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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the week ending on Mar 21, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2005)

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Mar 21 Note-1

Three Indians (Vishal Uppal, VM Ranjeet and Jaco Mathew) qualified into the Chennai $15K+H futures today .. Excellent work by all three .. That makes it 11 Indians in the draw, though initially only three (Mankad, Amritraj and Sipaeya) made direct entry on the basis of their rankings .. Vinod Sridhar earned a special entry spot for the big title last week at Kolkata, and four Indians got wildcards (Rohan, Vijay, Karan and Navdeep Singh) .. Only doubles matches were done in the main draw today .. Extremely tough field for this futures, almost as g ood as some challengers we have had in the past in India .. See the Chennai futures page for scores/draws.

Mar 19 Notes

Fantastic work by Vinod Sridhar, who stopped the run of Adam Fass (USA) in the final at the  Kolkata futures with a  very impresive 63 63 run .. For quite a while it has been known to all observors of Indian domestic tennis that 25 year old Vinod Sridhar is extremely difficult to beat, especially on his favorite surface clay .. I have commented many time in the past too, about the high respect I have always had for Vinod Sridhar for coming ready to play every day and fighting hard in every match he plays .. The newspaper sometimes talk about the limitations of his game and all that sometimes, but what matters is bottom line results and he has shown it time and again .. When I saw the entry list for the Kolkata futures, my first thought was about where Vinod Sridhar was, as he would have got a direct entry had he entered ..  It was worrisome also because he has had some injury problems in the recent past .. We are all glad that he was given a wildcard entry to the draw and became the seventh seed ..  This is Vinod's second title (he had won a futures in late 2002, and had been in quite a few futures and satellite finals) .. He picked up 12 points and should be moving his rankin up from 576 to right inside 500, close to his career-best of 482 in late september last year ..

I have posted the scores I have seen so far, from the $15K+H India F4 futures qualies, at the Chennai futures page... Take a look .. Not much else for news today ..

Mar 18 Notes

Prakash's run ended today against the 4th seed Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE,127) in a 46 16 loss .. It is always tough to have enough to go against that kind of a highly-ranked player after having played 5 matches at an event already .. Still a fabulous run by Kash, who picked up 17 points there .. This was the first time in 10 months, and after some 16 odd events, since May last year when he got 35 points for the Fergana final, that Prakash has picked up more than 6 points at an event, incredible as it sounds .. 103 total points would bring his rank up to about #325 .. he has to hurry up and grab a bunch of points in the next couple of months before the Fergana points fall off and drop his rank again .. On the other hand, if Kash has regained his form and confidence, it is not a big deal for him to race back up the ranks fast .. So he should probably not worry about points and just play his game .. Go man, do your thang at Chennai .. Let us see a Kash vs Harsh final there!

At Kolkata, a bad day for young Karan Rastogi, as he went down 67(6) 06 today in the semi againt Adam Fass of USA .. He also had a loss in the doubles final to Ajay and Vishal .. The good news was from Vinod Sridhar, who reached the final with a 64 41 win, as the 5th seed Chris Kwon retired .. That ensures that Vinod will get one of the two special exempt spots at the Chennai $15K+H where the main draw list is now finalized and qualies draw probably just made (haven't seen it yet) .. I assume Karan would have a wildcard .. Perhaps Rohan and somebody from among Vijay, Ajay or Vishal would get the other wildcards? .. I hope we will not be seeing Arindam Dutta getting another wildcard - If we do, I will literally scream on behalf of the the forum fans who have already been up in arms :) ..

In other news, Mustafa Ghouse and David Sherwood (GBR) went down in an upset, 67(6) 46 yesterday at the $15K+H Lille futures in France, to the French pair, Marc Steger and Nicolas Thomann .. At the $10K in Yarrawonga (Australia) this week, Rushmi lost in the R2 to Lauren Cheung (AUS), 61 36 26 and Sai lost the R2 to sixth seed Emily hewson after another fantastic fight, 26 76(6) 57 .. In doubles, the secon seeded Sai/Rushmi lost the semi to the 3rd seeds Lara Picone (AUS) and Julia Vorobieva (AUS), 16 36 ..

It is now confirmed that Sania Mirza would be at the Dinan challenger on March 4th .. Just heard from our incorrigibly passionate honorary Indian citizen in Germany, Floran Beuchtung that he would be covering the Dinan challenger for us from there! .. Hey, we won't let sania leave our sights :) .. From what I heard from Mahesh Uberoi earlier this week, Sani was to arrive in Miami by now and hit and train with Shikha Uberoi during the weekend, getting ready for the Nasdaq Open next week .. Go Sania and Shikha! ..

Are these exciting days for Indian tennis or what? .. Too much of news to report these days ..

Mar 17 Notes

Great win by Prakash Amritraj today, as he continued his torrid run at the $50K+H Ho Chi Minh City challenger with an upset of the 6th seed Kristian Pless (DEN,204), 63 76(4) .. Next up for Prakash is another tough match -- against the 4th seed Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE,127) on friday evening by around 7 pm in Vietnam ..  Come on Kash! .. Let's keep it goin .. Prakash has 17 total points so far from there, which takes his point total from 87 to 103 !!! ..

I must have jinxed Lee and Zimo a bit with all my comments yesterday .. They could not pull back-to-back upsets over reigning grand slam champs .. They took care of the French Open champs yesterday, but fell after a fight to the USO champs, #1 seeds Mark Knowles (BAH) and Daniel Nestor (CAN), 36 64 26 .. Despite the loss, this is a pretty good match for LP-NZ, who won 80 points in the match, to 86 points by the top seeds .. Knowles-Nestor are one of the top-3 teams of the last deacde in ATP tennis, and this was a tough test for the new pair who are beginning to jell together .. By the way, remember that MK-DN are the same pair who had shellacked LP-Rikl by a 63 63 score at the US Open final - the same pair which has a six match win streak on Bhupathi-Mirnyi and a two-match streak on LP-Rikl .. So, no shame in the loss .. I actually thought our guys could pull this off though - but a few points in the 3rd set turned out to be decisive .. LP-NZ again had 5 double faults in the match, which is way too many for a doubles match; they need to seriously cut down on that DF bug and stop giving away free points!  .. LP-NZ will take off to Miami now.

At the $10K Kolkata futures, the story is the beautiful run so far by 18 year old Karan Rastogi, who has again upset a seed, this time the 6th seed Nick Monroe (USA) to reach the semifinal where he would face the foul-mouthed (according to newspaper reports) American player, Adam Fass .. Vinod Sridhar, quite definitely the best clay player among our domestic second-string expectedly reached the SF, though with a surprisingly easy-sounding 62 62 win over Vijay Kannan .. He would be playing Chris Kwon .. Karan and Ashutosh Singh are in the doubles final too, with back-toback upsets of seeded pairs .. Go Karan!!!!  .. See the Kolkata futures page.

Mar 16 Note-2

It looks like Leander has at last (after a few years with different partners who were nowhere near what Mahesh was with him) found a partner with whom he really has a good chance to win grand slam titles etc .. Though he had pretty good success with a few others, somehow I never got that "feeling" that he was getting the kind of partners who would complement his style of game and would provide adequate support to do the big ones .. I get the feeling that Nenad Zimonjic might turn out to be a great decision for a partner .. I watched an excellent doubles match today at Indian Wells -- [R2] (6) L.Paes/  N.Zimonjic d. Xavier Malisse (BEL)/ Olivier Rochus (BEL), 62 76(2) ... Mind you the opponents are the reigning French Open doubles champions and are quite good together (they had won the Adelaide title in January too) .. They are ranked #35 and #39 in singles as well, which means they are two damn good tennis players .. It showed all through the match .. On the other hand, Leander and Nenad showed how to win a doubles match by playing to a strategy .. They were going to take th pace off the ball whenever they could, in the match .. Nenad is a tall guy with a power game also but he played very smart tennis ..  Except for an occasional surprise shot - one particular BH down the line by Nenad, a beauty, reminding me of an old partner for LP (!) -
they stuck to the strategy beautifully .. The Belgians came up with a ton of scorching returns and excellent volley placements, but somehow LP and Zimo seemed to know what to do to win a big point all along, with some deft lobs and placements which made the shorter guy, Olivier, run like a mad man at times .. I think our pair also won most of the volley exchanges at the net, and I was very impressed by Zimo's reflexes .. His hands are perhaps not as soft as Mahesh's at the net, but he is way up there in reflex volleying, and he certainly has abilities to come up with some excellent shoe-lace digs which again reminded me again of the time MB was up at the net with Leander, coming up with great digs in the middle of all the lateral movements and net magic by LP! ..

As for the match, our pair was up early to a 3-1 lead and then to a 5-1 lead .. LP seemed to have a bit of a double fault bug, as he did about 4 of them today in his services games .. One DF and then a volley mistake by Zimo on Lee's serve made it 5-2, but then our pair broke the Belgians once more, thanks to two great returns by Zimonjic, the second one at the set point .. The second set was very tight all through with neither side dropping serve .. at 3-3 off LP's serve they faced some danger after a double fault and a bad line call on a nice lob made it a break point .. LP saved it with some superb variation play, with a sweet cross court volley and then a backhand smash to the corner that Rochus could not catch up to .. It still went through about 4 or 5 game points before LP held to 4-3 .. At 4-4 on Zimonjic' serve, Malisse and Rochus both came up with cracking returns to go up 0-30, but a third return went an inch out, as the belgians were going for broke .. Zimonjic then made them pay for that with three big serves to close out the game .. Our pair did not have a break point all through the second set .. In the tiebreaker at 3-2, LP-NZ picked up two minibreaks, with another good return and then a great volley exchange from Zimo .. 5-2 .. Rochus was so frustrated that he just hit a wild return to the backboard, to make it 2-6 .. But then a bit of a drama, as an unlucky net-chord and then two untouchable serves from Malisse saw our pair wasting three match points .. On the final point at 6-5 off LP's serve, a tremendou s volley exchange where Leander showed why he is the best at it, with a soft dig and a drop that Rochus caught up to and put into the net .. This was really a very enjoyable doubles match .. A lot of high quality stuff .. It took about an hour and 25 minutes to complete the match .. Up next for LP-MB are the top seeds Knowles -Nestor ..

At the Kolkata futures, Sunil Kumar was upset today by Adam Fass of USA .. Also, Karan Rastogi beat the 4th seed Vishal Uppal .. That is technically a big upset, but not surprising at all, as we know of how good Karan is .. Vijay Kannan and Vinod Sridhar also made it to the QFs .. See the Kolkata Futures page.

Mar 16 Note-1

Leander Paes and Nenad Zimonjic plays the second round of doubles at the Indian Wells masters today against Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus of Belgium .. I expect to be there at the match today - will give a match report after I get back from Indian Wells ..

Prakash Amritraj plays his second round at the Vietnam challenger tomorrow (thursday) against Kristian Pless.

In other news, Sania Mirza is listed as the top entry for the $75K claycourt challenger in Dinan, France, starting on Apr 4th .. Pretty good field, with some three top-100 players and about 10 top-125 players .. The WTA events for Apr 4th and 11th (the $585K at Amelia Island and $1.3M at Charleston in the US) had the entries close on Feb 21st and 28th just before Sania's rank went up from #98 to #77 .. Even with a #77, she would h ave probably missed the initial cut at these two places .. So instead of wasting time in the qualies, she seems to have decided to get going on clay in Europe .. Depending on how deep she goes in Miami next week, she could get a week off before the Dinan challenger, and a week off after that, before she gets back to India for the Fed Cup on Apr 18th ..  Shikha Uberoi is in the entry list for the $25K  in Augusta, Gerogia, on March 28th.

I went down to the $50K Orange challenger yesterday and watched 19 year old Sunitha Rao (USA,178), the only Indian-origin player who currently has an unbeaten record against both Sania and Shikha (nice trivia, eh? .. Sunitha beat Sania at a $10K in Mumbai three yeras back, and beat Shikha two months back at the Hobart WTA qualies) .. Sunitha is of course very very talented, as we all know .. Yesterday was one of the bad days however, as she ran into a very hot player she could not upset - Elena Baltacha (GBR,118) who has gone up the ranks to a career-high currently with her recent main draw 3rd round appearance as a qualifier at the Australian Open, along with a bunch of good challenger results .. Sunitha was a wildcard entry at Orange .. She played many points very closely and came up with a lot of good stuff off but made her usual set of unforced errors too .. Basically the key was that Baltacha came up with huge serves (one could see why she is going up the ranks now!) on every break point that Sunitha created, and SR's serve was not as accurate as she would have liked, which took her out of her game plan in a straight set loss .. Anyway, it was nice to see Sunitha again .. She has gone through a lot, to be frank, with all the confusion between her dad and the two national associations he could never get in synch with - USTA and AITA .. SR is probably in the best athletic tennis shape I have ever seen her .. So I am sure she would have a lot more good results soon ..

At the Kolkata $10K yesterday, Rohan Bopanna went down 67(3) 67(3) to the 5th seed Chris Kwon (USA) .. Though it was a loss, I am actually encouraged by the scoreline .. Bofors actually did quite well for his first pro match back after shoulder surgery and time awayfor many months, taking a tough seed the distance in two sets .. I believe it is normal for one to take time to get adjusted to playing tiebreakers, after shoulder surgery .. I believe that subconsciously the players tend to think it is the serve is what wins tiebreakers, though it is logically not correct (if one wins more points than the opponenet in the rest of the set, one would be able to do that in the tiebreaker too, but the popular perception is different) .. I wonder if Rohan was feeling out how his serve is working now .. I hope the surgery has not taken much off from his rocket serve, even if it takes a while for the strength to get back up to 100% .. Anyway, the good news is that Rohan seems to be back and able to play at a fairly high level immediately, as his scoreline against a top-500 quality oplayer indicates .. I am sure by the next week at the Chennai futures on clay, or at least by the week after at the Bangalore futures on hard courts, RB would be getting into his groove .. Kwon plays an interesting match against young Rupesh Roy today .. See the Kolkata futures page for scores .. Awaiting otday's scores .. News coming by only a little slowly out of Kolkata.

At the $10K in Yarrawonga, Australia, the second seed Rushmi Chakravarthi beat Parul Goswami, 61 64, to reach the R2, which will be against Lauren Cheung (AUS) .. Sai Jayalakshmy also advanced, beating Keiko Taguchi (JPN) in a big comeback from the brink, 06 76(4) 63 .. Sai plays the 6th seed Emily Hewson (AUS) in the second round .. In doubles, the second seeded Rushmi-Sai pair beat Sevvy Gallios and Emma Kidd of Australia, 61 63 and then won the QF over another Aussie pair, Jessica Engels and Bianca Smith, 62 61 .. Their SF is against the 3rd seeds, Lara Picone (AUS) and Julia Vorobieva (RUS) .. By the way, I am glad to see a lot more fight that Sai is again showing in her matches, after a long time when I thought she was often playing indifferent tennis, below the levels she has shown in earlier days of her career .. Whatever these two ladies' results show, one cannot help admiring the ultimate sportsman spirit they show by going out there, day after day and week after week, traveling around the world and struggling with money and visa problems, all for the sake of doing what they love most - which is playing tennis! .. Both have done reasonably well in Australia so far, too .. Keep it going, ladies!

Some really poor results to report from our junior team at the grade-1 ITF in Malaysia .. I almost felt like not reporting this news, as it broke my heart yesterday to hear that all five of our kids went down in the very first match there, despite four of them being seeded .. Hardly many sets won either .. (2) Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,35) l. Richard Ruckelshausen (GER,125), 57 46 .. (3) Vivek Shokeen (IND,45) l. Conor Pollock (USA,189) 26 76(8) 57 .. (15) Sanam Singh (IND,90) l. James Lemke (AUS,160), 06 26 .. (10) Sandhya Nagaraj (IND,98) l. Megan Alexander (USA,148), 57 26 .. Madura Ranganathan (IND,131) l. Olivia Lukaszewicz (AUS,156), 26 26 .. The first four had first round byes as seeds and lost in the R2 .. Though the losses are all to top-150 caliber players, there isn't one thing in those scores that I can take as a positive .. Nothing! .. I wonder what went wrong? .. Did they only fly in, in the morning of the matches, all of them lost their baggage, or something like that? .. They all ate some bad breakfast? .. It is not like they are going outside for the first time, as all five of them have had a few trips abroad and all have been to Malaysia once or twoice before, three of them at the same event last year too .. I think coach Gajendra Singh has some work to do now, and get the kids ready for next week .. I hope they forget this week and just move on to next week's grade-1 .. Let it go, kids!

Mar 15 Notes

Ladies and Gentleman, the Prakash Amritraj from 2003 seems to be back again! .. After qualifying in with three matches which were nothing short of laughers, he did one more today, with a first round bomb-attack .. At the $50K+H Ho Chi Minh City challenger, [R1] (Q) Prakash Amritraj (IND,360) d. Zbynek Mlynarik (AUT,285), 63 61 .. Looks like PA is out of the doldrums and is full of confidence now .. Up next for him is the 6th seed Kristian Pless (DEN,204) whom he had beaten three weeks back at the Scottsale qualies .. If I were to guess, on current form, PA will get him again .. Go Kash!

Leander's second round doubles match at the Indian Wells will be tomorrow (wednesday).

At the Orange challenger in California, Neha Uberoi (USA) got a wildcard into doubles with Arpi Kojian (USA) .. They face Alyona Bondarenko (UKR) and Galina Voskoboeva (RUS), probably tomorrow .. I believe she had initially planned to play with sister Shikha, but I think Shikha decided to take rest for a week and get ready for Miami qualies next week.

At the India F3 "ONGC" $10K in Kolkata at the South Club (claycourts) yesterday, the nice upset win was by young Rupesh Roy, who got past Kamala Kannan .. Otherwise everythiung went according to the script, with top seed Sunil Kumar, 3rd seed Vijay Kannan and 8th seed Ajay Ramaswami advancing, and with there being no surprises in the eight first round doubles matches either .. The other 12 first round matches are today .. See the Kolkata futures page for the draws and scores .. The big match that I am awiating the score for, was today -- Rohan Bopanna's return to singles play, after shoulder surgery and several months away from the tour .. Hope Bofors did fine today.

At the qualies for the $15K+H on indoor hardcourts at Poitiers, France, Mustafa Ghouse, seeded 10th went down in the Q2 to Marc Steger (FRA,1167), 67(2) 06 after a 61 60 win over Samuel Danchet (FRA,NR) in the first round .. In the doubles first round, the top-seeded Mustafa and David Sherwood (GBR) play the French wildcards, Adrian Mannarino and Morgan Mannarino.

Mar 14 Notes

Good news today -- Prakash Amritraj qualified into the $50K+H Ho Chi Minh City challenger in Vietnam .. The sixth seed had an easy 62 62 win over unseeded Minh Le (USA) .. Prakash got a bit lucky, as he did not face any top-400 players in the draw, but he probably would have qualified in anyway, based on the form he is in now - as his 60 62 win against #492 Matsui in the Q2 round showed .. Awaiting news on whom he plays in the main draw.

Not a great day yesterday, as Mahesh Bhupathi and the Uberoi sisters went down .. Leander advanced, and Mustafa Ghouse won a doubles title, for good news.

At Indian Wells, the 5th seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Todd Woodbridge went down 61 36 67(4) .. That is two losses in a row for these two where they won the first set and could not keep it up (they had lost the Dubai semi to Damm-Suk like that, in the previous match) .. Strange .. Miami Masters next for them.

Leander Paes and Nenad Zimonjic won 62 26 64 .. They withstood a pretty good charge by their opponent in the second set and late in the third det .. They took an early advantage to 2-0 in the third set, and had to play well at some key points late in the third set when they were twice down on serve at 0-30 .. Their R2 opponents will be decided today .. I believe the second round wuill be tomorrow (Tuesday) ..

I was at the $50K Orange challenger qualifying yesterday and watched Neha and Shikha Uberoi, both not at 100% right now .. Both struggled badly too, but in retrospect that was to be expected if they were not in their best physical health in a qualifying field that is worse than the main draw of most challengers .. Shikha went down to #183 Elise Tamaela (NED) and Neha to #199 Vanina Garcia-Sokol (ARG) .. Take a look at the reports I posted in the Shikha and Neha threads in the forum.

Excellent work by top seeds Mustafa Ghouse and David Sherwood (GBR) who won the doubles title at the $15K+H France F4 in Lille .. They beat the French pair, Patrice Atias and Frederic Jeanclaude in a tough match, 64 67(4) 76(3) .. Congratulations!

Finally found the results, about three days late, on the douibles semifinal for Rushmi and Sai at the $10K in Benalla Australia last week .. The second seeds went down to the eventual doubles winners .. [R1] (2) R.Chakravarthi/ S.Jayalakshmy d. (Q) Sevvy Gallios (AUS)/ Emma Kidd (AUS), 63 62 .. [QF] d. Mirielle Dittman (AUS)/ Svenja Weidemann (GER), 16 76(8) 75 .. [SF] l. Julia Vorobieva (RUS)/ Meng Yuan (CHN), 63 16 57 ..

The Kolkata futures final round qualies is today .. I have not seen the draws yet.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Mar 14 ..

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 playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan