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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Apr 30, 2001
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Apr 30 Note-1

LP-MB are at the $350K US Claycourt Championships in Houston this week .. They are the second seeds there behind the top seeded Bryan twins, and play the wildcards, Mardy Fish and Alex O'Brien in the first round .. Here is the bottom half of the draw:

  A.Prieto (BRA)/ P.Rosner (RSA)       vs   J.Blake (USA)/ T.Blake (USA)      \
3 D.MacPherson (AUS)/ G.Stafford (RSA) vs   T.Crichton (AUS)/ A.Fisher (AUS)  / \ _ F
  J.Coetzee (RSA)/ B.Haygarth (RSA)    vs W J-M.Gambill (USA)/ A.Roddick (USA)\ /
2 M.Bhupathi (IND)/ L.Paes (IND)       vs   M.Fish (USA)/ A.O'Brien (USA)     /
Not a very high-quality draw there, even though some other big doubles players like Alex O'Brien, Rick Leach, etc, are also playing there .. These are good tournaments for the Indian Express to work on little things and get their edge back .. The only thing that worries me is that our pair is expected to play at the Rome and Hamburg masters over the next two weeks, which will make it 5 weeks of tournament play .. Any time they go more than 2 or 3 weeks at a stretch, I worry about fatigue injuries etc .. I think they had decided to play Atlanta and Houston much earlier, before they were sure of making it into the Rome and Hamburg masters .. I believe Atlanta and Houston had also offered wildcards well in advance just in case they needed them - that may also be why they decided not to skip the two events and stay in Europe after the Monte Carlo masters .. So fa so good, and they are staying healthy.

In today's rankings, LP-MB have now climbed up to #15 in the team list .. Individually, MB moved up three spots to 29 and LP moved up 8 spots to 59 .. Their entry at Rome next week won't require any wildcards or anything.

I think Nirupama will be playing at the $25K Dothan challenger in Alabama, USA .. I have not seen the draw yet.

Apr 29 Note-2

Hello another title! :-)

Good title day for us -- To add to the Indian Express title at Atlanta, our top woman player also did her bit, winning her career-best doubles title today .. Yet another doubles title with (as usual) yet another partner, in yet another challenger ..  The "crack" combination of Nirupama (IND,162) and Melissa Middleton (USA,248) found it easy as slicing cheese today to simply outplay the top seeds Janet Lee (TPE,70) and Samantha Reeves (USA,170) at the $75K challenger in Bradenton (Florida) .. [Final] M.Middleton/ N.Vaidyanathan d. #1 J.Lee/ S.Reeves, 64 62 .. Niru picked up the most points she has ever picked up from any doubles event, as she got 59 total WTA points including 3 bonus points today .. That plus last week's 22 points for the title in Vietnam (which was a smaller challenger at $25K) will take her point total to about 267 points from the 191 right now (she has 5 points falling off next week for her title at the Delhi satellite last year) .. Her ranking will move up to near #130 in a couple of weeks! .. This is her 8th challenger doubles title .. 5 of them have come within the past year, others being at the $50K event at Mahwah in July '00 (with Evie Dominikovic), at the $50K and $25K events in Pittsburgh and Hayward in Nov '01 (both partnering Nana Miyagi), and at the $25K event last week in Vietnam (with Manisha Malhotra) ..  She has lost two finals in the past 10 months - with Nana and Lisa McShea as partners in October last year .. All of these 7 finals have happened recently - while she had no doubles titles in over three years before that! .. Her previous three challenger titles came in 96-97 at Bad Gogging and Stuttgart in Germany and at Poitiers in France .. All she had for the intervening "lean" period was three challenger doubles finals (all of them losses too) .. The funny thing is also that she has played fewer doubles events (just 14 in the last year) than she used to play before .. Reaching the finals in 7 of 12 challengers and winning 5 titles in 10 months is simply outstanding!

Apr 29 Note-1

Hello, Title #17 !!

The final just got done, and the Dynamic Duo continued their superb record in ATP events finals, with their first title of the year, and the 17th of their career together (above the challenger level) .. They won this title athe the $375K Verizon Atlanta Challenge ATP without dropping a set the whole week, and following on their upset of the second seeds yesterday, they upset the top seeds today .. [Final] #4 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. #1 R.Leach/ D.MacPherson, 63 76(7) .. It seems to have become a bit tighter in the second set, but otherwise this was another good performance .. Rick Leach of course is the great doubles player (by the way, what is he doing playing anyway ? .. He had said he was retiring at the end of last year -- heck he has been saying that for the last 5 years or something, but he is still good enough to reach finals, so we can't blame him!) .. This was a good team that the Indian Epress beat today .. The win gives our pair 175 ATP entry points .. LP has 80 and 175 points falling off next Monday and the week after, and so, the 225 and 175 points in successive weeks have come at the right time .. The team ranking will now move inside the top-15 for our pair, who shared 26,650 as prize money .. This makes their record in ATP finals 17-7 .. Actually 15-2 in tournaments below the grand slam and WDC level - not so shabby, eh ?

Apr 28 Note-3

Today's match seems to have a been a bit tougher than the earlier two matches at Atlanta, but LP-MB got through this one in straight sets again, upsetting the 2nd seeds, ranked 13th as a team .. [SF] #4 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. #2 B.Bryan/ M.Bryan, 75 76(2) .. Tomorrow's match will be a tough affair too - against two guys who know everything about our boys - the top seeds Leach and MacPherson ..  Today's win gives our guys 120 ATP doubles entry points to add to the 225 they picked up last week .. Not bad - some decent points coming into the kitty after a long time! .. $15,630 to share for reaching the final - good "grocery" money for them so far :-) .. Go Indian Express!

Apr 28 Note-2

More good news from Bradenton, Flroida .. Niru reached her 13th challenger doubles final (I have lost count on the number for the last one year when she has been in a whole bunch of doubles finals, actually :-)) .. [SF] Niru/ M.Middleton (USA) d. A.Bradshaw/ M.Irvin, 64 46 76(4) .. Tight match today, but they pulled through .. They now go up against the top seeds in the final though - Janet Lee and Samantha Reeves .. Good show by Niru and Melissa to be unseeded and still reach a final in their first time together! ..  Make it 39 more doubles points to add to the 23 she had last week for the $25K challenger title in Vietnam with Manisha ..

Apr 28 Note-1

Good news from the $75K challenger at Bradenton (Florida) as well .. Niru's doubles win streak continues, as she has reached the semifinals .. N.Vaidyanathan/ M.Middleton d. J.Chi/ J.Okada, 61 64 .. In the semis today, they face Allison Bradshaw and Marissa Irvin .. The win gives Niru 24 doubles points .. I think this is only the second time that she has reached the semifinal of a $75K challenger .. The last time was in 1997 when Niru and Meilen Tu reached the Salt Lake City challenger semi .. She has reached the semi or better a lot of times in lower graded challengers though .. Now she has gone to semi or better 17 times in challengers - with 14 different partners, that too .. 12 times she has reached the final, picking up 7 titles .. Let us make it a 13th final .. The opponents today will be tougher though.

LP-MB are scheduled to play the last match on center court today at the Atlanta ATP - the semifinal against the Bryan twins .. The match should be at around 9 pm there.

Apr 27 Note-2

The Dynamic Duo seems to have had another routine easy day at the office today .. Took care of business and moved into the semifinal .. At the $375 Verizon Atlanta Challenger ATP,  [QF] #4 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. T.Shimada/ E.Taino, 62 64 .. They face the second seeds tomorrow in the semifinals - Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who are the 13th ranked team based on this year's results .. Actually all four seeded teams have reached the semifinals at Atlanta.

Awaiting news from Niru's QF doubles match today at the Bradenton challenger.

Apr 27 Note-1

The 4th seeded Indian Express will be in action today at the $375K Verizon Atlanta Challenge ATP quarterfinals .. They play Shimada and Taino at about 9.30 pm on center court (the final match) .. To the fans in Atlanta - please send me the score if you see the match -- the US press and news guys don't give a damn for doubles and will quite probably pack up and leave after the prime time singles QF (based on past experience, the late night doubles scores sometimes go unreported in the news services - though ATP has lately been doing a wonderful job of updating scores promptly at their site) .. Top seeds Leach-MacPherson and the 2nd seeds Bryan twins have reached the semis .. The other two seeds play today.

At the $75K Bradenton challenger in Florida, Nirupama and her new partner Melissa Middleton (USA) reached teh QF of doubles with a 62 63 first round win over Yevgenia Savransky (ISR) and Marta Simic (YUG) .. They face the US pair, Jane Chi and Jean Okada, in the QF today .. Chi-Okada upset the second seeds Watanabe-Koulikovskaya yesterday in straight sets.

At Pune today, Radhika Tulpule played her 4th three-setter out of 5 singles matches this week, and pulled a comeback in a thrilling nail-biter to win the singles title! .. She beat Arcahana Venkatraman, 46 63 76(8) in a 2 hour 20 minute match .. Man, this girl has been playing with some serious fire in her belly, as other players, even experienced ones like Sai Jayalakshmy have simply wilted in the tough summer heat there .. 8th seeded Radhika upset the 3rd seed, 2nd seed and the 7th seed in a row to win the title.. The wins over Sai and Nathan were worth one quality bonus points each (as they are top-500 players), and so Radhika picked up 7 total points for the title too .. The doubles title went to Sai and Rushmi again .. They have been unbeatable in India - and took care of the young pair of Sonal and Sania for a 62 60 score .. This was Sania's first pro final, by the way - in only her second pro event; not bad, though she seems to have got some luck too, along the way ..  Sonal-Sania must have beaten the 2nd seeds Archana and Arthi in the QF (I don't have the score for that match yet), and they then got a walkover in the semi from the 3rd seeds Dea Sumantri and Radhika Tulpule as Dea was down with blisters on her feet .. See the Pune satellite page.

Apr 26 Notes

The Indian Express had a rather straight-forward win yesterday to move to the quarterfinal at the $375K Verizon Atlanta Challenge ATP -- [R1] M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. (wc) P.Goldstein/ A.Roddick, 64 64 ..  They face Thomas Shimada and Eric Taino in the quarterfinal .. All four seeds have advanced to the QFs (#1 Leach-McPherson, #2 Bryan-Bryan, and #3 E.Ferreira-Stafford being the others) .. Only one QF match is scheduled for today, and the other three including LP-MB's will be tomorrow (Friday)

Nirupama went down in the first round yesterday at the $75K Bradenton challenger .. #7 Marissa Irvin (USA,117) d. N.Vaidyanathan (IND,181), 64 62 .. I don't think she has played the doubles first round yet .. There was some rain in Florida that has delayed the tournament a bit.

19 yr old Radhika Tulpule is having a great run at the Pune satellites - a home tournament for her, as she is one of the top players to come from Deccan Gymkhana there .. Today she reached the final, upsetting the top seed Sai Jayalakshmi in straight sets 64 62 .. She had upset the 3rd seed Andrea Nathan (GBR,473) yesterday too .. Today, Archana Venkatraman got her second injury pass of the tournament, this time from the in-form Dea Sumantri after one set, to move to to the final .. Archana had upset the second seed Sonal in the QF yesterday .. Sonal has just not looked as confident and comfortable as she looked late last year .. I wonder why .. Radhika Tulpule, who along with Sonal was the top junior in 2000 (actually ahead of Sonal for most of the junior career till Sonal moved ahead a bit last year, I believe) seems to be playing quite well these days, on the other hand .. Radhika now has 6 WTA points, and can make it 7 with a win tomorrow .. I had not mentioned the results yesterday in the QFs .. Sania Mirza could not tackle the experience of Sai yesterday as she went down in straight sets .. One other notable performance was a very good set played by young Isha Lakhani against Dea Sumantri .. See the Pune satellite page.

Apr 25 Notes

LP-MB will be playing at the $375K Verizon Alanta Challenge ATP this afternoon ..  The match is scheduled to follow the 2 pm Agasssi singles match in center court .. #4 Paes-Bhupathi vs (wc) P.Goldstein/ A.Roddick

I saw about 10 results from yesterday at the $75K Bradenton challenger in Florida -- Niru doesn't seem to have played yet .. She should be in action today in the first round against the 7th seed Marissa Irvin .. more later.

Apr 24 Note-2

Nirupama, ranked 181 this week, is at the $75K Bradenton (Florida) challenger, where she is drawn to face the 7th seed Marissa Irvin (USA,117) .. She is in the same quarter as the top seed Kristina Brandi (USA,39) .. Yeek .. Tough draw .. Not sure when Niru will be playing the first round .. Probably today .. In doubles, she is playing with Melissa Middleton (USA) and they will face Yevgenia Savransky(ISR) and Marta Simic (YUG) in the first round ..

Apr 24 Note-1

LP-MB are not on the schedule for Tuesday either, at Atlanta - the doubles draw is starting very slowly there with only two courts being used every day ..

Big big upset win for Sania Mirza today at the Pune satellite -- she upset the 6th seed Jyotsna Vasisht, the 7th highest ranked Indian at #577 in the world and about 7 or 8 years older, in straight sets, 75 62 .. Man, is this 14 yr old talented or what ? .. Rushmi went down this time in a tough threesetter, 76(3) 46 57 to Dea Sumantri whom she beat in the final last week .. 17 yr old Liza Pereira made top seed Sai sweat a bit in three sets .. 16 yr old Isha Lakhani (very talented, though she has played much fewer events than most other juniors), got a gift as the 5th seed Nicola Payne conceded the match early in the first set .. Two 18 yr olds, Sonal and Radhika advanced to QF too .. It was teenager day at Pune, it seems .. See the Pune satellite page ..

Paes and Bhupathi moved up by 16 and 5 spots respectively to 32 and 67 in doubles rankings this week, with the 225 points from the Semifinal at the Monte Carlo masters .. As a team, they moved up from the 50s to #19 too .. By the way, Bjorkman and Woodbridge who beat our pair, went on to win their second title of the year at Monte Carlo .. They have made the finals in all the five events they played together so far this year - three of them were at the masters level to go with the title at the Australian Open! .. A 19-3 record .. They now have 464 race points (2320 entry points) and they have pretty much already qualified for the year end WDC already .. I doubt if any team has ever had that many points by mid-April, ever .. Incredible start for them.

Apr 23 Notes

Quick updates -- LP-MB are the 4th seeds at the $400K Verizon Atlanta Tennis Challenge ATP .. They face the wildcards, Goldstein and Roddick in the first round .. Hey, hey, we don't want any steenkin US Davis Cuppers playing our guys to scout -- what is this, someone fixing a draw or what ?  (kidding) .. They are not in the schedule for today .. Great news from Vietnam -- see The Hindu article about Niru and Manisha winning the doubles title .. The semifinal jinx in singles once again for Niru  -- this time she had 2 match pts at 5-4 in the 3rd and then lost in the tiebreaker to the second seed Na Li .. Oh well .. But a great week for her and Manisha - congrats ! .. I will compile and give all their results soon .. Here is the new page for the Pune satellite - I have updated today's scores .. Radhika had a tough win over Sheetal .. Sonal had a surprisingly tough time against Preeti Rao but played well in the end to move on .. Sania had a double bagel win! .. Dea and Rushmi (last week's finalists) will meet in the second round .. More later.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Apr 23 ..

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.