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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Apr 12, 1999

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Apr 12 Note-2

Leander plays the Australian, Joseph Sirianni (#343 last week) in the first round at the $25K+H Indian Oil Servo ATP challenger at Delhi tomorrow .. LP has never played Joseph, a 24 year old who did very well late last year, winning the very competitive Australia #3 satellites getting a wildcard to this year's Australian Open .. He doesn't seem to have played anywhere after the AO, though .. Not necessarily a cakewalk for LP, who I am told was flying in this evening from Chennai, and will have to go out and play tomorrow morning .. As for Mahesh, it's amazing how he always ends up with a seeded player, though Tuomas Ketola of Finland (#186 last week) is a player he has beaten before (at the Calcutta challenger 2 months back, 6-2, 7-6) .. Ketola is seeded 7th, but had not entered the tournament and had to play the qualifiers to get in .. There were three doubles losses for Indians to add to the three singles losses, today - the results are all at the Delhi challenger page .. One of these days I wish our players other than LP and MB would win a few matches somewhere and help me get my foot out of my mouth for talking so much about them all, and asking why they aren't given wildcards, etc :-) .. Oh well, that's how it has been lately .. Anyway, Andreas Vinciguerra (#490 last week, but moving up and up), the small-built Swedish hope repeated almost exactly what he did at Chennai last week - ended up facing Andre Sa (#169, BRA) and beat him by almost an identical score as at Chennai - 67 61 63 .. What are the odds on an 18 year old doing that twice ? .. Well, he must be for real .. 8th seed Lorenzo Manta was upset by 21-yr old South African, Jeff Coetzee - If I remember coreectly, he won the African satellites late last year too .. Actually, there are quite a few talented players at this tournament - Voltchkov and Whitehouse are both Wimbledon junior champions too (along with LP of course) .. Should be a good tournament, except for the fact that it is murder to schedule a tournament outdoors during daytimes at a place like Delhi now, in the middle of a heat-wave .. There have already been some serious complaints of dehydration and all that. Whoever wins this, would have earned it for the hardwork .. And hats off to those who are playing doubles too (thank God LP and MB have to play only singles!) ..

The new ATP rankings are not out yet, since the final at Hong Kong was rain-delayed to Monday .. LP-MB should be back at #2 in doubles team rankings.

Apr 12 Note-1

If you didn't see the results I had posted earlier at the Delhi challenger page .. well, you didn't miss anything great .. All three Indians who played today, Fazal, Srinath and Nitin lost in straight sets .. Bleak scenario .. LP, MB and Mustafa play tomorrow .. The draws are also at the web page .. More later.

Apr 11 Note-2

"Split" ?? .. What split ? .. They boys just went out and won ther thirteenth title just now !! .. Wait, wasn't everyone talking about how they were about to be "finished" ?? ..  Not just yet, thank you very much ! .. LP-MB d. W. Black - N. Godwin, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 .. As has been usual for our boys at the Chennai matches, they again had let ups but fought back magnificently to show why they are the champions (the let-ups have happened often at Chennai - last year and now - I believe the crowd and all that may be making them lose a bit of concentration before focusing down to the job at hand) .. This was an even match throoughout except for LP-MB coming up big at crucial points .. In the first set, their best chance came in the 6th game when they took WB-NG to deuces and two match points, but let them off the hook .. Immediately after that, LP dropped serve in the 7th game and our boys were in the familiar position again .. The set got over with WB-NG serving strongly and our dudes not being able to do much .. Then in the second set, it went with serve all through, with neither side even coming close to a brak point - that is, till the final game, when LP-MB must have kicked it into a high gear .. Went up 0-30, and converted their first break chance to tie it up at a set apiece .. Then it was again going with serve in the 3rd set, except for the 5th game when MB was in big trouble serving about 5 or six deuces and fighting off at least one break chance to hold serve .. Once again, when LP-MB smelled victory, at the right time, they jumped on the opponents, going up 30-0 and then 40-15 off their serve in game 12 .. They converted the second match point there to finish it off in style .. How about that ?

Oh, by the way, the chest-butts have returned! .. LP and MB mentioned this in their column in Times of India today .. They said their chest-butts started during the comeback in the second set against Keil and Sa (in the 9th game - Mahesh even remembered that) .. So it took all of one-week for that to return after the so-called "imminent split" .. :-)

Byron Black won the singles title earlier, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 over Rainer Schuttler ..

At the $25K+H Indian Oil Servo Delhi challenger, LP faces Joseph Siriyanni of Australia and MB faces Tuomas Ketola of Finland in the first round (they will both play only on Tuesday) .. I have added the qualifiers and also the matchups for Indians in the main draw, at the Delhi challenger page .. I was pretty sad to see the Indian players giving the qualies a miss .. Only 19 people in the qualies, and only 5 were Indians .. Aren't they the ones clamoring for "international events" ?  .. Now they are all afraid to even try out the qualies ? .. What's the deal here ? .. The newspaper story today says those like VIjay Kannan and Manoj Mahadevan must have stayed away because of the college exams now .. I hope so! .. Anyway, Sandeep Kirtane made it to the final round quals and lost .. Marcus Hilpert, Andreas Vinciguerra, etc, have qualified to the main draw .. More later on that and other things.

Apr 11 Note-1

LP-MB play the final at Chennai against the second seeds Wayne Black (ZIM, 16) and Neville Godwin (RSA, 94) at about 7.15 pm India (6.45 am PST, USA), right after the singles final between Byron Black and Rainer Schuttler (as of 6.50 pm, Byron is serving for the match at 6-4, 1-6, 5-3) .. In the doubles final, our dudes face Wayne Black, who, in the company of Sandon Stolle has been on a big tear this year, winning three titles including the Indian Wells and Lipton Super 9s and leading the point list this year as the #1 team with 1267 pts .. LP-MB have 165 pts to defend here, and have picked up 122 so far, including 7 bonus pts, which has brought them up to the #2 spot in the world with 1040 pts .. Winning the final would give our dudes 173 pts, including 7 more bonus pts .. If so, it would be the 13th tite for our pair, but it will certainly not be easy - They better avoid the bad patches they have had in the past three matches, or Black-Godwin won't let them squeeze out of trouble like in those matches! .. Come to the chatroom fot ball-by-ball discussion of the final.

I have been away for most of yesterday, and have not updated the Delhi challenger quals news etc .. Will do so soon today.

Apr 10 Note-2

LP-MB lived dangerously, very dangerously, today once again .. LP-MB d. J.Knippschild-M.Tillstrom, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 .. The first set started disastrously with a quick break, and LP-MB were being troubled throughout the set .. They didn't seem to get any points off the opponents' serve, and a couple of times they had to fight out from more break attempts .. Then in the second set, the troubles continued with our pair dropping serve in the first game rightaway .. They were down 1-3 and staring at more trouble in the 5th game where MB was facing break attempts yet again .. Once again, the champs showed that they are true fighters and kicked their game into high gear .. MB held there .. What's more, they broke the opponents to tie it up at 3-3 in the next game .. The story changed completely there, and as they say " we had a ballgame" going ..  From then on, our pair were holding serve easily most of the time and going after JK-MT for breaks .. In the 12th game, they jumped ahead 0-30 and got the next break to even it up at two sets .. Then in the final set, a break in the 4th game put our pair up at 3-1 and they coasted to the win, but for a last gap attempt from JK-MT where they held serve after being 0-30 down in the 8th game and went up ahead to 30-0 in the final game .. Our pair must have said "enough is enough" .. They won 5 of the next 6 pts to win it .. The comeback showed LP-MB winning 12-5 in the last 17 games .. The Chennai crowd got to see another one of the gritty shows for their money's worth, I would think .. tomorrow's final will be against the 2nd seeds Wayne Black and Neville Godwin, who beat Stark-Goldstein easily, 6-1, 6-2 .. The #2 seeds have been taking out people in easy straight sets so far, and would be very tough foes for LP-MB tomorrow ..

Apr 10 Note-1

The LP-MB doubles match starts early (right now, at 8 pm Saturday there .. 7.30 am PST, USA) , as the two singles semifinals got done fast .. Byron Black d. John Van Lottum, 6-1, 6-1 (ooh, Byron is hotter than Chennai!) and Schuttler d. Wessels, 6-2, 6-4 .. Come to the chatroom to follow the LP-MB semi against 3rd seed Jens Knippschild and Mikael Tillstrom .. those are two tough guys, and LP-MB would need to play much better than yesterday to advance.

the Delhi challenger wildcards have been announced - Fazal, Srinath, Mustafa Ghouse and Nitin Kirtane .. Somewhat of a surprise that Vijay Kannan and Vinod Sridhar are not given wildcards, but this will make sure that thoise 4 guys coming from Madras can play, even if they have missed the qualifiers .. Not bad .. The qualifiers must have started .. See the Delhi challenger page for early entry list, etc .. This means Mahesh has made the direct entry, though he was the first one waiting, in the early list.

Apr 9 Note-4

LP-MB play the 3rd seeds, Knippschild/Tillstrom, in the semis tomorrow at 9 pm .. In the other doubles matches today, the Kirtanes lost to the second seeds W.Black/N.Godwin, 4-6, 2-6 .. The results and tomorrow's schedule are all at the Chennai Open page .. By the way, I wonder if the Kirtanes would manage to get to the Delhi challenger on time for the qualifiers in singles (in doubles, they should get a wildcard) .. If the qualifier sign-in closed Friday evening, then it would be a pity, and somebody at Chennai should have thought of allowing them to play their QF match on Thursday, rather than wait for 3 days after their first round win ..

If you are wondering why there have not been too many articles on the LP-MB match details in the Indian newspapers, it is because the matches have all been too late at night for any reports to make the press deadlines, I assume .. I haven't seen anything yet on the online editions which have come up for Apr 10th, on what happened that made the match so close earlier today .. The ones which come up a bit late, like Indian Express may have some news .. There have been a lot of positive articles in the last couple of days about how the pair are looking alright - they made an apperance together yesterday at an auction for charity organized by Vijay Amritraj, etc .. One report said that their bond may have even become stronger, since they both understand now how much they need each other too.

Here is some interesting rumor that has been going around Chennai, according to the Hindu - AITA is interested in getting Ramesh Krishnan as the Davis Cup coach .. Not too bad a choice, certainly.

Apr 9 Note-3

Yeek! .. This was supposed to be an easy match and started looking like that, but quickly became a dogfight, and our dudes came back from the depths of despair facing 4 match pts to win it in three sets .. LP-MB d. M.Keil/ A.Sa, 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(9-7) .. the first set took just 20 minutes as our pair jumped out ahead early with breaks in the 4th and 6th games .. Then trouble strated - I am not sure what went wrong, if it was any recurrence of any injury problems, but anyway, MB was broken early in the second set to fall 0-2 down .. He was again in trouble at 0-30 down in the 6th game, but we held .. In a spurt they won a bunch of points to have 2 break chances in the next game, but MK-AS held .. then LP dropped serve in the 8th game and the set was over at 2-6 .. Then it was touch and go throughout the 3rd set, with them trading breaks in the 3rd and 4th games .. In the tiebreaker, LP-MB were up 2-1, then lost 5 of the next 6 to go 3-6 and facing match points off the opponenet's serve .. They won 4 in a row to go up 7-6 .. Then 7-7, 8-7, 9-7 .. So they won 6 of the last 7 points to come out the winners in this .. The Chennai crowd must have got their money's worth .. What the heck went wrong in the second set ? .. we will find out .. More later, if I can find the scores of the other doubles matches.

Apr 9 Note-2

The LP-MB match is starting a bit earlier, by 8.40 pm (8.10 am PST, USA) because Moya just lost 1-6, 0-3 (retired.) in about half an hour .. Schuttler in the semis .. Also, Wessels beat Santopadre, 6-2, 6-4 .. So, other than the three-set match that Tillstrom lost earlier, the QFs have been damp squibs today!

Apr 9 Note-1

Leander-Mahesh are to play Keil/Sa at about 9.00 pm (8.30 am PST, u.s.a) today on the center court - may be a half hour later, as the previous match, Moya-Schuttler, has just started at 7.30 am there .. There will be some folks in the chatroom following the ball-by-ball match progress .. So far, 4th seed Byron Black and 8th seed John Van Lottum have advanced to the semis today .. Tillstrom's great run ended today in three sets against John .. As for Byron Black, his three wins over Carraz, Paes and Fromberg have been by scores of 61 62, 63 62, and 64 62 .. He must be red-hot!

I got info today that Niru is actually not playing in the French challenger next week .. As I had guessed a couple of days earlier here, she decided it wasn't a good idea to change surface from clay to hard for just one week .. She will instead play the domestic circuit club tournaments in France for a week of practice, as some top players are playing there, and she has got permission from the French Tennis Federation to enter .. So, even though the French challenger entry list shows her name, she has withdrawn a few days earlier from it ..

Apr 8 Note-3

See today's results and also approximate start times for tomorrow's matches at our Chennai Open page .. I'm sure it's easier for you to go to a simple ascii page than to wade through all the jazzy color-and-graphics-filled stuff that is the norm for the official tournament webpages - that's why I update stuff on our page..

Based on newspaper reports, Leander had "just one of those days" in his loss today to 4th seed Byron Black .. Byron wasn't playing such great tennis or anything, but he didn't give too many freebies to LP .. LP didn't have his service working, and made a few unforced errors too .. Wayne Black pushed Moya to the limit, and was about to break him to go up 5-4 in the 3rd set .. Moya fought back from the brink, from 0-40 to hold serve, and then promptly broke Black in the next game to take care of business .. Also reaching the QFs are Schuttler, Wessels, Santopadre, Fromberg, Van Lottum and Tillstrom .. Among the four guys who I expected to do well - Goldstein, Ilie, Paes and Tillstrom, only Tillstrom remains! - I guess that's about how much I know! .. As for Tillstrom, he has had only one title and one final in his entire career, and they were in 97 and 98 at Chennai .. Now he has upset the 10th ranked Kucera to reach QF once again! .. He has an 11-1 record at Chennai !! .. The kid, Andreas Vinciguerra, lost to Schuttler - not surprising for such you kids to look very good in one match and then get taken to scholl the next one - He certainly is talented to win a round in just his second big tournament over a top-150 player .. He goes to Delhi for the challenger next week.

Leander and Mahesh have been writing some articles together for the Times of India for the last couple of days - here is today's article about their doubles win in round 1 .. The articles have been interesting, in that they don't say where exactly Leander's piece ends and where Mahesh's piece starts - but one can make out, though .. Anyway, they both have some good words on each other's game in that article .. Mahesh claims that they are a slow-starting team and that they look at the other team's game first before going for the kill .. I don't know about that - my feeling is that they often jump all over most teams, especailly with breaks in the first few games .. It's later on in the match that they sometimes relax .. Mahesh confirms that the turning point yesterday was the 5th game, as we felt in the chatroom too, where he held serve after nine (!) deuces ..

In other news, Nirupama will be at the $25K Cagnes-sur-mer challenger in France next week (thanks, Eric Leetouwer, for alerting me to the info) .. She is among the upper 2/3rds of the direct entries there .. She has nothing to defend for now, but has a few points coming up from Makarska, Bol, etc, pretty soon .. It would be a good time for her to win a few rounds ..

Also, at the Grade-2 Manila ITF juniors tournament, Akshay Vishal Rao has reached the final 8 .. He was the 13th highest ranked player there .. I think it is a 64-draw tournament and he has won three rounds so far, including an upset of a seeded player too - the Philippines newspapers have only had patchy info as far as scores are concerned, but he is in the quarterfinals .. AV Rao is 16 years old and is currently ranked 157 in the world among juniors .. I think he will move up inside 125 with these wins, as it is a tournament that gives pretty good points .. Since the good show at the World Youth Cup last year, he hadn't had any huge successes during the junior internationals this year other than a couple of QFs in grade-4 and 5 events and a doubles final - so the Manila news is good .. I haven't seen any reports on other Indians there at Manila.

Apr 8 Note-2

Leander just lost 3-6, 2-6 to the 4th seed Byron Black (#29, ZIM) .. Got broken early in the first set (I believe in the 5th game) .. Then in the second set, he dropped serve in the first game to fall behind again .. Had to go through a few deuces in the 3rd game too, before holding to go 1-2 .. His best chance was in the 4th game where he took Black to a couple of deuces, but could n't force the break to even it up .. From then on, it was over in a hurry, as BB broke him again in game 5 to go up 4-1 and then served a love game to go 5-1 .. It was over at 2-6 .. LP gets only 18 of his 74 points back, which will drop him to about 109 through 112 or so with 448 pts, at just about eactly where he was after Chennai last year (he was #111 with 433 pts) .. And he could miss the French Open cut .. I also think he will fall a point below Takao Suzuki (449 pts) who will become the new Asian #1 .. Yikes .. But, we will see ..

Apr 8 Note-1

2nd seed Kucera just got upset in R2 by the one who always does well in Chennai - who else, but Mikael Tillstrom ? .. He must really like Tair-sadam or something he eats in Madras .. :-) .. 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 .. Leander is about to play Byroin Black on the center court .. Come on into our chatroom ..

Apr 7 Note-2

Hope you saw the score I posted for the LP-MB doubles win today at our Chennai Open page (the tournament website goes to sleep after about 10 pm there, and the late matches' scores are tough to find!) .. The match got done well past the press deadlines, at 11.10 pm, and I haven't seen any reports on the match .. Here is what we saw from the scoreboard .. LP-MB had a bad start with Mahesh (I assume he started serve as usual) dropping serve in the first game .. Then at 1-3, they were again in trouble with Mahesh serving with 2 break points .. It went to deuce and after a struggle, they held .. And that was the turning point .. I hardly noticed a point being taken off Mahesh's serve after that (for that matter, LP's games also seemed to be close to love-games) .. They won 6 of the next 7 games, and cruised to a 6-4, 6-3 win .. Their breaks came in games 6 and 10 of the first set, and game 6 of the second set .. Had a couple of break chances in the 8th game of the second set also, and LP-MB generally seemed to just dominate after the first few games .. An important win, I must say, considering all the distractions lately .. They next face Mark Keil and Andre Sa ..

In other matches, Srinath and Mustafa got out of there in a hurry, basically, against the second seeds, W.Black and Neville Godwin - 2-6, 1-6 .. Ouch! .. The Kirtanes will now get to face the second seeds in the QFs .. Two seeds lost today - 3rd seeds Johansson who had just flown in on Tuesday night, got exhausted in the heat and conceded the match against Sargsian after losing the first set and trailing in the second .. Pity - Why do players make this mistake of getting to a tournament that late ? - especially a place like Chennai where you need 2-3 days to get used to the humidity .. 6th seed Schalken also bit the dust, against Burgsmuller ..

LP will be playing the 4th seed Byron Black (ZIM, #29) tomorrow (Thursday) in the second round - LP has beaten him in the past, and has also lost to him .. Should be a tough but good match, as LP said .. Check the schedule at the official chennai site for the timing of the match, and let us meet in our chatroom during LP's match .. Since this will be on the center court, there will be live score updates .. The doubles QF will be on Friday, I believe.

Some great news about this tournament - the Chennai Open has been alloted a January slot by ATP for next year, according to newspaper reports today .. Jan 3-9 .. That is the perfect time to play in India, with cooler weather .. What I am not sure of yet, is if it is a different week than the Doha Open which is normally then .. It would be nice if ATP would put Doha, Dubai and Chennai in a three week period (or Chennai, Singapore and Beijing) - That is what would really make life very easy for the organizers .. One reason why Chennai has had the worst participation from top players among tournaments giving that much prize money, is that it is out of the way and one will have to fly out there and then fly a long way to someother place like Japan .. Anyway, the January weather in Madras is really terrific!

Apr 7 Note-1

If you didn't see the score update I had posted yesterday on the Chennai open page, Fazal and Sargsian lost to Grant and Middleton in a late night doubles match, 6-3, 6-3 .. the score didn't make it into most newspapers as it was over rather late .. The 4th seeds in doubles, Kohlmann-Veglio fell to Goldstein and Stark ..

All the singles and doubles first round matches get done today .. The schedule will be rather straight forward after today, with the next 4 singles rounds getting done over the last 4 days .. 4 doubles QF matches will get done over thursday-Friday, with the final 2 round on Sat-Sun .. Leander will play R2 singles on Thursday .. The big first round matches are all today, with the top 4 seeds (Moya, Kucera, Johansson, B.Black) all playing .. Once of the players who has not received much attention so far from the tournament media desk is also playing - Paul Goldstein, the former star from Stanford Univ in the USA .. Keep an eye on him (hope I am not jinxing him) .. Andrew Ilie is the other dark horse I had picked, but since he is Australian, he has got some good press so far.

Leander and Mahesh play the final (4th) match on center court today, and it may not start until 10 or 11 pm .. Hopefully the online scoreboard from the center court will work for us to get the score, as the results may not make the press deadlines! .. Anyway, the press has been continuing to put pressure on both the guys for their friction over the last few days, saying crap like if they don't win this title, they may look seriously at splitting and all that (I have lost track of who in the press is saying what on this topic .. So much is being written - I doubt there has ever been a doubles team in the history of tennis in the world, on whom so many articles have been written in a week!) .. Anyway, that's a ridiculous thing - they are not a couple of fools to split on the basis of how they do at Madras! .. At the same time, I believe they still have not had enough time to talk everything over and get back to being fully normal .. Dr. Paes was pleading in a newspaper story yesterday that everyone should leave the two alone to sort out stuff - they both have known each other for a long time, and nothing has happened to cause either to suddenly start hating the other that badly - and both are nice guys too .. Let them work out their misunderstandings, some hurt pride, etc .. Perhaps they are not back to normal to the point where they will do chest-butts yet, but I believe they are alright .. We will just have to wait and see when the chest-butts will happen again (I hope the footage ATP has been using in their promotional ad around the world is not the last we see of that!) ..

Srinath and Mustafa Ghouse will also be playing their doubles match against the 2nd seeds Wayne Black and Neville Godwin (last match on court 2) .. Neville Godwin had retired after a set his final round qualifiers on Monday .. I'm not sure what the deal was .. I assume he is alright for playing doubles .. It will be a tough matchup for Srinath and Mustafa, who have not played together a whole lot.

Nirupama lost a tough first round doubles match at the WTA Estoril Open in Portugal, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to the 3rd seeds, Elena Wagner (GER,109) and Olga Lugina (UKR,82) .. Good fight against a couple of much-higher ranked players - Nirupama (#236) and Andreea Vanc (ROM, 191) had to come through three qualifier rounds from among 8 teams to make it thus far .. Anyway, she will pick up about 10 to 15 points for qualifying, which will move her doubles ranking about 25 spots or so, I believe .. I am not sure where she will be playing next week - she may probably take a week off, and go to the qualifiers starting on Apr 17 for the WTA Budapest Open, unless she choses to play the challenger in France next week, which is on hardcourt - she may not want to switch from cl;ay to hard for just a week .. The WTA tournament next week is in Japan, and she would have been in the upper 1/3rd of the qualifier draw there, but I have not heard she was planning to go there for just a week .. We will find out soon.

The Asian circuit ITF junior tournament this week is at Manila (I believe a Grade-2 event) .. So far, I haven't seen any news of any Indian players being there - perhaps Sheetal Gautam and Radhika Tulpule are there .. By the way, I forgot to report earflier that Radhika Tulpule and Tuan-Wan Ching of Taiwan reached the semis of the doubles at last week's Grade-2 event in Thailand .. Sheetal had lost in the QFs singles, but to Marie Pelletier of Canada, who was the runner up and winner of the previous two weeks' grade-3 events at Malaysia and Singapore .. Marie lost last week in the semis though .. Of course, grade-2 events have much tougher competition.

Apr 6 Note-2

Great news .. Wildcards, Sandeep and Nitin Kirtanes upset J.Carrasco and J.Velasco easily, 6-2, 6-3 in doubles to reach the QF at Chennai ! .. Nice work by the cousins .. Also performing an impressive comeback upset was the wildcard kid who was so much in the news - Andreas Vinciguerra of Sweden .. He upset Andre Sa of Brazil, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1 .. Congratulations go to Andreas .. Cooney's gang has to be at least relieved that the two foreign wildcards proved that they deserved to play, with Jonathan Stark winning last night too .. (hey, I am not going all soft and mushy on Cooney's cronies there, OK ? - they still did wrong in not giving Srinath and Fazal the wildcards. Period.) .. Compared to Wesley Whitehouse and Brian Phau last year, Andreas is considered a much better prospect - at least that's what I am told .. Anyway, the kid fully made use of the chance he got - let's give the Swede kid some support!

Apr 6 Note-1

Good news and bad news today at Chennai .. First, despite a better fight in the second set, Mahesh lost to Richard Fromberg (#83, AUS) 2-6, 5-7 .. I couldn't get the online score board to work at first, so I don't know the details of the match .. By the time I got it to work, the second match on the center court was in the 3rd set, and Leander was down 0-3 .. Perhaps my esteemed presence in the cyberworld (:-)) made the difference, as LP went on a tear and won the next 5 games in a row, and had a match point at 5-3 off Zingman's serve .. Somehow AZ made a last gasp effort and held, and had LP down at two break points while serving for the match in the next game, too .. LP must have said enough is enough, and he won the next 4 points to close the issue .. Leander Paes d. (Q) Andrez Zingman (ARG, 219) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 .. By the way, I fully expected that first set problem, and it's not unusual to have that when you have just reached the tournament, facing a qualifier who has been getting match practice there for 3 days! .. LP must have *wanted to* win some matches here - and his comeback win indicates that .. As I say always, the man often wins his matches when he decides that he really *wants* to do that ! .. A few wins here is critical for LP, as he has his back against the wall once again with points to defend - he has to reach the semis (it's possible that QF would do), or he will miss the cut at the French Open, for which the draw closes based on next monday's ranks .. Anyway, traditionally, the first round has always been the toughest for Leander compared to the next few rounds .. The last time he has managed a first-round comeback win after dropping the first set, I believe, was at the Newport Hall of Fame tournament, where he struggled against David Dilucia ranked below 250 but came through - of course, LP won his first world-series title at that tournament !.. Can we get a repeat at Chennai ? - Wouldn't that be sweet ? .. As for Mahesh, knowing about his injuries, I did not expect him to be able to play at his best, but the closer second set probably shows that he got stronger as the match went on, rather than fall apart due to injuries - that would be a good sign .. Anyway, we will await newspaper reports .. I have not looked closely at the other scores from today yet, but will update the Chennai Open page soon .. The Kirtanes, and also Fazal/Sargsian are playing doubles later today .. They play till near midnight there, to make use of cooler temperatures ..

I have one kudos comment for the tournament - it is one of the very few (perhaps the *only* one) world-series tournament with ball-by-ball online score updates, though only from the center court matches .. Pretty damn impressive! .. Before ATP started doing it at their official site for the Super 9 tournaments last year, most of those also did not have ball-by-ball internet updates .. (and you thought I would never have anything good to say about this tournament, huh ? .. :-))

Apr 5 Note-2

I have added the doubles draw, etc, at the Chennai Open page .. They did give some wildcards to Indians in doubles - thank you! .. Fazal and Sargis Sargsian got one, Srinath and Mustafa got one, and Sandeep and Nitin Kirtanes got the 3rd .. Not bad! .. The doubles draw is rather weak there, though with no other regular top doubles teams taking part .. Actually, the pair that Fazal and Sargsian are drawn against, Grant and Middleton, and also the pair that the Kirtanes got, Carrasco-Velasco, are a couple of relatively regular pairs and are the tougher ones in the draw .. Since Byron Black decided not to play doubles, Wayne Black is playing with Neville Godwin and are the second seeds - not the team that W.Black-Stolle is, but Godwin is a very good doubles player too (he was LP's partner for some tournaments a few years back) .. Only a very light schedule in singles today, with just 4 main draw matches .. The 4 qualifiers must have been completed by now today, but I haven't seen the results and so I am not sure whom LP faces .. It won't be a very easy player anyway, with the final round of quals having the top 8 seeds in the quals - so it will be somebody near the top-150 .. Actually, unlike what people think, it's sometimes much tougher to face a qualifier who has just gone through 3 rounds of match play on the court and is well-adjusted - and LP will only get a day of practice there to get the grasscourts at Calcutta out of his system!

The tournament website (http://www.goldflakeopen.com) is much better that last year's, with some news articles, etc .. They have even updated the draw page with results of one of the comepleted matches (Ilie won) pretty soon after it was finished this evening .. The score updates were very erratic last year .. The scoreboard applet doesn't seem to work for me now, but that may be my computer's problem .. The only problem I have is that they use way too much of graphics, which makes everything too damn slow.

At the Estoril WTA event qualifiers in Poirtugal, Nirupama lost in the second round to Eva Bes of Spain (seeded 8th in the quals and ranked 150), somebody she has been running into a lot lately! .. 6-4, 6-4 .. She had beaten 185-ranked Andreea Vanc (ROM) in round 1 in a comeback, 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(4) .. In the doubles qualifiers, Niru and Vanc are playing Studenikova and Cervanova, but I haven't got any results yet.

Apr 5 Note-1

The main draw action starts today at Chennai, even though the final round of qualifiers are also scheduled for today (Monday) .. Leander and Mahesh would probably be playing only on Tuesday .. In doubles, Leander and Mahesh are drawn to meet Vincenzo Santopadre (ITA) and Massimo Ardinghi (ITA) in the first round .. Nirupama moved up a a few of spots this week to 176 with the few points she picked up in the Dinans Challenger ..

Finally got hold of the full qualifier results, and I found that ATP also finally posted it - apparently there were some email problems or something from the communications office at Chennai that delayed the results going out .. Anyway, there was no great news to talk about, as no Indian pulled any upsets and only Vinod Sridhar reached the second round today .. He too lost .. In somewhat of a rarity on ATP tournaments, the final round will feature the 8 seeds in the qualifiers! .. 4 will advance to the main draw .. Harsh Mankad, the only one to pull an upset and reach the final round of quals last year, did not play in the qualies, this time .. I had hoped somebody would do well, but no such luck .. Both Sandeep and Nitin Kirtane ended up drawn against tough seeded players (Carraz and Behr) .. Vishal Uppal and Mustafa Ghouse put up some fight in their losses .. That was it .. Anyway, see the qualifier results and the main draw, posted at the Chennai tournament page ..

The newspaper correspondents continue to have fun at Mahesh Bhupathi's expense .. The poor guy is injured, and people are not being nice by acting as though it was a huge mistake for him to get injured .. He didn't plan to get injured, you know! .. Anyway, Mahesh, as usual has been quiet and not really saying a whole lot.

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending Apr 5..