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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Apr 7, 2003
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2003)

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Apr 7 Note-2

The new Davis Cup rankings came out today from ITF, and India is ranked 14th .. Actually India is tied for #13 now but they gave Germany with the same point total as India the 13th spot and India the 14th spot, strangely .. Anyway, that makes India the 5th highest ranked team in the field of 16 for Davis Cup 2004 WG playoff this september .. I should update the table in the table in the last notes .. The new rankings with the points show,

 8   USA  6,942.5
 9   NED  5,187.5
(10  CRO  5,075.0) - already in the world group 2004.
11  BRA  3,500.0
12  CZE  3,118.8
13  GER 2,812.5
13  IND  2,812.5
15  ROM  2,537.5
16  GBR  2,487.5
17  BEL  2,325.0
18  THA  2,297.5
19  ECU  2,257.5
20  SLO  2,000.0
21  AUT  1,890.0
22  CAN  1,840.0
23  BEL  1,770.0
24  MAR  1,737.5

The ITF ranking point table seems to be perfect, the way it threw up exactly the 24 teams that are alive in the Davis Cup competition for next year .. In fact, I don't think there were any upsets at the regional qualifier rounds this weekend, going by the previous ranks, either .. You may notice that there is a rather noticeable drop in points from India to Romania, Britain, Belgium, etc - giving another reason for seeding India among the top 8 for the WG playoffs in September.

The ITF Davis Cup seedings committee meets tomorrow and will announce the seeds, with the draw coming out on wednesday .. If ITF has any shame, they should stand by their own rankings and the criteria about doubles, and seed India .. It will be disgusting if they end up seeding teams like Britain only based on the existence of some ATP-ranked singles players who may not even be available to play in the end .. If you are going to make ATP singles the sole criterion, just throw away the so-called rankings that you announce - you are not using it at all anyway! .. Last year they could claim that the rankings were new and that they didn't know if their point system was really an indicator of quality .. Seeing how perfect their latest top-24 has turned out, they cannot make that argument anymore .. The rank list does appear to be just about matching what we feel about the Davis Cup prowess, with some minor exceptions for some recent upstarts like Belarus who are under-ranked a bit and some like Germany who are a bit over-ranked if you consider the players who might not play ..

The ITF nations ranks are also a proof that the ATP singles rankings should be rejected as a criterion for exception cases like India with a starting player who has decided not to play ATP singles any more .. India's players have shown serious heart towards Davis Cup and that is why we are ranked this high and continue to justify the rankings with a 4th consecutive WG playoff .. LP's commitment is well-known, but also don't forget Mahesh, world #5 in doubles and all, flying up to the Lebanons and New Zealands for just one doubles match, and skipping his own WTA tournament for a Davis Cup doubles match .. It is clear that ITF should be using India as the example for commitment towards Davis Cup and rewarding us .. I don't know why ITF would want to act as though the ATP's singles rankings are the end-all, even ahead of ITF's own team rankings ?? .. What is the point in a seeding committee if they cannot take the proper issues in perspective? .. I hope they will do the right thing this time .. Yes, we have not forgotten our complants last year and our serious doubts about foul play in the process (we decided to take ITF's word on face value and drop the issue - check my notes last year at this time about a betting site announcing three days ahead of seeding and draw who Britain will play .. ITF explained that it had to have been a strange coincidence of wishful thinking by the betting site; and we all decided to respect their word) .. I hope there won't be more suspicious crap from London again .. Damnit, give India a seed and give proper due to your own rankings and the nearly unparallelled commitment of India's players towards Davis Cup .. Otherwise, just say that you will only reward countries whose players would skip Davis Cup at the drop of a hat and take the ATP tour as more important, thus making a joke of your own great tournament ..

Apr 7 Note-1

Now that the Davis Cup ties are over, it is time for speculation on what happens in the draw for the world group playoffs in September .. Here are the teams who will be playing the WG playoffs to take up 8 spots in next year's final-16 .. The losers from the 2003 world group first round in february are: USA, NED, BRA, BEL, CZE, ROM, GER, GBR .. The eight who qualified this week for the playoffs are: [Euro-African region]  AUT, BLR, MAR, SVK .. [American region] CAN, ECU .. [Asia-Oceania] IND, THA.

Now, whom does India play?  That should be known soon, as the draw gets made in London .. The ITF seeding committee will seed eight of these teams and the other eight will be drawn against them .. As for how they will seed, they say this - "Among the deciding factors taken into account are the ITF Davis Cup Nations Ranking, how the nation fared in recent Davis Cup action, the strength and ranking of the players likely to perform for a given nation, the ability of a nation’s players to compete on a variety of surfaces, and the depth of a nation in terms of doubles" .. Whether they really follow their own statement, nobody knows .. Last year they started the Davis Cup Nations rankings, which use a 4 year rolling calculation of points for a country's performance in various levels of Davis Cup play, with a rather elaborate point table .. India moved into the top-16 last year and was th 8th highest ranked team, but they did not seed India, on the basis, I suppose, of the singles ranks .. Anyway, I put together the following table of info - India is again 8th on current rankings .. You decide who should be seeded .. My seedings are as shown ..

(These are the older ranks -- Today's new ranks in the next note above -- India is at #13 now!)
 
Davis Cup
Rank 
Home/
Away for India
ATP singles ranks of
top 3 who might play
My Rank for the
Doubles Team
My final
seeding
USA 6 Home 6, 24, 38 10 1
Nederlands 8 Away 14, 57, 68 3 4
Brazil 11 Home 15, 78, 82 3 3
Belgium 12 Home 29, 58, 150 9 7
Czech Rep. 13 Home 9, 44, 99 2 2
Romania 14 Away 34, 84, 154 6 6
Germany 15 Away 13, 78, 105 10
India 16 --- [x], 338, 461 1 8
Britain 17 Home 22, 70, 187 14
Thailand 19 Home 12, 220, 800+ 12
Ecuador 20 Toss 43, 209, 505 6
Canada 21 Toss 337, 347, 455 6
Belarus 22 Toss 31, 65, 546 3 5
Morocco 25 Toss 17, 98, 416 14
Austria 26 Home 59, 97, 133 15
Slovak Rep. 27 Toss 50, 56, 72 16

You see a strange [x] in the row for India, which is one player that does not fit any of the seeding committee's logic and numbers .. A certain Kolkatan, who is the only player in all these listed countries who plays singles ONLY in Davis Cup, and magically seems to still play top-notch singles for just 3 weekends every year .. His ranking should be taken as something around at least #100 .. Actually he has beaten players like Suzuki ranked near 100 as recently as last year and anybody in the seeding committee should know that any player ranked below around 50 or 75 so is still in danger of losing to Leander, especially if the tie is in India .. I would suggest that they use a rank of #75 for the [x] that I show ..  Then you have India's doubles team which has been unbeaten in 7 years and is 13-2 lifetime in Davis Cup, who makes any opponent have to win three of the four singles matches .. Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating .. India has shown that it CAN beat people and that is why it is ranked as the 8th highest team in there [added later - actually 5th highest in the Apr 7 rankings!]  ..  Canada is another country (Nestor is a Leander Paes lite too, though he does not have top doubles support anymore) - they too continues to come through consistently .. Poor doubles teams hurts some of the teams above .. I am probably seeding USA too high, as they are the most unpredictable team these days - but even without counting #2 agassi and #21 sampras, they have some highly ranked young guys who are ready to play singles .. I like the 2-man army of Mirnyi and Voltchkov from Belarus .. they have all the ingredients to do damage .. Morocco is not as good as they used to be, despite El Aynaoui's rank and Arazi's talent (doubles is a problem for them) .. No idea if Rusedski-henman will be there for GBR in September .. Germany has gone down the tubes and can't seem to get some of their guys to even play for them .. CZE has a solid doubles team in Damm-Suk .. Brazil actually is good, especially because Kuerten-Sa is a good doubles team too .. The Lapentti brothers are spunky, for Ecuador .. etc ..etc

I will update the Davis Cup rankings, after the new ranks come out on Tuesday.  India's rank should not be changing much .. As for now, expect us not to get seeded by the ITF committee .. They will probably keep Britian seeded, though they have shown nothing for some time to deserve the seeding.  Looks like we have around at least a 5 in 8 chance for a home tie if we are unseeded .. Brazil in India would be one I could live with .. With our bad luck in the draw for three years, I am expecting Nederlands away for us .. Last year I predicted it perfectly .. Hope my record does not continue this time!

Apr 6 Note-2

Alright, so it is 4-1 win for India .. LP picked up an easy dead-rubber win also .. [Match-5] L.Paes d. Robert Cheyne, 61 60 .. I have corrected the first reverse singles news below .. It was James Shortall and not Mark Nielsen who played that one .. Totally puzzling stuff by the Kiwis .. Why didn't they try to have Shortall/Cheyne play doubles yesterday itself and then throw a fresh Nielsen against RB today? .. Who knows - I am not complaining!

Apr 6 Note-1

Actually this turned out to be an anticlimax, as the Kiwis fell apart without a fight today ..  The Express did their usual job, and then Bofors showed once again that he is not the type who turns into some mental jello just because of a tough loss yesterday! .. [Match-3] L.Paes/ M.Bhupathi d. M.Nielsen/ A.Hunt, 63 62 62 .. [Match-4] R.Bopanna d. J.Shortall, 63 62 64 .. There was really no drama to report in the break sequence as our guys stayed on top all through, except for a small break exchange at the beginning of the LP-MB match .. I don't think RB ever got broken .. It was nice to see him not messing around and punching in the advantage at the end of the 3rd set with a break at 4-4 .. So, India advances to the world group playoff for the 4th consecutive time! .. I think there is a 5th match, but I may not stay up, as it is now a dead-rubber [LP playing Cheyne; I am counting in an easy win] ..

Sania won the grade-1 title in Manila with a 62 75 win over Tara today .. She was ahead 3-0 in the second but Tara made a little comeback with 4 games in a row before SM put it away .. 150 big points for Sania which will take her up to around #12 or so in world ranking .. Amazing! .. Tara's run is sooooo impressive, despite the loss in the final .. She gets 100 points .. Count another Indian in the top-75 ranking, along with Sania, Isha and Sanaa ..

Apr 5 Note-4

Doubles at the Kolkata Davis Cup is about to start, at 10 am Sunday (11.30 pm Saturday NY) .. Come to the chat page for score updates!

Quick updates -- Rushmi went down in the final at the Mumbai-1 $10K .. Agnel Gladwyn upset the second seed and has reached the final at the East Asian ITF u14 tournament .. Arnav Jain, who was the top seed, lost in the QF, as did E. Ashmitha on the girls' side .. AITA has announced the Fed Cup team ad well as the junior (u16 and u14 girls/boys) teams for Asia Oceania regionals - details later .. Tara vs  Sania in the final Sunday at the Manila grade-1 ..

Apr 5 Note-3

Yes, doubles is postponed to tomorrow .. So, it seems like RB will get some extra time to rest before playing Nielsen in the 4th match ..

Some great news from Manila -- An all Indian final!! .. 14 yr old Tara Iyer and 16yr old Sania Mirza reached the final of the grade-1 .. Incredible to see Tara do this, as she was the 17th player in the field on ranking, and this was a really tough field of players too .. Nothing is incredible from Sania, of course .. Karan went down in the semi but he too had a great run there .. More later; I need to go to sleep. It is 2 am here :)

Apr 5 Note-2

This is heart-breaking .. One moment we are riding high and the next moment we are in a dogfight .. All it takes is half an hour, and that is the beauty of Davis Cup .. [Match-2]  R.Bopanna l. A.Hunt, 64 64 36 26 79  and we are tied at 1-1 in this tie .. Rohan had things well under control, pulling off crucial and timely breaks in the 10th games of the first two sets .. Then he dropped serve early in the 4th set and things went awry in a hurry .. The fourth set brought more trouble when RB dropped serve in the 4th game .. It got worse when he lost the set on his serve in the 8th game .. That meant he was going to be serving to stay in the 5th set if he didn't manage a break (no tiebreaker in the 5th set) - I guess there was some sort of a lesson there, that if you are to lose the 4th set, it should never be by dropping serve in Davis Cup .. To Rohan's credit, he steadied himself admirably and fought hard all the way to the end of the 5th set which saw no breaks till the 16th game .. RB showed a lot of character in serving under pressure to stay in the match at 4-5, 5-6 and 6-7 .. Unfortunately, it all ended at 7-8 when he dropped serve for the final time .. I don't know how the 29 year old Hunt who had announced his impending retirement held up for 3 hours and 15 minutes and pulled off the comeback ..  Now we need some good self-belief and not make any mistakes .. Doubles starts soon .. Hopefully no more mishaps and LP and MB will steady the ship.

But hold on .. It seems the doubles match is postponed to tomorrow (?), because Hunt had played 45 games today and so NZL had the choice to request postponement .. I will confirm.

Apr 5 Note-1

Rohan "Bofors" Bopanna will be out in a few minutes for the second singles match at Kolkata against Alistair Hunt .. Stat time is same as yesterdy, at 10 am (4.30 am Saturday London, 11.30 pm Friday New York) .. Come on down to the  chat page for score updates, as AITA is giving us frequent score updates at their site.

It seems the "super sopper" could not be brought in yesterday to the courts due to the passage being too narrow, and the organizers took some blame also for not having good enough covers, which caused some water logged patches - or they might have been able to play the second match on Friday itself ..

Rushmi and Sai went down in the doubles final yesterday to Chin-Bee Khoo of Malaysia and the stall Uzbek, Akgul Amanmuradova at the $10K the Mumbai satellite ..

Apr 4 Note-2

As we are always reminded, there are some constants in life -- Death, Taxes, and Leander Paes winning a Davis Cup match he is expected to win .. Came through yet again, and in tremendous fashion .. [Match-1] L.Paes d. Mark Nielsen, 61 76(1) 62 .. The Kiwis had talked about starting fast, as they expected LP, with no singles practice in 8 weeks, to be rusty .. More like hoping for it, I guess, as I am sure they themselves knew that when it comes to Leander, such calculations should all be thrown away .. He was all over Mark Nielsen immediately .. It was already the second set when Nielsen got a grip on things, but the damage was done in the hot and humid conditions with him getting quite tired by the end of the set where he fought in vain to keep away being blown away by LP's blitzkrieg .. I am told Leander had 15 aces and countless service winners .. A telling stat is that Leander did not face even a single break point on his serve .. Nielsen said he was disappointed in his own serve and commented on how well LP was returning .. The 3rd set also got done quite fast ..

As Rohan and Alistair walked out for the second match, it started raining and later the match was postponed .. Now it will be a 10 am match on Saturday, which will be followed by doubles .. Perhaps good news for NZL to get Rohan play on the softer and slower court in the morning rather than a dry faster court like they would have had today had it not rained .. RB will need to play with focus on Saturday morning - Hunt is quite experienced and might have an idea or two about what to do to pull a rabbit out .. I would think this takes Hunt out from the doubles match, almost surely .. I don't think they planned to have him out there for it, anyway, though they never said it .. It will be Cheyne or Shortall coming in .. If Hunt plays doubles, there will be a 90 minute break between the matches on saturday; otherwise the doubles will start a few minutes after Bopanna's match.

Rushmi beat Sai in a 2 hour 15 minute threesetters to reach the final at the Mumbai $10K satellite .. Akgul Amanmuradova is the other finalist - See the Mumbai satellite page for scores.

Great news continue to come from Manila (what the heck is coach Vasudev Reddy telling these kids? -- they seem motivated and showing some spunky self-belief out there) .. Karan, Sania and Tara reached the semis, and three doubles teams are also in the semis .. Today's scores -- [QF] #10 Karan Rastogi (IND,72) d. William Ward (NZL,208) 36 63 61 .. Nice comeback from Karan .. [QF] #2 Sania Mirza (IND,32) d. #4 Sheng-Nan Sun (CHN,42) 62 62 .. [QF] Tara Iyer (IND,108) d. Jessica Engels (AUS,154) 64 63 .. The matchups for them next -- [SF] Tara Iyer (IND,108) vs #5 Yung Jan Chan (TPE,54) .. [SF] #2 Sania Mirza (IND,32) vs Lara Giltinan (AUS,103) .. [SF] #10 Karan Rastogi (IND,72) vs #7 Jamie Baker (GBR,45) .. A couple of weeks back I was so thrilled that we finally had a grade-1 semifinal .. Now we have had 4 different girls and two guys reach semis during this east Asian swing .. They will ALL come back with higher rankings, and that is almost never the case after the tough Asian swing for our kids .. Here are the doubles scores -- [QF] Rupesh/ Chatwinder d. Luke Campbell (GBR)/ Eric Scherer (GER), 61 64 .. [QF] Somdev/ Karan d. Woong-Sun Jun (KOR)/ Sun-Yong Jr Kim (KOR), 63 36 64 .. [QF] Yung Jan Chan (TPE)/ S Mirza d. Kelly De Beer (NED)/ Pasquale Jansma (NED), 61 61 .. [QF] Sanaa Bhambri/ Tara Iyer l. Mari Andersson (SWE)/ Esther Van Londen (NED), 36 36 .. Next round matchups -- [SF] Somdev/ Karan vs Joel Kerley (AUS)/ Kirati Siributwong (THA) .. [SF] Rupesh/ Chatwinder vs Lachlan Ferguson (AUS)/ Jimmy Schneider (NED) .. [SF] Yung Jan Chan (TPE)/ S Mirza vs Czarina Mae Arevalo (PHI)/ Sheng-Nan Sun (CHN) ..

Apr 4 Note-1

We are ready to go in an hour at Kolkata .. LP-vs-Nielsen first, and the match is at 10 am Saturday (4.30 am London .. 11.30 pm Friday, New York) .. Come to the chat page for (or with) scores .. We will all be there! .. Come Leeeeeee, let's go!

Great news -- the revamped AITA site will have live scores .. Wow! .. Thank You, Lord !!!!!!!!

Sai and Rushmi reached the semi at the Mumbai $10K, but Megha and Archana went down yesterday .. See the Mumbai satellite page for scores.

The news papers have been having a field day with all kinds of quotes and verbal volleys flying around, though nothing nasty -- Underestimate me at your own peril, says Paes, says Times of India, though LP didn't exactly put it that way .. This article, Usual rhetoric on eve of tie (Hindustan Times) seems to have the more proper quote - LP was actually saying that we should not make the mistake that others have made against him .. Here is another - Paes, heat & grass on Kiwi minds .. Looks like the sneaky gardeners have been watering the place down and the Kiwis are not too happy :-) ..

By the way, there were posts in the forum asking if I was pulling another prank with that last note about the UNI report on LP and MB rejoining next year .. No, not a prank - here is the linkto the UNI article .. Curiously, I don't think any of the newspapers followed up on that news item .. Anyway, I suspect that Jaideep was stating his wish rather than a fact.

Apr 3 Note-2

Now, here is somethng interesting -- "Paes-Bhupathi to play together next year" - By Santanu Chakraborty -- New Delhi, Apr 3 (UNI) The estranged former World No 1 duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will again be seen in action together in the doubles circuit next year after a gap of two years, according to former Davis Cup captain Jaidip Mukerjee ...... ''Paes and Bhupathi will play doubles together next year. They are a fantastic duo and still have lots of tennis left in them,'' Mukerjee told UNI on the sidelines of a function here ..... ''All of us feel they should come together for themselves and for us.'' Mukerjee, who was in the capital to attend a sports awards function yesterday, however, blamed the media for creating a schism between the doubles specialists. ''It was only because of media hype they had to part ways. '' Expressing apprehension about their growing age, he said,''They are growing older by the day and it is high time they put their differences behind.''

How about that? -- Perhaps I was not just joking on April 1st?  Perhaps I have a 6th sense? .. Perhaps?  .. I don't know, I doubt it .. Gotta run; busy day.  More later.

Apr 3 Note-1

Things are all set to go, at Kolkata for the Davis Cup on Friday .. The draw was done today and the first match will be #2 LP vs #1 Nielsen, which will be followed by #1 Bopanna vs #2 Hunt .. We will be following the match in our chatroom at the forum (we have not cleaned up some code and all that, so you may see a bunch of funny lines when you start up, but the chat program works well) .. The usual request for those of you in India - please come in with scores if you are watching it on TV .. please, please, pretty please .. We abroad hate to have to call South Club or somewhere and bug people to give us score updates.

The best news today is from the Asian junior circuit as Indians pulled off some impressive upsets with four of our kids entering the QFs of the grade-1 juniors in Manila with only one of them seeded in the top-eight .. Everybody entered the doubles QF also .. This is a tremendous show, as this grade-1 has seen one of the toughest fields ever in Asia! .. [R3] Somdev Dev Varman l. Tom Rushby (GBR,108), 46 62 26 .. [R3] #8 Karan Rastogi d. #10 Eric Scherer (GER,66), 76(4) 64 .. [R3] Sanaa Bhambri d. #3 Du Rui (CHN,34), 64 67(4) 64 .. [R3] Tara Iyer d. #1 Montinee Tangphong (THA,27), 63 63 .. [R3] #2 Sania Mirza d. Natalie Tanevska (AUS,149), 63 61 .. It is wonderful to see 14 year old Tara taking out somebody like Montinee so easily .. Tara was "ruthless today", says AITA .. Sanaa who turned 15 only last month beat Rui Du once again .. Sanaa picked up enough points to come right inside the world top-55 soon; she is quite close to making into the grand slam junior draws soon .. Karan who had had a poor run in the last two weeks is coming through nicely this time - he was down 3-5 at set point in the first set and came roaring back .. He needs some points badly and this will move him inside top-60 again .. Tara will crack top-100 inside #90 .. Sania, well, she is Sania :)  - she was down 1-3 but before the Aussie girl blinked, she reeled off 10 games and finished the match!

In doubles, [R2] Rupesh/ Chatwinder d. Brown/Kudrevsky, walkover .. [R2] Karan/ Somdev d. Fulford-Jones/ Harris, 62 61 .. [R2] Sania/ Chan d. Wang/ Feng, 60 60 .. [R2] Sanaa/ Tara d. Vanhorne/ Falcon, 75 61.

More interesting news -- Sunitha Rao has now applied to play for India and AITA is awaiting the decision from ITF .. Sunitha is the extremely talented 17 year old who was a top-10 junior player last year who reached junior grand slam semis etc .. She is already in the top-200 in the WTA rankings .. If ITF approves it, we are all set with some tremendous talent on the women's side .. And it doesn't stop with just Sunitha and Sania, with a whole boatload of youngsters like Megha, Isha, Sanaa, Ankita, Tara, Kartiki, etc in the mix.  Wow!  [Kamesh Srinivasan broke the story about Sunitha in The Hindu today, and I did receive confirmation that the paperwork is with ITF]

Also another item -- all three of our u14 kids selected for the ITF's u14 east Asia tour, have reached the QFs at the Thailand tournament .. Arnav Jain and Agnel Gladwyn on the boys' side and Ashmitha Easwarmurthy on the girls' side .. So, a lot of good news today.  Cool!

Back to Davis Cup, it was the Mahesh Bhupathi day today as the press got their fill from him .. The "NZL are toast" chorus continues, and I am worried that those guys will now have serious motivation to try to pull an upset .. Bhupathi dismisses scope of upset , says Hindustan Times but I don't think MB put it that way .. Indians relaxed for grass show says the Indian Express .. Bopanna to play singles, says The Hindu in their usual mutedmanner .. Here is a nice picture page in the Telegraph that shows LP and MB in a playful mood .. Of course the feeble attempts at bravado (:-)) continues from the Kiwis - NZ recipe to ‘roast’ Paes (Telegraph) ..  I am kidding; the Kiwis are indeed capable of pulling somethings off if any sort of breaks start going their way - and strange things always happen in Davis Cup, though it is not very common when LP takes the court .. here are a couple of article links from New zealand that Rajiv sent me - Oh Calcutta - it ain't half hot .. The Kiwis were surprised that some 20 TV cameras were thrust at them in the press conference! .. Nielsen and Hunt tipped for opening day singles ..

There were also a few stories about Mahesh pairing up again with Mirnyi who seems to have been a bit reluctant to take a serious doubles partner, because that commits him to play out the doubles draws rather than pull out if needed, which he can do with singles players .. That is quite considerate of Max, actually, but I guess he also understands that there is perhaps more positives in playing with somebody as good as MB and winning well in doubles .. Bhupathi, Mirnyi to pair up again (Hindustan Times), Mahesh aims to recreate old magic (Telegraph) .. Bhupathi, Mirnyi to play together till Wimbledon (Times of India) ..

Update from Doha $15K .. All three Indians went down in the second round .. Toshihide Matsui (JPN,693) d. #6 Mustafa Ghouse (IND,550), 63 62
(WC) Omar Bahrouzyan (UAE,1003) d. (Q) Jaco Mathew (IND,958), 63 64 .. #1 Rogier Wassen (NED, 279) d. (LL) Vishal Punna (IND,925), 61 62 .. In doubles, Jaco Mathew and  Yu-Ming Si (MAS) reached the SF with a 64 75 win over Al Ghareeb and Dupuy.

Apr 2 Notes

It is Davis Cup Fever time again! .. Mahesh Bhupathi reached Kolkata today and had doubles practice with Leander, and later it was also announced that Rohan Bopanna will play the singles spot with Leander .. Looks like #1 Bopanna vs #2 Alistair Hunt and #2 Paes vs #1 Mark Nielsen on the first day .. The order of matches will be decided in the draw on Thursday .. There is some serious Psy-Ops going on in the two war camps .. Paes leading the charge, of course and everybody from the Indian side has joined the chorus in trying to make New Zealand believe that they really are toast in the unusually hot and humid conditions .. Here are the newspaper articles - Humidity will be to India's advantage: Paes (The Hindu) .. ‘Heat isn’t the problem, humidity is’ (Hindustan Times) .. Paes fired up for new NZ challenge (The Telegraph) .. Of course, Mark Nielsen did put up some faint response (:-)) from the Kiwi side - Paes will be under pressure, says Nielsen (Times of India) .. What - Paes and Pressure? - Those two words don't go together in Davis Cup, Mark! .. Nielsen is hoping that the sun will be out and leave the courts dry and hard for higher bounce .. The Indians on the other hand are hoping for some rain which will make it even more humid and the courts even softer .. So much so that there was a report yesterday about the Cricket folks granting the Bengal Tennis Association request for the super sopper from Eden Garden to be brough in to dry the grass if it rains .. Just don't take too much moisture off, that's all .. And I hope the sneaky gardeners at South Club will be pulling the weeds out at night and wetting the grass nicely for that if it does not rain :-) .. The Indian coments seem to imply that the Kiwis will be OK on grass, but as I had posted earlier, there were reports that their captain Glenn Wilson had sent out an SOS to find grasscourts in Auckland ("if anybody has even a backyard court, let us know - we are deperate" was the SOS!) .. Having said all that, I don't think we should take this thing lightly .. Nielsen is indeed a dangerous player, and Hunt is way too experienced.

Here is my periodic posting on the Davis Cup format for any new readers who need to know -- This Asia-Oceania regional final round against NZL is effectively the final-32 for next year's Davis Cup. The winner makes it to the final-24.   8 winners of the 2003 world group 16 from earlier this year are automatically in the final-16 for next year.  The eight losers in february and the 8 winners this coming weekend in regional finals will play in september to decide the 8 remaining entries for next year.  8 teams will be seeded and each will play an unseeded team in september ties.  Most of the September seeds will be losers in the WG-16 this february, but regional finalists ranked high in Davis Cup rankings like India at #16 have a chance to get seeded too (though our low ATP singles ranks always hurt us) .. But the first thing first - we need to beat the Kiwis to make it to the september playoffs for the 2004 world group-16.

Here are some other interesting articles from today - I owe it all to Martina: Paes and Bopanna and Mankad: Gunning for glory (Hindustan Times) .. LP also tlks about his recent success with Rikl -- I learn from every loss: Paes (Times of India) ..

Rushmi and Megha have reached the QFs at the Mumbai satellite from early results today .. Awating more scores .. Isha went down in a tough three setter to the 8th seed yesterday .. See the Mumbai satellite page for my updates - the news seem to be unusually tardy from there though.

Good news from the Manila ITF grade-1 juniors today .. All five of our seeded kids advanced, though two unseeded kids lost .. [R2] Rupesh Roy l. 6 Adam Feeney (AUS) 16 26 .. [R2] Chatwindar Singh l. Tore Deleuran-Skjold (DEN,94) 76 46 36 .. [R2] #5 Somdev Varman d. Yao-Lun Chang (TPE,183) 67 76 41 (conc.) .. [R2] #8 Karan Rastogi d. Lachlan Ferguson (AUS,84) 61 64 .. [R2] Tara Iyer d. Prim Bukalee (THA,282) 75 62 .. [R2] Sanaa Bhambri d. Pichitra Thongdach (THA,165) 61 61 .. [R2] #2 Sania Mirza d. Pasquale Jansma (NED,187) 61 61 .. Score from yesterday - [R1] Rupesh Roy d. Chang Huai-en (TPE), 75 62 ..[R1] Chatwinder Singh d. (wc) Irwin de Guzman (PHI) 63 76(6) .. Very good win by Karan Rastogi today .. Lachlan had reached the QFs the last two weeks and had shot up the ranks - he had beaten Rupesh and Somdev in successive weeks too .. Looks like Karan played the way he is capable of playing, today.  Keep it up, kids!

Apr 1 Note-2

Aw, come on, don't tell me you believed that stuff about the engine reunion .. Look at the date, folks .. I thought that was just a really lame attempt at a AF joke by me, but I guess even the worst bait catches some fish sometimes .. Now stop thinking of emailing me :-) ..

Qualifier Archana Venkatraman pulled off one of her better wins in recent years, upsetting the top seed Manisha at the Mumbai satellite .. Manisha has not played in quite a while (perhaps no singles since the National Games final?) and took a wildcard to play Mumbai .. The heat is really making the women struggle out there in Mumbai .. See the Mumbai satellite page - we still need to know of a couple more results in the first round.

Chatwinder Singh and Rupesh Roy won their first round singles matches at the Manila Grade-1 today .. Somdev, Karan, Sania, Sanaa, Tara, etc, have not played yet, I believe .. I expect more details soon.

Apr 1 Note-1

I never thought I would again get a chance to say this, but there is news out of Kolkata that yet another reconciliation of the Express engines is on the anvil, thanks to the work of two eminent former Indian Davis Cuppers .. The plan seems to be for a final run by the engines starting after the grand slams this year (now that both will be playing with very good partners for most of this year, they are not interested in anything immediate) .. Both engines seem to feel that they owe it to the fans to end their career with how it should always have been.  Not that all is fine between them; it probably isn't .. But let me put it this way - it is fine enough for them to consider this, and the advice from the senior players they respect is that there is hardly any reason for them to fear that it will get worse again - both have proved themselves with each other and without each other and all the folks who have put wedges between them knowingly or otherwise also understand all this now.  Not usual for me to put in "rumors", and I wouldn't do it without reliable enough sources.  Terrific, I say, but let's keep our fingers crossed.

I still have not seen the draw at the Mumbai $10K women's ITF event draws appearing at any of the sources .. I have not received any of the usual emails either from the usual sources .. The emails are probably delayed, I guess .. All we know are the scores printed in the newspapers for the Monday matches, as posted in our forum thread on the event .. I will wait for some draw info before starting a page.

No news on the draws at the grade-1 ITF juniors in Pilippines this week - the main draw was to start today, I believe.

At the Doha $15K, Mustafa Ghouse advanced with a 63 46 64 win over qualifier Musad Al Jazzaf of Kuwait .. Punne Vishal, who had lost to Rishi Behl in the final qualies and made the draw as a lucky loser to face him again, did the job the second time to advance - 75 60 over Rishi in the R1 .. He gets the toip seed Rogier Wassen (NED,279) next though .. Jacco Mathew's R1 match had justs tarted when rain postponed things on Monday .. All three Indians have foreign partners and have made the doubles main draw - draw ifo awaited on that.

This is the Davis Cup week .. It starts at the South Club grasscourts on Friday ..  The Kiwis are in town from Sunday, with their #1 Mark Nielsen joining last night .. Harsh and Rohan have been practising from Sunday .. Leander who was playing in Florida on saturday was expected by today in Kolkata .. Mahesh joins on wednesday .. Vishal Uppal had been called in as a last minute 5th player, according to today's newspaper reports (wonder what happened to Sunil? -- perhaps this is for the sake of a good doubles team for practice, as Harsh and Vishal have done well for two weeks together?) ..

Here are sme preview articles on the Davis Cup - article-1 and article-2 in the Times of India .. Here is a preview in the Hindustan Times with some comments from Alistair Hunt, the Kiwis' Davis Cup veteran who is calling it quits soon after this .. Here is an article in the Deccan Herald with some coments from Rohan Bopanna, also about his immediate plans after the tie .. Here is a preview in the Telegraph with some interesting comments from Harsh Mankad .. We should be seeing the items with LP's and MB's thoughts soon, as they join the team now.

On another matter, about how doubles is going on the ATP tour, Mahesh Sharma of the fanclub sent me the link to this article that appeared this week at the BBC news site .. An interesting article written after Tim Henman's loss in doubles with Mahesh .. The article talks about how well MB played at Miami, and how there was no such doubles skills in display in a match with some top singles players that was better attended by the crowd there.  That is a pity, but that's how it is going .. I am relatively hopeful that the new entry schemes, etc will get a few more of the top singles players to take a passive interest in doubles, as it gives them the chance for some easy extra (pocket) money, etc.  It may even bring in a few more fans to the doubles matches, like it is doing .. That is good, but the death of doubles skills will be a sad development .. It is happening already, with the doubles game beginning to lose the artistry due to the kind of game that the singles players play (even if some of them win some matches with that) .. LP and MB may turn out to be some of the last great doubles payers we will ever see, even if the doubles game survives (which I believe it will) .. I am generally fine with what ATP did recently in a desperate bid to keep doubles alive by cutting the prize money to pacifty the tournament directors, and changing the entry procedures to give easy entry to singles guys .. But I cannot blame anybody else but ATP themselves for what has happened - it was they who shortchanged the doubles game with their step-motherly treatment and utter lack of marketing for doubles over the last two decades .. That was sad .. Just my thoughts.

Mar 31 Notes

Paes-Rikl moved one point ahead of Bryans to the #2 spot in the team rankings for this year in today's ATP rank lists [I thought they would move to #3 as I said earlier, but I forgot that they would both jump over Llodra-Santoro] .. LP moved up to #13 and Rikl to #10 in the individual ranks .. MB is at #5, as Mirnyi who will again be MB's partner moved two spots up to #4 with his title at Miami ..

The $10K satellite has started in Mumbai and it was a good today today as Rushmi, Sai, Sonal and Megha won their R1 matches .. Megha beat Ankita in a good match .. Will post the draw, as soon as I get hold of it.

Good news from the $15K Doha (Qatar) futures - Rishi Behl qualified in beating Vishal Punna in the Q2, and Jaco Mathew also qualified in .. Vishal then made the main draw as a luckyt loser, ending up with Rishi again in the firt round .. Mustafa Ghouse is the 6th seed there, with a field rather weak for a $15K thanks to the war concerns .. Here are the qualifying scores - [Q1] Rishi Behl d. Abdul Rehman Abdul Moumon (ALG) 60 61 .. [Q2] Rishi Behl d. #1 Vishal Punna, 75 61 .. [Q1] #2 Jaco Mathew - Bye .. [Q2]  d. Hicham Karmoussi (MAR), 16 76(0) 61 .. In the main draw, #6 Mustafa Ghouse vs (Q) Musaad Al Jazzaf (KUW) .. (Q) Jaco Mathew vs (Q) Yew Ming Si (MAS) .. Behl vs Punna ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Mar 31 ..

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 player, let me know .. I would like to have a mailing list where I can post general announcements and inquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.