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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on May 7, 2001
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May 7 Notes

The Indian Express moved up to the #7 spot in team rankings .. The individual rankings will take a little longer to move up to the high spots .. Mahesh is at #25 and Leander is at #56 today ..  They are in the draw for the Rome masters this week, but are probably not scheduled to play till Wednesday - they play the wildcards Agassi and Hewitt in the first round .. Somehow, our pair has been drawing the featured doubles wildcard team in every tournament .. LP-MB are drawn right next to the second seeds Novak-Rikl and could face them in the second round .. By the way, Agassi and Hewitt could be a tough combo - Hewitt has a lot of doubles abilities and Agassi has a lot of .. well .. "abilities"! .. Tough draw for our pair again.

The second ITF men's satellite of the year is starting today in India .. Sorry that I forgot to comment on the entry list I had got earlier - actually I was quite disappointed in seeing the entry list when I got it a couple of weeks back .. Following one of the toughest entry lists we had ever seen in the last last satellite series in March, we have basically the poorest entry list this time with just one player in the top-500 (we had some 10 players in the top-500 last time) .. It is difficult to predict the strength of field in any satellite, actually .. Fazaluddin is in the field, which is the good news - and he is the 4th seed for the first leg .. With both Harsh Mankad and Ajay Ramaswamy being tied up with the year end college national championships in the US and unable to come, we do not have two other top Indians after LP and MB playing in this satellite .. Srinath has been fighting injury problems for a long time, and I don't think he is playing either .. Also missing will be Vijay Kannan, who is taking the degree final year exams in college and is forced to miss this circuit .. The one I intend to keep an eye on is 19 yr old Manoj Mahadevan, who showed signs of slow but steady progress in the last satellite circuit .. Mustafa Ghouse is also in the direct entry list, as are Rishi, Vinod and Nitin .. Prakash Amritraj makes his satellite debut in this circuit .. He has been given a wildcard .. By the way, ATP lists him under India, and so I will not refer to him as Prakash Amritraj "of USA", as I do during his junior circuit events! :-) .. See the Thiruvananthapuram satellite page.

That is "Thiru-Anantha-Puram" .. "Thiru" stands for "Sree" in Malayalam .. "Anantha" is the serpeant on which the deity of the main temple ("Sree Padmanabha") reclines .. The old English name of the city, "Trivandrum", did NOT come from some meaningless word like "thriventhrum" unlike what many people outside Kerala seem to think (:-)) - neither did the Bristish have three vans with drums parked out there! .. Anyway, they used to have some decent grass courts in Thiruvananthapuram and they conducted a satellite circuit masters about 5 years back - on grass if I remember correctly .. Not sure of the surface of the current leg.

I don't think Niru is playing this week in the pro circuit in the US .. She was down with some shoulder pain last week after all the successful doubles runs (according to The Hindu last week), and will take a week or two off to make sure of not making it it worse .. I hope she is fine - will try to find out soon how she is doing.

May 6 Notes

I am sure you all expected no surprises, and there weren't any .. The Indian Express just kept on rolling in the semifinal and final .. Today they won the final at the $350K Houston ATP to pick up the second title in two weeks and show that they mean business about their return to the top .. [F] #2 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. Kevin Kim/ Jim Thomas, 76(4) 62 .. Hello Title #18!

That makes it an extremely impressive 18-7 record (72%) in ATP finals for our pair .. They have run their record to 17-1 in the last 18 claycourt ATP matches they have played together, dating back to the start of the 1999 French Open .. The title was worth $22,600 for them to share .. Another week of good grocery money for them .. They made 175 points for the title .. The win will not change Leander's ranking much, as the points from last year's Orlando ATP title with Siemerink drops of this monday .. MB should move up a couple of spots .. It should take them up into the top-8 or so in the doubles team ranking .. They have picked up 225+175+175 = 575 pts in the last three weeks .. I hope they are not playing too many matches in a row, but otherwise, it's a really good run!

A delayed result - from the semifinal yesterday (I was out for basically the whole weekend and could update score only now) -- [SF] #2 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. D.MacPherson/ G.Staford, 76 57 61 .. A slightly tougher match than they have been having lately, though they seem to have handled it easily in the 3rd .. These wins have the classic patterns of their old style .. Yeah folks, the Indian Express seems to be back .. They will face tougher teams at the Rome masters next week, though.  Go Dynamic Duo!!

May 5 Notes

The Indian Express has reached their 3rd consecutive semifinal .. It was an easy match last night at the $375K US Men's Claycourt Championships ATP in Houston - [QF] #2 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. J.Coetzee/ B.Haygarth, 75 61 .. They take on David McPherson and Grant Stafford in the semifinal today.

May 4 Notes

The official announcement has come out now, from ITF London, that USTA has selected Winston-Salem (North Carolina) as the location for the Davis Cup tie against India, as we had heard earlier .. A Reuters agency report in the US quotes AITA to be confirming that USTA has informed them of the location .. I don't believe USTA has had an official press release yet about this .. The surface is yet to be decided but it may even be clay, according to what we heard from the Winston-Salem newspaper earlier (I wonder if they will create a clay court at the Joel Coliseum - that sounds odd).

LP-MB play their quarterfinal today at the Houston ATP .. It is the only doubles match today - on the center court at about 9 pm against Coetzee and Haygarth .. The other three QFs were done yesterday .. In the upper half of the draw, the top seeds Bryan twins went down in the QF yesterday and 4th seeds Leach-Springelmeyer had lost in the first round earlier .. The 3rd seeds MacPherson-Stafford won their QF and will face the winners of today's match in the semi.

Sorry for the late update today - if you did not see the score update yesterday on the Nirupama page, she went down rather surprisingly to Rachel Viollet (GBR,279), 36 36 at the $25K Dothan (Alabama) challenger .. Either Rachel is a pretty good player on an upswing or Niru just had a bad day..  16 yr old Sunitha Rao (USA) upset the 8th seed and has reached the QF there, by the way .. Sunitha is perhaps the best prospect in her age group in the US along with Ashley Harklerod who also reached the QF upsetting the 2nd seed.

The legends tournament is in full swing in Mumbai with Borg, Bahrami, Lloyd, Amritrajs, Case, Leconte, Vilas etc .. Will try to give a summary roundup later.

May 3 Notes

LP-MB had a tough match last night, that finished pretty late into the night .. It was too late for the score to hit the agency news wires and I had to wait till the morning to find out .. Our boys pulled through - [R1] #2  #2 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. (wc) M.Fish/ A.O'Brien, 57 75 64 .. In the quarterfinals, LP-MB play Jeff Coetzee and Brent Haygarth .. That match is scheduled for Friday ..

Niru plays her second round match at the $25K Dothan challenger this morning at 10 am against Rachel Viollet (GBR).

May 2 Note-3

I guess it is not just a rumor - the decision seems to have been made for Winston-Salem (North Carolina) to be the site for the Davis Cup tie between India and USA, Sep 21-23 .. It will be at the Joel Coliseum, and could possibly be on a clay surface, according to today's Winston-Salem Jounal, which quotes an "unnamed source close to the site selection negotiation" .. The Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum has a capacity of about 14,400, from what I can find out - but apparently they will block off the upper deck, etc, and create a 7500 capacity arena for the Davis Cup .. It seems that the official announcement will come today from ITF, London .. Okidokey ..

May 2 Note-2

I am hearing rumors that the Davis Cup site for the India-USA tie will be in North Carlolina, on some slow indoor hardcourt .. Unconfirmed, so we will wait for an announcement .. I believe it is to be announced soon - probably today itself.

It is unusual for the daily previews from any tournament to even mention the doubles matches of the day - I have almost NEVER seen it .. Had a surprise reading the press release from Houston today -- it said, THE INDIAN EXPRESS - In doubles play tonight, Houston fans will be treated to one of the best doubles teams on the ATP, Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes. The Indian duo who are seeded No. 2 this week have paired to win 17 career ATP titles, including Roland Garros and Wimbledon victories. In 1999, they became the first team since 1952 to reach the finals at all four Grand Slams, a feat unmatched since. After an injury-plagued 2000, in which they won just one title in Tokyo, the Indians are back playing well again and are coming off a title effort last Sunday in Atlanta. Today they'll face Mardy Fish and Amarillo resident Alex O'Brien in the first round. .. Well, our boys' reputation precedes them! .. Hope they play well today against Fish and Alex - one of the very talented US youngsters playing with one of the best US doubles players.

May 2 Note-1

LP-MB are scheduled to play at the $350K Houston ATP today .. The first round match against the wildcards Mardy Fish and Alex O'Brien is scheduled as the last match of the day on the center court there -- it seems like the the Indian Express has been constantly staying in the center of action lately.

Good news from the $25K challenger in Dothan (Alabama) .. Gabriela Volekova who had been on a terrific hot-streak lately, reaching two consecutive challenger finals, could not do much against Niru in a match that just got done there .. [R1] N.Vaidyanathan d. G.Volekova (SVK,256), 63 64 .. Good show by Niru .. She now faces unseeded Rachel Viollet (GBR,279) in the second round

It doesn't look like Manisha made it into the main draw, despite being the first in line for a lucky loser spot, at the $50K Gifu challenger .. I saw 14 of the 16 first round results from Tuesday, and no sign of Manisha getting a chance .. Awaiting news on whether she made the doubles draw, where she was again in the final of the doubles qualies .. No other Indian players seem to be in action this week anywhere.

I have been promising the results compilation for Nirupama for a long time on the Nirupama page .. I had posted the official results from the old WTA website which I had copied just before they stopped publishing the challenger results for the players in Aug 1988, and I had been promising for two years to add the rest of the results .. It took me a while to compile all the results I had in my own archive .. I have added the 1998 and 1999 results - check out the links at the bottom part of the Nirupama Vaidyanathan page .. I have not put the 2000 and 2001 results together yet .. I will get around to doing that sometime soon (hopefully it won't take another two years! :-)) ..

May 1 Note-2

Nirupama is at the $25K challenger in Dothan (Alabama), but playing only singles .. Niru is the 4th seed there and will face Gabriela Volekova (SVK,256) in the first round tomorrow .. Niru is drawn in the upper half with the top seed Alina Jidkova (RUS,116), and is in the same quarter as 6th seed Sarah Taylor (USA,206) .. But, first she needs to get past Volekova, who may not be that easy an opponent - she had reached the final of the $25K challenger in Mexico two weeks back, and then agains was in the final last week at the $25K challenger in Jackson (Mississippi) .. Niuru will need to play well in the first round .. I think it is a good decision not to play doubles at Dothan .. Her ranking is high enough now in doubles, that even a title would not help her much at the $25K level - she is better off avoiding the fatigue problems from playing too much .. By the way, if you are wondering where the heck Dothan is - it is near the Southern border of Alabama, right above the Florida panhandle -- their claim to fame is that they are the "Peanut capital of the world" .. They say that life in the challenger circuit is really tough, with the players basically playing for peanuts -- it's doubly true at Dothan, I guess :-)

Bad news from the $50K challenger in Gifu in Japan - 8th seeded Manisha Malhotra lost in the final round of qualies to the 4th seeded Young-Ja Choi, 57 67(4) .. Manisha is however the first in line for a lucky loser spot if one opens up in the main draw - and it is not that infrequent for that to happen in the women's circuit .. We will wait and see .. Manisha and Leanne Baker of New Zealand have reached the final round of the doubles qualies at the $50K challenger as well, though.

May 1 Note-1

LP-MB are not on the schedule at Houston for today, so our boys will get a couple of days at rest after the weekend matches in Atlanta .. They should be playing tomorrow, most probably, at Houston.

No news yet on the main draw at the $25K challenger in Dothan, Alabama .. Also awaiting news from Japan on what happened to Manisha in the final round of qualies yesterday.

Finally got hold of all the results from the $25K Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) challenger two weeks back where Niru had reached the semifinal and Manisha the second round .. Here they are - in singles, for Niru, [R1] #3 Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND,182) d. WC-Kimtrang Nguyen (VIE), 60 60 .. [R2] d. Sachie Umehara (JPN,346), 62 61 .. [QF] d. Shiho Hisamatsu (JPN,301), 60 63 .. [SF] #2 Na Li (CHN,170) d. Niru, 46 63 76(3) .. For Manisha, [R1] Manisha Malhotra (IND,374) d. Ting Li (CHN,387), 76(4) 64 .. [R2] Shiho Hisamatsu (JPN,301) d. Manisha, 61 57 76(4) .. Niru picked up 12 WTA points .. She also had 6 points fall off for her satellite title last year at Delhi and so her ranking did not change much - it moved this week from 181 to 179 .. For Manisha also, the rankings did not change much, as she picked up 4 points but had 2 points to defend .. She is at #373 this week .. The doubles results from their title run at Vietnam were - [R1] #1 N.Vaidyanathan/ M.Malhotra d. Young-Ja Choi (KOR)/ Eun-Ha Kim (KOR), 36 76(5) 62 .. [R2] d. (q) Jing-Jing Liu (CHN)/ Zi Yan (CHN), 61 62 .. [QF] d. #4 Na Li (CHN)/ Lui-Li Shen (CHN), 64 75 .. [F] d. #2 Leanne Baker (NZL)/ Shelley Stephens (NZL), 63 75 .. They picked up 23 WTA points there in doubles ..

Apr 30 Note-2

Manisha Malhotra has won two rounds and reached the final round of qualifying for the $50K challenger in Gifu, Japan .. In Q1, she defeated I-Ting Wang (TPE,471), 61 64, and then defeated Victoria Davies (GBR,529), in a close comeback, 46 76(2) 64 .. The 8th seeded Manisha, ranked 373 this week, faces the 4th seed Young-Ja Choi (KOR,283) in the final .. Choi has been playing very well, and will be a very tough player for Manisha to face though .. Incidentally, the 23 points from the title in Vietnam, has raised Manisha's doubles ranking now to #253 from #294 .. By the way, Nirupama's points from the title yesterday have already gone into her points list (I forgot that they do add the points for $75K challengers and higher events without waiting for a week) .. So her point total is now 265 and her rankings has gone up to #134.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Apr 30 ..

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.