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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Mar 23, 1998

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Mar 23 Note-2

Terrible news. Leander-Mahesh lost 3-6, 3-6 to Black-Grabb just now. I think this is their worst loss in almost 10 months .. Let's pray it is not LP's arm being in very bad shape. Will find out soon. I have no spirit to type anything more now. More later.

Nirupama is playing doubles with Sylvia Plischke at the Houston challenger, even though she is out from the singles.

Mar 23 Note-1

Bad news from yesterday, on Nirupama .. She lost in the first round of the qualifiers at the $25K Challenger in Houston, Texas, to Marissa Irvin, 6-1, 3-6, 2-6 .. Marissa Irvin from Santa Monica, California, is only ranked #631 in WTA, but is one of the top Juniors in the US (somewhere in the top 30 or so in the world in Junior singles, and #4 in the world in doubles) .. This must be one of the biggest wins Marissa has had and I would have expected Niru to handle her easily .. Oh, well .. She will be at the Phoenix, AZ, challenger next week. That is a $50K challenger, and again she will have to play the qualifiers. I am rather surprised that Niru had to play quals at the Houston challenger (perhaps a lot of the top women who lost in round 1 at Lipton showed up there ?) .. Anyway, getting entries into these women's events have been much tougher than in the men's events (a #170 is sure to be a direct entry, and most probably a seeded player in a $25 Men's challenger, for instance). There are only much fewer challengers on the women's side, and competition obviously becomes fierce for entry. The new WTA rules, in terms of the number of tournaments in the point list, etc., seem to have made things even worse. For instance, the qualifier cutoff at The Lipton for women went up to #159 this year, from #185 last year. Add in the fact that women's tournaments pay less, and rarely have hospitality support (room and expenses) as in almost all men's challengers, and it is a very very difficult proposition for women to manage travelling and playing these competitive challengers. Outside of perhaps the top-100 players in the world, the prize money made is just not enough to support the tour expenses. Most of those in the top-300 have solid sponsorship .. And, we are still begging for sponsorship for the only woman we have got from India in the top-500. It's pathetic; utterly pathetic. Is anyone reading these broken record rants and raves I keep posting here ? ..

Mar 22 Note-3

Sorry for the delay in posting this, but here are the statistics from LP's round-2 match against 7th seed Bjorkman at the Lipton on Saturday:

                              Jonas Bjorkman         Leander Paes
1st SERVE %                               37%                  53%
ACES                                       0                    1
DOUBLE FAULTS                              3                    5
WINNING % ON 1st SERVE PTS.    14 of 20 = 70%       21 of 38 = 55%
WINNING % ON 2nd SERVE PTS.    18 of 33 = 54%       12 of 33 = 36%
WINNERS (INCLUDING SERVICE)               15                   15
UNFORCED ERRORS                           19                   26
BREAK POINT CONVERSIONS         6 of 15 = 40%        3 of 4  = 75%
NET APPROACHES                 14 of 25 = 56%       21 of 40 = 52%
TOTAL POINTS WON                          70                   54

As usual, most of these stats are rather useless. I have always found that the only stat that normally has a correlation to win-loss is the number of points won. Somebody should find some new stats for tennis. Basically, both Bjorkman and Paes had relatively bad games, but Bjorkman was staying ahead throughout and was breaking LP often.. 53% on first serve is very low for LP, who gets up to the 70s normally when he wins. Way too many unforced errors by LP for a 2-set, 17 game match ..

His arm still hurts despite finding no damage after the MRIs. The doctors are advising him to take a 4-week rest, but he is finding it tough to do that. Next week, he has to play the Davis Cup; the week after at Chennai and the following week at Vadodara (grass challenger; those are almost nonexistent in the ATP calendar, and LP probably has some excellent chance for a lot of points from that one).  He may skip 2 or 3 weeks after Vadodara, I would presume. Till then, he has to play gingerly with the hurting arm. By the way, this is not new. He has had it for a while, and still managed to win the Bangkok challenger title a couple of weeks back. He has a lot of points to defend in the summer, but nothing till French Open; so he can take rest in late April and then come back strong for summer... Let's wait and see what he decides.

Mar 22 Note-2

Just added a schedule page for Nirupama Vaidyanathan .. Check it out ! .. Niru is at the Houston challenger this week. Will give more info later on that. She will be at Phoenix, Arizona, next week, and then goes to Dubai, followed by the clay campaign in Europe ..

Talking of Nirupama, the WTA has just brought up a revamped web site (the last one was a slow mess with very unprofessional graphics, and was crashing everyone's browsers; so they decided to have a second revamping within a year; the new site looks nice and nifty on a first look), and they finally have a Bio for Nirupama at that site.  Not much info, but for birthdate and all that. Anyway, this is what they say: "Nirupama Vaidyanathan (vie-dee-in-uh-tan) (IND) (Residences: Coimbatore, India and Luxembourg) Birthdate: December 8, 1976 Birthplace: Coimbatore, India Height: 5' 7" (1.70 m) Weight: 137 lbs.(62 kg) Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand) Status: Pro" .. Wonder where they got that "vie-dee-in-uh-tan" from !?!! ... It is "va-eed-ya-nah-tun", people ! ... Reminds me of an American colleague of mine who remembers the 1960s Wimbledons asking me about "Remana-Thaan" .. Being a "Thaan" myself (Tamilians seem to like that name for us :-)), I found that funny .. Krishnan Sr is of course not a "thaan" .. neither is Nirupama .. By the way, Mahesh is a half-thaan .. OK, so much for BS today .. Serious stuff later.

Mar 22 Note-1

Sorry for having to unexpectedly be away yesterday right after the LP match .. Hope everyone saw the score (3-6, 4-6 loss to Bjorkman) at the LP page .. LP is still having some pain in his arm .. Will comment more later.

The second round doubles matchtt for LP/MB should be tomorrow (Monday) .. Black/Grabb vs Albano/Corretja is scheduled for today .. Stay tuned.

Mar 20 Note-3

Leander beat Salzenstein easily, 6-4, 6-3 today ! .. He was never troubled by Jeff, except for the 5th game of the first set, when Salzenstein took him to deuce and a breakpoint. LP held, and then tightened the screws at the right time, in the 10th game to break Jeff serving at 4-5.. In the second set, LP jumped out to a 4-1 lead with a break in the 4th game, and then held serve with no difficulty. The match only lasted an hour and 10 minutes or so. Leander now faces the 7th seed, Jonas Bjorkman (in round 2, either Saturday or Sunday) .. Among the top-10 players, Jonas is the one who you probably have any chance against, right now. Bjorkman has lost 4 in a row, and only has a 8-7 record this year, after finishing 1997 at #4. He did win the doubles last week with Rafter at the Indian Wells, and that should give him some confidence boost. Bjorkman has the kind of game to take care of LP's quickness and touch, though. This is going to be a big, huge, humongous, win for LP is he can somehow pull it off ! .. We can dream, right ?

Mar 20 Note-2

No news yet that Leander has withdrawn, so I assume he is playing. The match against Salzenstein is scheduled to begin by 12 to 12.30 pm at The Lipton (within half an hour or so) .. Come to the chatroom .. We should be having score updates there.

Mar 20 Note-1

Here is the quarter of the draw (till semifinals) for LP/MB (4th seeds) .. It is the bottom part of the top half in the 64-team draw:

4- Mahesh Bhupathi     IND    Leander Paes      IND  \
   Bye                                                \
   Pablo Albano        ARG    Alex  Corretja    ESP \ / \
   Byron Black         ZIM    Jim  Grabb        USA /    \__
   Grant Stafford      RSA    Kevin  Ullyett    RSA \    /  |
   Max Mirnyi          BLR    Jeff  Tarango     USA / \ /   |
   Bye                                                /     |
14-Sandon Stolle       AUS    Cyril Suk         CZE  /      |__ SFinalist
12-Mark Knowles        BAH    Daniel Nestor     CAN  \      |
   Bye                                                \     |
   Alberto Berasategui ESP    Gabor  Koves      HUN \ / \   |
   Luke Jensen         USA    Murphy  Jensen    USA /    \__|
   Mariano Hood        ARG    Sebastien  Prieto ARG \    /
   Kent Kinnear        USA    David  Wheaton    USA / \ /
   Bye                                                /
6- Donald Johnson      USA    Francisco Montana USA  /

Not a bad draw till the semis. Not too many troubling teams in this quarter. Johnson/Montana is a very good team but have lost many times in a row to LP/MB .. Stolle/Suk is rather inconsistent, despite all the experience they have, playing together. The Jensens are no longer as good as they used to be (though they are still the most entertaining pair of goofballs out there). Knowles/Nestor have still not returned to the kind of form they had before they split up temporarily to concentrate on singles, after last summer. Having said all that, not too many wildcards and patsies in this part of the draw. A lot of solid teams there. If LP/MB makes it to the semis, the expected opponent are the Woodies who are in the upper quarter of the top half (they seem to have a marginally tougher draw, perhaps).

Will get back later with news of Leander's decision on playing singles (the final MRI was going to be late in the evening yesterday) ..

Mar 19 Notes

Good news for now .. Leander's arm and shoulder MRIs yesterday were negative. They haven't found any tears or damage. Probably the pain he felt after half an hour of tennis on Tuesday in the quals round 2 was a minor problem. He feels he can play through a lot of pain, as long as he knows there is no damaged tendons etc.. He has one more day to decide, as his match against Saltzenstein is scheduled only for tomorrow (Friday) .. LP feels there is a 60-70 chance that he will play tomorrow, but he is going to take one more MRI (on his wrist this time) to make sure.

LP/MB are the 4th seeds in doubles (after #1 Woodies, #2 Eltingh/Haarhuis and #3 Kafelnikov/Vacek). They have a first round bye and face the winner of Black/Grabb vs Albano/Corretja in round 2 (probably only by next Monday or so).

Mar 18 Note-2

Leander had an MRI on his arm today, and was going for a shoulder MRI also, late in the evning. The results won't be known till tomorrow morning, about whether there is any serious injury. He will decide on whether to play or not, only late in the morning tomorrow (thursday) .. Stay tuned .. His dad, Dr. Vece Paes, is there with him, which is always a good thing ! ..

The doubles draw at Lipton may take a couple more days to come out.

In other news, according to the International Tennis Federation (ITF), India will compete in the NEC Youth Cup (under-16) Asia-Oceania group in Hiroshima, Japan (Apr 28 - May 3) in both the boys and girls events. Others are Australia, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, and Uzbekistan .. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Hong Kong and Sri Lanka are competing only in the boys' events there .. Wonder what happened to Indonesia .. Strange things have been happening with sports events cancellation, etc, ever since the big Asian financial crisis (The $10K ITF Futures scheduled in Manado, Indonesia, this week has been cancelled, I am told).

Mar 18 Note-1

Here is the immediate draw till the semifinals for LP at The Lipton (if he plays):

7- Jonas Bjorkman      SWE                                  \
WC-Jeff Salzenstein    USA  vs. LL-Leander Paes       IND   / \
   Juan Albert Viloca  ESP  vs. WC-Malivai Washington USA   \ / \
25-Nicolas Kiefer      GER                                  /    \
24-Andrei Medvedev     UKR                                  \    / \
Q- Andrei Cherkasov    RUS  vs.    Chris Woodruff     USA   / \ /   \
Q- Francisco Roig      ESP  vs.    Bohdan Ulihrach    CZE   \ /      \
10-Gustavo Kuerten     BRA                                  /         \
16-Carlos Moya         ESP                                  \         /
   Jan-Michael Gambill USA  vs.    Mark Woodforde     AUS   / \      /
   Emilio Alvarez      ESP  vs.    Grant Stafford     RSA   \ / \   /
18-Tim Henman          GBR                                  /    \ /
31-Francisco Clavet    ESP                                  \    /
   Jonathan Stark      USA  vs.    Boris Becker       GER   / \ /
   Byron Black         ZIM  vs. Q- Ramon Delgado      PAR   \ /
2- Petr Korda          CZE                                  /

Not a bad draw, but we have to wait till probably tomorrow to know if LP will play...

Mahesh is at Lipton. We may try to get him to do something useful (:-)) and come to our chatline one of these days, if he can find computer access .. Peter Tramacchi is hanging out with Mahesh ..

Mar 17 Note-3

Good news ! LP is in the main draw at The Lipton !!!! .. Dinu Pescariu withdrew, and LP got in as the lucky loser. He will face Jeff Salzenstein in round-1. Jeff has been slumping for quite a while, and this may be one LP can win.. but...

...as we all know very well, bad news always follows good news in Leander's case.. Leander himself is hurt a bit, with pain in his wrist and arm. He is going for some tests tomorrow, and if there are no muscle tears or serious problems, he will play. Otherwise, he will wait and play doubles next week. We will have to wait and see.

Trivia: LP has now entered the draws in all of the last 9 tournaments of draw size 96 or more (7 grand slams and 2 Liptons), 3 times as a lucky loser, 2 times as wildcard, and 4 times as a direct entry (LL at Wimbledon-96, USO-96 and Lipton-98, wildcard at AO-96 and AO-97) .. The odds on being the lucky loser that many times is pretty low, I would think ! ..

On an unrelated note, Michael Kohlmann (#3) beat Steve Campbell last Sunday to win the Kyoto Challenger, if anybody is wondering and didn't see the Kyoto results page I had updated .. I had forgotten to report it here.

Mar 17 Note-2

Ouch.. Bad news today .. Leander got jabbed by Jabali .. 2-6, 6-7 .. There goes that ..

But wait .. there may be some hope .. The seeds above him in the quals (#1 Lareau, #3 Delgado, #4  Campbell, and #5 Vinck) have all won and qualified today, and the #2 seed lost in qual round 1 .. I think that makes Leander the Lucky Loser entry to the main draw, if anybody withdraws from the main draw in the last minute .. I will keep an eye open for that.

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.