Notes for the weeks ending on May 10, 2004
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May 10 Notes
Quick updates -- LP-Rikl play Arnaud Clement and Sebastien Grosjean of
France in the first round at the Hamburg masters .. They are drawn to face
the 3rd seeds Mahesh and Max (who have a first round bye) in the secoind
round! .. Somdev Dev Varman is at the $10K USA F11 futures in Orange Park,
Florida .. Awaiting news from Uzbekistan on the draw for Prakash Amritraj
and Sunil Kumar, and from Lebanon for Mustafa Ghouse .. Harsh Mankad is taking
this week off after a lot of matches in the last two weeks .. Also waiting
for the draw from the grade-1 Citta Di Santa Croce juniors in Italy for Karan
Rastogi, the second seed there.
May 9 Notes
Title #34 for Mahesh today! .. That came in another nice comeback against
a team that has been looking unbeatable on the Rome Masters clay from last
year .. [F] (3) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. Wayne Arthurs (AUS)/ Paul Hanley (AUS) 26 63 64
.. Congratulations! .. They started out badly, dropping serve twice to the
Aussies in the first set, but then waws in good command, not dropping
serve and breaking WA-PH once each in the next two sets .. The win gives
Mahesh 500 points, which comes at a good time as he had a bunch of points
(225+350 for SF and Final at the Rome and Hamburg Masters last year) .. All
such big points are great for the next 10 2-3 months when Mahesh will be
trying to keep his top-5 ranking intact to justify a top-four seeding with
Leander at the Olympics ..
Talking of Olympics (Aug 15-22), it is time for an early preview .. Here are the top pairs from each country and their combined rankings, as of now -
USA - Bryan (1) + Bryan (1) = 2
AUS - Woodbridge (4) + Hanley (10) = 14
- Woodbridge (4) + Arthurs (11) = 15
- Arthurs (11) + Hanley (10) = 21
FRA - Santoro (9) + Llodra (12) = 21
IND - Bhupathi (5) + Paes (21) = 26
CZE - Suk (13) + Damm (14) = 27
RSA - Ullyett (15) + Black (17) = 32
ARG - Rodriguez (16) + Etlis (18) = 34
ISR - Ram (19) + Erlich (23) = 42
Currently the Indian Express would be the 4th on ranking, but the Olympics seedings are
decided by ITF .. The rules explicitly say that while rankings are the
primary criterion, it is not the sole criterion .. AITA would need
to make sure that our pair gets picked as a top-4 seed, providing ITF with all the arguments
in our favor, which there plenty of .. The key right now is for LP and MB
to do well in the next few events an be in good shape by the August 15th
sunday when the tennis events kick off in Athens .. I have not seen a published
date for the draw and which date's rank list will be used for seeding consideration,
but that it would be "the latest available", which implies the August 9th
ranking (the entry is based on the June 14th ranking and the countries
send in entries by June 28th) ..
MB has 700 points falling off at Wimbledon which is the big one from
his list from now on - but he shouldn't have a huge problem staying inside
top-5 even if a bunch of points fall off .. For Leander, all but about 350
points in his current point total over 1900 will fall off by August 9th ..
But he has nearly 10 events to pick up good points - about 5 or 6 with Rikl
[Hamburg Masters, St.Poelten/Casblanca, French Open, Queens/Halle, DenBosch/Nottingham,
and Wimbledon] and about 4 with Mahesh [Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Toronto,
Cincinnati], based on what we gather now .. If he stays inside the top-20
or so, even based on rankings they should be among the top four and it would
be easier for AITA to impress upon ITF that they be seeded among the top-4,
assuming AITA can exercize some influence in that! .. All this also
assumes that ITF would do a sensible job and would not be seeding highly
ranked singles players in doubles also .. There is a provision for top-10
singles players to get entry regardless of doubles ranking; so countries
like Spain and Argentina (or even Australia) can probably find teams with
top-10 singles players as wildcard dark horses .. A country can have up to
two doubles teams, so a specialist doubles pair and a scratch combo would
make sense for some countries .. Anyway, we can't do anything about all that
right now .. All LP and MB can do is to make sure their rankings wouldn't
drop much .. As for me, I am rooting for Suk, Damm, Ullyett, Black, etc etc
to all do badly from now on :-)
I know we all are impatient to see LP and MB to start playing together
early, but I am getting excited now .. Looking forward to them joiining hands
the day after Wimbledon and starting on the big project of getting us the
precious metal .. Time for all of us to get behiund and start rooting for
wins everyday by the two champs .. Getting near the stretch run of the 3
months buildup to Athens.
Here is an article with some comments from Ramanathan Krishnan and here is another article with some comments by Krishna Bhupathi .. I share both the optimism and the pessimism of both :) .. I am excited either way!
May 8 Notes
MadMax is finally on a roll again .. They reached their first final of
the year at the Rome Masters with a nice comeback, 67(6) 62 64 over the second
seeds Jonas Bjorkman (SWE) and Todd Woodbridge (AUS) .. This is actually
the first final for MadMax in seven months since their title at the Madrid
Masters last October, though they have played only eight events since then
.. MB has won both the finals he has reached this year, but with Fabrice
Santoro (FRA) - at Auckland in January and Dubai in March .. The semifinal
took over two hours yesterday, but MB-MM was clearly ahead after the first
set set as they converted two of their three break chances in the second
set .. There were back and forth breaks in the third set before our guys
went ahead once more and finished it off in a match that lasted over two
hours .. In the final, they face the sixth seeds Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley,
a potential Australian doubles pair for Athens .. Those two guys seem to
always do well at Rome .. They were unseeded last year when they won the
title there with many upsets, including over MadMax in the semis .. This
time they are again at it, as they have beaten Paes-Rikl in the second round,
upset the 4th seeds Knowle-Nestor in the QF and then totally demolished the
top seeds Bryans 64 61 in the semis .. The way they play there, the 36 26
econd round loss that Lee and Rikl sufferred does not look as bad now! ..
What do they do in Rome to do this well - eat some special spinach in some
Pasta Romano? .. Hope MadMax can get to the Aussies .. The final is set for
about 5 pm on Sunday after a best-of-5 singles final between Moya and Nalbandian
that starts at 2.30 pm.
The Swedish 8th seed on a surprising run, Mattias Hellstrom, won the Lebanon
F1 upsetting second seed Victor Bruthans, continuing Harsh Mankad's odd record
of having mostly lost only to the eventual winner in all but a couple of
the nine or so tournaments he has played this year.
May 7 Notes
Finally a high quality win by MadMax who have been very patchy in their
last few matches .. They reached the SF at the Rome Masters with a very nice
75 63 win over the Australian Open Champs and 5th seeds Michael Llodra and
Fabrice Santoro today .. It was a very close match going into the 12th game
of the first set .. MB-MM had not faced any breakpoints and had only one
break chance till that point, when they suddenly turned it on .. They forced
triple set points and converted the first chance there to take the set ..
Continued the fine show with a break in the second game of the second
set as well, to go up 3-0 .. MB-MM stayed ahead saving a break attempt in
the 3rd game .. Wasted a couple of chances to break again in the 4th game,
but kept the one break advantage to cruise to a win .. ML-FS had beaten MB-MM
cheaply at the AO quarterfinals, and so this was pretty good payback .. MadMax
will play the second seeds Bjorkman-Woodbridge in the SF tomorrow.
I am not sure what happened to Harsh Mankad today, as he went down 46 06
to the 8th seed Mattias Hellstrom (SWE,495) .. That is an unsusual scoreline
for a Mankad match, especially when is playing in top form, as he has done
this week .. Hopefully he is OK - one gets concerned after three weeks of
tennis and about 16 singles and doubles matches in the last 12 days .. He
and Mustafa won their second title in successive weeks, after a bit of a
struggle today, 63 57 76(1) in the final against the 3rd seeds Florin Mergea
and Horia Tecau of Romania .. Great run by HM and MG for two weeks as they
won two titles and picked up 36 points .. Though he missed a great chance
for some big points again this week, it has been a couple of good weeks of
singles by HM .. He picked up 12 points from back to back semifinals, including
a couple of good upset wins - enough to move him back up inside around #355
.. Will try to find out what is up with him .. Hopefully he will take a break
next week if he is a bit banged up and tired .. The Fergana challenger the
week after would make it 5 weeks in a row, if he pllays Lebanon F2 next week.
By the way, this was the 12th doubles final for Harsh in the last 12 months,
and he has won 8 of those finals .. Though his work goes largely unnoticed
by the Indian tennis circles and in the media, his doubles performance, that
too with so many different partners, has been impressive .. It includes
two challenger finals and one challenger title, and a satellite masters title
as well, along with several futures titles .. His ranking will move inside
top-185 .. That is the highest rank by any Indian other than Paes and Bhupathi
in over a decade, and he is also the only Indian to crack top-200 other than
LP and MB in that period .. Keep it up, Harsh, but take rest if you need to!
May 6 Note-2.
MB-MM advanced to the QF at the Miami masters with a touch-and-go 36
75 75 win over Roger Federer and Yves Allegro of Switrzerland .. LP-Rikl
went down in the second round, 36 26 to the 6th seeds Arthurs-Hanley ..
There was a rain delay in LP's match
at 1-1 in the second set .. They held serve for a game and then dropped 4
games in a row to lose the match.
Ah this one hurts .. It turns out that my joy this morning was short-lived ..
Though the official draw spreadsheet at the ITF's junior website continues
to show that India won the u16 Junior Fed Cup doubles match in the final
pool match against Indonesia, it turns out that we lost it in 3 sets, dropping
to a threeway tie (INA, IND, KOR all had 2-1 tie record and 6-3 match record)
.. We missed out on making the QF due to the third tie breaker, percentage
of sets won - I thought one set in doubles even in a loss would do, but I
must have made an error in adding up the sets .. So that is the end of that
story .. But let's give a pat to Sanaa and Sandhya for fighting right till
the end - they tried their best, but in Tara's absence (due to injury), that
turned out to be not enough.
Now for some good news .. Harsh Mankad continues to show incredible consistency
and focus in his spirited tour around the world .. Today he picked up a big
upset win to reach the semifinal at the $15K Lebanon F1 claycourt futures
.. [QF] (5) Harsh Mankad (IND,385) d. (1) Wesley Whitehouse (RSA,247), 63 63
.. A really dominating win over a former Wimbledon junior champion .. Always good to see a top-250 upset win from Harsh .. HM
now faces the 8th seed Mattias Hellstrom (SWE,495) in the semi .. With successive
week's semis on hardcourts in Qatar and clay at Lebanon, he has picked up
12 points which comes at a good time as 22 points had fallen off a couple
of weeks back .. He will climb back near #355 in a couple of weeks, and hopefully
can pick up 6 more tomorrow by reaching the final at Beirut .. Also, Mustafa
and Mankad continues to win in doubles as well .. Following on their title
last week at Qatar, they have now reached the final at Beirut, beating the
3rd seeds Ivan Cerovic and Alexander Jakupovic, 63 64 .. They take on the
young Romanian Davis Cup doubles pair, Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau, who
were one of the top junior doubles teams last year and have been doing well
in the futures this year.
526th ranked Sunil Kumar could not continue the magic from yesterday when
he upset the 3rd seed, and went down in the QF today to the 6th seed Jean-Juleien
Roger (AHO,371), 61 36 26 .. He should be playing the UZB F4 next week.
At the Tarakan $10K in Indonesia, it turns out that Liza Pereira also lost in the
first round -- 57 16 to Naoki Horikawa (JPN) .. In doubles,
Sai and Liza are in the semis .. [R1] (1) Sai Jayalakshmy/ Liza Pereira
d. Mari Inoue (JPN)/ Utako Suzuki (JPN) 75 62 .. [QF] d. Dian Anggraini (INA)/
Mudarwati Mudarwati (INA) 46 60 75 .. They play the SF against Septi Mende and
Wukirasih Sawondari of Indonesia ..
May 6 Note-1
It took a lot of tough and gritty work by Sanaa Bhambri and Sandhya Nagaraj,
but after winning three tough 3-setters in their 3rd pool tie against Indonesia,
India topped the pool and advanced to QF today at the u16 Junior Fed
Cup Asia-Oceania regionals!. Bhambri/Nagaraj d. Damayanti/ Soesilo, 64 36
64 .. The doubles match was postponed from yesterday (the singles scores
from yesterday, below) .. It seems India's QF against Thailand has been postponed
to tomorrow (I need to confirm that) .. In our pool, 3rd seeded India and
6th seeded Korea advanced .. In the QFs today, (4) Japan d. (6) Korea, 2-1
.. (2) China d. New Zeland, 3-0 .. (1) Chinese Taipei d. Hong Kong 3-0 ..
India has to beat Thailand in the QF and then win one more tie, either in
the semi or for the 3rd place, to advance to the world group .. Tough, but
we may manage to squeeze through .. Go Sandhya, Sanaa and Madura! .. Well,
sorry .. correction, as explained later above -- we didn''t make it. ITF's
website score was wrong; we LOST the doubles match today :( ..
May 5 Note-2
Leander and David Rikl advanced to the second round at the Rome Masters
with a 76(5) 75 win over Mariano Hood and Sebastien Prieto of Argentina ..
They will play the 6th seeded Aussie pair, Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley
tomorrow .. Mahesh and Max are also playing the second round tomorrow, but
they will have to wait for the a noon-time match to get done before knowing
Harsh Mankad reached the quarterfinal at the $15K Lebanon F1, beating Mohammed Al Ghareeb (KUW,782), 46
63 60 but Mustafa Ghouse went down to the top seed Wesley Whitehouse (RSA,247),
06 57 .. Harsh plays Whitehouse in the QF tomorrow .. In the doubles QF,
(1) M.Ghouse/ H.Mankad d. Motaz Abou El Khair/ Karim Mamoun (EGY), 63 62
.. They play the 3rd seeds Ivan Cerovic (CRO)/ Alexander Jakupovic (GER)
in the semis.
Good news again from Sunil Kumar, who reached the QF at the $15K in Namangan,
UZB .. He beat Mikhail Ledovskikh (RUS,728), 75 76(4), and now faces the
6th seeded Jean-Julien Roger (AHO,371) .. Sunil and Ajay Ramaswami
lost in the doubles QF to the 3rd seeds Alexei Kedriouk (KAZ) and Orest Tereshchuk
(UKR), 46 63 36.
At the Edinburgh $10K, qualifier Virginie Ayassamy (FRA) beat Shruti
Dhawan 63 64 in the first round, and at the Tarakan (Indonesia) $10K, the
3rd seed Sai Jayalakshmy was upset in the first round by a qualifier, Mimma
Chernovita, 63 63 .. So not a good day for the women . I am not sure of Liza
At the Junior Fed Cup Asia-Oceania regionals in Thailand, some
fantastic work by our u16 girls today, as they have forced a 3-way tie in
the pool and can possibly even top the pool, despite losing 1-2 to the 6th
seeds Korea yesterday .. They defeated Indonesia today .. Sandhya Nagaraj
d. Patricia Soesilo, 63 26 75 .. Sanaa Bhambri d. Ayu Fani Damayanti 26 63
63 .. Bhambri/Nagaraj vs Damayanti/ Soesilo 2-0 first set (To be finished/
rain) .. Indonesia had beaten Korea 2-1 earlier, and so winning this doubles
match for a 3-0 win would help us win the pool (all three have beaten the
4th team Philippines by identical 3-0 margins) .. IND, INA and KOR
are 6-2, 5-3 and 6-3 respectively in matches so far, with 13-6, 12-6 and
13-7 sets records by my calculations .. I think even winning a set in a doubles
loss would be enough to put us into the QF knockout stage, but topping the
pool is cruicial for us to try to advance to the SF .. But if we lose in
straight sets when the play resumes tomorrow, we would miss the knockout
stage altogether .. So everything depends on the doubles match .. In any
case, those were two excellent fighting wins today by Sandhya and Sanaa ..
The captain'd decision to replace Madura with Sandhya seems to have worked
today .. I wish it hadn't rained - that may make things tough for us tomorrow.
May 5 Note-1
LP's doubles match got postponed at night at the Rome Masters .. Will play tomorrow.
Great news from Namangan, Uzbekistan .. Unseeded Sunil Kumar Sipaeya
(IND,526) upset the 3rd seed Raven Klaasen (RSA,335), 63 62 to advance to
the second round at the $15K UZB F3 futures .. He faces Mikhail Ledovskikh
(RUS,726) next .. In doubles, Sunil and Ajay Ramaswami advanced with a 63
75 win over the Russian pair, Ervand Gasparyan and Andrei Merinov; they face
the 3rd seeds Alexei Kedriouk (KAZ) and Orest Tereshchuk (UKR) next.
At the $15K futures in Lebanon, both Harsh and Mustafa advanced to the second round yesterday .. [R1]
H.Mankad d. (Q) Ara Harutyunyan, 63 64 .. [R1] M.Ghouse d. (Q) Rabie Abou-Hassoun
(SYR) 62 63 .. Harsh faces Mohammed Al Ghareeb (KUW,782) next and Mustafa
runs into the top seed Wesley Whitehouse (RSA,247) .. (Q) Gurmehar Singh
and Jakub Rutka (POL) reached the QF with a walkover .. They play the second
seeds, Delgado-Whitehouse next.
Wildcard entry Sunitha Rao (USA,251) had a good win yesterday at the $50K
challenger at Raleigh, North Carolina .. She beat Ansley Cargill (USA,179)
63 64 ..
May 4 Note-2
Damn, we are in trouble at the Asia-Oceanis Junior Fed Cup qualifiers .. 2nd seeded India lost 1-2 to 6th seeded Korea today .. Madura Ranganathan
l. Hye-Mi Byun 57 16 .. Sanaa Bhambri l. Soon-Mi Seo, 63 06 36 .. S.Bhambri/
Sandhya Nagaraj d. Byun/Seo 76(6) 46 61 .. We have to beat Indonesia in the
next tie to have a chance to advance .. Tara Iyer's absence is really really
hurting us right now it seems .. I hope she is not injured - I only learned
yesterday that she wasn't there in Thailand .. I had pencilled us in for
world group in the girls u16 but we are in a dogfight right now .. Oh well,
May 4 Note-1
At the Rome Masters, LP and Rikl play a late evening match today in the doubles first round against Hood/Prieto ..
Harsh Mankad and Mustafa Ghouse beat Thomas Holzmann/ Zbynek Mlynarik
(AUT) 75 16 64 to reach the doubles QF at the $15K Lebanon F1 claycourt futures
yesterday .. In singles, the 5th seeded HM plays unranked qualifier, Ara
Harutyunyan (ARM) today, and Mustafa plays qualifier Rabie Bou-Hassoun (SYR)
.. Easier first round matches for a change, but the latter rounds are expected
to become tougher, as Mustafa may run into the top seed Wesley Whitehouse
(RSA,247) in the second round .. HM is also in the same quarter of the draw
.. In the first round yesterday, qualifier Gurmehar Singh went down to Whitehouse,
36 16 .. Gurmehar had beaten Rami Alayli (LIB) 60 61 and Wissam Ayyach (LIB)
62 62 in the Q2 andd Q3 to qualify in .. Gurmehar also qualified into the
doubles draw with Jakub Rutka (POL) .. They play Andrew Banks (GBR) and Dmitri
Sitak (RUS) in the main draw first round.
At the $15K Uzbekistan F3 hardcourt futures at Namangan, #535 Sunil Kumar
Sipaeya faces the 3rd seed, Raven Klaasen (RSA, 338) .. Ajay Ramswami, seeded
3rd in the qualies, got upset in the Q1 by eventual qualifier Dmitriy Makeev
(KAZ), 36 63 62 .. In doubles, Ajay and Sunil Kumar play the Russians
Kirill Ivanov-Smolensky and Andrei Stoliarov first ..
A correction from what I said yesterday -- Prakash Amritraj has withdrawn
only from this week's UZB futures .. He is still listed for next week's $15K
UZB F4 at Andijan and for the Fergana challenger the week after.
Shruti Dhawan made the main draw at the $10K in Edinburgh, UK, and is a drawn
to face a qualifier in the first round .. No news yet from the Indoensia
$10K at Tarakan - though the ITF continues to call it a $10K in Jakarta,
it really is at Tarakan, a small town in East Kalimantan, across the border
from Sarawak, Malaysia, it seems .. I hope Sai and Liza made it there.
Good show by our u16 Girls Junior Fed Cup team at Nakhorn Ratchasima, Thailand,
yesterday, as they started the pool ties with a nice 3-0 win over Philippines
.. Madhura Ranganathan d. Melissa Conchita Orteza 62 64 .. Sanaa Bhambri
d. Morella Conchita Zoleta, 61 62 .. Madhura/ Sandhya Nagaraj d. Julie Em
Botor/ Melissa Conchita 62 61 .. India seems to be in the toughest pool there,
with Indonesia and Korea also in the same pool .. 4 round robin pools for
15 teams .. It seems only THREE teams qualify for the world group-16, not
four which is the usual number .. India's team nomination originally had
Tara Iyer as the #1 player, but it seems she is not there and the alternate,
Sandhya is in the team .. That is a bit of a blow for us, as we would have
been pretty much a shoe-in for world group, with Tara and Sanaa for singles
.. Madura and Sandhya are quite capable of doing the job though .. Go India
May 3 Notes.
Back from a trip, and back to news updates .. LP plays with David Rikl
and MB plays with Max Mirnyi .. MB-MM are seeded 3rd with a first round bye
.. LP and Rikl are unseeded as their rankings have fallen a bit to #20 and
21 now (with a bunch if points to defend in the next few weeks too; they
have some work to do immediately) .. They play Mariano Hood and Sebastien
Prieto in the first round .. That match is tomorrow (Tuesday) ..
Harsh Mankad is at the $15K Lebanon F1 futures on outdoor clay this week
.. He is among the seeds - I believe he plays a qualifier in the first round,
but I have not seen the draw .. Mustafa Ghouse is also in the main draw at
Lebanon, and Jacco Mathew's name was in the entry list for qualifying - not
sure if he went there .. Based on the news from a French Lebanese newspaper,
Gurmehar Singh qualified in there, but he faces the top seed Wesley Whiotehouse
in the first round today .. Harsh and Mustafa play Thomas Holzmann and Zbynek
Mlynaryk in the doubles R1 today, as they try to get used to the clay quickly
before the singles first round tomorrow.
Prakash Amritraj has withdrawn from the two weeks of $15K futures in Uzbekistan;
not sure why .. Sunil Kumar is at the $15K UZB F3 this week, and Ajay Ramaswami
was expected to be among the seeds in the qualies .. No news from there either
about the draw yet.
Divij Sharan was at the qualifying for the $10K Spain F5 futures and fell
in the final round .. After a Q1 bye, he upset the top seed David Villanueva
(ESP,946) 76(5) 36 52 .. Disgusting for that guy to retire in the final game
rather than to stay in there and take the loss like a man .. As always I
have to say that it is disgusting behavior, unless the injury is so bad that
one can't even toos the ball in for serves or can't even stand there to receive
four serves .. Just to repeat what I have said before, that stuff normally
only shows the lack of self-respect from the player; If you believe you are
good, you wouldn't feel the need to show the world that it was only injuries
that caused a loss .. Good job by Divij there, but he could not continue
the fine work in the next match where he lost 26 26 to Roberto Velilla (ESP)
in the Q3 of the 4-round qualies.
Sai and Liza are at the $10K ITF event for women at Jakarta .. Shruti is at the $10K in Edinburgh, UK ..
The Indian u16 junior Fed Cup girls team is at Thailand this week for the
Girls Junior Fed Cup Asia-Ocenia Regional qualifying .. They are among the
15 teams there, with 4 advancing to the world group-16 .. India should be
a seed there, but I am awaiting news from there as well.
Here is an article in The Hindu
with the comments by coach Sandeep Kirtane about our biys u16 Junior Davis
Cup teams show in Colombo last week .. Frank and straight-forward opinions
by Sandeep on the players .. Congratulations, Sandeep, for the job well done!
.. Previous notes are at
the week ending on May 3 ..
I am getting some inquiries 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 inquiring 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 inquiries from the coaches too .. Please
email me - R.Jayakrishnan.