LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Apr 10, 2000
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Apr 9 Note-2
Some details on LP's match today - from the online tape-delayed commentary clips at Wahindia.com:
LP broke Lee two times in the first set to win it easily at 6, though it was Lee's mistakes and poor tennis that made it easy for Leander .. Lee raised his game by several notches in the second set .. LP was broken in game 2 of the second set and Lee played strong tennis for the rest of the set to win it 63 .. LP was broken again in the first game of the 3rd set .. Leander at this point was looking a really spent and drained, not getting to the ball fast enough and making way too many mistakes .. Then down at 1-3, Leander and Ramesh Krishnan had a nice chat ("animated" as the commentators called it - basically Ramesh egging LP on) .. Then he held serve in the next game with a second serve ace at love .. He came running out for the next game, all pumped up - prompting Sanjay Minotra of the announcing team to immediately correctly predict that LP was going to get that break back, just based on his sudden change in body language - and sure enough the crowd got into it with H-T.Lee serving two double faults, perhaps a bit intimidated also by LP moving way up to receive his second serves .. A brilliant crosscourt from LP got him the break to tie it up at 3-3 .. Leander was down a break point in the next game .. First serve was a fault - and Leander shouts to the crowd, "come on! -- pump me up here -- get me to move!" .. Ah the beauty of LP and Davis Cup in front of the Indian crowd! .. Of course, he held serve that game, and the complexion of the match had changed .. The Koreans went subdued - exactly what India does on our homecourt .. Even a Mexican wave started going around the crowd in the packed stadium .. How about that? .. LP was fully pumped up, springy, adrenaline flowing .. Leander was diving left and right ("Jonty Rhodes on court" - damn you, commentators! :-)) .. Well, that was the match .. From there on, it was basically a canter to the finish line .. H-T.Lee did continue to fight, warding off a set point to LP and coming up with an ace to send it to a tiebreaker in the 12th game of the 3rd set .. LP was down 0-2 but got 7 of the next 8 points to go up on top 2 sets to 1.. A break in the 5th game of the 4th set was all LP needed to finish off the match, though H-T.Lee hung in there till the end.
Thought I would write that much about the key moments .. Give a big hand to the Delhi crowd that never fails to pick up LP when he is down (or MB for that matter - remember the 5th match against Chile?) .. I am sure you will see all the newspaper reports for more details on the match tomorrow .. The Wahindia team mentioned that Leander appeared to have some sort of physical discomfort by late 3rd quarter though, and that he was pumping himself up to keep going somehow .. Hopefully nothing serious.
Apr 9 Note-1
India d. Korea 4-1 !!
Today's scores - Leander Paes d. Hyung-Taik Lee 61 36 76(3) 64 and Fazaluddin Syed d. Seung-Hun Lee 60 67(2) 62 ..
I could not follow the Leander match till late in the 3rd set when he was in trouble down a break - he had just got his bearings back, and had broken back to take it to a tiebreaker which he played very well to snub out the Korean challenge .. In the 4th set Leander went up a break in the 5th game and cruised to the final score .. I will need to listen to the tape-delayed commentary clips at wahindia.com to see what went wrong in the second set .. Then Fazaluddin won the dead-rubber match to complete the demolition of Korea ..
So, India advances to a world group playoff which should be against a team from among the following - ZIM, GBR, ITA, BEL, AUT, FRA, NED, SUI .. Only the last two have homecourt advantage against India .. I think ZIM has 50% chance for a hometie against us on a coin toss, as we have never played them .. MB should be back for that tie later in the year, and things are really looking up for India again - win the next tie later this year and we will be in the world final-16 in 2001 .. None of those teams are easy though.
Apr 8 Note-3
Here are the newspaper articles on Vishal's terrific show with Leander today -- Nirmal Shekhar's article in The Hindu .. Kamesh Srinivasan's article in The Hindu .. S. Kannan's comments in the Hindustan Times .. Prajwal Hegde writes in Deccan Herald .. Another article in Deccan Herald .. Kadambari Murali's article in the Indian Express .. Here is the Times of Indiaarticle by John Cheeran ..
It appears that Vishal even carried an initially off-color Leander in that first set where VU lost only two points on his service .. He did get a bit tired by the 4th set, but Leander was by then dominating and taking matters into his hands .. All reports talk about the "attitude" shown by Vishal - notonly being rather loose and not at all nervous, but also showing some spunk by way way of pulling out aces at key points (9 of them - actually he finished the match in the 4th set tiebreaker with an ace) .. Even staring down the Koreans after they got on his case to cause a couple of double faults with comments when he went to his second serves .. Winning is often an attitude, and Vishal had it today .. Ramesh said LP himself had suggested considering Vishal if needed, about a month back .. They had actually worked a bit on it in practice - which showed in the way VU and LP communicated and jelled together out there .. They took the bold decision yesterday evening as they wanted to keep Fazal fresh for reverse singles .. I am sure they would have stuck with Fazal had he shown great form on Friday - under the circumstances, it was a great decision to keep him fresh to go against a tired Yoon today if, God forbid, anything goes awry in LP's match against Lee (I believe that is the first reverse singles match) .. RK and LP did their homework and Vishal was ready .. The Koreans were of course surprised - their captain has been on a psychological warfare talking about how "nervous" Fazal was, etc, etc .. He wanted to go after Fazal in the doubles as he had been saying for a week, but India pulled the rug from under him .. Naresh Kumar said that the Koreans also made a big tactical mistake of waiting at the baseline against two guys who were at the net all the time - a strategy that does not work on grasscourts .. Anyway, if India wins this tie tomorrow, today's doubles match would go down as a significant positive chapter in India's Davis Cup annals.
The first reverse singles has LP against Hyung-Taik Lee, starting at 10 am Sunday (5.30 am London .. 12.30 am New York .. 9.30 am Thursday Los Angeles) .. Come to the chatroom, and we should be having ball-by-ball (or at least game-by-game) score updates.
Apr 8 Note-2
Ramesh did pull a rabbit out of his hat today .. He changed plans and sent out a young man to play his first Davis Cup match along with the world's #3 doubles player who was desperately looking for someone to hold up the other side of the court .. The young man responded to the coach's trust and did everything he needed to do to give India that ever-so-crucial doubles point .. Heroes are born in Davis Cup play, and India did have one today - Vishal Uppal !
The match started with LP serving - he went through a couple of break attempts but held .. Vishal's service games went with no problems, and there were no breaks in the set .. In the 12th game, India took Yoon to a couple of deuces with Vishal coming up with some nice crosscourt placements, but they held .. In the tiebreaker, India went up a minibreak but got broken back for 3-3 .. It went with serve after that till 5-6 when India got broken on the first set point .. 6-7(5) set .. In the second set, India quickly effected a break in the first game off Yoon's serve with some great play at the net by LP .. Then it went with serve with Vishal serving it off at 6-4 .. In the 3rd set, we again got the break in the first game .. Then Vishal was under pressure a bit at 15-30 in game 4 .. At deuce, he double-faulted, showing some pressure for the first time .. Sometimes it's tougher to stay up when one has the advantage and the other guys start fighting in desperation .. Vishal did not let it bother him and coolly won the next two points to take the 3-1 lead .. India went up 4-1 as Lee was broken once again .. However, Leander was down 15-40 in the next game and was broken after a deuce and a double fault .. After that both Vishal and LP held serve and India took the set at 6-4 .. In the 4th set, there were no breaks all the way .. In the tiebreaker, India went up a minibreak at 3-2 .. LP made it 5-2 .. After Korea got two points, it was time for the new guy from Delhi to win two points and put it to rest - with LP doing nice kills at the net, that was eactly what Vishal Uppal did .. India won, 67(5) 64 64 76(4) .. Vishal was jumping all over with his homecrowd cheering .. The match took almost exactly three hours.
After the first set, LP deferred to Vishal to start serving in every set .. That shows the confidence he and Ramesh felt in how well VU did in the first set .. Vishal served 12 games in all, and ended up, if I am not mistaken, as the only one never to be broken today .. Based on the commentary by our press friend in the our chatroom, Vishal certainly did not offer a target for the Koreans to go after and did his job perfectly .. LP and VU even did a chest-butt during the match! .. Credit should go to everybody in this - RK for his successful surprise-decision, certainly .. We should also thank Bhupathi Sr for whatever he did with Vishal at Bangalore, where he had specifically said that he was preparing him to be ready to play with LP if needed .. Proper planning is crucial in doubles and everyone, AITA, selection committee, RK, CGK - all deserve credit for today's win .. And of course, Leander - but that goes without saying .. We just take him for granted!
But then again, the job isn't done yet .. We need one more point, though it looks quite probable now though .. A well-rested Fazal, if he is fielded tomorrow, will get a tired opponent .. And we all know what Leander can do if India needs him once more ..
By the way, wahindia.com has been uploading audio commentary clips after each set today .. I have not listened to them yet - you can take a look .. They apologized in an email, to all fans here and elsewhere for the initial technical difficulties yesterday .. They have been updating scores after each game rather promptly today.
Apr 8 Note-1
The crucial doubles match starts at 12 noon today, in a few minutes actually, as I type this (7.30 am London .. 2.30 am New York) .. It would be interesting to see if Ramesh Krishnan pulls any rabbits out of his hat and decided to rest Fazal and keep him fresh for tomorrow - there were some newspaper articles advocating that RK himself should come out and play with Leander! .. I doubt we would see that, though it may not be such a bad idea! ..
Win this doubles match, and this tie may be ours .. Lose this, and it could be extremely tough to win the tie .. With all kinds of good odds for home ties for an October world group qualifier playoff and with MB expected to be fully back by then, today's match becomes one of the most crucial ones India has played in a while.
Anyway, we are all at our chatroom - come on in for score updates or comentary.
Apr 7 Note-3
They have placed some audio clips at the wahindia.com site, if you want to check out some details on today's matches .. They did not plan to provide live commentary, I guess - that was not very clear from what they had announced at their site .. During the second match, they did start giving some score updates on their update page, though it was mostly about 10-15 minutes late .. Check out the press conference clips and the interview with Naresh Kumar .. Naresh sounded a bit disappointed about Fazal's match .. He also sounded a bit concerned about the doubles tie tomorrow - he said Ramesh may need to look into whether Fazal can hold up for all three days and perhaps try another combination for doubles, but he said it was not an easy decision either for RK .. As for the press conference, Fazal sounded a bit disappointed in not being able to pull any surprises .. LP mentioned his satisfaction at how well he paced himself during the match - the commentators for wahindia's tape-delayed clips sounded surprised that LP was staying back a whole lot more than they liked, rather than attack .. Listening to LP, it seems that it was exactly the plan, and that he was conifdent enough that he could raise his game when needed into the attack-mode at the net .. He thus conserved enough energy for two more days .. LP also mentioned how RK helped him with some technical tips about his service midway through the first set which helped him a lot.
Doubles is at 12 noon Saturday (8.30 am London .. 2.30 am New York .. 11.30 pm Friday Los Angeles) .. We should be having live score updates and discussion at our chatroom ..
AITA has also officially announced their website, http://www.aitatennis.com, which has actually existed for a few months now .. They do have a page for live scores, but it was inaccessible throughout the first match and kept freezing my computer during the second match .. Check it out - hopefully they will have their bugs sorted out too by the time the next match gets underway.
Apr 7 Note-2
Pretty much according to expectations so far, as Korea has tied it up at 1-1 ..
Fazal played a decent match for two sets and had some moments late in the second set, but could not take it further .. He started holding serve at love but found himself down two breaks at 2-5 soon .. He got one break back and held again to make it 4-5 but Lee served the set off .. Then in the second set, Fazal was broken in game 3 .. Fazal had a break chance in the next game, but could not convert it and fell to 2-4 .. He held on in the next games and got a very timely break back, when Lee was serving for the set in the 10th game .. Fazal evened it up at 5-5 on the first break point he had there .. He was suddenly all pumped up, but that was only a momentary respite, as Lee played some superb passing shots in the next game to break Fazal once again to go a break up .. He served off the second set at 7-5 .. In the 3rd set, it was all Lee after 1-1, as he got breaks in games 3 and 5 and led 5-1 .. The match got over soon, after an hour and 50 minutes .. Hyung-Taik Lee d. Fazaluddin Syed, 64 75 62 ..
Apr 7 Note-1
LP has given India the lead after one match -- Leander Paes d. Yong-Il Yoon, 64 62 63 .. There were no updates during the match (nor was there any live audio that they promised) at the wahindia.com site .. AITA had promised live scores at their newly inaugurated aitatennis.com site too, but their site's homepage was inaccessible as well .. Luckily, we had a press friend from India updating us in our chatroom .. This was a pretty uneventful match till some last-gasp fight from Yoon in the 7th game of the final set when he had LP down at a break point, but LP held on and broke him immediately for a 5-3 lead .. The match got done soon, after an hour and 50 minutes ..
Fazal goes out against Hyung-Taik Lee in a few minutes .. Hopefully we will continue to get scores at our chatroom .. I should have known not to trust any promises form website people ....
Apr 6 Notes
It's only a few hours now to go before the action starts at DLTA courts in Delhi, and there is good news!
WAHINDIA.COM has informed me that they will be covering the Davis Cup live on realaudio and with a java scoreboard! .. How about that ? .. Looks like for once we won't have to call up for updates from India .. Go to http://www.wahindia.com and select their Davis Cup special page .. We will be having our usual fun with expert comments from me (kidding..) during the matches in our chatroom, and then we can listen to Naresh Kumar's expert comments at the wahindia site too .. Come on in the chatroom .. By the way, if you are not aware of wahindia.com, check them out .. Pretty good site, and they have done their homework, putting together some nice stats, etc, too .. Wahindia.com has instantly become my favorite site in India, as they are the first to give live internet live audio of a tennis event from India (of course, we have had live commentary by fan club members in the past at our site, but this makes our lives much easier!).
The draw was done today, and it will be Paes vs Yong-Il Yoon followed by Fazaluddin vs Hyung-Taik Lee on Friday .. The first match starts at 9.30 am (5 am London .. 12 midnight EST, 9 pm Thursday PST, USA ) .. The second match will follow after a short break.
Ramesh announced on wednesday that Fazal will be playing the doubles with Leander, and so it apperas for now that they both will be playing three matches each .. The Koreans sound pretty confident that they can beat Fazal two times and win the doubles too .. They (and a whole lot of people) are just writing off Fazal, which may be premature .. I know he has some pressure on him now to do well, but he is not exactly sliced cheese either .. He had one five set loss in doubles with Leander, but people forget that he has won some matches at Asia Cup, Asiad, etc partnering LP and MB in doubles .. He has won his first chellenger doubles title just two months back too .. One match where things went wrong on uneven grass at Lucknow is not enough reason to write him off .. As for his loss in the dead rubber 5th match, come on .. That doesn't say anything .. He is 3 and 1 in his Davis Cup singles matches .. People should get off his case and let him just play .. He will be going against two players ranked higher than him, and he has not had a win against higher ranked players in a long while, and so I cannot expect him to win the singles matches, but he certainly can pull an upset on grass.
Arthi Venkatraman was apparently at the qualifiers earlier this week at the Dubai challenger and won a round before bowing out - I will find details soon.
Apr 4 Notes
My nice vacation continues -- nothing to report, except the usual pronouncements by both teams, as happens before any Davis Cup tie .. "We are all pumped up" .. "looking forward to it" .. "we are not taking the other team lightly" .. "player x and y are in great form" .. "we have had very good practice" .. "We will go after the number 2" .. "we are confident of winning 3 out of 5" .. "we certainly have a 40 to 60% chance of winning the tie", etc, etc .. It would be nice to see one of these days a team saying, "we are dead-meat -- we ain't jack .. Our practices were miserable and our player x looks like crap .. We hate the weather, the food, the surface and the whole damn enchilada called Davis Cup .. We ain't gonna win nothin nowhere" .. Just for fun, I wish somebody would say some things like that before a Davis Cup :-) .. Come on Koreans, be original! .. Not that they are bad - actually India will need to do their best to squeeze out a win over the Koreans.
Will be back with preview stuff soon .. The fun starts on Friday - we hope to have online chat etc during the matches -- those in India, please make your plans to show up in the chatroom and help us all out with some commentary!
I have added a page for the $10K ITF women's satellite at Mumbai next week. See the mumbai satellite page .. I had heard that Nirupama and Manisha were both planning to play there, though they are not in the current entry list (which I have posted at the page) .. The entries closed a month back, and I believe both were unsure earlier when they would start playing after returning from injury layoffs .. Manisha started playing last week, and Niru was also was planning to start soon .. Both may need wildcards at Mumbai .. It would be unusual to see Niru, if she plays, in a satellite for the first time in about 4 years or so .. If she does it, it would be for some match practice, not for points .. The Fed Cup comes up soon and she would need to be ready .. We will see.
.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Apr 3 ..
I am getting some enquiries 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 enquiring 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 enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.