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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Apr 6, 1998

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

Apr 6 Note-3

Here are some excerpts from S.K.John's article in today's Indian Express:

Makes me want to cry to read that about Prahlad's morale going for a toss after the rejection he got from the only ATP tournament in his own country, right when he was getting ready for sweating it out in the Davis Cup for India .. Right after he moved his ranking up from 1000 to 530 in about 5 months .. And now the Indian #3 is not even sure that he will get a wildcard into the Vadodara challenger .. That is how far we have sunk .. I repeat, somebody needs to get to the bottom of how Prahlad was denied a wildcard to the Chennai tournament. The more I feel I should not continue to talk about this, the more I feel somebody has to. I have been getting emails from people similarly shocked and upset at what has been done to one of India's own. Can someone take a few banners in there to the Nungambakkam stadium saying "Why no Prahlad ? .. Tournaments in India are not for match practice for unknown foreign kids!" .. The Indians who stood and watched this happening, or were part of the wildcard decisions, should be ashamed of themselves ! .. Pitiful .. One would think a nation that has been exploited for centuries by foreigners would learn.  But not really, I guess.

Take a look at the tournament website: http://www.goldflakeopen.com .. The players page still does not list Bhupathi or Paes .. Now, this website is made by an Indian firm, mind you .. And there are numerous supposedly funny comments on that site about Indian railways' punctuality, etc. Show me websites in other places around the world where they talk bad about the place, even jokingly .. Some of these attitudes run way too deep.. Again, I better stop. This is a tennis site, after all.

A note: Lilia Osterloh, who beat Nirupama in the 3rd round of qualifiers at Phoenix last week went all the way to the final .. She is a talented player.

Another note: Vikrant Chadda, now at the University of Mississippi has won 13 matches in a row, and looks to break back into the top-50 in the collegiate ranks here, again. That's not bad. His back injuries must have got better .. Manisha Malhotra in her final few months at the University of Tennessee, is also doing pretty well. Will update when the next collegiate rankings come out.

Apr 6 Note-2

Leander and Mahesh are drawn against Sander Groen and Andrei Pavel in the first round of doubles .. Shouldn't be a tough match (by the way, Groen and Siemerink have a win against LP/MB last year). The doubles draw is at the Chennai results page.

Harsh Mankad lost in the final round of qualifiers, to David Nainkin .. So did Marcus Hilpert, who lost to Vladimir Voltchkov .. Peter Tramacchi is in, too. Only two main draw matches played today. Belobrajdic beat Luxa, and Delaitre beat Scala ..

No news of any withdrawals after Radulescu pulled out on Friday .. Looks like Becker and Rafter will make it in (there were questions, as Rafter couldn't play Davis Cup last weekend due to a virus).

Apr 6 Note-1

I have put up the draw here in the Chennai Open results page .. No news yet today, on the final qualifying matches and the main draw matches today. The tournament website is a mess .. So what's new ? .. 4 out of 5 tournament websites are utterly useless when it comes to giving news and match results in a timely fashion ..

I saw a report in the India Daily Online as of late Monday evening there, that Leander's first round match was to be in the late hours of Monday, but I don't think it is correct (only two main draw matches were scheduled for today, and the LP vs. Phau match was not one of those, according to reports from late Sunday) .. Stay tuned.

Archana Venkataraman is at the $25K WTA/ITF Dubai challenger. She won the qualifier match yesterday 6-0, 6-2 againt a Netherlands player and I think she is in the final round of qualifiers today.

Apr 5 Note-3

How about this ? .. Leander gets one of the two wildcards, Becker's Mercedes junior team kid, Bjorn Phau in the first round ! .. More ineterstingly his next round opponent is the winner of the Gerome Golmard vs Wesley Whitehouse match. Wesley is the talented 19-yr old Wimbledon Junior champion from South Africa who got the other wildcard .. Leander is quoted (Times of India) to have said he is 80 to 85 percent .. He should still be able to handle the kid ranked #672 in round 1.

The bad news is that Mahesh, who has been very very unlucky compared to Leander in a lot of draws recently, is again getting a very tough first round match (when was the last time he has gone up against an unseeded guy ?) .. this time it's against #2 seed Todd Woodbridge .. Ouch .. Go Mahesh .. just imagine that to be the first match at a Davis Cup and go after him !!

Becker and #3 seed Mark Woodforde get qualifiers in round 1 .. Tillstrom plays Ogorodov .. I will post a complete draw as soon as I compile one.

Harsh Mankad is the only Indian left in the final round of qualifiers. Manoj Mahadevan, Gaurav Natekar, Rishi Sridhar and Saneedp Kirtane crashed out in round 2 .. 16-yr old Manoj did well, taking 7 games off in his 3-6, 4-6 loss to an ATP top-150 caliber player, Jeff Salzenstein .. Nice to see Harsh playing well again, beating Barry Cowan, who had done very well in the India Futures earlier in the year, where Harsh fared very poorly .. Gaurav gave a tough 3-set fight to Peter Tramacchi .. The final 4 qualifiers will come from, Peter Tramacchi, Jeff Salzenstein, Jim Thomas, Vladimir Voltchkov, Max Mirnyi, David nainkin, Marcus Hilpert and Harsh Mankad .. The 4 final round qualifier matches will be on Monday.. Here are the qualifier results for Chennai .. Most or all of the main draw starts only on Tuesday.

I had fleeting thoughts of boycotting the Chennai Open as far as reporting the news was concerned, but then decided that after all it's only a game and we are all fans of the good tennis all these guys play - the talented youngsters who got wildcards and yes, even, Boris Becker ! .. :-) :-) .. So let the fun begin !

Apr 5 Note-2

Bad news keeps pouring in .. Italy has won the Davis Cup tie .. Gaudenzi d. Bhupathi, 6-1, 7-6(3), 6-1 .. Later Prahlad lost the 3-set shortened 5th match to Sanguinetti, 2-6, 3-6 ..

The stats, as usual, look pretty similar for Gaudenzi and Mahesh, but they do not show one key stat (they never do): The percentage of points won off the opponent's serve. MB converted 1 of 10 breakpoints and AG converted 5 of 9 .. while this may look like MB wasn't coming through at big points, it also could be because MB was, on average, not winning as many points off AG's serve as AG was winning off MB's .. Frankly, gaudenzi seemed to be in better controil of the match throught .. Anyway, MB had a first serve percentage of 62, AG had 65 .. MB had 3 doubles faults, AG had 4 .. 2 Aces for each .. AG hit 3 return winners, MB hit 10 ..

Mahesh can come home to India with his head high. He did pull one big upset out there in style (straight sets). It's not easy to pull two upsets in a row against top-100 players. If he had LP with him, India would have moved on ..

How about this ? ... Zimbabwe pulled a HUGE HUGE upset against Australia, in Australia today. The Black brothers, Wayne and Byron, beating Woodforde and Stoltenberg in the reverse singles to pull of an imporbable 3-2 win over them (I guess the morale problems after all the war of words between captain Newcombe and "Scud" Philippoussis did affect the outcome) .. This means that Italy now plays Zimbabwe. It could have been India against Zimbabwe (and I beleieve in India, that too) .. Oh well, LP's arm will be fine next year .. Now India plays the relegation play-off (or whetever it's called) late this year against a zonal winner, to stay in the world group for next year. I do believe this could have been India's year, if LP were healthy.

Not sure if they will play the final tie, now that the outcome is determined .. Will wait and see.

Apr 5 Note-1

Got a couple of emails asking if I hadn't heard of the other two wildcards given out at Chennai .. Yes, I had heard it soon after I posted my pre-emeptive tirade yesterday .. Was way too upset that I couldn't eat that delicious crow yesterday.

The "foreigners" gave it to a South African 19-year old (near #500 in the world), Wesley Whitehouse, and a German kid, Bjorn Phau (near #700 in ATP) .. The former is a talented upcoming youngster, and the latter is a member of the Mercedes developmental squad in Germany that Becker is in charge of .. Nice gesture to help kids, under normal circumstances, but I don't see this happening at other tournaments around the world. The organizers are simply blatant in their disregard for Indians needing an opportunity to play too .. Like there are some tournaments around the world where they allow Indian kids to get big-match practice.

So Becker gets to bring his German developmental squad player for practice in an ATP tourney .. Yeah .. Anybody can come to India and use the tournament there for these things .. How about Vijay Kannan or even Manoj Mahadevan, if developing young talent was the purpose ? .. And I suppose there are no Indians with any say in getting a wildcard for Prahlad Srinath playing for India and not even getting to play qualifiers (either that, or they are too callous or spineless, to do anything about it) ... It's a crime. It's a shame. It's a pity ..

Why do we bother with this damn tournament in India ? .. How can we protest ? .. I am personally ashamed that this kind of crap goes on in my home country .. More later.

Those who follow my notes here know that I rarely get vitriolic here .. But this one drives me mad ..

Can I ask the Indian Press (I know some of you read this page occasionally) to do something to bring out what's going on there ? .. The press has a responsibility to talk about this, rather than eat up the publicity releases they give out of the Gold-"flaky" tournament office. The Dubai Press was pretty outspoken about how Bernd Karbacher was given a wildcard there, instead of fan favorite, Leander Paes, thanks to what they reported as possible meddling by Mercedes, a big ATP sponsor and the German connection there. What has the Indian Press got on the Chennai situation ? (I do not want to slander anybody, and imply that there are indeed things going on, but perhaps the press can say something, if they know).

I saw some qualifier results .. Manoj Mahadevan, Gaurav Natekar, and Rishi Sridhar have advanced past a round.

Apr 4 Notes

India lost the doubles tie after a pretty even match, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6 .. The match was much more even than the score would indicate .. (Set 4: India broken in game 6) .. (Set 3: Italy broken in game 4) .. (Set 2: India broken in game 1 and 5, Italy broken in game 2) .. (Set 1: India broken in game 8).. The stats from the match are very close .. 65% first serves for Italy, 64 % for India .. 8 doubles faults by Italy, 7 by India .. 4 aces (2 off second serve!) by Italy, 2 by India .. 1 return winner by Italy, 3 by India .. 4 of 9 break pt conversion by Italy, 2 of 9 by India .. The break point conversion at crucial points was a big difference. India had 2 chances in the 7th game of set 1 to go up, but couldn't convert, and Italy broke them rightaway in the next game .. That set the tone. Breaks in late games is also an indication of the experience the Italians had in striking at the right times. Mahesh must have really missed Leander, but Syed doesn't seem to have played a bad match either .. Will wait for eye-witness reports to arrive soon.

Earlier, today morning, Mahesh easily finished off the previous day's rain-interrupted match, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 over Sanguinetti.

Can India pull off two wins tomorrow ? .. The naysayers are there all over the place, but I won't put it past Mahesh to pull another one out of his hat; this time over Gaudenzi.. Mahesh is quite comfortable on clay, and with some cheering and advice from the bench and captain, he is known to be able to raise his game way up. In Mahesh's case, he *has* the game to beat most players (don't listen to all the talk of his slow legs, etc.. Heart sometimes matters more!) .. I say, GO FOR IT, Mahesh .. If he can tie it up against Gaudenzi, watch out for Prahlad to go for broke, against Sanguinetti .. But then again, I am the eternal optimist !

Chennai news: It was Alex Radulescu (last year's finalist) who pulled out due to a recent leg injury, allowing Leander to become a direct entry .. Still no word on the other two wildcards (Mahesh has one) .. They better decide on more Indians for wildcards (at least Prahlad), or the bad karma will continue with more withdrawals :-)

The Chennai tournament folks (IMG, Melbourne, Australia is the prime organizer; Brian Cooney, the tournament director is from there .. There are some Indians involved too :-)) announced recently that Becker, Rafter, Woodies, and Tillstrom will be allowed to play their first round matches on Wednesday (because they are all arriving tired and jetlagged from Davis Cup matches) .. Only 7 day tournaments are allowed to schedule first round matches as late as Wednesday .. As I had expected, I did not see a report that Mahesh would be allowed to take a day of rest after he gets there on Monday .. He probably would have played more tennis at the Davis Cup over this weekend than the others, but the "Bad-Karma Gang" probably will not notice that this Indian warrior is also tired and jetlagged, and will probably make him play Tuesday.

Yeah, I am whining a lot about this tournament, the only one in India .. I know .. But then I have some very strong feelings about Indians not standing up and demanding how things should be done in THEIR OWN place. If the tournament can raise over $1.0 Million for appearance fee alone, I do not see why Indians cannot organize this themselves (yes, it is not easy to buy a tournament with much more of cash and bring it over to any country, I know) .. As a matter of record: The ATP site lists tournament offices for over 80 ATP tournaments, and only four have offices outside the country where it is held. These are, Singapore (Office in Hong Kong), Tashkent (out of Israel), Dubai and Chennai (offices out in Australia). Is it a coincidence that I have complained here about wildcard issues at the 3 places among these where Indians have played over the year (Singapore, Dubai and Chennai) ? .. I think not. I don't want to sound as though I make so much of a big issue out of wildcards (LP or MB for instance wouldn't consider it a big deal) .. It is on grounds of some priciples that I object .. If every other tournament gives out wildcards based on merit and ATP rank and not nationality and crowd interest, then I will not complain, but that's not the case .. and so it bugs me that we have to beg for a wildcard for an Indian at Chennai. That's that .. I will stop harping on this ad nauseum, now .. and my offer to eat crow remains, if Prahlad is given one of the two remaining WCs at Chennai.

Apr 3 Notes

Hope everyone saw the scores from the Davis Cup which were being updated in the chatroom and the Mahesh Bhupathi page ..

Mahesh was all set to take care of the second singles match today in Italy, when rain came down .. They apparently asked if India was willing to play under the lights in the evening after the rain stopped. Mahesh thought he would rather play tomorrow morning, rather than feel uncomfortable under the lights, as he was rollin during daylight .. MB was leading Davide Sanguinetti, 6-4, 6-4, 2-3 (MB serving 30-15) when rain interrupted play. It is scheduled to resume at 10.30 am (12.30 am PST, USA .. 2 pm India) on Saturday. Mahesh was rolling pretty well, till late in the second set when he gave one of the two breaks back, and was in danger of having Davide tie it up on his serve in the 10th game, but he took it too deuce and closed out the second set with two big points (according to SK John of Indian Express). He immediately broke Davide again, and held serve in the 3rd set to go up 2-0, but then gave the break back in the 4th game, and couldn't break Davide in the 5th .. Now they are on serve, with Mahesh looking comfortable, and Davide showing some signs of life. MB should not mess around tomorrow and should wrap the match up quickly, as he has to get back to play doubles at 2 pm there.

Earlier, Prahlad Srinath started a bit nervous, perhaps, not getting 7 of his first 8 first-serves in (some 12% first serve percentage for PS then.. Gaudenzi took advantage and got on top to finish the set at bagel. Prahlad then started playing rather even with Gaudenzi, and started showing he was no pushover. Unfortunately, he could not convert the several break points he got in the second set, and Gaudenzi was making use of his own opportunities. The set ended at 6-2 in favor of Andrea. Then the surprise set. Prahlad turned it up a notch, and Gaudenzi suddenly started making too many mistakes. That set was all PS, as he won his first set against a top-50 player, at 6-1 !! .. Then the match went back to normal, with PS fighting toe-to-toe but not being able to get the big points at the break opportunities. It ended at 6-0, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 in favor of Andre Gaudenzi. The stats are almost dead even in the match, except for the break coversion .. PS had 3 of 12, and AG had 6 of 11 .. There lies the difference. All said, a very good debut by Srinath. Hey, if he can play at that level and get a few breaks his way, who knows what can happen against Sanguinetti ? ..

In other news, I got a note from Madras that someone has withdrawn and Leander is in as the last entry at the Goldflake Chennai Open ! .. That means he freed up one wildcard for the tournament organizers. I am not however expecting those tournament folks, who have so far shown hardly much regard for Indians, to give the free WC to Prahlad, however .. It will be a pity if they don't, and it will be to some extent a crime to do that in a tournament in India .. The guy can't even play the qualifiers over this weekend .. But these kinds of things happen in India (and probably only in India), as the ones who care least for Indians are often the Indians who are in positions of helping Indians .. Again, if they come through with a wildcard for Prahlad, I will be more than glad to eat my foot that I have planted firmly in my mouth (or crow, or whatever they want me to eat) .. Right now I am expecting the wildcards to go to some Australians.. At least Pat Cash retired a couple of weeks back; so we don't have to see him again in Chennai .. Wonder what guys like Stoltenberg and Fromberg are up to next week .. well, at least they are top-50 players .. I will go through the roof if I see a wildcard going to Draper, Tebbut or Tramacchi (nothing against those guys, but something about that happening in an INDIAN tournament, at the expense of an Indian Davis Cup player).

Apr 2 Note-2

It looks like we will be able to bring live updates during the Davis Cup matches .. Check out the chatroom during the matches, and also the Mahesh page for updates. Not sure about Friday's matches, but certainly we will be live (:-)) during the Saturday and Sunday matches. The draw is done, and the first match on Friday (11 am start in Italy; I believe it is 2.30 pm, India and 1 am PST, USA.. They have just started daylight savings time change in Italy) is Prahlad Srinath vs Andre Gaudenzi .. It will be followed by Mahesh Bhupathi vs. Davide Sanguinetti.

Shruti Dhawan also crashed out in the 3rd round at the ITF Junior tournament in Thailand .. to the #1 seeded player. Sheetal Gautam had lost yesterday along with Saif Ali .. The Indian boys and girls are all gone, out there.

Apr 2 Note-1

Nirupama Vaidyanathan is the top-ranked player at the $25K ITF/WTA challenger in Dubai next week .. This is a pretty big surprise to me. Just last week, she had to play the qualifiers at the $25K event in Houston, and next week she will be the top seed at another $25K .. Strange things are happening in the WTA tour, as far as player entries are concerned .. Perhaps the Houston event was crowded by American players and others in the US for The Lipton .. The Khaleej Times reports that Nirupama at #173 and Petra Gaspar at #220 (the top Hangarian player) are the top 2 seeds. Abigail Tordoff of Britain (#309), who was among the top seeds in the Indian ITF Futures last month is also in the draw. I presume this report is not a mistake and they are not talking about the qualifier draw or something .. Probably not. This is the first time they are organizing a WTA challenger in Dubai, and that may also have caused the rather lukewarm participation; they have plans to make it into a $50K challenger next year (looking at the success of the Dubai Open on the men's side, and the money they have available there, this could only become better in the future) .. Anyway, it looks like a great decision by Niru to go to Dubai .. The winner gets 22 points and the runner up gets 15 .. Winning this could push her raking up to around #150. I hope to get some reports on the tournament from a press friend of ours down there in Dubai.

Paolo Bertolucci has pretty much decided to play Davide Sanguinetti at the #2 spot for Italy in singles.  People are showing some surprise that he was picked over Marzio Martelli, but it really shouldn'e be a surprise. davide has had a much better record than Marzio in the last few months.  So, it looks like Bhupathi vs Sanguinetti and Srinath vs. Gaudenzi on Friday..

Apr 1 Notes

Leander practiced for an hour yesterday and was not feeling pain in his arm. He has not started serving yet, and that is when there is stress on the arm. He will try serving also soon, but it's still day-to-day. He is to leave for India on Thursday, and will be reaching Chennai by the weekend.

At the ITF junior tournament in Thailand, 12-seed Sheetal Gautam of India lost to 2nd seed Nicole Rencken (RSA) in the 3rd round, 6-2, 6-4 today .. No news yet on Shruti Dhawan who is also in the 3rd round. On the boy's side, Saif Ali of India lost to the 5th seed Jeroen Masson (also from South Africa), 6-3, 6-3 ..

Mar 31 Note-2

Nirupama couldn't pull an upset over #138 Lilia Osterloh at the Phoenix (Glendale) challenger.. She lost 6-4, 6-4 .. The report I got was that she was in good shape to pull it off, before Lilia came back strong late in both the sets. Niru has reached Florida, and will leave for the Dubai tournament (next week) soon. After that she will be in the European clay court circuit, which is where she has traditionally done very well.

Prajwal Hegde of Deccan Herald and Nirmal Shekhar of The Hindu have started reporting from Genoa. The Italians seem to be already celebrating, after hearing of Paes' withdrawal. Funny story from Prajwal, about the immigration guy at the airport looking at her and saying "India has no chance!" .. Come on guys, you are underestimating the fight that Mahesh and Prahlad are capable of. Anyway, MB was a bit outspoken about how nobody has done anything to send the alternate player (Vijay Kannan) up there .. "We can't even play a decent practice doubles match", he said .. He is right .. Rather than sitting around and hoping that Leander would somehow miraculously get his shoulder healed and get there for practice three days after he started his rehab work, they should have immediately made alternate plans. The AITA folks should know that Leander is one who would get there if there is any way he can manage it. After all these years, don't they know that about Leander ? .. Worse still, if somebody had talked to him in detail about the situation, they would have known last Thursday that he just could not go to Genoa .. Captain Jaideep Mukherjea, well-meaning as he is, is partly the culprit. He seemed to have been going by emotions and it was taking too long for him to get used to the reality that Leander was just not going to be playing there .. And AITA waited to see if someone would convince LP to play (.. and it bugs me that they felt somone had to !). Oh well .. but then again, everyone is down about the whole thing, and sometimes these things are hard enough to make people throw up their hands and say "oh, blow it.. we are toast!".. Except for Mahesh and his team, who are there to try and win the damn thing !

Captain Mukherjea seems to be leaning towards getting MB and Prahlad to play the singles and then have MB and Fazal play in the doubles. All the best to them ! GO INDIA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mar 31 Note-1

This is interesting .. Vijay Kannan, who is the alternate member of the Indian Davis Cup squad, is at Pattaya City, Thailand, playing the ITF Junior (grade-3) Tournament there. We had just heard a couple of days back that AITA was making plans to fly him out to Genoa, now that Leander has withdrawn .. So, who goofed here ??.. Somebody had to take care of telling the alternate stand-by to stand by ! .. Vijay is the #1 seed in the singles there, but rather surprisingly lost the first round match today, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to Willem Meyer of South Africa. Not sure if he is playing doubles there; otherwise there is probably still time to send the 18-yr old up to Italy, but it may be futile now, as he will get no practice time on the slow red clay there..

On the girls' side, Sheetal Gautam and Shruti Dhawan have advanced to round 2 at Pattaya City .. (12-seed) Gautham Sheethal (Ind) b Orawan Lamangthong (Thai) 6-2, 6-3; (16-seed) Shruti Dhawan (Ind) b Petra Vojtaskova (Cze) 6-4, 6-1 .. (source: The Nation, Thailand)

Mar 30 Note-3

Good news from Arizona.. Nirupama has won the second round of the qualifiers at the $50 Phoenix (Glendale) challenger, beating Pam Nelson (#258) of USA easily, 6-1, 6-4 .. She now has a tough match against #138 Lilia Osterloh in the 3rd round of quals. Lilia is from Stanford University and is the reigning US collegiate singles champion; she was also one of the qualifiers at The Lipton. The final round for the 4 qualifier spots are tomorrow before noon, and the main draw matches start tomorrow afternoon (the qualifiers probably will not play their first round matches till wednesday, I would presume) ..

Our fan club member Rudy Selva reports from Italy (actually, San Marino) that the Indian Davis Cup captain, Jaideep Mukherjea , is quoted in the newspapers there to be saying that he expects Paes to join the team this week, though 70% he won't play .. Mr. Mukherjea may be trying to confuse the Italians a bit in their preparations .. I doubt if Leander can go now..

Mar 30 Note-2

The new ATP rankings just came out. By now everyone has heard that Marcelo Rios has overtaken Pete Sampras at the #1 spot in singles. Something else has happened, that, as usual, many have not noticed ! .. For the first time in a long, long time, the #1 spot on the doubles list does not have a name starting with "Wood" .. Jacco Eltingh is the new #1 doubles player in the world ! .. That means that after spending all the appearance money, the Chennai tournament probably still won't have the top 2 doubles players coming there .. Talk about that tournament being a bit snake-bitten ..

Leander got 17 points from Key Biscayne (5 for quals, 1 for beating Carlsson, 10 for first round, 1 for beating Saltzenstein) .. He moved a couple of spots up to 128 this week. Mahesh has moved up from #247 to #244 .. The doubles rankings remain the same. They were in danger of moving down to #4 behind Eagle/Florent, but they also lost in their first match at The Lipton, and stay behind with 860 points (LP/MB have 864 points..).

Nirupama moved down 3 spots to #173 in singles, and stayed at #176 in doubles in the May 30 WTA rankings.

Mar 30 Note-1

Oh boy.. Gaudenzi is red-hot .. Not good news for India at Genoa ... Gaudenzi won both the singles and doubles titles at the Casablanca ATP tournament. It looks like he is really playing like how he did a few years back before the injuries dropped his ranking a lot. He beat Alex Calatrava in the singles final, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 .. More impressive is that Gaudenzi-Nargiso won the doubles title, beating Brandi-Messori (also of Italy, and one team that hung a loss on LP-MB last year) in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(4) .. In other words, Gaudenzi is red-clay-hot ! .. Thought we should take note .. In other ATP news, Stark and O'Brien won the doubles title at The Lipton .. That is a promising team, one that I think the US captain (Gullickson) should consider for Davis Cup, over Martin/ Reneberg .. US keeps making mistakes in the doubles team selection, in my view (but what do I know?).

Our fanclub member in Germany, Arunava Chaudhuri, reports about a TV interview with Boris Becker. Becker said he will be playing doubles in the Davis Cup tie at South Africa, and then will be going to Chennai.. So the dude hasn't decided to withdraw yet .. :-) ..

Mar 29 Notes

Nirupama Vaidyanathan won the first round of the singles qualifiers at the $50K Phoenix Challenger today. She beat Elizabeth Schmidt, 6-2, 6-0 .. Piece of cake.. She next plays the winner of the match between Pam Nelson and Christina Triska, tomorrow (but it has been raining there and some matches are all delayed).

Vinod Sridhar continues to be in good form. He beat Manoj Mahadevan easily, 6-0, 6-3 today in the final at the Rs. 1.84 Lakhs Indian Oil Servo tournaments at the Krishnan Tennis Center. He made Rs. 40K and Manoj got Rs 25K .. Good show by both unseeded players .. Vinod had beaten the top-seed Marcus Hilpert earlier ..

There have been some newspaper reports about AITA's Anil Khanna saying that they are still working on Leander to go to Italy and try to play doubles .. He sounded hopeful .. I haven't heard anything like that though .. Will check up .. Leander certainly cannot do even practice tennis now, and needs to rest his arm; I doubt if he would chose to lose rehab days by going to Italy .. Also, AITA is apparently trying to fly out the alternate player, Vijay Kannan, to Genoa. (source: India Daily Online)