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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Apr 13, 1998

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Apr 13 Note-2

The Vadodara challenger has started. LP is #1 seed. MB is #7 seed. LP plays Barry Cowan of England, and MB plays wildcard Prahlad Srinath in round 1 tomorrow. Poor Srinath. He can't get a break. He has beaten MB once before though. Sad to see that matchup. If sandeep Kirtane had any complaints about not being taken for Davis Cup based on Fazal's great show in just ONE futures tournamant, he can't complain now. Fazaluddin beat Sandeep in round 1 today in 3 sets; but apparently it was a very even match that sandeep could have won too. So in the last two matches he has played in India, Fazal has beaten Prahlad (ITF futures final) and Sandeep Kirtane .. Hope he can do something against the #2 seed Peter Tramacchi whom he faces in round 2. All the seeds won today (Tramacchi, Ran, Nainkin) .. Fazal gets 8 more points to add to the 12 he has .. His ranking makes another jump from ~800 to ~700 now. Vijay Kannan, the 3rd wildcard, with Fazal and Sandeep, lost to Anthony Dupis of France today ..

The newspapers are reporting that Wesley Whitehouse got the 4th wildcard but I doubt that. He has a rank around #475 and must have made the direct entry (they did tell him that they would give him a WC to play there, when he was getting ready to return home, but I don't think they used the WC. I doubt ATP allows 4 wildcard in a 32-draw tournament. It is almost always 25 direct + 4 qual + 3 WC .. They do allow what is called a special exempt, the rules on which I am not sure of. He may have qualified for one like that. Then Indians can't complain, as I doubt guys like Harsh Mankad who may have a beef on this would qualify for a special exempt as they did not play in Madras.. I know I am confusing all of you with this, but I think they can only give 3 wildcards and those went to Fazal, Sandeep and Vijay Kannan). If AITA did give Whitehouse a wildcard instead of Harsh Mankad, I miss the logic in that, though. Sarda Ugra of The Hindu did raise the issue in her article .. Happy to see the media noticing these things .. But AITA at least did something in giving Fazal, Sandeep and Vijay a chance .. Let us not make them the dog to flog, for the crimes committed at Madras which AITA had no part in .. Check out the Vadodara page for scores, etc.

Apr 13 Note-1

Nirupama Vaidyanathan was supposed to be at the Croatian WTA tournament at Makarska this week; however, she doesn't seem to be there. The direct entry closed at #149, so she would not have made it in without the qualifiers, as she is #172. She was in Dubai only till Friday morning, so she could have got up there for the quals .. Just saw the list of 4 qualifiers and 3 lucky losers at Makarska, and Nirupama is not among them. Since she would have been a top few seeds there in the qualifiers, I would think she must not have reached round-3 of quals, even if she played there (or she would probably be one of the lucky losers). Wonder if the back strain she had, which forced her to concede the doubles 3rd round match at Dubai last week (while leading by a set) is serious .. Will try to find out more and report later.

Apr 12 Note-2

Leander is drawn to meet Barry Cowan of Britain (#311) in the first round at the Vadodara Challenger starting Monday. LP is seeded #1 and MB is seeded #7 there .. Prahlad Srinath made it in as a direct entry. That is very surprising for a Challenger giving $50K+Hospitality, for the direct entry to go as far down as below #500. During the Asian challenger series last month for the same prize money, for instance, the direct entries were closing in the mid 200s .. Probably because it is a single event that not too many people will fly into India for .. The seeds like Tramacchi, Ogorodov, Luxa, Ran, Nainkin, Veglio, etc are there because they were at Madras already ..

Anyway, the sad news is that Mahesh and Prahlad are drawn to face each other. Was hoping that Prahlad would get a few points here that he really needs, but we also know that Mahesh really, really, really needs some points in a hurry .. Haven't seen the full draw yet, but looking at the seeds, LP and MB can meet each other only in the finals. Fazaluddin, Vijay Kannan, Sandeep Kirtane and Wesley Whitehouse got wildcards there .. Fazal and Sandeep are facing each other in round-1 too .. The seeds, qualifier results and some first round matchups are in the Vadodara Results page ..

Harsh Mankad and Rishi Sridhar reached the final round of the singles qualifiers but both lost today ..

Apr 12 Note-1

LP-MB defended the doubles title at Chennai today with a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 win .. YES! .. That moves them up to #2 in the world behind the Woodies. They were #2 earlier on in the year, but that was early in the year and most teams hadn't played much .. Now they are at #2 to stay !.  They get 165 pts for this (160 pts for the title, 2 for beating Luxa/Ran, 3 for beating Delaitre/Mirnyi), which adds to the 864 points to give them 1029 points, taking them above Eltingh/Bjorkman with 1000 .. (I am assuming Eagle/Florent who were 1 points behind them before has not won a title too, this week.. will check on that). The Woodies have over 1300 pts this calendar year (team ranks are based on points from Jan 1st). The individual rankings should stay right there, as 165 pts here replace the 164 they had last year. Their record so far this year is a terrific 16-2 from 5 tournaments (8 match win streak, loss at AO semi, 4 match streak, loss at Key Biscayne, and 4 match streak) .. 3 world-series titles, 1 grand slam semi and one forgettable Super-9 first match loss. They get around $28K to share for this title, and LP made about another $17K for the singles semi .. Great week for LP to make over $30K .. LP will move close to the top-25 in earnings this year, with LP moving up close to the top-35 .. and of course, LP will move to about #110 in the singles ranking.

More later on the $50K+H vadodara challenger starting on Monday.

Apr 11 Note-3

Here is a report from Jacob (Dubai) on the Leander-rafter match: "Today was quite an upsetting day for LP fans. He had a chance and could have taken this one. It must be said though that at the beggining of the match both players were out of sorts. Both making a lot of errors and generally not providing much quality tennis. Mind you, as the match went on things changed. Rafter seemed to regroup himself and started playing well. He as usual served well and hard. On the very second point he had an ace. Leander and Rafter were both using serve and volley tactics. In the first set LP seemed quite relaxed, which in some cases is not good for our man, as he's plays better when he's a little pumped up. Yet, in the first set he was okay but hit a few vital volleys in the net. This gave Rafter the oppurtunity. He broke LP's second service game and went up 3-1. From here all he needed to do was to hold his serve and for Rafter that isn't a lot to ask for. LP needed a break and it was going to be tough against one of the fastest and maybe the best servers in the world. Mind you, LP was no way playing inferior tennis, he kept up with Rafter and most games were pretty close but Rafter managed to close out the big points. He went on to hold that set easily at 6-3. Quite simple that one break and hold the rest of em. LP by now had raised his game a bit. But not his devastating best which we all know is good enough to take out the best of players. He served well and got through his services. But still no fire could be seen in him, no shouting at himself after each point, no looking the opponent in the eyes as if he were about to kill him, no clenching of the fists. LP had a few chances to break, but never developed them. Before long this set went to 4-4. Everyone knew this was a huge game. LP had to hold and knew that. Maybe it was that, somehow he was broken. It was a mixture of bad volleys from LP and some brilliant pass shots by Rafter. LP was now looking down the barrel. Almost everyone taught it was over. But then what do you know LP broke back. NOW he was PUMPED UP big time. All the signs of him wanting to win so bad. He was on fire. HE won the next service game to go up 6-5. Next game he had a chance when he was 30-15 up but Rafter came through and took it to the tie break. Although LP had risen the level of his game Rafter kept with him. He won the first point of the tie break, of an LP serve. IT was a great point, LP played a good volley but not crisp enough. Rafter played a very good lob. A pumped up LP somehow got to the ball and had a go but was not lucky enough. LP served and held his two. Rafter served 1 and won it. LP got a lucky net cord next and went up 4-3 with serve. Rafter did have a lucky net cord of the second pt of the tie break. LP got one and lost one of his an it was 5-4 to LP. Then can't remeber the last two points too well but LP lost em 7-5. Was too tense to watch. All in all I'd say that LP missed a great opportunity, to get to the finals of an ATP tourney, to get his rankings up by a mile, and to please a fairly supportive crowd. Surprising amount of people going for Rafter, and (surprise.. surprise..) a lot of gals were going for Rafter. Anyhow I just think LP should have gotten pumped up earlier and should have gone all out for a victory.. Anyway he's done his fans and country proud, but I reckon he owes himself more than just a ranking in the top 100, but one in the top 50 maybe. Let's see what he can do"... Thanks Jacob ! ..

Apr 11 Note-2

LP gave it a big fight after a slow start, but lost 3-6, 6-7 (5-7) .. one break in game 8 of set 1 by rafter.. Then, Rafter broke LP in the 9th game of set 2, but LP played inspired tennis to break right back the next game. In the tiebreaker, rafter was up a minibreak, then LP got that back and went up a minibreak at 5-4, but then it was all Rafter, as LP put one volley wide to lose it 5-7 .. Still  great tournament for LP .. The doubles later .. Check the chatroom .. somebody may bring score updates there.. Signing off for the day.

Apr 11 Note-1

The unsung defending champion is not ready to just give up his title, I guess.. 5th seed Mikael Tillstrom upset 2nd seed Todd Woodbridge just now, 6-2, 6-2 to enter the final (it's 6.30 pm there now) .. I still don't have a schedule for today's matches, but I assume Leander will be playing the other semifinal starting soon ..

Unfortunately, there won't be any notes or updates at this site till late tonight (our time in the US) .. Have to be away for the day .. Hope to give another note to update the LP singles match before signing off for the day, if it starts now.

Do check the scoreboard at the tournament site, http://www.goldflakeopen.com .. The "today's results" button there has not seemed to be working most of the time, but if you select "Day-6, Apr-11" in the menu below and hit "show" the scoreboard does show up.

Apr 10 Note-5

Did you know that Leander is 1-0 lifetime over Rafter .. yes it's true .. Leander beat Patrik Rafter in 1992 at Hong Kong, 7-6, 6-3 .. Thanks go to Raina Luk of the fan club (from Hong Kong) for alerting us to that .. It's true ! .. Make it 2-0 LP !!

Apr 10 Note-4

A note on the points so far for Leander: He is not yet completely sure of a French Open entry, though it is almost certain. He has 74 points so far (70 for reaching the semis, 3 for beating Golmard ranked in the 75-100 range, 1 for beating Solves ranked in the 150-200 range). Hed had 360 points before, and he goes up to 433 now (74 replaces a 1 point he had for some first round loss). That would put him at #110, most probably. The French Open has 96 direct entries, and normally closes at around 100-108.. LP would be among the first few in the waiting list, who would normally make it pretty soon after, as there are usually 3-4 withdrawals. So players till about #112-115 do make it in before the qualifiers start, and won't have to play quals .. Now, if he beats Rafter tomorrow (yeah, Go LP!!), he gets 110 points for reaching the final, plus a whopping 45 extra bonus points for beating a top-5 player (110+45+4=149 pts total), which would put him at 518 points, that would place him at about #92 or so !!! .. Thought I would comment, as I saw a couple of newspaper reports saying he could get inside top-100 with today's win.. Not yet. Beat Rafter and he makes that jump. Or it will be around #110, which is where he stayed for most of last year.

Apr 10 Note-3

Leander-Mahesh won the doubles late at night, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 .. Make that 12 sets of tennis in two days for LP .. He has won 4 matches in two days .. LP-MB play Cowan/Veglio in the semifinals (which should be Saturday after the singles semi). The surprise is that the Woodies lost to Clement/Golmard, 7-6 (9-7), 6-1 .. They must have been dead tired as both had played singles match just before the doubles.. So, once again, LP-MB cannot face the Woodies if they win tomorrow .. Somehow, these two teams have not played each other for a long time, though they have been in several tournaments together.. Sorry for the late update .. Had to catch up on work after the sick time..

Here is the match report on Leander's win over Solves, from and excited fanclub friend from Dubai, a highschool student, Jacob, who saw the match on TV .. so nice to see such enthusiasm from young fans .. "Leander seemed to be in great spirits today. He was always up there with the very talented french man. There was very little seperating these two players. Both played their ground strokes well and although Leander was outstanding at the net the frenchman did make some superb voleys. The first set was very much in Leander's favour. He broke early and had another break point to go up 4-1 and serving. But the french man fought back and not only did he hold that game he also broke leander in the next. The set was now all tied up and needed another break somewhere if it wasn't to go into a tie break. But both players served well and the first set went into the tie break. The tie break was an anti climax as Leander made too many unforced errors and seemed to be going for a little too much. The next set was a quiet set and looked to be going to another tie break. But along the way Leander managed to get a break and won the set 6-4. He was very pumped up at the end of this set. There was this one pt where leander was covering the whole net, an LP classic and as Solves looked to have the pass Leander ran straight into it and hit a volley winner. The final set and both players were on top of their games. LP was truly pumped up but Solves was keeping up so well. He was getting better point after point. Both players held their service games and it was getting very tight. LP had the disadvantage of serving second, meaning he had to serve to stay in the match. There was a real close call when LP was serving 4-5 down and 0-30 down. But he got thru and he broke in the next game. Now there was nothing stopping him even though Solves still fought hard. He did his best but LP didn't give in. Today's match was very even. It was anyone's match and LP managed to get thru. But honestly hats off to the french man who was keeping up so well with an LP on fire. Good luck to LP for the semis and the finals.( I can sense this his title.)" ... Thanks Jacob ! .. Jacob is himself a pretty good young tennis player, I am told ..

A minor correction.. Leander is actually 9-1 in the last 10 quarterfinals.. He did lose a quarterfinal in Tokyo in October 96 (to R.Wassen) .. Still a pretty good record.

Nirupama Vaidyanathan lost in the doubles match today, which I believe was the quarterfinal .. She will be off to Europe now ..

Apr 10 Note-2

I knew LP would win... How ? .. Because he almost never loses in a singles quarterfinal .. Didn't want to give that trivia for fear of jinxing him.. He has not lost a quarterfinal singles match in almost 2 years (last was at Rosmalen in 96, I believe.. need to check that).. He has won 4 ATP quarterfinals (Newport-96, Shanghai-97, Newport-97, Chennai-98), an Olympics quarterfinal, and 4 challenger quarterfinals (Chennai 96, Mauritius 96, Ahemedabad 97, Bangkok 98) .. 9-0 in the last 9 quarterfinals .. These record are from memory.. I will look more closely and see if there is anything I missed .. Anyway, that is why I knew he would pull this off .. :-)

Very tough match that he won 6-7(3-7), 6-4, 7-5 .. Hope he has something still left for the doubles QF late at night. So far it has been 9 sets of tennis in about 26 hours for him.. Ouch.. Go LP !!

He gets 74 points so far which move him closer to the #110 needed for a direct entry at French. He could probably be among the top few waiting list players, whonormally make it in after there are some 2-3 withdrawals later.

My flu seems to have gone away in a hurry after this win.

Apr 10 Note-1

KP Mohan of The Hindu (thanks!) sent an email confirming the score. LP/MB did indeed win 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 sometime way past midnight .. I guess it's easier to play once it cools down at night, but I wonder what all the tennis fans feel when they leave the stadium and start hearing MS Subbulakshmi's "Kausalya Supraja Rama .. " (Venkateswara Suprabhatam) from the local temples .. :-) .. According to the schedule from KPM, starting at 5 pm, Centre court: Solves v Paes; Tillstrom v Woodforde; Rafter v Burgsmuller; Luxa/Ran v Bhupathi/Paes. Court II: Pavel v Woodbridge (8 p.m); Woodbridge/Woodforde v Clement/Golmard .. So, the defending champion Tillstrom finally gets to play on the centre court.. Solves won't be easy for LP, based on how these two played such a close match at bangkok last month. LP has another day with two matches ..

By the way, I have not been worrying about match reports, as all the Indian newspapers have been giving extensive coverage (check out The Hindu, Hindusthan Times, Indian Express, Deccan Herald, etc) ..

Apr 9 Note-3

It looks like LP/MB won the doubles over Sander Groen and Andrei Pavel .. The tournament website says 6-3, 3-7, 7-5 .. Assuming that second set score to be a typo, I guess they did win. Very late night match .. It was in the 3rd set at 12.30 at night there, when I last heard .. Since I am also in bed with a flu, let's assume they won, and confirm it tomorrow morning from someone there .. :-) .. Tough day for LP with close to 6 sets today, but he won two matches .. Hope his shoulder held up. Two more matches tomorrow, unless they can postpone the doubles QF to saturday.. Also, a fanclub member (who likes to remain anonymous) emailed me about the Times of India report today that India will face England (in England) in Septemeber for the Davis Cup tie to remain in the world group-16 for 1999 .. Henman/Rusedski loom .. More thoughts on that Later. I'm out..

Apr 9 Note-2

Becker lost to Solves in 3 sets !! LP vs. Solves in the quarterfinals .. LP had beaten Solves at bangkok a month back in a close one, 7-6(2), 5-7, 7-6(7) .. Sorry Boris.. I would have liked to see LP beat you, and really didn;t want you to lose today .. There must be a lot of sad tennis fans in Madras .. Well, it happens.

The LP/MB doubles is one-set all, I am told .. no details yet.. I am not well today (flu), so the updates may be slow.. LP's win is making me feel better, though.

Apr 9 Note-1

Leander moves on .. He was leading 7-6, 2-6, 3-1, when Golmard conceded the match due to cramps. So, Leander is in the quarterfinals.. Becker plays later today.. The other seeds who played so far today have all moved on (Woodbridge, Pavel, and Tillstrom). The results are occasionally updated at the Chennai results page, but the tournament website (http://www.goldflakeopen.com) has finally started showing the results updated in real-time. Nice to see them working out the problems ..

LP gets 38 points so far for reaching the quarterfinals.. Go LP ! .. That block-buster Becker-LP match could happen tomorrow, if BB takes care of Gerard Solves today .. LP/MB will play late at night today in doubles.. Hope LP's arm is holding up ..

Apr 8 Note-3

Mahesh played a fantastic match for 1 and half sets today according to all the newspaper reports. His legs seemed to lose a bit steam after that .. Woodbridge was getting angry with himself and everything else, but managed to raise his game just enough to win... :-(

So, the first round is done with hardly any upsets .. All the seeds move on .. That is a rare event. Actually, so far the only match that even went to three sets is the MB-rafter match  !! .. Becker apparently was really pushed to the limit by Voltchkov (two tiebreaker sets), but Boris has enough tennis left in him to pull it off.. Reports are that Becker seemed to be tiring, and if Voltchkov could somehow win the second set tie-breaker, he could have had Becker. Good fight by both MB and Voltchkov.

LP faces Jerome Golmard in round 2 tomorrow. That is the first match, and LP will have to come back and play doubles with MB against Groen/Pavel (the 4th match). Hopefully the tournament site's score updates will be working tomorrow.. Will try to get hold of the results in other ways otherwise.

Mahesh, Prahlad, and Fazal have all got wildcards for next week's $50K Vadodara challenger.. So, AITA did their part to give some thanks to the Davis Cup warriors. LP is in the direct draw and possibly should be a seed too. Good news.

Apr 8 Note-2

Mahesh lost after what looks like a great start and a good fight .. 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, to #2 seed and 36th ranked Todd Woodbridge .. Poor guy.. One of these days he will start beating these guys, and then watch out ! .. And, one of these days he will get a player who is not a top seed in the first round, too .. The law of averages needs to kick in some time ! ..

Apr 8 Note-1

No news on today's matches yet from Madras. That tournament website is still a mess. It has been 2-3 days and they still cannot put some scores up in a timely fashion. Why promise score updates and then not a have anything ? .. The scoreboard page shows two lines with player 1 and player 2 and space for scores in FIVE sets, with of course, no numbers .. Jeez, people .. how shoddy can you get ? .. Last night for a short period, there were some results in one page, but it showed players like Burgsmuller beating himself ! .. The web Gurus know too much HTML and can never make it work. Type the damn scores in ASCII and just put the bloody thing up. Some of us are sick of making phone calls to Madras to get scores (and the tournament office promises faxes of results and none arrives .. even the good scores sites like ESPN and Yahoo which show updates from everywhere with reasonable delay have so far not been showing the Chennai results till very late in the day .. and someone not informing the world is probably the reason) .. Thanks for fanclub members who help with some of this .. Now that I am on a tirade against the tournament website too, where the hell are the names Bhupathi and Paes on the players list page ? .. what does it take for the Indian company running that website to show some pride in India's own players ? .. These may sound like nit-picking, but they reveal some deep-rooted attitudinal problems when so many such things happen .. Oh Lord, how shameful ! (.. and I do feel bad for attacking an Indian tournament so much, but do they give us a choice ?..)

OK, here is another press report, from The Telegraph, Calcutta : " .. Leander cruised through 6-2, 6-2 and will next meet the winner of the Jerome Golmard-Wesley Whitehouse clash. In the process, the Indian No. 1 not only entered the second round of the tournament for the first time but also scored a point for his fellow-countryman, Prahlad Srinath and Syed Fazaluddin .. Both these young Davis Cuppers, who did duty in Genoa, could not have come here in time for the qualifying rounds and had asked for wild cards. Mahesh Bhupathi was granted one of the three on offer, but his team-mates were denied wild cards on the logic that they were not good enough to deserve such generosity .. Instead, IMG — which owns the event in India — obliged Phau simply because he was from Boris Becker’s academy. It was left to Leander to ‘reveal’ how ridiculous that decision had been. " .. Thanks, The Telegraph ! .. Go for it .. Take them to task.

By the way, forgot to mention that the 3rd seeds, Salzenstein and Stark (on LP/MB's half of the draw) were upset yesterday by the qualifier team of Nainkin and Whitehouse yesterday .. Will report the scores soon from wednesday. Check out the Chennai results page for scores so far.

Apr 7 Note-3

Good news today is that Leander had no difficulties at all against Bjorn Phau, who didn't have much of a clue pn how to handle Paes. Apparently Bjorn did show some talent, but as S. Kannan of Hindustan Times says, his service is rather weak. 6-2, 6-2 was the score with LP winning the final 5 games of each set. Leander said his arm felt fine but for a couple of times when he felt some twitches .. He admits that his big test would be when he will have to play both a singles and a doubles match in a couple of days . As far as I know, the first round doubles match for LP/MB is not on wednesday, though I have not seen the schedule for wednesday yet .. it will help Mahesh a bit, and allows Leander one more day of rest before taking the big strain from singles and doubles together on thursday onwards..  If they keep winning, LP/MB will have to play doubles on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (or they could play two doubles matches on Saturday, if LP and/or MB are still in the singles as of Friday) ..

The totally unfortunate news today is the unexpected exit from Dubai singles, by the #1 seed Nirupama Vaidyanathan ..  Li Ting is quite talented, and Niru somehow let her come back and beat her .. 6-2, 3-6, 5-7 loss. Later on, Archana Venkataraman also crashed out in the first round singles .. Nirupama is also playing doubles there.

The new ATP rankings came out and Leander lost 7 points and Mahesh lost about 25 from the Puerto Vallarta challenger last year. LP had a first round win there and Mahesh had reached the semifinals. Leander has no points to defend till French Open. MB also has hardly anything to defend for a while. Leander is at 130, but will move up a few spots again next week. MB has fallen to #287 and needs to pick up some 30-40 points in the next 4-5 weeks to make sure of qualifying for the qualifiers at the French Open.

The Indian newspapers are hyping up Boris Becker like nobody's business. I wonder if the Indian fans and the newspaper reporters who throng Becker know what happened between Leander and Becker at Stuttgart last October and what exactly were the words Becker used that was reported in the Indian magazines then (.. let me just say that I was a long-time Becker fan who lost all respect for him then .. Let me not get into the sordid details). Anyway, here is a piece from today's Indian Express by Anand Philar: Now that he (Becker) is in Chennai, just about everyone is hoping that he would make it to the final, and yes, even win the trophy. At least then, one can rejoice that one partook in a historic event of witnessing a typical Becker triumph in where else, but the "home" of Indian tennis ... Can anything be more satisfying and fitting? If only wishes could come true. .. Ah.. Give me a break ! .. How about our own Leander winning the whole thing which would probably involve a win over Becker too .. That won't be "satisfying" ?? .. What in the world is going on out in Chennai ?? .. What is with all this hype from every corner ? .. By the way, not everyone will agree with the hype that Chennai is the undisputed home of Indian tennis either .. Take a look at how many Davis Cuppers have come from Calcutta .. That city also has some serious claims.

Anyway, some great matchups are coming up tomorrow .. Rafter, Woodbridge, Woodforde, Becker, etc will all be playing .. Looking forward to it.

Apr 7 Note-2

At this time, Nirupama Vaidyanathan is leading 6-2, 1-1 in the first round at the $25K Dubai Challenger over Li Ting of China, ranked #646 .. (Thanks go to Lianne for getting a good friend of hers, Anna DeSilva to drive up and send reports from the tournament site 30 miles out of town at the beach! Thanks to Anna too! ) .. Talking of Niru, there is a nice sports-front-page article in the Gulf-News with interview comments from her, by Robin Chatterjee .. as always, Niru's comments are frank and philosophical .. Our friend, Lianne has been helping Niru there, and trying to get her some press coverage ..

Good news from Dubai: Archana Venkitaraman qualified into the main draw defeating Austrian, Sybille Bammer, 6-4, 6-2, yesterday.. Bammer is ranked #432, so it is a big win for Archana who is unranked in WTA. Other qualifiers are Van Rooyen of Russia who beat Sawondari of Indonesia 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 and Li Ting of China (remember her from the india futures last month?) who beat Li Li (China). 7-5, 7-6 and Belbi E. of Germany who beat Dittman M. of Australia 6-3, 7-5 (source: Khaleej Times).

Archana Venkataraman is scheduled to play Giulia Casoni (#274) of Italy in round 1 at Dubai today.

Apr 7 Note-1

No news yet today from Madras. Matches start only in the evening at 5 pm out there; as it is too hot during the day. They are just getting underway there.

Our fanclub member in Germany, Arunava Chaudhury, sent some info on Bjoern Phau, the kid Leander is playing in the first round, today. Bjoern comes from Leverkusen, the city were the world-wide known chemical company "Bayer" comes from. He is a very promising junior and has south-east asian blood in him. His father hails from the Philipines or Indonesia. He was therefore choosen to play in Chennai. Another name that might have otherwise been chosen would be Boris Bachert, a young Boris look-like. The reason why he is chosen is probably that Mercedes-benz is pumping a lot of money into the tour and sometimes the ATP tries to return the favour, by allowing Mercedes-Benz junior team players to get exposure. There is basically a big fear that tennis in Germany was going to go down once Boris retired .. and ATP can't afford to lose the German sponsors, and so the Mercedes-Benz junior team under Becker's patronage was born (Haas and Kiefer are very good players and I don't think German tennis is done yet, which is nice to know .. check out the 5-0 Davis Cup job this last weekend against a favored South Africa team). Anyway, members of this junior team has been chosen for wildcards in other places as well .. I will try to check some details on which places, but I am sure it does not happen in countries with just one tournament and 3 wildcard spots at the expense of the #3 national player ranked above these car-company junior team guys. Having said that, best of luck to the kid, Bjoern, in the future; I have nothing against him. Same about German tennis .. Still waiting to hear the story behind Wesley Whitehouse from South Africa. What kind of inside-pull caused him to get selected over Prahlad ? ..

Apr 6 Note-3

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

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

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

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

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

Apr 6 Note-2

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

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

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

Apr 6 Note-1

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

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

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