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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Apr 26, 1999

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Apr 26 Note-1

I took a day off (:-)), as nothing much was happening .. Will have updates soon again .. The second leg of the women's satellites start at Bangalore today .. The new rankings will be out soon, too .. Still waiting to see what's up with Nirupama .. LP and MB have an off-week. Fazal was supposed to start on the futures circuit soon, but I don't think he is playing this week either.

Apr 24 Note-2

Nirupama is not at the Bol (Croatia) WTA qualifiers .. I am told she withdrew from there .. Will try to find out what's up, and if she went somewhere else (she had some points to defend for qualifying into the main draw at Bol last year) .. As for Leander and Mahesh, this would have been a good week for both to play some singles, with three ATP tournaments on the schedule .. However, as they are going to start on a stretch of over 10 weeks of continuous tennis (can't drop any of the grass weeks which follow immediately after FO, and there are only 5 weeks in the grass season including 2 weeks at Wimbledon), the coming week had to be their off week .. Since what follows are two Super 9s which they can't skip (they have a title to defend at Rome), then FO quals, two weeks of FO, 2 tournaments on grass, Wimb quals (for MB), 2 weeks of Wimb, Newport, etc, their only option is to take time off now and recharge .. Since they were out of Monte Carlo by Thursday MB could play quals over the weekend if he chose to, though, but I don't think they would have changed the schedule, as off-weeks are tough to find!

Apr 24 Note-1

Wow .. Radhika Tulpule has certainly "arrived" !! .. The 17 yr 2 month old girl was in command throughout the match today at the final of the first leg of the ITF women's satellites at Mumbai and defeated top seed Sai Jailakshmi, 6-3, 6-2 .. According to the PTI wire, she played to a plan and attacked the backhand of Sai, winning many points .. Sai looked exhausted even before the first set and was totally out of depth in the second .. Radhika was up 5-0 with breaks in the 2nd and 4th games in the second set .. Sai got one break back in the 7th game, but got broken again in the 8th game for the set and match [source: PTI, allIndianews] .. I have not seen the doubles final score yet .. See the Mumbai women's satellite page, for any score updates later .. Radhika made $650 (about Rs. 28K) and Sai made $450 (about $19.5K) .. 16 circuit pts for Radhika and 12 for Sai, but those pts are used only for deciding the final week's draw, so it's not a big deal.

Similar to Shruti Dhawan's upset of Rushmi and Sai in the SF and final of the satellite masters in October, these upset wins should be considered tremendous for Radhika, and should boost her confidence .. She scalped the 2nd, 3rd and 1st seeds in this tournament (Anna Nefedova, Arthi V., and Sai), all in straight sets .. Look at the scores of her 5 matches - 63 62, 60 60, 61 60, 62 62, 63 62 .. That is one week of complete domination .. It's heartening to see youngsters coming up with a bang like this ..

Later with any possible news from Bol (Croatia) qualifiers for Nirupama, etc.

Apr 23 Notes

At the women's satellites in Bombay today, Sai Jayalakshmi and barely 17-yr old Radhika Tulpule have reached the final, set for Saturday .. Radhika upset the 3rd seed Arthi Venkataraman, and top seed Sai had a three-set comeback win over 4th seed Rushmi Chakravarti .. Radhika has had a great run so far .. She is a hard hitting player (who sacrifices a bit of accuracy for the sake of power, according to Sharda Ugra's reports in The Hindu - looks like a player who has great potential if given proper coaching) .. I should say that Sai and Rushmi were the players to beat at the tournament, and Radhika has not yet had to face them, but the way she has beaten 2nd seed Nefedova in the first round and then the 3rd seed Arthi Venkataraman today in the semis (6-2, 6-2!!) is certainly impressive .. She and Shruti Dhawan still have time till the end of 2000 in their junior career, if they chose to continue on in the junior ITF circuits .. Radhika is the highest ranked junior player for next year, as it stands .. Sheetal Gautam, the highest ranked junior player this year, lost in the QFs yesterday to Rushmi .. In fact the QFs yesterday found the older brigade of Sai, Rushmi and Arthi (all around 20 to 23, not really old!) beating the juniors - SK Tara, Sheetal, and Harsimran Kaur .. Radhika had a 6-1 6-0 win over Sumitra Rao yesterday in the QFs .. See all the results in the Mumbai stallites page .. It's a pity (especially for Radhika) that nobody will get any WTA points for all this .. Only the 4th week of the satellites matter for points .. The doubles final will be between top seeds Rushmi-Sai against 3rd seeds Sheetal-Shruti .. These two teams have proven for quite a while that they are the best two out there .. I don't believe Radhika has played with either Shruti or Sheetal, but she has also had some good doubles success, with Radhika Mandke, and also with some foreign players in the junior circuit .. If Shruti and Radhika continue on in the junior circuit for another year, it would be interesting to see them play doubles together too ..

In other news, the Indian Express reports that a team of three kids (Devender S Bhusari, Vikrant Sane and Isha Lakhani) did very well in the ITF under-14 East Asian tour of two tournaments in Bangkok over the last two weeks .. See the article .. AITA has announced the u-14 team for the regional qualifiers of the World Junior Competition (14 and under) of ITF .. 4 teams will advance from Asia-Oceania region to the world final-16 .. The teams are, Boys: Vikrant Sane, R Arun Prakash, Chatwinder Singh. Captain: Prof T D Francis. Girls: Isha Lakhani, Sasha Abraham, Sania Mirza. Captain: Dr A B Prasad. Coach: Mayur Vasant.

The mini and sub-junior AITA ranking tournament in Bangalore was mostly rained out yesterday, except for half a dozen matches .. See the results at the Bangalore subjuniors page.

Apr 22 Note-2

This is just not the way to start the reign at the top .. LP-MB lost their first match on clay this year - to Karol Kucera and Dominik Hrbaty just now .. 3-6, 2-6 .. They clearly seemed to have their chances throughout the match with about 5 or 6 break chances at various points .. Couldn't convert any, and that was the story .. MB was up 40-0 in the 6th game of the first set, but went to deuce and dropped serve there on the first break chance for DH-KK to fall behind 2-4 .. It was uphill from there .. In the second set LP and MB were broken in the 3rd and 5th games .. they fell to 1-5, had a bit of a fight at the end facing three match pts, but fell at the 3rd one ..

I believe they take the next week off, and then go to Hamburg and Rome Super 9s .. Time to get back to serious doubles again, guys!

Apr 22 Note-1

Guess who the new #1 and #2 doubles players in the world are ? .. Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes .. Yes, Atalji, relax .. Two Indians will be the undisputed rulers of the world of doubles even if an Italian-born ends up ruling India next week .. :-) .. It has been Sonia yet so far for our guys for so long, but the wait is over .. At least something good to cheer for everyone .. I hope we get a stable rule from the boys unlike from any "stable" govt at Delhi filled with traded horses .. [OK, enough PJs from me].

I had guessed yesterday that they might have to win a round to get the top rankings, but Ajay Verma sent a note that they don't even have to do that .. So I checked the numbers .. Haarhuis has lost 480 pts off his total, bringing him down to 3624, which means MB with 3830 pts and LP with 3757 points will be the new #1 and #2, even if they don't win a round .. Certainly not the way to do it .. I hope our boys come fired up to play today, and hopefully will celebrate the new rankings with a title here, and putting some big distance (of over 500 pts) from the players behind them ..

The R2 match against Hrbaty-Kucera starts in a few hours at Monte Carlo .. It should start somewhere around 6 pm (9 am PST, USA, 9.30 pm India), plus/minus an hour .. There will be a chat in our chatroom, as we follow the match ball-by-ball, courtesy ATP live ..

No news to be found anywhere from the Mumbai satellites yet, due to the wire news agency strike today .. We will know the news once the newspaper reports come up .. At the Bangalore AITA u16-u14-juniors tournament, no surprises, except for 11 yr old Sanaa Bhambri of Delhi reaching the QF beating elder sister Ankita Bhambri in the girls' u-14 draw .. The kid must be talented .. See the Bangalore sub-juniors page.

Apr 21 Note-2

LP-MB will finally get to play tomorrow (Thursday) at the Monte Carlo Super 9 .. They face the qualifiers, Karol Kucera and Dominik Hrbaty .. Certainly not an easy team - the Slovakian pair has played together for Davis Cup (actually they took a very good Bjorkman-Kulti team to 5 sets in Sweden just three weeks back) .. It's never easy to play a team who has had match practice while you wait with a first round bye .. Even tougher when it is a team that won two rounds of qualifiers before that too .. This is the only doubles match scheduled for the center court tomorrow, and follows the 4th singles match, between Moya and Alami .. I don't see the schedules mentioning a night-time featured match schedule, so I assume the doubles match will start somewhere around 7 pm ..

By the way, this match will give some big confusion to the spectators, everytime they announce the name Hrbaty and Bhupathi (said as "Bhu-Patty" in the circuit .. :-)) ..

The 4th seeds also fell today - Haarhuis/Palmer lost their first match .. That means Haarhuis has just dropped some 450 points off his list. I believe a win in the first round is enough for MB and LP to move to #1 and #2 in rankings, but I have to check the numbers carefully to be sure.

Sorry I couldn't get info out of France on Niru today .. Will find out tomorrow.

Apr 21 Note-1

Will try to find out later today, how Nirupama is doing at the Gelos challenger in France this week.

At the Mumbai satellites today, all the seeds have moved on to the quarterfinals (Sai, Rushmi, Arthi, Sheetal and Tara) along with Radhika Tulpule, according to the PTI wire .. See the Mumbai satellite leg-1 page for scores - I will add the full results from wednesday, once the newspaper reports come up later.

An AITA mini and sub-junior (u-14 and u-16) tournament is underway in Bangalore this week .. Pretty good participation from players around the country there .. See the Bangalore mini-sub-juniors page for scores so far .. No surprises yet.

Apr 20 Notes

The doubles draw has been moving very slowly so far at the $2.2M Monte Carlo Super 9 .. There are still some first round matches to be completed, including the one to determine the R2 opponents for our dudes - Melginei-Prieto vs (Q) Hrbaty-Kucera .. Since that match is scheduled for Wednesday, LP-MB will be playing their first match only on Thursday .. So far, two seeds have fallen .. Wildcards Delaitre and Henman upset the 4th seeds Woodforde and Kafelnikov in 2 tiebreaker sets in the second round today .. 5th seeds Adams-DeJager lost yesterday.

At the first leg of the women's ITF satellites in Mumbai, 5th seed Shruti Dhawan lost to Harsimran Kaur in the first round today .. Shruti has been taking a bit of time off from tennis since winning the masters leg of the October satellites, to focus on studies, I am told (she has only played in about 3 or 4 tournaments since then, skipping most of the junior events, etc) .. 16-yr old Harsimran is a very good player though, and has come close to beating Shruti in the past too .. 6th seed Sheetal Gautam advanced, but 8th seed Simmi Rani lost .. Rushmi had a surprisingly easy win over Janaki Krishnamoorthi .. There hasn't been a single three-setter so far through the first round in both singles and doubles .. It will get tighter now .. There have been some good reports by Sharda Ugra in The Hindu from the satellite .. Most newspapers have also had good coverage of the satellites through the agency wire reports too .. See the results at the Mumbai women's satellites page.

Apr 19 Note-3

The new rankings show Mahesh all the way up at #257, a jump of 61 spots .. Leander moved up to #105 with the 30 extra pts at Delhi too .. Nirupama moved up 3 spts to 172 .. The doubles ranks for MB and LP remain at #2 and #3, and the team rank is #2.

I believe the qualifiers are yet to be determined in doubles at Monte Carlo .. As LP-MB's R2 opponents will be known only after a first round match involving the qualifiers, we may be looking at Wednesday or even Thursday before our dudes play there.

At the Mumbai ITF women's satellites, the only seeded player to play today was 2nd seed Anna Nefedova of Russia .. Hmmm .. It looks like my joke that she probably liked to do sight-seeing wasn't that off-base :-) .. She lost today .. Big upset for hard-hitting Radhika Tulpule, who just turned 17 in february .. In straight sets, that too .. Top seed Sai Jayalakshmi has a bye into the second round .. Now, 3rd seed Archana Venkataraman has withdrawn due to shoulder trouble, causing the seedings to be redone .. The other seeds all play tomorrow .. See today's results at the Mumbai satellite leg-1 page .. By the way, Sai was at the $10K Jakarta futures last week and I believe she won a round or two .. Will know for sure when any new points show in the ATP rank list in a week or two.

Apr 19 Note-2

Here is the doubles draw at the $2.2M Monte Carlo Super 9:

 1 Bhupathi M/ Paes L               Bye                       \
   Meligeni F/ Prieto S       vs  Q Qualifier/ Qualifier      / \
   Orsanic D/ Puerta M        vs    Goellner M/ Kitinov, A    \ / \
 7 Johnson D/ Suk, C          vs    Macpherson D/ Tramacchi P /    \__
 4 Kafelnikov Y/ Woodforde M        Bye                       \    /  |
WC Clement A/  Golmard J      vs WC Delaitre O/ Henman T      / \ /   |
   Eagle J/ Florent A         vs WC Lobo L/ Rios M            \ /     |
 6 Haarhuis P/ Palmer J       vs WC Gaudenzi A/ Nargiso D     /       |__
 5 Adams D/ De Jager J L      vs    Arthurs W/ Kratzmann A    \       |
   Haggard C/ Montana F       vs    Nyborg P/ Olhovsky A      / \     |
   Damm M/ Vizner P           vs    Tarango J/ Vacek D        \ / \   |
 3 Ferreira E/ Leach R              Bye                       /    \__|
 8 Novak J/ Rikl D            vs  Q Qualifier/ Qualifier      \    /
   Broad N/ Koenig R          vs    Norval P/ Ullyet K        / \ /
   Kuerten G/ Lapentti N      vs    Albano P/ Sanchez J       \ /
 2 Bjorkman J/ Knowles M            Bye                       /

Gosh, that is the worst-looking doubles draw I have ever seen at a Super 9 .. There is a sum total of about 7 regular teams there, and the rest are all pick-up teams, though many of those could potentially be very good (Kafelnikov/ Woodforde, Bjorkman/ Knowles, etc) .. Only 7 of the top-20 in the team rankings are there .. Huge difference from last year's Monte Carlo field which had 14 of the top 16 teams, which was among the best I had seen ! .. It would appear that LP-MB can win this thing if they get used to the clay fast enough .. Clay is a good surface for them, but we have to see how quickly they get back to shape after the slightly sore shoulder MB had and the several nicks and bruises LP picked up at the Delhi challenger [They have both just played 8 matches in 9 days, which is quite a lot, especially when 5 of those were singles matches] .. Since Stolle-Black is not in the field, LP-MB can reach #1 in team rankings if they reach the semis (LP-MB are 176 pts behind Stolle-Black right now, and will go over with an SF appearance provided they pick up 17 bonus pts, which may be possible only with a win over Johnson-Suk in the QF) .. If they reach the final (which means Haarhuis- Palmer cannot reach the final, causing Haaruis to lose over 300 pts from his title last year), LP-MB will also be ranked #1 and #2 or #1 and #3 next week .. Looks like the right time for LP-MB to do their thang ..

If you are wondering where Woodforde's and Haarhuis' partners are, they are both at the small $265K Orlando tournament in the US .. Woodbridge is playing doubles there with Courier and Pat Galbraith is playing with Justin Gimelstob ..

Apr 19 Note-1

Monte Carlo Super 9 draw info and the new rankings, coming soon ..

The Four-week ITF women's circuit ($20K total prizemoney, $5K each week) starts today at Mumbai .. It will be followed by the next three legs at Bangalore, Delhi and Lucknow .. In the original entry list, there were 6 foreign players, but as of yesterday when the draw was made, there was only one foreigner who showed up .. It is Anna Nefedova, 17 yr old Russian who had come to India for the last circuit in October too .. She actually played quite indifferent tennis for three weeks, but played well in the last week to reach the semis and pick up 2 WTA points in the end (the points are only based on the final week's results - the top 16 players from the first three weeks make it to the final leg) .. She must really like India to go there during the hot summer and play for four weeks .. Either that, or she is in India for sight-seeing for three weeks and tennis for the last week (just kidding! - good to have at least one player to make it an "international" event) .. The last satellites in October had two players from Thailand also - Montika Anuchan and Orawan Wongkamalasai - who have not returned this time .. Basically, a maximum of 5 points after 4 weeks of tennis is just too little .. So, we should look at this as essentially 4 weeks of Rs. 2.25 lakh domestic tournaments .. Not bad for Indian players to get match practice that they badly lack with women's domestic circuit being in shambles (actually this circuit and the one planned in October are the real domestic circuit of 8 weeks for our women) .. We still have to wait for AITA to bring in some futures weeks for slightly higher competition and more WTA points - none planned yet for the rest of the year, sadly.

The top seed at Mumbai is Sai Jayalakshmi, followed by Anna Nefedova at #2 .. Other than Manisha Malhotra and Uzma Khan, all other top Indian players are in the draw - Rushmi, Archana, Arati, Janaki, Shruti, Sheetal, Radhika, etc .. I have posted the info I have so far, at the Mumbai woimen's satellite page ..

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending Apr 19..