .. Leander at #81 last week, was the 8th in the entry list, which closed based on the Feb 22 rankings .. I saw a lot of publicity in the Indian newspapers about LP being given "the pride of place" as the 8th seed .. That's erroneous, I believe .. The seeds are based on the ranking in the week before the tournament (in this case, the Mar 29 ranks) .. LP has about 90 points to defend this week and next (Bangkok challenger title last year, etc) .. He could fall close to #100 by then, unless he does very well at Indian Wells next week (Key Biscayne points will not appear till the week of the Madras tournament, so that won't help) .. The entry list closed at #131, as oipposed top about 170 last year .. Good deal .. See the list at the Channai ATP page ..

I saw a small bit that two wildcards (I think to the qualifiers) will be given to the t op two in points in the Gold Flake Aces domestic circuit in Tamil Nadu .. That 's a great idea, and a nice incentive to do well in that circuit .. They have moved from Madurai last week to Chennai this week .. Some matches were done on Monday .. Top seed Vijay Kannan had to fight hard to subdue Shailesh Dhoble in a 3rd set tiebreaker .. No upsets yet .. See the results at the Chennai goldflakes page ..

Mar 1 Note-2

I don't think Nirupama ever went to Dubai .. That is surprising - I believe she would have made the direct entry there .. Anyway, there was a report from Bangkok after the final day about Niru saying she was feeling a bit weak in her win against Suwimol Duangchan of Thailand .. Will try to confirm if she is down with something.

Mar 1 Note-1

Leander is on one more week of vacation .. Here is the bottom half of the singles draw at the $50K+H challenger at Singapore:

 6-Marcos Ondruska (RSA)  vs    Marcelo Craca (GER)    \
   Gerard Solves (FRA)    vs    David Caldwell (USA)   / \
   Salvador Navarro (ESP) vs  Q-Oscar Ortiz (ESP)      \ / \
 3-Johan Van Herck (BEL)  vs    Mark Draper (AUS)      /    \ __ Final
 7-Jacobo Diaz (ESP)      vs WC-Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)  \    /
   Eyal Ran (ISR)         vs WC-Aisam Quereshi (PAK)   / \ /
   Alex Lopez-Moron (ESP) vs    Oleg Ogorodov (UZB)    \ /
 2-Alberto Martin (ESP)   vs  Q-Ishii Yaoki (JPN)      /

Mahesh plays doubles with Mose Navarra (I guess the tournament folks must have wanted him to play doubles - world #2 is always attractive - and he must have obliged, as they are giving him a wildcard into the singles - otherwise, it is a waste of time for him to play doubles there) and here is the doubles draw:

 1-M.Bhupathi/ M.Navarra    vs    B.Cowan/ W.Whitehouse \
   M.Ondruska/ J. VanLottum vs    Qualifiers/Qualifiers / \ __ Final
 4-A.Lopez-Moron/ S.Navarro vs    O.Ogorodov/ E.Ran     \ /
   A.Hamadeh/ A.Martin      vs WC-J.Bower/ J.Weir-Smith /

The singles wildcards went to Aisam, Mahesh and Wei-Jen Cheng of China (who has been in the top-20 for juniors and has been ranked after Aisam and Paradorn for for a while, but has never played in any of the tournaments in India, and I don't know much about him - this may be one of the first senior touraments for him) .. I believe MB only plays doubles today .. His singles match against Diaz should be on Tuesday ..

In doubles this week, Henman and Rusedski surprised everybody (and temselves too, as they said) by winning the title at the $800K London ATP indoors .. They beat Wayne Ferreira and Byron Black in the final .. Henman/Rusedski played together, basically to prepare for the Davis Cup tie against USA .. US will have a very tough time against these two .. Anyway, as for doubles rankings, there shouldn't be much change this week for LP, MB, etc ..

No news from Dubai, except that Wynne Prakusya is in the final round of quals being played today .. Niru was not in the qualifiers, and not in the partial schedule for Monday that I saw in Gulf-News, but she may be in the main draw.

I am not sure what Fazal's and Srinath's schedule is .. I will await news on where they play next.

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending Mar 1..