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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Mar 13, 2000

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Mar 13 Notes

Here is something interesting on Marcos Ondruska from the latest International Tennis Weekly of ATP -- Apparently Marcos arrived at the Miami airport two weeks back and had the whole terminal shot down and evacuated for two hours, as drug-sniffing dogs and bomb-squad were brought in to check his baggage due to a security-alert at the X-Ray machine .. They finally found that some telephone jacks he had in his baggage were the problem! .. He later reached Scottsdale in the last minute to enter the qualies .. Marcos won three rounds there including upset wins over seeded Hipfl and Clement, to make it to the main draw ..  All that only to face top seed Agassi in the first round and lose in straight sets there .. No such adventures reported this week at Indian Wells for him, but the man seems to be continuing an exciting life on the edge, qualified into tournaments in successive weeks, this time beating his old nemesis Leander and pulling comebacks after losing the first set twice in a row .. The excitement continues - he is drawn against 13th seed Rafter in the first round at Indian Wells! ..

Leander is ranked #119 in this week's ranking .. He kept his top rank in doubles with 2788 points, with a slender lead over E.Ferreira and then Palmer, both with over 2700 points .. Palmer and Reneberg won the Scottsdale doubles title.

Leander and Wayne Arthurs (AUS,22) are the 5th seeds at Indian Wells .. Here is the draw (bottom quarter of the top half with #1 seed E.Ferreira/ R.Leach)

3 T.Woodbridge/ M.Woodforde vs WC N.Broad/ B.Haygarth \
  M.Barnard/ D.MacPherson   vs  Q Qualifiers          / \_ SF
  J.Novak/ D.Rikl           vs  Q Qualifiers          \ /
5 W.Arthurs/ L.Paes         vs    J.Oncins/ D.Orsanic /
WA-LP are not playing today .. It is a 5-round doubles draw, they may be playing tomorrow (Tuesday).

Mar 12 Note-2

Marcos Ondruska is a similar player to Leander, and has never beaten LP as far as I know .. He settled a minor score with LP for his loss at the Wimbledon junior final about 10 years ago, I guess .. He finally came through at crunch time aganst Leander today .. M.Ondruska d. L.Paes 4-6 6-4 6-4 .. This was an up-and-down match with fortunes fluctuating .. There were no breaks in the first set till the 10th game when Leander forced the crucial break to win the set 6-4 .. The second set was a different story .. LP started serve and went up 2-0, only to lose the next 4 games to fall behind 2-4 .. He won the next two to even it at 4-4, but then dropped the next 2 games to lose the set 4-6 .. The 3rd set saw a similar pattern .. LP went up 3-0 with a break in the second game .. They were promptly back even at 3-3, as Ondruska won 12 of the next 13 points and forced a break off Leander in game 5 .. Leander held serve in the 7th game after a deuce, to go up 4-3 .. At 4-4 in the 3rd set, these two had won 85 points each in the match! .. Ondruska finally went ahead on that stat in the next game, as LP lost three points in a row from 40-30 to drop serve and fall behind 4-5 ..  Ondruska held serve in the next game at 40-15 to make it into the main draw .. The match took 2 hours and 12 minutes ..

So, LP has to wait another week to try and get into a masters event draw and win his first masters (super-9) match since Key Biscayne 98 when he beat Jeff Salzenstein .. He also has a win over Patrick Baur at Key Biscayne in 96 - and no wins at any other Super 9s as far as I can figure out .. However, he has made it into only about 8 masters events in his career, according to my records ..  5 times as a direct entry (Key Biscayne 96 and 97, Montreal 97, Toronto 98, Montreal 99), once as a wildcard (Key Biscayne 95), once as a qualifier (Indian Wells 97), and once as a lucky loser (Key Biscayne 98) .. The other masters events typically close inside the top-75 ..

By the way, I found that there was a 4th match that LP played against Ondruska, wich I had forgotten when I said LP had three wins over him before .. That was in the second round of qualies at, where else, Indian Wells, in 1997 .. LP won then by the score of, what else, 6-4 6-4

Mar 12 Note-1

Forgot to mention the men's doubles final at the Kolkata grasscourt nationals - the top seeds Saurav Panja and Nitin Kirtane easily beat Uppal-Ghouse, 6-4 6-2 to clinch the title .. They are of course the defending champions there .. Nitin and Saurav had betaen Marcus Hilpert and Asif Ismail in the final then .. Incidentally it was reported in the newspapers that Saurav was having serious injury problems in the singles semis on Friday against Vijay Kannan .. He was having trouble moving laterally due to a foot injury - people were surprised that he played through the match .. Saurav said he just wanted to show the right attitude and play the match rather than concede .. If he was being careful not to aggravate the injury, then it was commendable ..  Often there are players conceding a match just to show that they were injured (sometimes when very near losing) - it's those who have confidence in themselves who don't bother about things like showing people that they lost because of an injury .. Saurav must have been good enough to play doubles still, as you don't need to move as much - and it doesn't hurt to have partner like Nitin Kirtane in doubles too .. See the grasscourt nationals page.

Here are the official stats for the Leander-Federer match .. Aces: LP 6, RF 7 .. Doublefaults: LP 8, RF 4 .. First serve %: 56 to 61 .. First serve pts won:  39 of 52 for LP to 38 of 41 for RF .. 2nd serve pts won: 26/41 to 13/31 .. First return points won: 11/49 to 13/52 .. 2nd return pts won: 18/31 to 15/41 .. Total pts: 94 to 79 .. Break point conversions: 3 of 5 for LP and 1 of 6 for RF .. They did not tabulate unforced errors, but I think they were rather even, except for Federer making a few more in some crucial games .. The win gives Leander 8 entry rank points .. A win over Ondruska today will put him in the man draw with 15 points .. LP has won at least three times against Ondruska .. The Wimbledon junior final in 1990, the US Open in 96 and at the AO Qualies this January .. Ondruska had a good win over Paradorn today in the qualies in a three-set comeback .. Srichapahan, by the way seems to be having some problems winning lately .. Let us hope Leander pulls it off tomorrow .. Unfortunately I will not be there today to cover it at Indian Wells .. Will try to get some details from a couple of fanclub members who will be there.

Compared to when I saw Leander last, at the LA tournament last July, I feel that he is in much better shape now .. Has put on a bit more of muscles, and he looks somewhat like how he did in 1998 .. His serve and backhand seem to have quite a bit more punch .. His forehand of course never went down much in power even last year, but he was a lot more accurate with it yesterday than in last July .. By the way, Leander is still waiting for the airlines to bring in the baggage .. He had a really terrible 35 hour ordeal, coming from India - cancelled connections and all .. Clothes, shoe insoles, etc were all problems for him today because of that .. He looked to be in a bit of jet lag even after today's match .. I was quite impressed at his determination to fight for a win today, despite the fog .. LP will be playing doubles with Wayne Arthurs - the draw isn't out yet.

Just heard from a press friend that the Indian junior team will be going to the far east for only three weeks rather than the six or six weeks originally planned .. Except that there will be six players in the team instead of the original four  - now it is Sunil Kumar, Parantap Chaturvedi, Vinod Sewa, Shivang Mishra, Radhika Tulpule and Sonal Phadke for all three events .. Assuming that they will start with Kuala Lumpur this monday, then it will be Singapore and Bangkok in the following weeks .. The first two will be grade-3 and the next will be grade-2 .. I have been following the last two weeks' ITF junior events at Brunei and Jakarta .. The competition is quite tough ..  By the way, I am not sure if Sunil Kumar will be able to pick up enough points to bring up his rank high enough for the grand slams this year,  if it's just three events .. Perhaps the same for Radhika .. Sonal may be alright for now .. I am a bit disappointed to see that they will only go to three of the 6 events, and will miss the grade-2 at Manila and grade-1 at Japan, but I will be happy if I see them going to any at all .. This stuff seems to just never happen .. I will see it to believe that we finally sent some kids with a coach somewhere other than to represent India officially .. Ain't happened yet .. Keeping the fingers crossed!

Mar 11 Note-3

LP was jetlagged, and got a lucky-unlucky situation today .. After they had made the draw in the morning, within a couple of hours they had Anthony Dupuis withdrawing, and there was Leander as the alternative .. That was lucky .. The unlucky part was that he was facing the top seed, the 18 year old Swiss phenom, 49th ranked Roger Federer, who has wins over Chang, Santoro, Johansson, Ivanisevic, and Kiefer this year itself .. And Leander had not won a hardcourt match against a top-50 player ever since he beat Sampras in 1998 .. But what do you know ? -- With his best fan supporting him in the crowd, there he was pulling the upset, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 50 minutes .. Both players played uneven tennis, making a lot of errors, but also making some tremendous shots .. Even first set, and a terrific backhand down the line from Federer got him the break over Leander in the 11th game .. That shot clipped the chalk by a millimeter it seemed .. That was at 30-30, and LP was doubly unlucky with a netchord at break point too .. Anyway, he didn't let it bother him, and went after Roger with a passion in the second set .. Excellent serve and volley from Leander, and Federer had to get his deep passing shots working .. It worked only in patches, and as he lost focus for a little while early in the second set, Leander was all over him to go up to 5-0 .. Soon it was all even at 57 61 .. The match again tightened up in the 3rd set with neither really giving an inch, despite making mistakes .. LP was particularly strong on his serve every time he fell behind at 0-15 or 0-30 .. LP had 8 double faults in the first 8 service games of the match, one in each game .. He only had one after that in the match, and this was a key stat .. Once Federer found that he could not find a way to get LP to back off from the serve and volley, it was a question of who would blink in the end .. Leander's backhand returns were solid and those semi-forceful backhand slaps were doing the job (.. and yes, I did see one top spin backhand return winner too, ever so rarely used by LP, and perhaps in cold storage for a while too) .. LP made his charge at the right time in the 9th game, first by winning a backhand cross court 10-shot baseline rally, finishing it off with an aggressive move to the net .. Then Federer hit one forehand long and and finally blinked at set point .. His inexperience showed as he served from the AD court to LP's forehand .. Bad mistake, as there was a forehand return screaming down at RF's feet .. LP had the break with that .. With some of us egging him on, it was time for the final flourish .. LP held serve at love in the 10th game, finishing it with two aces in a row, his 5th and 6th in the match .. L.Paes d. R.Federer (SUI,49), 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 .. Tomorrow, LP plays his old pal, Marcos Ondruska (RSA,162), who upset Paradorn Srichaphan to earn his spot in the final round against LP .. Signing off in a happy mood from the Indian Wells media room - Jay.

Mar 11 Note-2

Reporting from the media room at Indian Wells, at 1.30 pm saturday .. Leander did not make the quallifying draw at first, but made it in as the alternate in the last minute when Anthony Dupuis withdrew .. The qualie draw closed at rank #99, if you can believe that! .. LP plays the top seed in the qualies though - Roger Federer of Switzerland (#49) .. Will be extremely tough .. Let us see -- the match starts in 10 minutes .. I will update the score as soon as it gets done ..

Mar 11 Note-1

Last year Manisha Malhotra won the triple crown at the Kolkata grasscourt nationals .. This time it's a double crown for another Maharashtrian (no mixed doubles conducted this year) - since both of them teamed up in doubles with Janaki Krishnamoorthi from Maharashtra as well, I guess Maharashtra is keeping the "tight grip" on this thing! .. Radhika Tulpule who just turned 18 last month, showed that he is developing into somebody to reckon with in Indian tennis, beating top seed Sai Jayalakshmy in three sets for the singles title today .. On the way, the sixth seed beat the 2nd seed Rushmi Chakravarti and the 3rd seed Archana Venkatraman too .. Wow! .. Pretty impressive! ..

On the men's singles final, Fazal did not run into too much problems I assume - he won 64 64 over Vijay Kannan today .. Both would get decent confidence boosts from their performance at Kolkata .. For Vijay, this is some sort of a comeback into the limelight, which Mustafa and Vishal had started to wrest away from him .. I would think he would get a look for that fourth spot for the Davis Cup in four weeks, as Sunil Kumar is expected to be away .. As for Fazal, he proved to himself that there is nothing wrong with his game and that he just needs to play confidently and get some breaks go his way in the pro events (Fazal was to immediately leave saturday evening for Japan - to play two futures there) .. I have not seen the doubles scores for today yet .. See the Kolkata grasscourt nationals page ..  I will report the men's doubles final scores much later today - I am off to Indian Wells ..

LP reached Indian Wells yesterday after his flight got cancelled at Dubai and he got stuck in the airport for almost half a day (he was to get here by Thursday, but got in only on Friday) .. He will sign in today for the qualies .. Not a sure thing that he will get in .. The automatic qualifying entry list generated six weeks back when the main draw entries closed, ended at 104 .. Not all those players will show up, and I expect LP will make it in today by the time it starts .. Ciao ..

Mar 10 Notes

Janaki Krishnamoorthy made sure that she would keep a national title with her, though she is not full time in tennis anymore .. Last year she won the title with Manisha Malhotra, beating Rushmi and Sai in the final, 63 62 .. This time Janaki teamed up with another Maharashtrian, 17 yr old Radhika Tulpule, and once again won the title beating the same Sai-Rushmi combine .. The score today was 63 61 .. As for Radhika, she is on a roll, as she beat the 3rd seed Archana Venkatraman 63 60 (ouch!) to win a singles semifinal too .. Let us give three cheers to the youngster "storming into the final", as newspapers would write .. She faces Sai in the final tomorrow - Sai had no trouble beating Arthi Venkatraman 61 61 ..

On the men's side, Fazal had some early hiccups I guess, but he took over the match after that and beat Vishal Uppal 36 61 64 .. By the way, Fazal has been having off days and on days .. He was having some gastritis problems two days back against Asif Ismail and almost lost the match .. He was reportedly in top form yesterday against Vasudev Reddy though .. Don't know what was up at frst today .. It must have certainly added some confidence back in him, after having won all these matches, though he is very much the top seed expected to win them all .. He will go up against somebody who ssems to be in terrific form though - 20 yr old Vijay Kannan .. He beat 8th seed Saurav Panja easily 61 63 .. Vijay has won four straight set matches so far and has won 48 sets, droipping just 18 .. It should be a good final between him and Fazal tomorrow .. See the Kolkata grasscourt nationals page.

Mahesh's rehab at NY is going well on schedule .. He has been doing some pretty serious strength training, and has been hitting the ball in practice .. The doctors advice him to wait for another 10 more days, before starting to serve .. Only very minor occasional pain now at the shoulder but that will be gone soon too .. So things are on schedule ..  This is from Sanjay Singh, who has reached New York to be with Mahesh for three weeks (Sanjay was with Leander during the challengers in India till last week) .. So I guess an early May return to competitive tennis is still the plan, as MB will need at least 5-6 weeks of serving and practice to bring the shoulder to good enough strength and to get that feel and power back .. SS said that Leander's small finger injury from last week is very minor .. LP chose not to go to Scottsdale this week just to be careful, and also because of some uncertainty about a doubles partner and because he did not want to miss the singles qualies this weekend at Indian Wells .. I believe LP was supposed to reach Indian Wells yesterday .. The singles qualies start tomorrow .. I think Wayne Arthurs is still expected to be his partner in doubles at IW.

Mar 9 Notes

Sometimes early round wins can be deceptive .. Both Nitin and Rushmi, the second seeds in the men's and women's draws had looked good in the first two rounds at the Kolkata grasscourt nationals .. Both went down today in the quarterfinals against talented opponents .. Nitin lost in three sets to Saurav Panja, 8th seed and of "double-SP" fame .. Rushmi lost in three sets to 8th seed and 17 year old Radhika .. There were some pretty competitive matches today - Top seed Sai Jayalakshmi was taken to the wire, to a 3rd set 7-5 tiebreaker by Gujarat's Karishma Patel, but Sai held on - unlike Rushmi who lost a 3rd set tiebreaker 0-7 to Radhika .. Karishma, who had beaten 7th seed Geeta Manohar and top junior Sonal Phadke earlier, is turning out to be a tough customer .. As for Radhika, it's good to see her doing well - but it also shows where our nationals standards are, on the women's side .. Remember that despite having won a leg of the ITF satellites last year in India (which mainly had Indian players and just Anna Nefedova from Russia as the only quality foreigner), Radhika's performance in the ITF junior subcontinental circuit was less than dominating recently against some of the good junior players from South Africa, Taiwan, China, etc .. She also had a tough time in the Australian Open juniors .. Sonal Phadke, our top ITF-ranked junior, though she got one win against a wildcard player at the AO juniors, was not in the match at all in the next round .. Both of them unable to handle ITF top-50 caliber junior players .. And here is 17 year-old Radhika beating our national #4 .. Is it a good sign or a bad sign? - I don't know! .. Our women's tennis standards have to rise many many notches for us to be anywhere in the world scene .. It's fair to say that both Sai and Rushmi have been stuck at a plateau for a couple of years and have not shown an upward move - in the two ITF $10K events they played in Indonesia two weeks back, both had trouble getting wins, and there were junior players from Indonesia and Korea who were reaching the semifinals .. Manisha is the only one who has any consistency in winning at the futures levels and Nirupama is the only one who wins at the challenger level .. Uzma Khan and Jahnavi Parekh are doing well in college in the US (Jahnavi doing extremely well) but I have no read on how they would fare in the pro circuit as they are not playing those events .. Fed Cup comes up next month .. Both Niru and Manisha are injured, though they should be fine by then .. A sobering picture, but let's hope it will all get better .. At least we have players now who can keep us in the Asian top-8 unlike a few years back .. By the way, I will write something more soon, on what Jahnavi Parekh has been up to -- she may deserve a good look for the Fed Cup team.

Back to the nationals, Fazal had no trouble against Vasudev Reddy in the QF .. There was another interesting match - 4th seed Mustafa against 5th seed Vishal Uppal .. Vishal came up on top in three sets .. It's been a long wait to see Mustafa break out - but it's not happening yet .. I keep hearing of all the talent he has in serve, volley, power, shotmaking, etc, but things never seem to be all in place at the same time .. I thought the 99 DSCL nationals where he reached the final and lost to Sunil was the start of something good, but ever since that he has hardly won much .. Vishal on the other hand, was never reported to be a top talent, but has been bringing himself near the top in India by steadily improving .. Vijay Kannan is looking good again (I think he has quietly started doing better and better ever since people stopped talking about him!), and had no trouble against Rishi Sridhar, the giant-killer of 3rd seed Vinod Sridhar yesterday .. The semis are, Fazal vs Vishal, and Vijay vs Saurav .. In my humble opinion, Vishal, Vijay and Saurav are the next best after our top four [certainly on grasscourts] .. I guess one of them may even make our Davis Cup team for next month too along with LP, Fazal and Srinath, as it stands - I believe Sunil Kumar is going to be in the ITF far east circuit and they may decide not to disturb his plans .. So there is some incentive for these three to come up big there .. See the grasscourt nationals page.

I guess I am in a mood to throw around some opinions today .. Don't take my comments above too seriously ..  The usual disclaimers apply .. I am no tennis expert and I never see any of these players, you know! .. These are all just my impressions when I look at the bottom line, which is all what really matters - results.

Mar 8 Notes

Fazaluddin was in a ton of trouble against veteran Asif Ismail, a pretty good grass player though he is mostly only coaching these days, in the second round at the Kolkata grasscourt nationals .. They traded three breaks each and Asif won the first set in a tiebreaker .. Then  Fazal found himself down a break in the 5th game of the second set .. He was tired, and was beginning to feel cramps too .. But "Tippu" summoned up something extra from somewhere, and won 4 of the next 5 games to even it and then win the match in a comeback .. 3rd seed Vinod Sridhar, never known for grasscourt play, was upset by Rishi Sridhar .. The thursday quarterfinals should be good, with 7 of the top eight seeds in it .. Vijay Kannan took out P.Ravishankar cheaply .. 8th seed Sourav Panja also had to come back from being down a set, to get past Rohan Bopanna .. Mustafa plays Vishal in the QF, which should be a good match .. Vasudev Reddy is Fazal's opponent .. Second seed Nitin Kirtane has won two without breaking any sweat .. On the women's side, one match from yesterday worth mentioning - the 3rd seed Archana venkatraman played a first round match for over three hours before somehow getting past Janaki Krishnamoorthi, software engineer who is some sort of a veteran among the women, but about as good as anybody out there though she plays only very occasionally these days .. Archana had a much easier second round win over Priyanka Parekh .. 7 seeds are alive for the thursday QFs in the women's draw too ..  Karishma Patel of Gujarat has had two god wins - first in upsetting 7th seed Geeta Manohar .. Then she beat junior Sonal Phadke in three sets .. Sandhya Kanury troubled top seed Sai Jayalakshmy a bit, but fell in two sets .. 2nd seed Rushmi has been cruising .. See the Kolkata nationals page.

Mar 7 Note-2

I was a bit busy and had not found the details on why Leander had changed any plans for Scottsdale this week .. Anyway, Akshay Sawai had an interview article today with Leander in Mid-Day, Mumbai .. Leander apparently had a finger injury, and was going briefly to Kolkata before flying off to Indian Wells for qualies this coming weekend .. I assume the injury is minor .. Leander said that he will need some help to get into the singles draw at the Sydney Olympics .. I think this was a bigger question mark just a few weeks back with his ranking near 200, but he should be alright now with a ranking inside top-120 .. He actually has a higher rank now than he had in 96 when he made the draw and won the bronze .. In any event he should be getting a wildcard if needed, as a former medalist, under recommendation from the Asian Tennis Federation .. As for doubles, he said, I can only take care on my part .. Once Mahesh gets fit, then I will drop everything and concentrate on Sydney. Till then, I have little option but get (singles) points against my name through the Challengers and other events on the circuit .. He also said in the article, At this stage, I am looking forward to playing both singles and doubles at Sydney, depending on how I qualify. And I am pleasantly surprised at the state of my fitness, judging from how I handled a few tough matches on the way to the final in Mumbai. I can say that my plans are ahead of schedule .. Okey dokey .. I am looking forward to Indian Wells qualies, assuming that this finger injury thing is nothing important .. I will be there at Palm Springs on saturday to report on the qualies.

By the way, though Leander only has a 32-point lead over Wayne Ferreira for the #1 doubles spot this week, he is in good shape to keep it for next week .. LP loses 196 points from the SF at Indian Wells, next monday (IW a week earlier last year), but Ferreira/Leach lose 328 points for the Final from the IW finals last year - they had beaten LP-MB in the semis there .. F/L are at Scottsdale this week .. So I think Ferreira will need a title at Scottsdale (175 pts) to overtake Leander by about 10 points, if I am calculateing it correctly .. I don't believe Lareau, Palmer, etc who are about 375 or more points behind LP can overtake him either .. Things could change after Indian Wells next week, but I don't think LP is worrying about his doubles rank anyway now.

The Far East ITF junior circuit grade-3 event started today at Jakarta, Indonesia .. I don't know if any of our kids are out there .. There was the report 10 days back that AITA would be sending our junior group with coach Chandrasekharan - it was supposed to be Sunil Kumar, Vinod Sewa, Sonal Phadke, and Radhika Tulpule .. Except Sunil, the other three are playing at the Kolkata nationals .. So, what happened ? .. I guess they skipping this week's event .. Perhaps they would go for the next 5 events (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, and Japan in the next 5 weeks) ?? ..

Mar 7 Note-1

The Grasscourt Nationals are in full swing at Kolkata .. All the men's seeds have advanced, as Fazal, Vishal and Saurav won today - the others had won yesterday ..  On the women's side, there was one upset, which was the 7th seed Geeta Manohar going down to Karishma Patel of Gujarat .. It was basically first round cake-walks for most women, as has been the pattern in most domestic events .. There are about 15 or so women who are clearly at a higher level and hardly lose in the first round in any event .. On the men's side, a couple of matches were of note .. One was Manoj Mahadevan playing a three-setter (once again!), against another youngster, Benjamin Xavier, pulling it off in the end yesterday .. A minor upset today, by Ravishankar Pathanjali, who beat a talented and higher-ranked Kamala Kannan in a comeback three setter including a second set tiebreaker .. I mention this because just last week, one of the press correspondents from India had sent me an email talking about his disappointment that many of our players were in slumps and not doing well in the challengers - and he happened to mention that he was rather impressed with P. Ravishankar's game .. Ravishankar is a 17 years old from Tamil Nadu, and I had not really noticed any big results from him in the past .. Anyway, let us see how he does in the next rounds here .. See the grasscourt nationals page for results.

Mar 6 Note-2

Just saw the doubles draw for Scottsdale .. Leander is not there .. So I assume he decided to skip this week and perhaps decided go straight to Indian Wells masters for singles qualies later in the week .. I will have to trace him down and confirm.

Leander is ranked #117 in this weeks ESP, coming up from 134 ..

By the way, did you all notice that Andreas Vinciguerra won his first ATP title yesterday beating Magnus Larsson of Sweden at the Copenhagen Cup ? .. There were people wondering how Leander got beaten in straight sets by a 19 year old ranked near 100 in ATP in the second round at the Australian Open .. I had said then, that we would be seeing Vinci shooting to the top pretty soon .. He has gone up to #61 in the ESP ranks and #48 in race 2000 rankings with this title ..  Hard to believe that it was just 12 months back that the 1999 Chennai Goldflake Open gave him a wildcard - he was ranked near 500 then .. The young brigade - Hewitt, Federer, Vinciguerra, Ferrero, etc - are looking pretty promising.

Mar 6 Note-1

Took a day off, as nothing much was happening to report on Sunday ..

The grasscourt nationals starts at Kolkata today .. Srinath isn't playing there, but the good news is that Fazal is playing .. Apparently he was supposed to leave for Japan for the ITF futures there, but the Telegraph reports that Ramesh Krishnan asked Fazal to play the nationals for some useful grass match practice (probably also because it would be nice to see Fazal getting some wins for confidence .. The Davis Cup is in 4 weeks) .. So Fazal picked up a wildcard in the last minute and is seeded tops in the singles .. It's great to see an "activist" Davis Cup captain like that! .. Sunil Kumar isn't playing - he may have gone for the six week Far-east ITF tour .. Harsh Mankad is in the US in the middle of the college season .. Other than that, all the top players are playing .. The men's seeds are: [1] Syed Fazaluddin (WB), [2] Nitin Kirtane (Mah), [3] Vinod Sridhar (TN), [4] Mustafa Ghouse (Mah), [5] Vishal Uppal (Dli), [6] Vijay Kannan (Dli), [7] Vasudeva Reddy (AP) and [8] Saurav Panja (WB) ... On the women's side, Nirupama and Manisha are missing as both are off the tour with injuries .. Also, Jahnavi Parekh and Uzma Khan are in college in the US, but all other top players are there - [1] Sai Jayalakshmi (TN), [2] Rushmi Chakravorthi (TN), [3] Archana Venkatraman (Kar), [4] S K Tara (Kar), [5] Arthi Venkatraman (Kar), [6] Radhika Tulpule (Mah), [7] Geeta Manohar (AP), and [8] Liza Pereira (Mah) .. I don't know why Sheetal Gautham, who would have been the 7th seed is not playing ..

AITA had announced wildcards last week to youngsters Parantap Chaturvedi and Benjamin Xavier in to the main draw, along with Sonal Phadke on the women's side, leaving the rest of the wildcards at the tournament organizers' discretion .. Sonal is #1 in ITF ranking among our juniors and #2 in the AITA rankings behind Radhika .. She has however not played much senior events like Radhika (and also Liza Pereira, #3 junior in AITA ranks), and hence cannot enter the grasscourt nationals without a wildcard ..

I have not seen the doubles draw at Scottsdale ATP yet ..  I suppose LP has got there by now.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Mar 6 ..

I am getting some enquiries 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 enquiring 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 enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.