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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the 6 weeks ending on May 16, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2005)

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May 16 Notes

Sorry forlks, for the long silences from me in the last few weeks .. Only a temporary thing .. Just a busy time at work .. Got a couple of emails about whether I am discontinuing the notes .. Hey, NO!! .. nothing like that .. I will get it going soon .. Just not getting enough focussed time lately to put in the comprehensive notes in .. But I have been chipping in th forum with news, as and when possible .. Do read the forum for now, but I will be back full-swing very soon ..

Harsh plays French Open Q1 tromorrow against Zbynek Mlynarik (AUT,263) .. Not a terrible draw for him but it is never easy there .. The women's draw is not out yet - waiting to see whom Shikha is playing.

Sania came back on court yesterday after the long injury-layoff .. Won one match 61 61 against a low-ranked ALT player, but the could not play her best (understandable after the time off) in the Q2 match, also yesterday .. 36 36 loss to Vakulenko (UKR,214) in the Q2 .. Sania should be hopefully back in form by next week at the French Open in the main draw.

LP-Zimo made semi last week at Hamburg, and LP has moved to his highest rank in 5 years (!!) at #7 .. MB-Todd went down in the QF there .. Karan made a big semi at the UZB futures last week .. He went down in the R1 of this week's challenger, but Sunil Kumar won the R1 today .. Prakash withdrew last week from Fergana, just to take care of a minor knee thing .. He will be there at the Busan challenger next week .. Vinod Sridhar had a decent run at the Thai futures, as the top seed made a semi there ..

Later ..

May 9-10 Note-1

Quick updates -- Great upset news from Uzbekistan .. Wildcard Karan Rastogi upset the 3rd seed Jamie Delgado (GBR,207) 76(9) 61 and qualifier Rohan Bopanna upset the 7th seed Ivanov-Smolenski (UKR,316) to reach the PQF at the $15K UZB F4 along with Sunil Kumar who beat a qualifier .. Harsh Mankad went down after another good match yesterday in the Q3 at San Remo, 46 75 36 to #268 Dell'Acqua .. HM and Mustafa lost a three-setter in doubles too .. Except for Megha Vakhari losing to Parul Goswami and Archana Venkatraman losing, no big upsets at Ahmedabad .. See our forum thread on the Ahmedabad women's $10K where I have posted the R1 scores (will start the archive page soon) .. Neha Uberoi made the main draw at the $50K Charlottesville challenger, but is once again not too lucky with the draw - facing the 3rd seed Stephanie Dubois there, tomorrow .. Some late news -- Rupesh Roy had won a grade-5 ITF juniors in the US two weeks back, and had reached QF of another grade-5 last week .. Indian u16 girls just now had the worst outing by any Indian junior team in my memory at the Asia-Oceania junior Fed Cup qualies in Bangkok ..  They lost to 0-3 to top seeds China today, and shockingly lost 1-2 to even Malaysia 1-2 yesterday in a pool of just three teams and will now fight for one of the last few spots in the standings, not even advacning to the QF (not to mention even taking a set on China today and losing the doubles by a double-bagel etc) .. Yeek .. Scary ..

More later...

May 8 Notes

Leander and Mahesh are in the doubles draw at the Hamburg Masters starting on Monday .. Fifth seeded MB-Woodbridge and 6th seeded LP-Zmonjic have first round byes and are in the bottom and top halfs of the draw, respectively .. MB could run into the 2nd seeds Knowles-Nestor in the QF and LP could run into the 3rd seeds Bryans once again .. At the Rome Masters, Llodra-Santoro who beat MB-TW in the SF won the title over the Bryans who had beaten LP-Zimo in the QFs ..

Shikha Uberoi was at the Rome WTA qualies this weekend .. 136th ranked Shikha could not do much on the clay there in the Q1 in a 46 16 loss to Stephanie Cohen-Aloro (FRA,100), who is a 22 year old who was ranked as high as #61 earlier .. Tough player to run into, in the qualies .. Neha Uberoi was one out from the main draw list for the $50K Charlottsville (Virginia) challenger and might have made the main draw without qualies .. I suspect that Tara Iyer, who is based on Virginia would be in the qualies that started today, but I have not got the draws yet.

Contiunuing his multi-surface run was Harsh Mankad, as he once again went from hard to grass to clay in successive events for the second time this year (and he has now gone 17-2 in that period; so he is really in good form) .. He won the Q2 match at the $25K+H San Remo challenger in Italy today, 62 46 63 over Kevin Sorensen (IRL,392) .. Not a bad win, as Sorensen has shown good clay crdentials earlier, having won a tough Swiss satellites on clay late last year, etc .. Tomorrow the third seeded Mankad (IND,244) runs into the 7th seed Massimo Dell'Acqua (ITA,268), a 25 year old who was ranked as high as #148 a couple of years back and knows clay tennis well - he was a qualifier last year at the Rome Masters and took Marcelo Rios to the end of a three-setter too .. It would really be an impressive win for HM, if he can get past Massimo in the final qualies  tomorroe (Monday) .. Harsh comes back in the evening in the company of Mustafa Ghouse for the doubles first round .. They are seeded 4th and play Irakli Labadze (GEO) and Yuri Schukin (RUS) ..

All the top Indian women except Sania, Shikha and Rushmi, will be busy this week at the Ahmedabad $10K women's ITF event starting tomorrow .. By the way, I am glad to see some nice international events coming to Ahmedabad .. That city, which used to conduct ATP challengers, in the mid to late 90s had seemed to totally disappear from the tennis calendar .. I had wirtten a couple of times about what happened to the once-active AGETA (Ahmedabad Govt Employees Tennis Association) .. This event is at Usmanpura, and I Ibelieve is organized by the Ahmedabad City Tennis Foundation .. I will start a page, as soon as official draws come our way, but you can see the entry list and some qualifying news in our forum thread on the Ahmedabad women's $10K ..

Today's new rankings show Mankad at #248, as he lost 6 points from his point total of 160 from a future slast year .. He has about 18 points falling off in the next two weeks which will drop him down below #265 but he is pretty safe with hardly anything falling off for quite a while .. So, it is a good time to pick up some points if he can qualify into San Remo .. Rohan Bopanna has come roaring back from below 600 to #466 now, with the big $15K Kuwait title last week .. He now has gone past his injury protected rank of #475 .. That did not take much time for Rohan to do -- good job, man! .. Prakash Amritraj stays at #292 - his big week is next week (May 16) when he tries to defend 35 of his 123 points at the Fergana challanger in Uzbekistan .. I just found that Prakash withdrew (this friday) from the $15K UZB F4 futures starting at Andijan tomorrow .. No idea why, and it is a bit puzzling because he is anyway playing at Fergana the week after ..  Sunil Kumar is in the main draw list, and Rohan would be playing qualies this weekend (no news yet) to make the draw .. I think Karan Rastogi also may have gone to UZB for that futures .  The rest of the men are in Thailand .. Vinod Sridhar, Vishal Uppal, Jaco Mathew, Ravishankar, Kamala Kannan are at the Thai F2 futures ($10K) in Phuket ..

May 7 Notes 

Harsh Mankad is the third seed at the $25K+H San Remo challenger in Italy, which is in a different club in the same town where Bob Brett's academy is .. Harsh won the first round today, 64 63 over Ismar Gorcic of Bosnia-Herzogovia .. Up next for him is Kevin Sorensen (IRL,392) in the second round of the three-round qualies, tomorrow .. Mustafa Ghouse, who will be playing doubles with Harsh at San Remo, went down 57 36 to Jean-Claude Scherrer (SUI,372) ..

Sania is continuing her training, also at the Bob Brett Academy at San Remo .. I spoke Harsh who said it was fun to have Imran Mirza and Sania also out there .. A bunch of Indians in Italy this week (Shikha is at the Rome WTA qulies too) .. LP, MB, HM, MG, SM, SU ...

May 6 Notes

At the Rome Masters SF today, the 5th seeds Bhupathi and Woodbridge could not get past the tough 8th seeds Santoro and Llodra, in a 46 46 loss in the  ..  Yesterday, the 6th seeds Leander and Zimonjic played a humdinger match where they were up a break and serving for the match before the 3rd seeds Bryans turned it on and won 4 games in a row for a 62 46 75 win .. A pretty good match by LP-Zimo who would probably be able to withstand

May 5 Notes

Leander and Mahesh advanced today to the QF at the Rome Masters ATP .. The 6th seeds Paes and Zimonjic beat Italian wildcards Daniele Bracciali and Georgio Galimberti, 64 57 61 .. They play the 3rd seeds Bryan twins tomorrow in the QFs .. The 5th seeds Mahesh and Woodbridge didn't have to do anything, as they got a walkover from Joachim Johansson (SWE) and Marat Safin (RUS) .. They play Jiri Novak (CZE) and Tommie Robredo (ESP) tomorrow in the QF .. Both our pairs had first round byes ..

Neha Uberoi who had done well to qualify into the $75K Raleigh challenger went down to the top seed Marissa Irvin (USA,71), 16 36 today .. In the qualies earlier, [Q1] Neha Uberoi (USA.,292) d. Tiffany Eklov (USA,720), 61 76(8) .. [Q2] d. Daniela Kix (AUT,362), 16 64 75 .. [Q3] d. Evelyn Fauth (AUT,258), 63 63 .. That qualifying final round upset win was a pretty impressive one over a very good player .. Good experience for her to play a top-75 player today, even though it was a loss..

Not a great week for indians in the futures circvuit .. First of all, Rohan Bopanna had to postpone his flight to Uzbekistan as he won the big title at Kuwait .. The earliest he could get to Tashkent was about 2.30 pm on Tuesday .. Took a car ride to Namangan where the UZB F3 futures match was scheduled for Tuesday 7 pm .. The car had some trouble and a 3 hour ride turned out to be 8 hours and he had to withdraw .. Bofors is in UZB and will play the futures next week, as well as the challenger the week after (he will need  to qualify in for that, but Prakash and Rohan are in the main draw) .. 4th seed Sunil Kumar could not do much at the UZB F4 either, going down in an upset to Konstantin Kravchuk (RUS), 75 46 36 .. Sunil and Alexei Kedriouk (UZB), seeded first, got upset in the doubles semis too .. The Indian contingent at the $10K ITF at Thailand also did not have a great time this week .. [R1] Ravishankar Pathanjali d. (4) Domenic Marafiote (AUS,551) 36 62 60 .. Kamala Kannan d. Max Raditschnigg (AUT) 63 36 76(1) .. Two good wins, one a very good upset by Ravishankar, but both went down in the second round .. [R2] (wc) Weerapat Doakmaiklee (THA) d. Ravishankar Pathanjali (IND) 67(4) 61 10 Ret (apparently, Ravishankar had serious cramps and had to retire) ... [R2] (5) David Martin (USA) d. Kamala Kannan, 62 63 .. As for first round losses, [R1] Phillip King (USA) d. (1) Vinod Sridhar, 64 36 60, [R1] (Q) David To (AUS) d. (3) Vishal Uppal, 62 62, [R1] (LL) Josh Goffi (BRA) d. Jaco Mathew, 76(2) 63 ..The 4th seeds Kamala Kannan and Vinod Sridhar have reached the doubles semifinals there.

Both the #1 Indian singles players, Harsh Mankad and Sania Mirza, are currently undergoing training at the Bob Brett Academy in San Remo, Italy .. Pretty strenuous work out there, according to a Deccan Chronicle report today .. Sania is reportedly considering playing the $170K Tier-III event in Strasbourg, Austria (Mar 16) .. The same week Harsh Mankad will be at the French Open qualies (where he has made entry now) .. So both will be there till the end of next week at san remo, after which Bob Brett himself will not be there, from what I understand .. HM was able to match the trip with a challenger at San Remo too, which is next week .. The only problem is that the cut for that one is very very high at around 190 or so .. He will have to sign-in and try qualies .. Hopefully he will at least be seeded with his #243 rank .. It is on red clay, and so Harsh is doing it mostly to just get a little practice on that surface .. No big expectations of doing well there, but who knows! ...

The sixth seeded Indian u16 boys went down in the final pool tie to the 4th seeds Philippines, 1-2 yesterday but made it to the QF today at the Junior Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Qualifiers in Manila .. Unfortunately they went down in the QF to the 2nd seeds Japan today .. Once again both Agnel Gladwin Peter and Kinshuk Sharma lost their singles matches .. That means the boys will not advance to the world final-16 as one of the 4 teams from Asia-Oceania ..  ITF' seedings held up pretty well there, with 7 of 8 seeds making the QF and the top 4 seeds (AUS, JPN, TPE, PHI) making it to the SFs.

As for the Davis Cup surface matter, I was surprised to find out today (thanks "gvhvhg" for the forum post) that the last time India played a claycourt tie in India was against Australia (big grass experts; so we had no choice) in 1979 and that the tie was held at exactly the same court that I suggested below -- at the Madras Gymkhana !! .. India took Australia with Case and Fitzgerald to the brink and almost pulled it off in the 5th match, but Shashi Menon could not hold on after taking a 2-set lead there .. Hey, Leander, pull out your old claycourt game .. Those of you who are surprised, remember that Leander is 5-1 in the last 6 claycourt matches he has played in Davis Cup (all abroad) with wins over top-25 and top-60 players like Novak, Boetch, Leconte etc at Frejus (FRA) and Pribram (CZE) in 93 and 97 .. In fact against those guys who know clay well, Leander even went 11-2 in sets .. Actually before he lost the last three sets of the 5th match at CZE to Korda due to  serious cramps which left him in tears, Leander had actually gone an incredible 16-2 in sets on clay against those kinds of top-75 players ..
Those of you who say that LP is just a grasscourt player have not looked closely at what he can do on clay *when he put his mind into doing it* .... People forget that Leander actually has/had some pretty good ground strokes and abilities to play on clay and that all his so-called service weaknesses are not such a big deal on clay .. He did not enjoy the style of play and never wanted to do much of it, but he could really win on clay if he practised enough and decided to play sensible tennis to win on those courts (which he has only done in six matches in his life on clay, probably -- those last 6 Davis Cup clay matches) .. He may still have the ability to do it, but that is something that he needs to decide himself, as only he knows where he stands .. If not, at least we could hope for a miracle from Rohan or Harsh who can both play on that Indian clay and the Swedes would at least be very uncomfirtable giving us at least some advantage .. On grass, there is really not much advantage at all for us .. I say it is the perfect time to bring the Swedes to a hot and humid dusty place and go after them :-) ...

By the way, I have got some emails suggesting other hard/slippery claycourt locations .. Krishnan Tennis Center has claycourts which are similar to the Madras Gymkhana, apparently .. Also, even suggestions of places like Davengere in Karnataka which has good claycourts that Indian players know how to handle .. Davengere, being a big college town, I b elieve would even get really excited about tennis (had some huge crowds for some futures there a couple of years back, if I am not mistaken) .. I am sure there are many other places which could work .. Just pick a good hot, humid place that is all ...

Anyway, I guess I am wasting my time trying to think outside the box on this matter .. From all I know, we will  still go to the same old grass courts and we would probably not have much of an answer to these swedes who would be least bit bothered on that surface .. Hope at least somebody or other is reading my sugggestion and at least thinking about it.

May 4 Notes

We are having a nice long discussion on what surface would be best for the Davis Cup, with both the Jahanssons being very comfortable on grass and their doubles team with Bjorkman also good on that (not to mention LP-MB always finding the uneven grass courts not to their liking in doubles) .. Clay is the Swedes' worst surface, strangely, but that is also our worst surface ..  On the other hand, perhaps only the European style clay is a problem for us and not the Indian hard clay courts though .. Anyway, I had this wacky thought this morning - and I worte in the forum on that .. Copying myself -

OK then really why NOT try it on the funny clay (hard base of cowdung or something, slippery/sandy, and rather fast) like they had at the Madras Gymkhana courts? .. After all we know that at least Harsh and Rohan can handle that surface very well. Harsh beat a top-225 European and a top-350 European there - the second, The Slovakian Kapcovic, has excellent clay abilities and a huge serve etc, and HM beat him 62 61. So Harsh can clearly play his game on that court. His biggest title came there.  [I know, I know - the Swedes are at a totally different level, but Iam talking about what surface Indians have had success on lately, at the futures/challenger level].

Remember that Rohan did well too at Chennai -- he upset the #280 German guy Sebastien Fitz in a 64 61 match there too, before losing to Capkovic in a 60 36 46 match where his lack of conditioning (then) after the layoff was the main reason for the loss. Rohan also reached the Colombo clay futures final after that; and if I am not mistaken, those courts where Chennai guys like Jaco and Vinod have done well in the past, are similar to the Indian hard-fast-slippery-clay ..

On that surface, I will count on the doubles win against the Swedes! .. LP-MB have always been unbeatable on good/true claylike surfaces, unlike on uneven grass where they have had many so-so matches.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me that we should take a chance with Harsh and Rohan on the sandy-hard Indian clay like the Madras Gymkhana courts. All we need is ONE upset win somehow and some luck in terms of dehydration or injury or something on the 3rd day.  

I also feel that on a fast clay court, Leander may not be too bad either. He must know about those Madras courts from his days in Chennai if he needs to make a judgement on this. He has certainly played on the Indian clay. In fact, some of LP's best wins have come on clay (Frejus, Pribram, etc) - he can play on clay, really well, once he decides he is going to do whatever it takes to adjust his game and play. It would be pretty easy for him to do that on Indian hard clay (see my suggestion for a challenger the week before - perfect for LP to get some singles match practice if he wants). If LP finds himself in form, then he is the kingpin and we have three players to pick from, for singles.

The only thing is that Prakash will be taken out of the equation in that case, because he has no experience on that surface. In any event, I suspect that his style of game really would be no problem for the Swedes to handle, even on grass courts where the Swedes do fine. If Rohan is really cooking like he is beginning to, then he needs to be considered anyway.

In my view, the funny Indian clay is something only our players have experience on and the Swedes may not have much clue on. Being top-15 players, they would probably learn it well in 2-3 days but still I feel that we should look for some (any) sort of home advantage however minimal it may be .. On hardcourt, we have no advanatge, and grass seems to be a very risky option too, especially when you consider that PA's and RB's game might get easily neutralized and the doubles point becomes iffy.  In addition, we MUST pick a place which is relatively hot and humid even in september, because that gives us an added benefit -- this might take out places up North in India ..

We also know that not too many Europeans have recenlty done well on that type of surface in India (remember Somdev's title at the sandy-hard Kolkata saturday club courts too).

I am not sure if Madras Gymkhana has large enough stands or if they can put up temporary stands fast enough.  Actually I don't know if any big club in India has one of those Indian hard-sandy-clay court with big enough stands for Davis Cup. Anybody knows?

Here is my suggestion. Let us pick a court like the Madras courts, and do a challenger the week before (which is the week after US Open) on that. Have Harsh, Rohan, Prakash, and heck, even Leander play there. Then the next week we do Davis Cup on the same court and go right after the Swedes who would be a fish out of water. What say you? .. Come on AITA, reserve a challenger spot in the ATP calendar for the previous week, NOW!  .. Let us do some planning!

No question that organizing a challenger would be no problem, because the organizers know that they could easily get all the top players from India (and even get LP and MB to make at least an apperance for a weekend kids' clinic or something as well). It is a perfect week for a challenger, because tennis will be in the news big time, with the Sunfeast WTA and Davis Cup in the week after and USOpen in the news the week before.

In any case, we MUST do a challenger the week before, whichever surface we decide to play on, whereever. The Indian team needs to be on that court for TWO weeks, and the swedes only for 3 days. That is a MUST.

What do you all think? .. I am throwing this out there mostly as food for thought .. I myself thought clay was out of question at first, but thinking more on it, I thought the funny Indian clay might not be a bad idea .. It may be a crazy thought, but the tennis experts like Leander, Mahesh and Nandan can decide whether its is worth considering .. I know I wrote about bringing Davis Cup to places like Bangalore/Chennai/Hyderabad earlier .. That is not the reason for my suggestion here .. This is mostly on the basis of surface, recent player performances and weather .. If there are similar courts like at the Madras Gymkhana in some warm/hot place anywhere, that would work too.

May 3 Notes

Quick updates -- India drawn to face Sweden in India in september for the Davis Cup world group qualifier playoff .. Good to get a home tie but not an easy opponent at all .. Two top-15 players, and two top-20 doubles players including the world #1 doubles player .. Tough, tough, tough for us -- and they are pretty good on grass too .. In other news, Leander and Mahesh are in the Rome Masters doubles draw with their regular partners ..   Seeded 6th and 5th, with R1 byes .. Both will polay R2 on only Thursday .. Sunil Kumar went down in the first round at the UZB futures (Rohan withdrew from there) .. Ravishankar Pathanjali upset the 4th seed at the Thai futures and Kamala Kannan also pulled an upset, but seeded Vinod and Vishal were upset, as was Jacco Mathew .. Neha Uberoi qualified into the the $75K in the $75K raleigh challenger in the USA,m but faces the top seed Marissa Irwin in the first round .. Shikha lost in the first round of the Rabat WTA .. The 6th seeded Indian u14 boys pulled off tough 2-1 win over Pakistan today for their second round robin win, and will face the 4th seeded Philippines tomorrow to decide the pool topper .. Harsh has taken off to San Remo to spend a few days training at the Bob Brett academy, and I believe Sania is also going there now.

I will give more score details soon .. I promise :-) ...

May 2 Notes

Sorry, my rather unexpected time away from updates continues for a couple of days more .. Just a quick update on news you certainly know by now .. First we finished the Davis Cup with a 5-0 shellacking of the hapless Uzbeks, Harsh Manakd finishing it off with a 75 61 reverse singles win over Murad Inoyatov .. We only dropped a set in the whole tie, in the dead-rubber 4th match that Prakash won 67(4) 64 62 over Farrukh Dustov .. LP-MB had won 63 64 64 rather easily to clinch the tie on saturday .. Pretty good Davis Cup show this year with a clean 10-0 record in matches and a 26-2 record in sets .. For the september qualifiers for world group 2006, ITF would seed eight teams out of 16 (8 losers of the first round world group this year and the eight regional winners like us) and draw the eight unseeded teams against them .. This will happen Tuesday in London, I believe .. Not a great chance for good home ties this time, I think .. Let us hope for the best.

The other big news was the smashing job by Rohan Bofors Bopanna .. YEAH baby, he's back!! .. The dude went and won the $15K futures in Kuwait last week, upsetting two top-300 players in the final two matches .. This is beautiful .. Knew you would be back fast, Bo!

Our u14 kids are at the Asia-Oceania regionals .. Indian boys (Agnel Gladwin Peter, Kinshuk Sharma and Navneeta Kannan Baskaran) are seeded 6th and are in pool-3 with 4th seeds Philippines .. We beat UAE in three easy straight set matches today and face Pakistan tomorrow .. Philippines beat Pakistan 3-0 today .. Top two teams advance to QFs from each of the 4 pools ..

Will be hopefully back very soon with more updates ..

Apr 29 Note-2

Hey, we worry too much about some of these Davis Cup ties .. Should LP play? .. Can Harsh handle the grass? .. Is Prakash a better choice for the first day? .. Ad Nauseum .. Heck, captain Lee knew that there was no need for all that heart-burn .. He knew any of our players could easily do the job .. Knew that UZB would be deadmeat on those courts, and he just wanted to go out and cut the meat immediately .. Well the Uzbeks were tough .. really tough .. for, well, oh, about a set! ... Dustov broke LP back while Lee was serving for the set at 5-3 after a break in the 8th game .. Lee had a couple of douoble faults there to let Dustoiv back in for a brief period .. Lee had a nice chat with his chair captain, Harsh Mankad, and got down to business .. He was down once more in the tiebreaker at 2-4 .. You know, toying with Dustov, I suppose .. He won the next 5 points to finish off the set and then there was no looking back .. 76(4) 61 60 win for LP and Prakash came out and put Istomin in his place with a 63 62 62 win too .. Let us wrap this up with a doubles win tomorrow ..

Rohan Bopanna beat Julien Maes (FRA,710), 76(4) 63 to reach the semifinal at the $15K in Kuwait yesterday .. He was to face the top seed Florin Mergea ( ROM,273) in a revenge match today (Mergea hgad beaten him in the QF last week) .. Haven't got today's results yet ..

Apr 29 Note-1

Yes, I am totally busy till Sunday, but nothing can keep me away from Davis Cup!! .. Sorry, I am coming in a bit late, but the DC is about to start in Jaipur in about 10 minutes as I type .. Come on into the chatroom to follow scores that we expect our fan friends will be giving from the TV coverage in India (sorry, we have no fanclub members right there in Jaipur for us to have tried to organize an internet commentary like we did from delhi last time!) ..

Leander rolled the dice and sent in himself and Prakash for the first day .. May be partyly due to Istomin having beaten Harsh two times recently .. But I think it may have more to do with the shape of the courts .. It seems that it is EXTREMELY uneven and patchy, because apparently the best efforts of organizers and AITA to get the courts ready went for a naught with a lot of unseasonal rains in the last few days (The Jaipur courts had not been used for any big events since the 1999 challenger if I am not mistaken - so they all were trying hard to get it all ready!) .. Anyway, these are patchy soft courts where no tennis with any rhyme or reason (of the kind Mankad plays) would be possible .. Just my view .. LP on the other hand is the king on those kinds of courts .. Prakash also is possibly be OK with playing what I call "mad tennis" on that type of courts :) .. Not that HM can't do it, but in my view, I would rather not see a player who plays good calculated tennis struggle on a very poor patchy court with totally uncertain bounce .. Anyway, that's my view -- at least the justification I can come up with, for seeing the highest ranked player in either team not playing on the first day .. No problem, LP and PA can handle the Uzbejs today .. Go India!!!

Rohan Bopanna has reached the SF of the Kuwait futures! .. Go RB .. Nobody else is in action this week, it seems

Apr 26 Notes

Looks like this whole week will be extremely busy for me .. So please pardon me for being quite a bit distracted and unable to put in my comprehensive roundups here .. LP-Zimo won the doubles title Sunday over Nadal-Lopez.. LP's title #33 .. 800 ATP points in back-to-back weeks for LP-NZ, who I am convinced will be creating some big news this year, as I have believed even from the time late last year when I was suggesting here that LP should pick Zimo as the partner if LP-MB were not to happen again .. Our Davis Cup team has assembled in Jaipur .. PA, Nandan and Karan had got there by Sunday .. Harsh flew in to Mumbai Sunday night from UK and was to fly to Jaipur early monday morning with LP also getting there yesterday .. Harsh moved up to a career-high #245 this week in singles!! .. Rohan Bopanna has won the R1 at the Kuwait futures but Vijay Kannan got upset .. Somdev Dev Varman's University of Virginia finished the regular season conference ties and finished as the champions of the Atlantic Coast conference .. SKD is on something like a 15-1 run in singles and is ranked #30 (was as high as #17 but moved down a little, only because some of the players he beat moved down a little, and he has not had a chance to play as many top players in the last couple of months) .. He is the highest ranked freshman player in all of US college tennis, which is a fabulous achievement .. Congrats, Somdev ..

I did not write much on Shikha Uberoi's very impressive debut in Indian colors  last weekend.. She deserves a word here .. She went 5-1 in the 6 matches, the only loss coming against the best player in Delhi, Na Li of China .. In Sania's absence, Shikha took charge of the team and came through with flying colors, showing clearly what she is made of .. Her heart in playing for India, where she was born, was well in display throughout the event .. The best win actually came on the final day when she took out the Korean #1 (who had seriously troubled the top-75 Australian #1 in the friday SF) in easy straight sets to place India at #3 .. So, even though we got that seeding possibly with the use of Sania's rank, we showed that we were at least the 3rd best team there even without her .. That was all beacuse of Shikha, as we could even be looking at relegation without Shik being there - as Ankita was not in her usual form due to injury and Rushmi would have found it tough to do it all by herself .. Great job, Shikha! ... We are proud of you!

Apr 23 Note-1

I am again very busy and running late this weekend -- so, quick updates .. LP-Zimo have reached the Barcelona final! .. Shikha did superbly in beating Jin-Hee Kim of Korea 63 61(!) today and then winning the doubles to put India at the #3 spot after we lost yesterday to the prohibitve favorites China (who beat AUS 3-0 to advance to next level) .. Great job, Shikha, Rushmi, Ankita today .. Harsh lost to the eventual winner 6th seed Robin Vik yesterday in the singles semi but HM-Mustafa upset the top seeds Gimelstob and Coupe to make the doubles final which they lost 46 63 36 today .. Great week there .. Sunil Kumar and Kedriouk won the doubles title at the $15K UZB futures, after SKS could not pull an upset in the singles SF .. Vijay Kannan lost in the QF of singles at the Kuwaut F1 and Kannan-Bopanna lost in the doubles semis .. More details later this weekend.

Apr 21 Note-2

STOP PRESS -- Unseeded Harsh Mankad has reached the semifinal of the $25K+H Nottingvham challenger!! .. He went out for his second match of the day after upsetting the 3rd seed Heuberger earlier in straight sets and absolutely blitzed/ smoked/ shellacked/ bombed/ destroyed/ demolished a hapless Swede, Filip Prpic (269) by a 61 62 score .. That gives Mankad 22 points from this event to take his point total to 161 and his ranking inside the top-250 next week! .. Can you believe that Harsh Mankad has picked up 98 points since January? .. That is the best 4-month period that any Indian other than Leander Paes has had in over 12 years since Ramesh Krishnan left the scene .. Absolutely amazing .. There was some bad news, as Prakash Amritraj could not get over the hump against the tough 2nd seed Justin Gimelstob (USA,118) in a 36 36 QF loss .. No big shame in PA's loss, as he was playing a very experienced player who has been a top-100 player for so many years .. Mankad plays the 6th seed Robin Vik (CZE,187) tomorrow at 11 am in the semifinal ..

Shikha and Rushmi won the Fed Cup doubles match 64 64 to complete a 3-0 win over Kazakhstan today.  No sweat, though Shikha dropped serve a couple of times and generally did not look phyiscally as sharp in this match, according to forum reports from fans who saw the TV coverage .. Hope SU and RC will be ready for a fight tomorrow against the Chinese, who are unfortunately way too tough though.

More good news (and the stream of good stuff just does not seem to end today!) -- Vijay Kannan, who sunck back in the top-500 this week at #499, has reached the QF of singles and SF of doubles of the $15K at Kuwait .. He beat Abdulla Magads (KUW,1468), the #20 ranked junior and the current Asian #3 junior, by a 63 61 score .. Later, third seeded Vijay and Rohan Bopanna won the doubles QF easily, also 63 61, over the German pair, Jeromoe Becker and Joscha Beutel .. 6th seeded VK plays the 4th seed Jasper Smit (NED,460) tomorrow in the QF; the doubles SF opponents will be decided only tomorrow.

Apr 21 Note-1

What a fabulous day so far .. Harsh Mankad pulled a huge straight sets upset at the $25K+H Nottingham challenger, as he beat the 3rd seed Ivo Heuberger (SUI,130), 63 76(4) .. Man, what kind of a year Mankad is having ..  It doesn't end there, as Prakash Amritraj is right there with him, also reaching the QF with an easy 64 64 win over Jakub Adaktusson (SWE,320) .. Due to the rain postponement of singles matches yesterday, Harsh and Prakash play the singles QF this afternoon itself (as I type, actually) .. HM is playing Flip Prpic (SWE,269) and PA is playing the 2nd seed Justin Gimelstob (USA,118) ..

With the 12 extra points, Mankad now has 151 ATP points which will take him up to around #258 next monday when the French Open qualifying entry closes .. He should make it inside the first cut itself, and he should have no problem making the cut for the Wimbledon qualies which closes on May 23rd, even though he has 24 points dropping off in the next 4 weeks .. Prakash has picked up enough to go to around #290 next week .. He has 35 big ones falling in 4 weeks for the Fergana challenger last year, and so these points are all crucial for him too .. These two guys did themselves a huge favor by getting together in Mumbai and hitting for a few days against each other .. I have said for a long time that Harsh is the ideal practice partner to get Prakash's game to mature and Prakash has the kind of game that steadies up Harsh's game too .. You see, we in the fanclub were asking for it for a long long time, that the Indian players should hit against each other and travel together - see what happens when they listen to us? :) .. Congrats, champs!

Shikha Uberoi and Rushmi chakravarthi easily won the singles matyches against KAZ today at the Fed Cup and are playing the doubles match as I type ..

More good news! .. Sunil Kumar Sipaeya pulled a huge upset too! .. 5th seeded Sunil (IND,356) upset the 2nd seed Ti Chen (TPE,272), 57 76(6) 75 in a tough barn-burner of a match .. What a gritty comeback upset by SKS!! .. he is also in the doubles final, as Indians just can't seem to lose this week .. SKS and Alexei Kedriouk (KAZ) beat Belarusian qualifier pair, Alexei Bessanov and Egor Puntus 76(1) 62 today .. They are now in the final against the 3rd seeded Russian brothers, Artem Sitak and Dmitri Sitak .. Go Sunil !!

Apr 20 Notes

Mumbai-born Shikha Uberoi had a smashing debut under Indian colors today when she beat a hapless 15 year old, Yun-ling "Cassandra" Ng of Singapore, 60 60 at the Fed Cup tie in Delhi .. Ankita, reportedly looking quite out-of-form still, also had an easy 61 75 win earlier at the #2 spot against Wei-Ping Lee and then Shikha-Rushmi came back to take the doubles also,  61 61 over Cassandra and Shao-Fang Ong .. Here is Kamesh Srinivasan's account of the Shikha show in The Hindu, and here is Prajwal Hegde's story in the Deccan Herald .. As Ankita does not seem to be back to her old form after a study break and then a foot injury, captain Enrico Piperno reportedly said that he would sleep over it and decide if he should have Rushmi play singles tomorrow against Kazakhstan .. No surprise results so far in the Fed Cup ..

It was a rainout this morning at the Nottingham challenger, and only some evening doubles matches were done .. Mustafa and Harsh beat Bart beks (NED) and Mait Kunnap (EST), 63 76(3) to reach the doubles semis where they next face the top seeds Justin Gimelstob (USA) and Brandon Coupe (USA) .. They have scheduled for two rounds of singles tomorrow, as HM faces the tough 3rd seed Ivo Heuberger (SUI,130) and Prakash plays Jakub Adaktusson (SWE,320) in the morning.

Sunil Kumar has reached the singles and doubles QF at the $15K UZB F15 .. [R2] d. Sarvar Ikramov (UZB,1116), 64 62 .. He is also in the doubles semifinals .. [QF] (1) Alexey Kedriouk (KAZ)/ S.K.Sipaeya d. Pavel Ivanov (RUS)/ Mikhail Ledovskikh (RUS) 64 62 ... At the $15K Kuwait futures, Rohan Bopanna could not get past the first seed Florin Mergea (ROM, 273), as he went down 26 67(3) .. Rohan and Vijay Kannan, seeded 3rd, did win the doubles 46 63 76(3) over Patrick Chucri (LIB) and Jasper Smit (NED) to reach the QF .. Vijay Kannan plays the singles second round tomorrow.

Apr 19 Note-2

Neha Uberoi (USA) had a wildcard into the main draw of the $75K Dothan challenger, but got a tough draw, as she ran into the 4th seed Jamea Jackson (USA,117) who is a very talented 18 year old who has been rising like Sania .. Neha went down 26 36 today .. She is also in tyhe doubles draw there.

A little bit of news that just came to my attention .. Roshni Luthra, a 15 year old who has been traveling around quite a bit for the last couple of years already and playing some ITF junior events, finally had a bit of nice success last week at a grade-4 event in Barbados, reaching the semifinal, upsetting the 2nd seed Ashley Spicer (USA,266) in straight sets and then the 4th seed Arielle Von Strolle (JAM,475) in a comeback threesetter .. She fell to the 5th seed in a poor match in the semi, but a commendable run nonetheless .. She moved up some 250 odd spots to #620 in the juniors .. Also playing there was 16 yr old Akshay Bajoria, who was seeded 2nd and reached the semi where he was upset by the 4th seed .. He had also reached a grade-5 semi in Malta two weeks back, which was right after a brief training stint at the Bob Brett Academy in Italy .. If I am not mistaken, Rico Piperno coaches Akshay and was at Bob Brett's academy with him as well .. Bajoria, by the way, has only been playing ITF juniors for the last 10 months or so (about 15 odd events but mostly all abroad, and he has only played one event in India where he lost to Vivek Shokeen in the first round) .. These results are not really earthshattering or anything, but it is nice to see decent success in back-to-back events abroad after a coaching stint .. These were the first ITF junior semifinals for him .. Hope he builds on it fast and shows he has taken a step up .. We could use as many promising kids as we can find .. There is nothing sure in tennis, as far as predicting the future for any prospect is concerned, and thus the best way to ensure that there will be good players in the future would be to have as many good juniors as possible come up, so that there is enough chance for at least some of them with proper tools to stay focused and show that they have what it takes to make it big later.  

Apr 19 Note-1

Leander and Zimonjic are in the draw at the Barcelona ATP this week, but they have a bye to the PQF, and wouldn't play their first round till thursday as their opponents are to be determined only tomorrow.

The Fed Cup matches start in Delhi tomorrow for the 8 teams in Group-I (the lower level Group-II ties started today) .. India is seeded 3rd and is pooled weith China, Kazakhstan and Singapore .. We start with Singapore tomorrow, followed by Kazakhstan on Thursday and China on Friday .. The other pool is tougher, with Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea, etc .. The #1 from each pool after the round robins would play the #2 of the other pool in the semis on saturday .. Unfortunately, only ONE team among the eight can advance to the world group playoffs this time .. India should not have too much problems finishing within top-2 in our pool , but whether we have enough to get past China, Australia, etc in the playoffs remain to be seen .. That would depend on how much of support Shikha can get from Rushmi and/or Ankita at the #2 singles spot .. Sania's name is still in the team, and that helped us get the seeding and a chance to at least make the knockouts, but according to the Hindustan Times, it became official today that Sania cannot play, on doctors advice, after she made a wuick trip back to Hyderabad and saw the doctor, who seems to have put a tough stop to all talking of possibly playin late in the week, etc .. She needs at least 12 more days to complete the prescribed 6 weeks, and the ankles are only 70% according to the doc .. Sania will be with the team and cheer them though ..

More great news from Nottingham today, as Prakash Amritraj also advanced to the second round there, and that too in a pretty big upset of the 8th seed Simon Greul who has not lost any Indians in India .. But he went down 36 36 today to Kash, who seems to be really playing well .. Harsh plays the tough 3rd seed Ivo Heuberger (SUI,130) and Prakash plays Jakub Adaktusson (SWE,320) tomorrow .. Harsh and Mustafa, seeded 4th in doubles, also advanced in doubles, as they beat Sebastien Fitz and Simon Greul of Germany easily, 63 61 .. They next face Bart Beks (NED) and Mait Kunnapo (EST) .. Good to see Indians doing so well there so far ..

Also on the tour this week are Sunil Kumar Sipaeya, Rohan Bopanna and Vijay Kannan .. Sunil has advanced in singles and doubles at the $15K UZB F3 futures in Namangan, UZB .. He beat qualifier Dimitri Makeyev (UZB,1461), 62 63 .. In doubles, SKS and Alexey Kedriouk (UZB) beat Ervand Gasparyan (RUS)/ Grigory Mazil (RUS), 61 64 .. He plays wildcard Sarvar Ikramov (UZB,1116) next in singles .. At the Kuwait F1 $15K, Vijay Kannan (IND,511) is seeded 6th and advanced with a tough 57 64 63 match against qualifier David Klier (GER,1461) .. Bopanna has not played his R1 yet, but he runs into the top seed Florin Mergea (ROM,273) .. In doubles the third seeded Bopanna/Kannan pair beat Patric Chukri (LIB) and Jasper Smit (NED), 46 63 76(4) ..

Apr 18 Notes

The new rankings show Leander and Zimonjic moving up to #7 in ATp doubles team rankings, thanks to the big title at the Monte carlo Masters, which gave them 500 points (100 race points) to take their team race total to 143 .. They edged just ahead of Mahesh and Woodbridge who are at the #8 spot ..

Harsh Mankad started off the Nottingham challenger with a totally dominating performance, in a 62 60 win over #329 Lee Childs .. Qualifier Prakash Amritraj plays the 8th seed Simon Greul tomorrow in the first round.

The new junior ranks show a huge jump for Sanam Singh from #81 to #30, as he raised his point total from 295 to 480 .. Three Indians are in the top-30, for the first time since ITF started the junior ranks, as far as I know .. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan is at #27 and Vivek Shokeen is at #29 .. In fact, they are #4,5,6 in the Asian rankings, following world #2 Sun-Yong Kim of Korea, #5 Chu-Huan Yiu of Taipei and #20 Abdulla Magdas .. Actually Sanam beat the current #10, #7, #5 and #3 in Asia in four matches in a row at Seoul this last week, which is quite an impressive show .. Also note that only Jeevan and Sanam are eligible for junior status next year among the current Asian top-10 .. As they are not defending points till the end of the year, they are all easily set for the next 4 grand slam juniors main draws .. Hope AITA would be continuing their usual plan of sending those who make grand slams to a European tour in connection with the uipcoming FO and Wimbledon, hopefully with at least one grade-1events each on clay and grass as preparation, preferably two each.

Apr 17 Notes

Another quick update .. LP and Zimonjic won the big doubles title with a walkover today from the Bryans, at the Monte Carlo masters .. Their first title, and it is a big one (forgot to mention that LP-NZ had easily beaten the 4th seeds Arthurs-Hanley, 63 64 yesterday) ..
Great dominating week for LP-Zimo .. Prakash Amritraj qualified into the Nottingham challenger main draw today (but Mustafa could not upset the 3rd seed) .. More big news .. We have yet another Asian junior champion .. It is 17 year old Sanam Krishna Singh who won both the singles and doubles title at Seoul at the big ITF grade-1 Asian Juniors in Seoul .. 180 points for the title to Sanam, which makes it the biggest title won by an Indian since LP won the grand slam juniors! .. With doubles points also, he has picked up +185 in his best-6 (S&D) points total - enough to catapult him from #81 to inside top-30 in the world junior rankings .. Would you believe that threee Indians (Jeevan, Vivek and Sanam) will be in the top-30 next week? .. Later with more .. Gotta run.

Apr 16 Notes

Quick updates .. Rushmi went down in the challenger final, but still big congrats to her .. Prakash had a bye and then won the Q2 at Nottingham .. Mustafa had a huge upset of the 5th seed Capkovic (his best win in a while) and has also reached Q3 .. Sanam Singh totally in a zone at the Asian Juniors - upsets Vivek to reach final and wins doubles title with Jeevan .. He will also crack top-40 now (Wow! all three boys in top-40) .. Later with more

Apr 15 Notes

She and Sai went down in the doubles final today at the $25K challenger in Mumbai, Rushmi made sure that she would be playing tomorrow! .. 27 year old Rushmi Chakravarthi reached the first challenger final of her career today, as she ended Shruti Dhawan's run in the semifinal in a 62 75 win .. Though she has reached three challenger QFs in India and one abroad, this was the first semifinal Rushmi has played in her relative long career .. Big congratulations go to Rushmi for getting the job done .. She has picked up enough points to move up the ranks back close to her careder high of #310 .. See the results in the Mumbai women's challenger page.

It is nice to see that Rushmi is in fine form right now, as we would need help from her next week at the Fed Cup (and hopefully she is not too tired after all the matches this week) .. According to the reports, Shikha Ubeori and Ankita have been practising hard at Delhi .. Ankita is reportedly feeling much better and the pain from the foot injury she had last week has reduced a lot .. Rico Piperno is quoted to be saying that he hopes that Sania would at least be avaiable to play if we need her late in the week - that is if we make the semifinal stage and all that .. She was expected to be in Delhi early this weekend .. Let us hope for all the best .. It is ghood to know that Ankita is in good form, just in case Shikha and Rushmi need help.

The main draw cut dropped by about 4-5 spots ion the last couple of days at the Nottingham $25K+H challenger, and so Harsh Mankad has now made direct entry there without qualies .. The qualifying draw has just come out .. Prakash Amritraj is seeded 3rd in the qualies with a first round bye .. He would be playing the second round tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon .. Mustafa Ghouse plays the Q1 in the morning against Alex Miotto (GBR,989); if he advances he will run into the 5th seed Kamil Capkovic (SVK,306).

At the Asian Juniors, our boys continue to make news! .. 8th seed Sanam Singh had the best win of his career as he upset the 2nd seed Martin Sayer (HKG) ranked 29th in the world .. He did that in style, that too - in a 64 62 match .. Also continuing his fantastically consistent run was Vivek Shokeen, who beat the 12th seed Yuichi Sugita (JPN,149), 63 63 .. After about 15 matches in the last 10 days, Jeevan seems to have finally run out of steam .. I guess he must have been tored too, as he went down todaty to Sho Aida (JPN,144) by a 46 26  .. [source: PTI newswire in The Hindu] .. We are assured of a finalist now, as Vivek faces Sanam in the semi .. I have not seen the official scores; so no scores on doubles, but I believe Vivek-Takeuchi and Jeevan-Sanam both won today and will face each others in the semi on Saturday .. The good news is that Sanam has picked up +60 in points, which is enough to raise his rank from #81 to inside top-55 and give him a realistic chance of making the entry for the upcoming French Open and Wimbledon juniors .. It would be terrific to see three of our boys there ..

Apr 14 Notes

Leander and Zimonjic seem to be playing really well this week .. At the Monte Carlo masters, they had an easy 63 63 win today over Martin Damm and Radek Stepanek of CZE, who had upset the second seeds in the previous round .. Unfortunately, Mahesh and Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) went down in a tough match, 57 36 36 to the 4th seeds Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley, who will now play the semis against LP-Zimo .. I believe the SF will be on Saturday.

At the Mumbai challenger, it was another fabulous day by our ladies, as Shruti and Rushmi won the QFs and will now face each other, thus ensuring that we will have an Indian in the final .. 6th seeded Rushmi Chakravarthi pulled a 36 60 64 upset over the 3rd seeded Napaporn Tongsalee (THA,306) .. After being up 3-0 i the first set Rushmi lost 6 games in a row, but then turned it around completely to win six in a row and take the second set .. Nice comeback by Rushmi .. Shruti Dhawan's dream run continued, as she too pulled smashing 36 61 61 comeback on Sai Jayalakshmy who herself had been playing very well this week and had upset the top seed yesterday .. Shruti's show the last two weeks have been an eye-opener .. First she upset two top-500 players (Vorobieva and Vitayaviroj) on the way to a QF last week at the $10K event .. Now she has qualified in and picked up more with another win over a top-500 caliber player (Lubiani) and an impressive win over a tough Sai .. Including 4 points last week (2 quality points) and 13 (with 1.5 for qualies) this week, she has picked up 17 more to add to the 11.25 she had before last week .. That is enough to raise her rank from #777 to all the way up at around #530 .. Wow! .. Way to go Shruti! .. With today's win, she has shown rather clearly that she deserves that next spot behind Shikha and Rushmi in the Indian team, especially if Ankita is in any injury trouble (she has been, lately) .. The current team officially nominated to ITF is Sania, Shikha, Rushmi, and Ankita .. If Sania cannot play and a replacement is needed, Shruti will definitely be my pick on the basis of current form .. Rushmi, by the way, has picked up 12.5 points this week and 2 last week, which is enough to take her point total to around 68 and her ranking to inside 340 from the current #374 .. Sai and Rushmi have reached the doubles final as well!  .. See the results in the Mumbai women's challenger page.

At the big grade B1 ITF Asian Juniors at the Olympics courts in Seoul, there was more good news today as all three boys reached the quarterfinals! .. Scores .. [PQF] (3) Vivek Shokeen (IND,26) d. (15) Jun Chao Xu (CHN,189), 62 64 .. [PQF] (4) Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,25) d. (13) Faisal Aidil INA,152), 64 62 .. [PQF] (8) Sanam Singh (IND,81) d. (10) Kento Takeuchi (JPN,87), 61 62 .. That was a big win by Sanam Singh, who picked up some 40 extra singles points to add to his total and raise his rank from #81 to inside #65 with that! .. Unfortunately, the girls' woes continued - [PQF] (7) Sandhya Nagaraj (IND,103) l. Denise Dy (PHI,573), 46 16 .. In the quarterfinals, Vivek plays the 12th seed Yuichi Sugita (JPN,149), Jeevan faces Sho Aida (JPN,144) who had upset the 9th seed, and Sanam runs into the second seed Martin Sayer (HKG,29) .. Madura/ Sandhya, seeded 4th were upset by a Filippino pair in the PQF but the boys have all reached the QF in doubles as well .. I am really impressed by the consistency these three boys have shown in these last two or three weeks .. Go guys, go!

Apr 13 Notes

Today was a good day for Mahesh and Leander, as both reached the quarterfinals at the Monte Carloa masters with straight set wins .. LP and Zimonjic had a stunningly easy 61 61 win over a very good team of Etlis and Rodriguez .. Mahesh and Gonzalez upset the 8th seeds Aspelin-Perry by a 76(4) 63 score .. Up next for LP-Zimo are the Czech pair Martin Damm and Radek Stepanek who upset the 2nd seeds Knowles-Nestor today .. MB-Gonzalez play the 4th seeds Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley of Australia .. Both the QF matches are scheduled for thursday afternoon .. The winners will advance to face each other in the semis.

The Mumbai challenger had only one Indian seed and the expectations were low for our contingent to do all that well, but our ladies had other ideas, as Sai and Shruti came up big today in the second round to advance to the QF .. Sai Jayalakshmy, 28 years old but showing no signs of losing her spirit, went ahead and took out the 217th ranked top seed Nina Bratchikova oppf Russia in straight sets, 64 76(9), and qualifier Shruti Dhawan followed suit by upsetting Fransesca Lubiani, 76(3) 75 as well .. Sai went through 6 match points but stayed tough toi pull it off in the 20 point tiebreaker .. As for Shruti, well, she has really been playing well lately .. 6th seed Rushmi also took her appointed place in the QF, though she g ot a 3-set fight today from Megha Vakharia, who is showing all signs of coming back to her older form .. Shruti and Sai coming to form is probably important for us, because we do need another good player to support Shikha and Rushmi next week at the fed Cup if Sania does not play (and it seems to be looking that way now, though they won't decide till next week) .. Shruti and Sai play each other in the QF tomorrow, and so we are assured of at least a semifinalist, which is much better than we could have expected .. See the Mumbai women's challenger page.

Speaking of Fed Cup, Shikha Uberoi has already reached delhi and out at the DLTA courts today, according to the Hindustan Times report ..

Harsh Mankad has taken off today for UK, as he will be playing the qualies for the $50K Nottingham hard court challenger .. Prakash Amritraj also has gone to UK .. These two were actually hitting together for a few days in Mumbai .. Great to see out two Davis Cup singles guys already getting their work done .. I believe Mustafa Ghouse will also be there in UK .. HM and Mustafa are expected to play doubles together at Nottingham  ..

The Indian contingent did fine in the second round of the ITF Asian Juniors and most have reached the final-16 round in Korea ..Scores - [R2] (3) Vivek Shokeen (IND,26) d. Kim Sung Ho (KOR,1031), 64 64 .. [R2] (4) Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,25) d. Sang-Oh Oh (KOR,1141), 62 61 ..[R2] (8) Sanam Singh (IND,81) d. Jae-Yun Lee (KOR,NR), 75 64 .. [R2] (7) Sandhya Nagaraj (IND,103) d. Soon-Mi Seo (KOR,931), 63 63 .. That was a good win by Sandhya, as Soon-Mi was ranked near top-200 as early as over a year back .. Madura went down though - [R2] (13) Madura Ranganathan (IND) l. Hae-Sung Kim (KOR,1142) 76(2) 57 06 .. In the PQF round, Vivek plays the 15th seed Jun Chao Xu (CHN,189), Jeevan plays the 13th seed Faisal Aidil (INA,152), Sanam has a touogh match against the 10th seed Kento Takeuchi (JPN,87) and Sandhya plays Denise Dy (PHI,573) .. From now on the event get significantly tougher, and the points are also comparably higher.

Apr 12 Note-2

Easy match for Mahesh and his temporary partner Fernando Gonzales (CHI) at the Monte Carlo Masters .. They beat Dominik Hrbati (SVK) and Marat Safin (RUS), 63 63 .. They play the 8th seeds Simon Aspelin (SWE) and Todd Perry (AUS) in the second round next, on wednesday .. Also playing on wednesday are the 5th seeded Paes-Zimonjic, who face Gaston Etlis (ARG) and Martin Rodriguez (ARG) .. Both matches are scheduled for the evening.

Apr 12 Note-1

Another slow update from me .. I should stop becoming lazy .. Nothing much was happening yesterday, as there was only doubles at the Mumbai challenger .. Things have started for the week now ..

Mahesh and a new partner for just this week, fenando Gonzales of Chile are playing the first round of doubles this evening at the Monte Carlo masters .. They play a tough pair - Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) and Marat Safin (RUS) .. Leander and Zimonjic are seeded 6th and have a first roun bye .. They play the winner of today's match between Etlis and Rodriguez against wildcards Monfils and Gasquet ..

The ITF $25K "MSLTA" Mumbai women's challenger had all 16 first round matches completed today .. No big surprises and not a great day for the Indian ladies .. Four Indians (6th seed Rushmi, Sai, wildcard Megha, qualifier Shruti) advanced to the PQF round .. Three Indians had qualified in (Shruti, Geeta and Tara) during the weekend .. Good to see 16 year old Tara doing fine agaimn, after several months of injury problems last year (she was ranked as high as #45 in the junior world rankings last year, but she seems to be concentrating on only pro events now) .. Tara played a good match against the  7th seed Vorobieva .. AQlso playing a very good match and showing that she too has recovered from over a year of injury problems was Megha vakharia, who upset Adriana Szili to advance .. Rushmi got some resistence from Isha Lakhani but advanced .. Isha still does not seem to be playing at the level she was over a year back .. Wildcard Sanaa, returning from some time off due to board exams, does not seem to be in good singles form yet .. Ankita Bhambri, who is currently injured, also could not do much today .. Sai goit a tough match but advanced against Punam Reddy ..  Sai runs into the top seed Bratchikova tomorrow though .. Megha and Rushmi play each other next, and so we are assured of one QF entry .. See the Mumbai women's challenger page for all the scores.

The Uberoi sisters played another WTA qualifiers last week .. At the big $1.3 million Tier-1 Family Circle Cup at Charleston, SC, USA .. #135 Shikha Uberoi, styill listed under USA (which continues to bug all of us fans :)), went down 16 36 to the 9th see Angela Haynes (USA,100) .. Neha Uberoi (USA,298) who had played a very good qualifying match last week as well, again played well, but went down against the 16th seed Lindsey lee-waters (USA,116), 67(3) 26 .. Shikha should be traveling to India right away and getting ready for Fed Cup next week ..

At the $15K UZB F1 futures in Karshi, Uzbekistan, Sunil Kumar Sipaeya could not do much, as he has gone down in both singles and doubles already this week .. 6th seeded SKS lost to qualifier Artem Sitak (RUS), 61 16 16 .. In doubles the 3rd seeded pair of SKSD and Ti Chen (TPE) lost to Deniss Pavlovs (LAT) and Alexander Yarmola (RUS), 67(3) 26 .. He goes to the UZB F2 next week at Gulistan.

The Indian kids had a good start at the Grade B1 Asian Juniors in Korea, which was held in Delhi the last few years and has rotated out to Korea now ..  It has also been upgraded to a grade B1 event (it used to be grade B2 till last year when it was in Delhi) .. That makes it a little bit bigger in points than even a grade-1 ITF event .. The winner and RU get more points than in a Grade 1 .. That reflects ITF's recognition of Asian tennis as having gone up a few levels in the last few years) .. The winner gets 180, Runner-up 120, SF 80, QF 60, PQF 30, R2 20 .. The world #2 Sun-Yong Kim (KOR) and #5 Chu-Huan Yi (TPE) are not there, and on the basis of this week's ranks, Jeevan and Vivek are the top two players in the boys' draw (though Kuwait's Abdulla Magdas and Hong Kong's Martin Sayer are the top two seeds from last week's ranks). On the girls' side, the world #10 Yung-Jan Chan (TPE), #13 Wen-Hsin Hsu (TPE), and perhaps the hottest current player, 3rd seed #34 Ayumi Morita (just 14 years old!) are all there. Results so far:  [R1] (3) Vivek Shokeen (IND,26) d. Christopher Rungkat (INA,258) 75 63 .. [R1] (4) Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,25) d. Dae-Jin Kim (IND,816) 63 63 .. [R1] (8) Sanam Singh (IND,81) d. Byoung Ryoun Koh (KOR,1589), 76(3) 61 .. [R1] (7) Sandhya Nagaraj (IND,103) d. Shiho Akita (JPN,829), 76(4) 63 .. [R1] (13) Madura Ranganathan (IND) d. Kasumi Hattori (JPN,182), 62 64 .. [R1] Shivika Burman (IND) l. (14) Mia Sacca (INA,203) 75 06 26 .. The second round matches are - Vivek vs Kim Sung Ho (KOR,1031),  Jeevan vs Sang-Oh Oh (KOR,1141), Sanam vs Jae-Yun Lee (KOR,NR), Sandhya vs Soon-Mi Seo (KOR,931), Madura vs Hae-Sung Kim (KOR,1142) ..

This week's world junior rankings show 16 year old Jeevan at #25 and 17 yr old Vivek at #26, as the 3rd and 4th highest ranked Asian players - they are actually tied with 467.5 points each! .. 16 year old Sanam has moved up to a career-high #81 as well .. Excellent .. The boys really came through well the last week or two after a very slow start in the asian circuit .. It is unfortunate that we have no girls in the top-100 and none in the Asian top 8 or 10, though.

Apr 11 Notes

Only doubles on the schedule today at the Mumbai $25K challenger .. Tara, Shruti and Geeta qualified into the main draw .. See the Mumbai challenger page for all the scores.

Apr 10 Notes

Sorry for a late update this weekend .. Actually, it took a very looong time for news to come out from Colombo on the semis and finals on Friday and Saturday, that I got lazy to post here ..

There is a news item in the Times of India print edition that Sania is sitting out for six week to heal the ankle problem .. The news is true, though the last I heard from Imran Mirza was also that she was still in the Fed Cup team for the Apr 18th week at Delhi .. We will just wait and see what transpires .. If you ask me, I would say she should not even think about Fed Cup if the doctors are ordering her to take six weeks off .. You cannot mess around and re-injure the ankles which she probably has alrerady re-injured once or twice .. Take rest and let that problem go away once and for all..

Rohan Bopanna was in the final at the Colombo $10K where he went down to the 6th seed Peter Mayer-Tischer (GER), 67(2) 26, after a semifinal win over Jaco Mathew, 67(5) 61 63 .. Pretty goiod work by Rohan and his comeback is going fine and nicely on schedule so far .. Another good match played by Jaco in the semi too .. The doubles title was won by Vishal Uppal and Ashutosh Singh over a very tough team of Rohan Bopanna and Vijay Kannan, in a 63 64 final .. 22 year old Ashutosh has really come on strong lately as a doubles player .. He has had very good success with both Karan Rastogi and Vishal Uppal .. This was his third futures doubles final with three different partners (Dekel Waltzer of Israel, Karan and Vishal) this year and his first futures title.

The big news was of course from Japan, where Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan reached both the singles and doubles finals at the Japan Open junior ITF grade-1 at Nagoya on carpet (hard artifical grass) courts .. Reaching a Grade-1 final is a big accomplishment .. Sania had one Grade-1 final (and title) at Philippines in 2003, and Karan Rastogi had one grade-1 final in Kentucky in 2003 - and those are the only other instances of finals by our kids that I know of, in about a decade .. To reach the finals, Jeevan won the semifinal over the 11th seed Hsin-Han Lee (TPE,73) in  a 62 61 shellacking .. Vivek Shokeen had lost the semi, 26 36 to the 4th seed Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT,46) who then went on to beat Jeevan in the final in a barn-burner, 76(2) 67(4) 62 .. Jeevan and Sanam Singh won the semi over Vivek and Samuel Groth (AUS), 61 64 before losing the final, once agin after a serious fight, 36 64 26 to the 2nd seeded Taipei pair, Huai-En Chang and Hsin-Han Lee .. Though Jeevan lost both the finals, one has to give him credit for doing it only after a fight, and for once again proving that his high ranking is no fluke and that he belongs right up there .. Jeevan, Vivek and Haider-Maurer will all be ranked right around #25 next week ..

By the way Jeevan will be the second youngest player in the world junior top-30 (or top-25) next week, the only younger player being the current world junior #1 Donald Young of USA who is a couple of months younger.  If you are looking to find out who the next big story in Indian tennis is - well, you have got a long name, Jeevan Mathivannan Nedunchezhiyan, to memorize :-) ... [I think he also has that name "Mathivannan" somewhere - I believe ITF printed it that way once when he played the u14 world juniors, if I am not mistaken]

Yuki Bhambri went down in the final of the ITF u14 tournament in Delhi yesterday, but due to all the upset wins last week and this week, he will qualify to be in the ITF u14 team to Europe this year .. That is really an amazing achievement for a kid who is a couple of years younger than most players at the u14 level.

Later with the Mumbai $25K women's challenger news.

Apr 8 Notes

Excellent upset by Jaco Mathew at the $10K in Colombo today, as the unseeded 20 year old reached the semifinal with a surprising 64 75 upset of the second seed Konstantine Gruber (AUT,422), easily the biggest win of Jaco's career .. Big congratulations go to the young guy .. These Colombo claycourts have been Jaco's "happy-hunting ground", so to say .. That is where he won his only junior ITF title, in the 2002 grade-4 when he had some huge wins over those like Somdev and Divij to take the title and reach his highest junior ranking of #82 in the world .. Jaco did not play a full junior schedule and has been in the peripheries of the ITF pro events for about three years .. The guy has persevered without a whole lot of support from too many quarters .. Travelled around a lot to the Nigerias and Egypts of the world, even to a clay satellite circuit in Serbia in 2003! .. He had reached the SF of the Delhi futures in November 2002 as an 18 year old, and this is his second futures semi .. The first glimpses of his quality showed late last year when he reached two doubles finals and two doubles semis in back to back events in Qatar .. He even troubled Harsh Mankad recently, taking him to a tiebreaker in an Indian futures .. Looks like Jaco's career graph is beginning to show a nice up-tick .. Hope things go well for him from here on out ..

The big match of the day at Colombo was between the 8th seeded Rohan Bopanna and Karan Rastogi, which RB won 64 64 .. Rohan's comeback is going very  smoothly so far and he is steadily going up to the level of play he had before the shoulder injury and surgery .. Karan is of course not an easy one to beat, as we know .. The tough loss today was by the 3rd seed Vijay Kannan in an incredible barn-burner that went the distance, as he lost to the 6th seed Peter  Mayer-Tischer (GER,588), 76(8) 46 67(11) .. Oh well .. Rohan and Jaco play one of the two semis, and so we are assured of a finalist there.

More good news -- At the Japan Open grade-1 in Nagoya, our boys had a clean slate today, Jeevan and Vivek reaching the singles semis, and then Jeevan-Sanam and Vivek-Groth both winningh their doubles QFs as well .. Here are the scores .. [QF] (1) Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,43) d. (11) Kento Takeuchi (JPN,106), 61 62 .. [QF] (2) Vivek Shokeen (IND,35) d. (WC) Junn Mitsuhashi (JPN,849), walkover .. The semis will be Jeevan vs (11) Hsin-Han Lee (KOR,73) and Vivek vs (4) Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT,46) .. Here are the doubles scores so far - [R1] byes for both our teams .. [R2] (1) J.Nedunchezhiyan/ S.K.Singh d. Shota Iino (JPN)/ Shuichi Sekiguchi (JPN), 64 75 .. [QF] d. Weerapat Daokmaiklee (THA)/ Takanobu Fujii (JPN) 75 67(7) 61 .. [R2] (5) Samuel Groth (AUS)/ V.Shokeen d. Arata Onozawa (JPN)/ Kento Takeuchi (JPN), 16 61 64 .. [QF] d. (3) Andrew Coelho (AUS)/ James Lemke (AUS) 36 63 75 .. The semifinal will pit our boys against each other now - [SF] (1) Jeevan/ Sanam vs (5) Samuel-Vivek .. The Japan Open is never an easy junior event, and the only time I remember one of our boys reaching the semis was last year when Divij did that .. Even Somdev, Karan and Sania have all had trouble getting past the QF there despite being seeded highly .. Jeevan's win today, especially the scoreline, was impressive .. The doubles scores also indicate some serious focus and fight from our boys .. They have also picked up a lot of points from all this - Vivek is now expected to move up to #22 in the world juniors and Jeevan to about #31 .. This is fabulous.

The good news does not end even there .. The unseeded 12 year old phenom, Yuki Bhambri, followed up his big upset of the top seed yesterday with an easy 62 62 upset of the 7th seed today as well, to reach the final of the ITF Asia zone-1 tournament-2 in Delhi .. I have just posted the scores in the forum.

By the way, the latest US collegiate rankings show Somdev Dev Varman at #17, easily the highest ranked freshman player in the colleges .. Actually he would be ranked even higher, had he been getting enough chances to play top-100 players whom he beats easily .. As the University of Virginia team has senior players who are ranked in the top-10, Somdev still only gets to play the #3 spots on that team, ranked 3rd in the college team ranks.  So, SKD's rank may not move up much more this year, now that college season is into conference dual matches (college-vs-college) unlike during the winter when there were a lot of individual tournaments.  Seems like SKD has recovered from his wrist injury from earlier - he continues to pick up that assured win every week for UVa at the #3 spot ..

The  men's and boys' side of Indian tennis looks quite healthy right now, doesn't it? .. Hey, weren't we talking about Indian tennis being on the death-bed and all that recently?? .. Put all that talk into cold storage for some more time, friends!

Apr 7 Notes

Today was abad day for our women at the $10K in Mumbai, as all three of them went down in the QFs .. See our frind Neha reporting from there  in the forum thread .. Sanaa Bhambri in the doubles draw (in the final, actually) is the only one still alive .. All the results are at the Mumbai $10K  page.

But very good news from the $10K men's event in Colombo, as Vijay Kannan, Rohan Bopanna, Karan Rastogi an Jaco Mathew are in the QFs .. Jaco's win over Vishal Uppal was impressive .. Karan plays Rohan tomorrow in the QF and that would be a cool match! .. PK Basu has been promptly posting the scores from there ..

Also good news from the Japan Open grade-1 ITF juniors in Nagoya .. Jeevan and Rupesh are both th in the singles final 8 of the 48-draw event .. 60 more points for these two, which would be enough to move Jeevn near top-35 and Vivek near top-30 .. Sanam Singh went down, unable to upset the 6th seed in the PQFs .. Here are the scores - [PQF] (12) Sanam Singh (IND,93) l. (6) Andrew Coelho (AUS,64), 06 67(5) .. [PQF] (2) Vivek Shokeen (IND,35) d. (15) James Lemke (FRA,135), 61 63 .. [PQF] (1) Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,43) d. Stephen Donald (AUS,136), 46 62 63 .. In the QF tomorrow, Jeevan plays the 11th seed Kento Takeuchi (JPN,106) and Vivek plays a talented wildcard, Junn Mitsuhashi (JPN,849) who has upset the 9th and 8th seeds to reach this far .. Madura and Sandhya had lost the doubles first round, but all three boys have reached the doubles QFs .. So glad to see at least the boys recovering from the bad results in the first two weeks and doing some good work during this team tour sponsored by AITA ..

Forgot to mention earlier that Mustafa Ghouse had won the first round at the British $15K this week, with a  67(4) 64 64 over Petar Popovic (SCG) before going down to the tough 7th seed Lee Childs 26 26 in the R2 .. Mustafa is not playing doubles this week .. Though he only got one ATP point, it was good to see him qualifying in and winning a round .. he has not had too many singles wins lately and the wins this week should hopefully raise his spirits a bit, about his singles game.

There is another ITF u14 Asian zone 1 tournament in Delhi this week .. This time, again, we have only one kid in the SF of either draw - but it is heartening to see that it is one of the two youngest players at the whole tournament .. Yuki Bhambri had a big upset of the top seed (and last week's winner) today to reach the SF .. Keep it going, my boy! .. See the scores are in this forum thread (thanks meyyis!) ..

Apr 6 Notes

Three Indians made it to the quarterfinal of the $10K ITF "DHFL" women's circuit event in Mumbai - Rushmi, Shruti and Punam .. See the Mumbai women's $10K page for all the scores .. Shruti and Punam have played very well so far, and Rushmi is in top form, as always in any event in India .. Unfortunately, Isha ran into the tough top seed and went down today, and Sai could not get past the 2nd seed either.

At the $10K ITF futures in Colombo, some pretty nice show by Indians so far .. Karan, Rohan, Vijay, Kamala and VM Ranjeet all advanced today .. scores - Rohan Bopanna d. Adam Fass 64 75 .. Karan Rastogi d. Adam Sandbichler 75 61 .. Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan d. Nick Monroe 63 36 62 .. Kamala Kannan d. Cheong-Eui Kim, 63 46 63 .. It seems Vijay Kannan beat Ashutish Singh (Thanks go to PK Basu for calling Colombo and finding the scores for us!) .. Those are some good wins -- especially, Rohan's and Ranjeet's .. 5th seed Vishal Uppal had won the R1 yesterday over Oshada Wijemanne (SR), 64 64 and Jaco Mathew had beaten Rohan De Silva (SRI), 62 64 .. Keep it going guys!

The Indian boys have had a nice start to the grade-1 ITF Japan Open in Nagoya .. Jeevan, Vivek and Sanam have all reached the final 16 round today .. Here are all the results .. Madura was the only unseeded Indian who had to play the first round .. She and 13th seed Sandhya have lost in their first matches though .. Here are all the scores so far .. [R1] Madura Ranganathan (IND,229) l. Aimi Koga (JPN,535), 62 36 46 .. [R2] (14) Sandhya Nagaraj (IND,103) l. (wc) Aki Yamasoto (JPN,866), 26 57 .. [R2] (1) Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,43) d. Fumiaki Kita (JPN,226), 64 60 .. [R2] (2) Vivek Shokeen (IND,46) d. (Q) Yuya Tomizaki (JPN,1274), 61 61 ..[R2] (12) Sanam Singh (IND,109) d. Tomita Genki (JPN,414), 62 62 .. In the final-16 round, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan plays (16) Stephen Donald (AUS,136), Vivek faces (15) James Lemke (FRA,135) and Sanam runs into (6) Andrew Coelho (AUS,64) .. Good to see Jeevan coming back from a 2-week injury break with a nice and easy win.

[By the way, a correction from what I said earlier -- The doubles title last week for Vivek-Sanam was worth 75 points; as ITF uses different point tables for singles and doubles in the juniors; I forgot that .. The ranks I predicted were close though .. Vivek Sokeen has now moved to a career-high #35 and Sanam has moved back to #93 this week]

Apr 5 Notes

At the Mumbai $10K, Ankita had to retire with an ankle injury early in the first set, and Sai went down against the 2nd seed, but Shruti Dhawan pulled off an impressive three-set upset of a tough 4th seed, Julia Vorobieva! .. Punam reddy's win over Archana venkatraman also was impressive .. Megha, returning from several months off due to an injury that I believe is now healed, had to unfortunately run into the top seed .. See the Mumbai women's $10K page ..

Noticed this result only a couple of days late .. Neha Uberoi (USA,298) had a wildcard into the qualies at the big $585K Amelia Island WTA in USA .. Neha played a rerally impressive match against #85 Marissa Irvin, though she went down, 26 63 26 .. Even taking a set off a player of Marissa's caliber is good to see .. Neha will hopefully be all recovered from her rib injury problems and will hit a nice stride soon I am sure ..

Apr 4 Notes

Mustafa Ghouse and Scott Lipsy went down 36 36 to the 3rd seeds Mark Hilton and Jonathan Marray of GBR, at the $15K Bath futures doubles final in UK on saturday, but Mustafa has qualified into this week's $15K futures! .. Scores - [Q1] Bye .. [Q2] (3) M.Ghouse d. Jonathan Maskens (GBR) 62 62 .. [Q3] d. (9) Tom Rushby (GBR) 75 75 .. In the first round of the main draw, he faces Petar Popovic (SCG) ..

The Mumbai $10K has started today .. Sonal, Tara and Karishma qualified in, but Sanaa Bhambri went down in the firs round .. Check out the forum thread where our onsite fanclub friend, Neha, is giving the results and match reports .. I will start an archive page very soon.

At the $10K in Colombo Vishal Uppal and Jacco Mathew advanced to the second round .. Karan, Vijay, etc are to play on Tuesday.

harsh Mankad moved to a career-high #270 in singles rankings this week, with the 24 points for the title at Chennai two weeks back.  Congratulations, Harsh! .. HM will next be at the $25K+H Nottingham challenger in UK on the 18th, where he is about 5 out from the main draw .. Prakash is also expected to play the qualies there ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Apr 04 ..

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 playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan