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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Mar 16, 1998

(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index)

Mar 17 Note-1

Got the full scorecards from the qualifiers yesterday.  Correction from what they told me yesterday: There are only two rounds of qualifiers on the men's side, with 48 players. So, if Leander beats Jabali today, he will be in the main draw. He doesn't have to worry about Vinck and Karbacher who are in another draw (they both won yesterday and will play each other today, if anyone is interested).

Women's qualifiers have 3 rounds for 8 spots, from 64 players. Nirupama (#170) did not get in, as the last direct acceptance was Christina Triska at #159.

Mar 16 Note-3

Nirupama Vaidyanathan does not seem to be at the qualifiers for The Lipton tournament, based on what I heard from the tournament office. Not sure if she missed the draw, but that would be surprising with her ranking at 170 (the main draw has 96 spots and the qualifier draw has 64 spots, but some wildcards would take up spots, so there is a chance she missed it) .. Will confirm soon. If so, it may be Hilton head for her next. She is also expected to be at a $25K challenger in Dubai from Mar 6th onwards .. More later.

Mar 16 Note-2

At The Lipton qualifiers this afternoon, Leander beat #166 Marcio Carlsson, 6-3, 7-5 .. He will play #199 Roberto Jabali, who beat #156 Roberto Moldovan, next .. Go LP ! ... Here is the qualifier draw for LP (with Mar 9 rankings):

Christian Vinck (GER)     #118 \
Marcelo Charpentier (ARG) #215 / \
Bernd Karbacher (GER)     #185 \ / \
Andrew Richardson (GBR)   #155 /    \ __ winner to main draw singles
Leander Paes (IND)        #125 \    /
Marcio Carlsson (BRA)     #166 / \ /
Roberto Jabali (BRA)      #199 \ /
Ion Moldovan (ROM)        #156 /

Jabali is certainly beatable for LP .. I'm not sure I like seeing Karbacher in there, though (he is better than his #185 ranking). LP will have to exact revenge for the loss at Singapore last month to Karbacher, but Karbacher has to first play some tough guys too like Richardson and Vinck ..

Mar 16 Note-1

Leander is playing singles qualifier in the early afternoon at Lipton. He is the 6th seed in the quals to pick 12 players to the main draw starting on Thursday. 3 rounds of quals from 96 players. Leander plays Marcio Carlsson (#166) of Brazil. Will update score later today.

Bad news: Mahesh missed the qualifiers which had an entry cutoff at #221. Now, he waits till the doubles competition starts on Saturday. Actually LP/MB will have a bye in round-1 of doubles, so he doesn't have to play till NEXT Monday.. I will check if he has gone to any challengers or anything this week (not sure if there is any!) .. More later.

Mar 15 Note-2

The WTA website has finally updated the women's rankings including the points from the ITF Futures in India last month. Four Indian women have improved their rankings from before. Jahnavi Parekh is at 629 (up from 714), Rushmi Chakravarti is at 643 (up from 678), Arati Ponnappa is at 740 (up from 862) and previously-unranked Sai Jayalakshmi has joined the ranking at 901 .. Not sure why junior Uzma Khan who won a round at Delhi has not shown up in the ranking .. Manisha Malhotra, who didn't play at the Futures, is at 731, about where she was before. Nirupama Vaidyanathan is at #170. In doubles, Niru is at #176, Sai at 604, Jahnavi at 650, Rushmi at 694, and Arati at 729.

The website for Goldflake Indian Open (Apr 6-12) at Chennai is up .. It is at http://www.goldflakeopen.com/ .. Pretty reasonable site, with all the usual bells and whistles found at the ATP tournament sites. There are some player bios pages out there, which bugged me though. They have bios for even guys like Michael Sell and Peter Tramacchi, but none for Mahesh Bhupathi .. Hello ? .. what's up with that ? .. He is the defending doubles champ, you know ! .. There is one for Leander, but with some very outdated info from the Dec 96 ATP player guide .. Other than that, it looks promising that they say they will update scores during the matches, from 5 pm to 10 pm every day during the tournament.

Mar 15 Note-1

LP and MB must have reached Florida, but I haven't been in touch with either there. The qualifiers at Lipton start tomorrow. Will report any news that comes our way tomorrow.

It's time to do the early preview of Davis Cup coming up in 3 weeks from now (Apr 3-5) at Genoa, Italy. The La Gazzeta dello Sport from Italy and the Indian Express are reporting the Italian Captain, Paolo Bertolucci to have announced the Italian team. Andrea Gaudenzi (#58 in singles, #190 in doubles), Davide Sanguinetti (#88, #159), Renzo Furlan (#123, #1130) and Diego Nargiso (#128, #269) are the team members. Gaudenzi will play singles, as well as doubles with Nargiso, but the second singles spot hasn't been decided with both Furlan and Sanguinetti as possibilities. 24 yr old Gaudenzi was a very promising youngster who was ranked as high as about #20 in early 1995, before going through some terrible injury problems over extended periods and falling as low as #157 in 1997, before climbing back up into the top-100 late last year. He has been playing pretty well and seem to be free from injuries. An even more intriguing player is Davide Sanguinetti who is 25 and suddenly started playing very well last year, moving up from around #300 to the top-100 late last year. Bertolucci certainly has a bit of a dilemma in picking between Furlan and Sanguinetti for singles, as Furlan who has been in the lower top-100 for quite some time has fallen to #123 ..

How have Indian players done against these folks in the past ? .. The very enjoyable and insightful Davis Cup homepage gives some stats, which they put up a couple of days back. We all know of the Olympics-96 quarterfinal when Leander beat Renzo Furlan (who was seeded 14th in the 64-men draw) 6-1, 7-5. According to the Davis Cup page, LP has two losses to Gaudenzi in 1993 (6-3, 0-6, 5-7 at the Eisenach challenger and 5-7, 0-6 at the Bangalore challenger, both on clay). Bhupathi has a win over Davide Sanguinetti, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 at the Taiwan satellites in Aug 1992, on a hardcourt .. But both Mahesh and Davide were real babies then; so it doesn't mean much. Well, LP and MB are 2-2 in singles against the Italian team. For a change India has 4 singles matches which are against players who are not the likes of Korda, Rios, Ivanisevic, etc, winning against whom require miracle matches from LP and MB .. and I don't mean that the Italians are easy wins by any means, though .. This is going to be a very, very, interesting tie. By the way, the best Italian doubles team is perhaps Brandi/Messori, who have a huge upset win over LP/MB last year, but they don't fingure into the Davis Cup plans .. Also, the Italians are counting on India's so-called weakness on clay, which really is way over-hyped. Clay does actually suit Mahesh pretty well (his grand slam mixed doubles title was on clay, you know), and LP has started to play much better on clay in recent times than before (remember his big upset win over Novak on clay last February in Czech Republic?) .. As for LP/MB in doubles, they have clay titles at the Prague Open and the Prague challenger, and they pulled off a win against Korda/Damm in Davis Cup on clay too .. In fact, their worst results last year were all on grass, not to mention the trouble Rios/Massu gave them at Delhi in the Davis Cup .. Anyway, ugly red clay awaits them in Genoa ..

Some interesting tidbits from the Davis Cup site: About LP, they say, "Paes is the latest in a line of talented Indian players who play considerably better in Davis Cup than they do on the tour. He made his Davis Cup debut in 1990 and has since played 20 ties, compiling a record of 23-14 in singles and 13-7 in doubles, figures that defy his singles ranking which only made it into the top 100 for the first time last year. He has benefited from a long run of home ties for India, allowing him to play on his favourite grass, but nevertheless in the last six years he has had wins in singles over Jakob Hlasek, Wayne Ferreira, Goran Ivanisevic and Jan Siemerink, plus wins on clay against Henri Leconte and Arnaud Boetsch. In last year's first round, he again upset the formbook, beating the Czech Jiri Novak in four sets" .. On MB, they say, "Another player whose best results have come in Davis Cup, Bhupathi became a national hero with an amazing five-set victory over Gabriel Silberstein of Chile last September in a match which sums up the magic of the Davis Cup. With India and Chile level at 2-2, Bhupathi needed to beat Silberstein to keep India's place in the World Group. He dropped the first two sets, but came back to win in five to send the New Delhi crowd wild. Those weren't his first Davis Cup heroics. He beat Jan Siemerink and Jacco Eltingh in India's dramatic first round victory over the Netherlands two years ago, and his victory with Leander Paes in the doubles over Ivanisevic-Hirszon helped India beat Croatia in the 1995 qualifying round. With Bhupathi and Paes now established as one of today's best doubles teams, India remains a formidable Davis Cup opponent, provided they both remain fit" .. They also say, "Bhupathi is one of the few Indian players to have a two-handed backhand - this comes from his father Krishna, who for many years was on the fringes of the Davis Cup team and was the first prominent Indian to play with two hands" .. Pretty insightful comments, and somebody who knows tennis has certainly done some research for those Davis Cup web pages.

Mar 14 Notes

Nothing much happening now, but here is an update on the Kyoto Challenger. 1-seed Steve Campbell beat Ota Fukarek and will face 3-seed Michael Kohlmann in the final tomorrow. Kohlmann beat Hideki Kaneko in the semis. Here are the full results from Kyoto.

In other news, The Woodies lost early in round 2, to Philippoussis/Courier, at the Super-9 Indian Wells. Philippoussis/Courier then lost to Bjorkman/Rafter who are in the semis. Another mild surprise was Kafelnikov/Vacek losing in the QFs to Eagle/Florent (who are looking better and better this year) .. Martin/Reneberg and Stark/O'Brien are also in the semis.

The Philippines Futures-2 was won today by Jimy Szymanski of Venzuela, over Solon Pappas. That's all folks, today!

Mar 13 Note-2

I guess this dude Solon Peppas from Greece must be a good player .. Prahlad Srinath lost in the semis, 6-4, 6-2, to qualifier Peppas, at the $15K Philippines F2 Futures today .. Peppas will play 5th seed Jimy Szymanski of Caracas, Venezuela in the final (Szymanski had won the Philippines F1 lat week) .. Well, it wasn't a wasted trip to Manila for Srinath as he made a few points and imporved his ranking a bit .. That does it for all the Indian players for this week .. There may not be much news for the next couple of days.

Mar 13 Note-1

Mahesh could not pull another upset here, as Steve Campbell beat him in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 .. Looks like he fought till the very end, though .. The complete results from Kyoto are here .. I feel bad for Mahesh, having lost to the #110 player twice, and the #113 player once to get knocked out of three of the four challengers in this trip to the Far East. He got 14 points here, and ended up with 0+9+9+14 = 32 pts in 4 weeks of challengers. He had about 55 poins to defend from last year during this period; so this is not anywhere near what he had expected to get, I am sure. Well, that's what happens sometimes on the very competitive pro tour .. For instance, despite all those players below #300 in this challenger, 20 of the 28 matches so far have gone to three setters, and 5 of the 8 seeds have been knocked out before quarterfinals .. MB's rankings should move up to around #245 next week. MB now has another 27 points falling off on Apr 6th (semifinals at Puerto Vallarta last year). Unless he does well in the Lipton qualifiers, and reaches the final-32 there, which is not at all an easy proposition, he will not get a chance to defend those points either, and his ranking could potentially drop to around #275. He will be at Genoa, Italy, the week after Lipton and will get his next chance for singles points at Madras in the second week of April, and then at the Vadodara grasscourt challenger the week after. MB and LP have reportedly confirmed their entries for the $50K+H vadodara challenger.

A correction: The Kyoto challenger gives $25,000 + Hospitality, not $50K+H as I had originally reported. I am positive that the old ATP site had this as a $50+K challenger, but anyway, they now show it to be $25+K .. That explains why most of those top-150 players who were at the previous three challengers are not here, and Leander was seeded #2 even with last week's #155 ranking. What that means is that LP has got 7 points here, and MB has got 13+1, not 8 and 16 .. LP ended the challenger swing with 0+9+74+7=90 points.

Mar 12 Note-2

Good news from Philippines ! .. Prahlad Srinath is in the semifinals of the $15K Futures tournament, after beating the 6th seed, David Caldwell (#339) of USA, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 today !! .. He plays the Greek qualifier, Solon Peppas (#1026) in the semis, and really has a chance to get into the finals and face either Carlo Santoro (Italy, #698) or 5th seed Jimy Zsymanski (Venezuela, #318) .. This gives Prahlad 8 or 9 ATP points and will get him closer to top-500 (He's at #569 now .. pretty good for someone who was in the low 900s just about 4-5 months back) .. Go Prahlad !

Mar 12 Note-1

Big bummer ! .. Can't say it was totally unexpected, as Leander rarely keeps up hot form for more than 4-5 matches. His win streak ended at 6 matches with a loss to Hideki Kaneko today. Score: 6-1, 5-7, 3-6 .. Looks like he came out firing and then let Kaneko get back in the match in that dreaded second set .. This is the second win (with no losses) by Kaneko over Leander (the first was a straight sets win in 1995 in Rio De Janeiro) .. Kaneko must have made the home crowd VERY happy.. He is also playing hot, after reaching a 15K Futures semi last week, and taking out the Uzbek, Vadim Kutsenko, 6-0, 6-0 in round-1 here (the same Vadim who upset Paes in the Ahemedabad challenger semifinal in 2 sets, last November) .. Hideki now faces the qualifier, Ryuso Tsujino (#900); an easy match on paper, but Ryuso has already upset 8th seed Y.Yoon of Korea in round 1 and then Myachi, both in sraight sets .. This is turning out to be a strange tournament, with some of the Japanese players having come ready to play ! .. The complete results are here for the Kyoto Challenger.

Mahesh keeps running into those tough high seeds. This time, he faces #113 and top-seed, Steve Campbell in the quarterfinal .. Of all the players in the quarterfinal, he had to go up against Steve .. But, wait .. There is good news .. Mahesh is 1-0 against Steve, with a straight sets 7-6, 6-2 win at the Puerto Vallarta challenger just last April; so MB probably has the edge in confidence .. This will still be a big upset for Mahesh if he pulls it off ! .. Go Mahesh !! .. That match is scheduled for 10 am on Friday. Will report the scores at least by 6 am PST tomorrow (Friday in the US).

So, Leander ends the 4 week challenger period with reasonable success .. 93 points in 4 weeks is pretty good, and it takes him out of big trouble (he was in a hole with a #162 ranking just 2 weeks back) .. He will have 354 points next week (the ranking should stay at around 125), with just 7 points to defend till end of May .. Hope LP can change his flight schedule and get to Florida early for Lipton and avoid the jet-lag problems he is well-known for. The singles qualifiers start next Monday there.  He should be one of the top seeds in the qualifiers, which is always a good thing when it comes to lucky loser entries, etc.

Mar 11 Note-3

Some more good news today: The Indian #3, Prahlad Srinath, ranked #569 now, has reached the quarterfinals of the $15K Futures tournament (F2) in Philippines after upsetting #383 Teo Susnjak of New Zealand ! .. The win should give him about 5 points, I think.. Not bad.. He will face #339 David Caldwell of USA in the QF.. Go Prahlad .. By the way, Rishi Sridhar from India was also out there, and lost in the final round of the qualifiers over the weekend.  I think Prahlad managed to squeeze into direct entry list. These newly introduced one-week $15K Futures are almost like challengers, and the title gets you around 20 points. I will try to find out whom he beat in the first round.

Mar 11 Note-2

Just got the score of LP's first round win on Tuesday, from our fanclub member, Kamesh Srinivasan of The Hindu .. Leander Paes d. Zeljko Krajan, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.. I hadn't got that score fom Kyoto yet.

Mar 11 Note-1

More good news.. The nice tourney folks faxed me some info from Kyoto .. Mahesh is in the quarterfinals after wednesday's play at Kyoto !! Leander plays his round-2 match tomorrow (Thursday) against Hideki Kaneko (#328) of Japan. Mahesh upset another top-200 player, Alejandro Hernandez (#194), 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3 .. This gives him 16 points so far, and he is looking good .. need to get rid of those second set problems, Mahesh!.. still seem to happen way too often .. Here is the second round line-up, with wednesday's results (the top 4 lines should be in one half of the draw and the bottom four in another, but the order of seeds within each half is unknown for now):

Mahesh Bhupathi  (259)  d.  Alejandro Hernandez (194)  6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3
Grant Doyle      (210)  d.  Andrei Merinov      (187)  6-4, 2-6, 7-5
Ryuso Tsujino    (900)  d.  Kotoro Miyachi      (505)  6-2, 6-4
Michael Kohlmann (168)  d.  Satoshi Iwabuchi    (596)  6-3, 6-7, 7-5
Peter Tramacchi  (175)  vs. Kevin Ullyett       (255)  [Thurs.]
Steve Campbell   (113)  vs. Yasufumi Yamamoto   (484)  [Thurs.]
Ota Fukarek      (251)  vs. Jim Thomas          (333)  [Thurs.]
Leander Paes     (125)  vs. Hideki Kaneko       (328)  [Thurs.]

Looks like a weaker field than at the last three weeks of challengers, or there have been a few upsets over higher ranked players in the first round, the results of which I have not seen. Tsujino, ranked 900, reaching the quarterfinals beating Miyachi is a surprise. Miyachi is a pretty good player (He beat Prahlad Srinath just last week at the $15K Futures in Philippines) .. Leander should be able to handle 24-yr old Hideki Kaneko, who has been ranked in the 200s before.. Hideki had done very well in the Thailand satellites last November, and also reached the semifinals at the Philippines Futures last week (beating Miyachi and then upsetting the #2 seed, #240 Cecil Mamiit) .. One can't take him for granted, with this being homecourt for him and all that. Anyway, Leander is the second highest ranked player left in the field. Hope he and  Mahesh can keep going till the final !

Mar 10 Notes

Good news ! Finally established contacts with the Kyoto challenger tournament folks directly. Hopefully will receive more detailed info from them soon. Anyway, both Leander and Mahesh won their first round matches !! .. LP defeated Zeljko Krajan (#372), score not known yet .. MB beat Maurice Ruah (#230), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 .. They both play Wednesday, I think. Will report more as soon as I hear more. Seems like both had easier opponents in the first match ..

I should thank Dr. Rei Matsueda, of tennis-japan for kind help in arranging info from Japan !

Mar 9 Notes

The new rankings are out and Leander, as predicted here, is at #125, with 361 points. Mahesh has lost a few more points and has dropped to #259. He has not had a good set of challengers so far, basically running into a top player in the first and second rounds (Calatrava twice) at Singapore and Vietnam, and then a hot Motomura at Thailand in the second round. He did beat two players ranked ahead of him and got 18 points so far, but he had more to defend during this period from lat year .. Hopefully he will get better draws soon. The doubles rankings and the team rank remain same as in the last week.

Japan seems like a big isolated black hole for now, as far as info is concerned. No news what's up at the Kyoto challenger. Waiting to hear from the only contact I have in Japan, hopefully at least with some news from a Japanese newspaper or something ..

Prahlad Srinath must be at the second $15K futures tournament in Philippines this week, but did not appear in the list of match results I got hold of today. Perhaps he had to qualify and did not make it ? I read the Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand qualified over the weekend and won the first round today.

Mar 8 Note-3

A correction from earlier: Paes got 74 and not 75 points at Bangkok .. Forgot that Stephane Huet is ranked #201 and so LP did not get the 1 bonus point for beating aplayer in the 150-200 rank range.. Still no news about the Kyoto challenger.

Mar 8 Note-2

Leander Paes just crossed one million dollars in ATP prize money.. The man knows how to do things in style, doesn't he ? .. He had $996,804 yesterday and now has $1,004,004 .. He still has a little distance to go to catch the all-time Indian ATP money winner leader, Vijay Amritraj, who made over $1.3 million and the Indian #2, Ramesh Krishnan, who earned over $1.2 million (and in inflation adjusted terms, their earnings are much more). Leander will earn a whole hell of a lot more, though, as he made over $500,000 in the last 12 months alone (the ATP prize money does not include mixed doubles prize money at grand slams, by the way).

Here are some excerpts from the report in tomorrow's The Nation, Thailand: Paes kept Motomura on his heels with his net attacks and shattered the Japanese's dream of a first ATP title with a 6-4, 7-5 win in one hours and 15 minutes. ''It's been a good week for me to manage to get my singles rhythm which is nice. Today [Sunday] I served and volleyed particularly well,'' said Paes .. Paes maintained his clean sheet against his Japanese opponent, also 24, extending his head-to-head record against him to 5-0 .. ''I was confident against Motomura as I'd never lost to him in our previous meetings. I was very aggressive today,'' .. The Indian had one break in the fifth game and wrapped up the first set when Motomura overhit a ground-stroke return .. A couple of remarkable passing shots by Motomura put pressure on Paes, who lost his nerve and a service game to trail 5-3 in the second set .. After breaking back to 5-4 and holding to draw at 5-5, Paes set a duel at the net, volleying back every attempt from his opponent to earn another break and surge ahead 6-5 .. He held the next game to love and converted the championship point following a serve return error from Motomura.

One of Paes' 5 wins over Gouichi must be in a non-ATP tournament (may be at the last Asiad ?). The win gives him 75 points (5 bonus) and brings his total to 362, which should get him a ranking around 125 .. This becomes the largest points he has in his point tally now with 71 points from US Open last August as the next biggest. He has 15 points to defend next week (points from qualifiers at Indian Wells last year); Hopefully he will do that and more, from the Kyoto Challenger and get to 400+ points which normally keeps him in range for direct entries in Grand slams (he has enough time to pick up some points and qualify for French Open, though). LP must have left for Kyoto. We have no fanclub members in Japan, but I will see if someone can send some news from there.

Haven't received any news on Mahesh Bhupathi's whereabouts after Thursday's loss at Bangkok .. Haven't heard confirmation that he has a wildcard at the Japan Challenger. He could have gone up there and played qualifiers today and yesterday, though. I will find out.

Forgot to mention yesterday, that Ting Li of China earned the grand double at the $10K Delhi ITF women's event. Last week at Mumbai, it was Qin Yang of China who won both the singles and doubles; on this Saturday, Qin supposedly had problems with the windy condition and ended up with a "grand runner-up double" .. :-) .. Here are the final results from New Delhi.

Another note: Todd Woodbridge is out with an elbow injury. At the Scottsdale, Arizona, ATP tournament this week, he pulled out in the last minute and the other Woody, Mark Woodforde, played with Mark Knowles and lost in the quarterfinals to Sargsian and Malisse .. Not sure how bad Todd's injury is, and will report later if I see any news.

Mar 8 Note-1

Hello Title !!! Congrats LP !!!

The drought is over, and Leander gets a singles title after almost 16 months.. Jan Kongtako sent this note: Wonderful news Sunday morning from Bangkok! Leander played a very good serve and volley game against Motomura to win by 6-4 7-5 and take the US$ 7,200 first prize at the Piyarom Sports Club today. After the match, he thanked the organisers, sponsors and supporters, and said he hoped to be back next year to defend his title.

Let me also thank Jan for all the prompt news throughout the week ..

Make that 4-0 lifetime over Gouichi, and 75 points for the title .. I need to go back to sleep .. More later today..