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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on May 24, 1999

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May 24 Note-1

I expect to be very busy this whole week - so the notes may be rather minimalistic :-)

The doubles draw came out today at the French Open - Leander and Mahesh are the top seeds and play Juan Carrasco and jairo Velasco of Spain in the first round - pretty good team .. I will post the draw soon .. The mixed doubles draw is not out yet.

At the Mumbai satellites, Vinod Sridhar (4th seed) was upset by Saurav Panja .. Since Saurav is a talanted player, we can't call it a big upset, but I was surprised that it was an easy 61 64 win .. Saurav had lost 5 of 5 matches to Vinod in the past, according to Sharda Ugra in The Hindu - one was in the QF at the Bangalore leg last week .. 6th seed Dimitri Mazur went down once again in the first round today .. Light schedule in singles with just 4 matches, but all of the doubles first round got done with the seeds advancing and the qualifier youngsters Ravikiran Bhat and Rohan Bopanna upsetting a Pakistani pair .. A couple of results of note from the qualies that got done yesterday - young Anant Sitaram (16 yrs) qualified into the main draw after three wins .. Dipesh Rao of Mumbai, who is set to come to the US on a college tennis scholarship also qualified in, beating Shailesh Dhoble in a tough three-setter in the final round (the same two played last week also in the final round, when Shailesh advanced) .. Vasudev Reddy was the top seed in the qualies and he too qualified into the main draw .. Most of the main draw, including the other 6 seeds (Srinath, Derepasko, Fazal, etc) will be tomorrow .. Vijay Kannan runs into Nitin Kirtane in an interesting matchup .. See all the results at the Mumbai satellites page.

May 23 Notes

Busy day yesterday for me - sorry for the late newsupdate .. In case you didn't see the scores I posted at the Mahesh web page (remember that I always post the scores at the MB, LP, and NV pages first, if the notes are delayed here!), Mahesh lost 3-6, 2-6 yesterday to #110 Marcelo Filippini .. The match started with MB having serious difficulties in getting his first serves in, in the first 2 service game, and that always takes away a big weapon from his arsenal .. He was broken in the 3rd game .. Then it remained as a rather even game till the 9th game when Filippini seemed to gain momentum again .. Though Mahesh brought his first serve percentage up from 25% to 60% by then, Filippini started hitting more and more winners .. MF ended with 23 winners to 10 by MB .. Late in the first set, MF and MB had won 28 and 23 points respectively, but after that MF won 28 points to just 13 by Hesh, and that meant it had become quite one-sided in the second set .. MF continued to hold serve and was giving serious trouble to MB in his service, breaking him in the 2nd and 8th games to wrap it up. Double faults and unforced errors were rather few and even on both sides, based on the match stats .. MB now waits till the doubles play starts by wednesday .. Both LP and MB are healthy now, and they have some work to do .. They have over 300 points to defend there (semifinal last year), and since they could not defend about 500 points from the clay Super 9s from last year, it will be nice for them to reach the final or get their first grand slam title at the French Open and pick up 600 to 900 points - never easy.

At the Bangalore satellites, Srinath Prahlad won the title, beating Artem Derepasko of Russia in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 .. Srinath is said to be still bothered occasionally by the foot injury (achilles tendons) which he developed in December, but seems to have regained his confidence and rhythm - and that's good news .. In doubles, Sandeep and Nitin Kirtane once again established that they are quite a team to reckon with - they beat Fazal and Ashley Ford in three sets for the title .. See the Bangalore satellites page for all the results .. The satellite circuit now moves to Mumbai and the second leg will be played on hardcourts .. I have added the qulifying results from Saturday in the Mumbai stallites page .. No big surprises from the first round qualies there .. Two top kids, AV Rao and Banjamin Xavier crashed out, though.

May 22 Notes

Mahesh plays the 6th seed in the qualies, Marcelo Filippini (URU,110) in the final round today .. Filippini beat George Bastl, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) in the qualy second round .. Filippini is not an easy player on clay - most South Americans are tough clay players, for that matter .. MB's match is the 4th one on court 11 .. So the start time is about 2.30 pm (5.30 am PST, USA .. 6 pm India), plus or minus half hour .. There should be ball-by-ball chat at the chatroom ..

At the Bangalore satellite leg, Prahlad Srinath was ready for Harsh Mankad yesterday, and just did not let Harsh start dictate terms as he did in his previous three matches .. Actually, Srinath said after the match that this was the best tennis he has played this year .. He has been in a bad patch for a while, and it's good to see the familiar surroundings of Bangalore helping to get him back on track .. Sri beat Harsh in straight sets .. In the other semifinal, Vinod Sridhar lost to Artem Derepasko, also in straight sets .. Srinath vs Derepasko in the doubles final today .. Sandeep/Nitin vs Fazal and Ashley Ford in the doubles final too .. See the Bangalore satellites page.

May 21 Note-3

Oh, yeah! .. Mahesh Bhupathi upset the 27th seed, #137 Ivan Ljubicic, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the final round of qualies at the French Open .. The win gives MB now 9 points too, including 4 bonus points .. Since the online scoreboard was down during his match, and it was not on a court where they collected match-stats, I know no other details - good show, Hesh ! .. Next up for him is the winner of the match between 6th seed Marcelo Filippini (URU,110) and George Bastl (SUI,189) - that match has just started ..

May 21 Note-2

Leander and Nirupama have both lost in the qualies today .. In the second round, Leander lost 4-6, 4-6 to #278 Olivier Delaitre (FRA) .. The French open site gives some match statistics - LP had a higher first serve percentage of 68 in the match - which is rather unusual in that it is rare for LP to lose when he gets first serves in that well .. He had 29 unforced errors to OL's 14 .. Moreover, he had close to 35 net approaches in the match and won points only about half of the time, which probably shows that Delaitre was returning and passing well, and getting LP caught at the net too .. 21 winners by OL compared to 9 by LP .. There is the story - LP is not known to play the patient baseline tennis needed for clay, and today may not have been any different.

Nirupama lost 3-6, 4-6 to #144 Surina De Beer (RSA) .. No match stats available for Niru's match .. I saw that Niru was behind a break at 3-5 in the first set - tried to even it up with a few deuces there, but De Beer held to go one set up .. Niru quickly broke Surina to go up 2-0 in the second set, but then lost 6 of the next 8 games to go down.

Mahesh's Q2 match against Ivo Heuberger starts soon (around 3.30 pm there) .. Let us hope at least he can get a win to give us some good news today!

By the way, forgot to mention another bad result - from yesterday .. Manisha Malhotra lost to Milagros Sequera (411, VEN), 6-2, 6-1 yesterday at the $25K Jackson (Missinssippi) challenger .. Manisha unfortunately ran into a red-hot player - Sequera is on a really good streak, having reached the semifinal of the Virginia challenger last week as a qualifier and picking up enough points to move inside the top-300 soon .. Manisha gets 4 points from this challenger, which should give her a point total very close to that of Sai Jayalakshi, the India #2, who has 24.5 points - both will be just inside the top-450 soon .. Manisha is also in the doubles draw with Betsi Miringoff from California, but I don't yet have the results of their R1 match yesterday ..

May 21 Note-1

Niru is scheduled to play her first round qualies match as the first one on court 12 today, starting at 9 am .. As of 9.50, Niru is behind 3-5 in the first set (I will report results after I wake up in the morning here in the US) .. In the men's qualies second round, Leander plays at about 2 pm (5 am PST, USA, 5.30 pm India) and Mahesh plays at about 3.30 pm, if rain doesn't delay everything again (yesterdasy was fully washed out) .. Check out the Frenchopen site scoreboard and our chatroom during the matches.

Leander's opponent, Olivier Delaitre (FRA), has fallen all the way down to below 250 in rankings, but was inside the top-50 even a couple of years back, if I remember correctly .. Not necessarily an easy match for LP .. Mahesh' opponent, 20 yr old Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia (#137) has an interesting story .. He had played in India just 5 months back, losing at the Ahmedabad challenger first round to Srinath in straight sets, and then the first round of the Mumbai challenger to Mashiska Washington .. He had also lost on clay to Ogorodov in Davis Cup in October .. I was surprised to find him ranked this high, till I looked closely .. He seems to have made his big break a month back at Monte Carlo .. He got in as an alternate in the qualies due to some last minute withdrawal .. Ended up beating Calleri and Cherkasov in the qualies to get to main draw .. Then he got wildcard Andre Chesnokov (not what he used to be) in the first round, and an even more struggling Kafelnikov (yes, #1 ranked, but he had lost so many matches in a row, till a win this week) in R2 .. Anyway, Ljubicic beat Yevgeny who was then ranked #3 before getting totally outplayed in the next round .. He left from Monte Carlo with around 90 ATP points, and jumped all the way up to #137 from near 200 or below .. Not sure if he is really making that big splash, or if he was somewhat lucky with the draw at Monte Carlo .. He is talented, so perhaps it is the former .. Anyway, MB also has his work cut out for him ..

At the Bangalore satellites, the first, second, 4th seeds and the one who upset the 3rd seed are in the semis - pretty much according to script .. Srinath struggled a bit but then found his bearings to oust a red-hot SK Shivshankar who had won some 15 matches in a row, going back to some tournament he played in Vishakhapatnam or somewhere, and three rounds of qualies here .. Sri won in three sets .. 2nd seed Artem Derepasko (RUS) had it easy, as his opponent conceded the match at 0-5 in the first set due to (what else ? - stomach trouble!) .. 4th seed Vinod Sridhar had to go three sets against Saurav Panja, as he lost a bit of focus in the second set .. Harsh Mankad is the unseeded player in the semis, facing Srinath today - so far, Harsh's tennis out there has been earning him some good praise .. All newspaper reports seem to mention him using his mind well and playing with confidence - very nice to see that from the 19 yr old former junior national champion .. Harsh and Derepasko are partners in doubles and are in the doubles semis as well .. See the results in the Bangalore satellites page.

May 20 Note-2

Leander's match has been postponed to Friday, as due to rain problems today at the FO qualies .. So, both LP and MB get a day of rest today .. I am not sure if they have played anything much today, but only the unfinished first round men's qualiy matches and women's first round qualies scheduled for today - doubtful if they can get even those done. Nirupama's match is still in today's redone schedule .. Here is the draw for Niru:

 1 Sandra Kleinova (CZE, 85)       vs  Sung-Hee Park (KOR,168)  \
   Francesca Lubiani (ITA,164)     vs  Jill Craybas (USA,138)   / \__ main draw
   Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND,182) vs  Surina De Beer (RSA,144) \ /
13 Annamaria Foldenyi (HUN,125)    vs  Gisela Riera (ESP,143)   /

Not too bad, except for the top seed Sandra Kleinova being there .. I believe Niru has beaten De Beer, Riera, etc, in the past.

May 20 Note-1

LP plays the 4th match on a court where the first match starts at 9.30 am .. The match should be starting by about 2.30 pm (5.30 am PST, USA .. 6 pm India), plus or minus half an hour .. There should be folks in our chatroom, following the ball-by-ball updates at the FO website .. The Niru match will also be around the same time.

May 19 Note-2

Nirupama is in the qualifier draw at the French Open, and plays Surina DeBeer (RSA,144) in the first round tomorrow (Thursday) .. Mahesh's econd round qualifier opponent is Ivo Ljubicic (CRO,137) .. Leander is playing his Q2 match against Delaitre tomorrow, but Mahesh is playing his next match only on Friday.

Good news for Manisha Malhotra .. She qualified into the main draw as a lucky loser at the $25K USTA challenger at Jackson, MS, and she just now beat Evgenia Subbotina (BLR, 925) in the first round, 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-0 .. I hope I got her opponent's name correct - she has to be a qualifier too .. In the qualifying rounds, Manisha beat a Canadian player in the first round 60 60 and then beat Betsy Meringoff (USA,745), 63 63, before falling to Prim Siripipat of USA, 64 67(4) 57 .. Anyway, all of that gives her 4 points to add to the 2.5 points she picked up in the last couple of weeks .. Not bad.

6 Indians have made the quarterfinal at the Bangalore satellites .. See the Bangalore satellites page for results..

May 19 Note-1

Both Leander and Mahesh advanced today in the first round of the singles qualies at the French Open .. Leander had the tougher match .. The FO site came alive with live scores from even the qualies, in a pleasant surprise .. When I saw the score first, LP was in trouble in the 3rd set, facing a break point at 1-2 at his serve 30-40 .. Down came a timely rain! .. After over an hour of break, LP came back and held serve .. Then he broke Schranz in the 7th game to go up 4-3 .. He was serving at 40-15 .. Problems again, and he dropped serve from that point and it was 4-4 .. After Schranz went up 5-4, LP was again in trouble, serving at 0-30 .. He held again to make it 5-5 .. Then he had a break chance in the next game, which Schranz fought off .. There is no tiebreak in the 3rd set there  .. Finally LP decided it was time to finish the darn thing and got his break in the 13th game to go up 7-6 and then serve it out .. The score - Leander Paes d. Wolfgang Schranz , 7-6(5), 2-6, 8-6 .. He faces Olivier delaitre (FRA,278) in the next round .. Delaitre has been ranked much higher in singles before, and has upset #200 Manta so far .. LP will need to play better than today .. The other seed in LP's part of the draw, #141 Chela has got upset today and the other Q2 match there is between Zingman and Moyano ..

As for Mahesh, who took the court only after LP had started the 3rd set, it was a breeze all along - he finished his match almost the same time as LP did, except that rains came down when he was serving for the match, which was finished after a one hour break .. The whole match lasted just about 30-40 minutes, as he kept breaking Motevassel at will .. I lost count of the breaks - basically Oren was never in this game as MB was holding serve at love and going after him on his serve! .. The score - Mahesh Bhupathi d. Oren Motevassel, 6-2, 6-1 .. His opponent is yet to be determined as I type ..

Nirupama lost her doubles match at Stasbourg yesterday, I believe .. Today at the satellites, Srinath and Vinod Sridhar have advanced, and Saurav Panja upset the 6th seed Uzebek, to reach the QFs .. I haven't seen other score yet .. More later.

May 18 Note-3

Here are the draws for Leander and Mahesh in the qualifying rounds at the French Open ..

 2 Leander Paes (IND,98)        vs Wolfgang Schranz (AUT,207)    \
   Olivier Delaitre (FRA,278)   vs Lorenzo Manta (SUI,200)       / \ _ qualified
   Andres Zingman (ARG,243)     vs Michael Tebbutt (AUS,191)     \ /
31 Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG,141) vs Diego Moyano (ARG,260)        /

 6 Marcelo Filippini (URU,110)  vs Patrick Fredriksson (SWE,263) \
   George Bastl (SUI,189)       vs Christian Vinck (GER,153)     / \ _ qualified
   Mahesh Bhupathi (IND,254)    vs Oren Motevassel (ISR,249)     \ /
27 Ivan Ljubicic (CRO,137)      vs David Nainkin (RSA,154)       /

Leander actually has a pretty easy draw to go through, with only two among the 8 being in the top-190 .. But the Argentinians in there are all pretty good claycourt players .. Mahesh has relatively lower ranked player in the first round, but will have to face some top-150 players if he advances .. All the first round qualifier matches are scheduled for tomorrow (wednesday) .. LP's match is at about 12 noon, and MB's is at about 2 pm there .. I am not sure when we will find out the results .. I am not sure if the French Open official site will oblige with timely results - IBM, which runs those grand slam sites is usually sluggish on the first couple of days of qualifiers .. The sites often seems to come alive with all kinds of info, news and results after that .. The qualifier draws for women are not out yet - since there are only 64 players in that draw, they normally start it along with the second round of the men's qualifiers on Thursday.

Here are three articles on the first two days of the Bangalore stallites (details of Ravikiran's upset win in the Indian Express, on Harsh Mankad's upset of Fazal in The Hindu and on SK Shivshankar's upset of Vijay Kannan in the Deccan Herald) .. Prajwal Hegde's observation that clouds of self-doubt are haunting Vijay must be correct - the kid has lost a whole bunch of first round matches in the past 6 months. This was precisely what I was talking about a few months back when he continued to get wildcards into futures and challengers main draws and kept facing all those experienced players .. Not the best way to bring along a junior player who has just moved to the seniors .. Sometimes one needs to get some of those easier wins in the qualifiers to keep the confidence going .. I am sure one of these days he will break out of the slump .. See all the results so far, at the Bangalore satellites page.

May 18 Note-2

They just faxed me the qualifier draw for men at the French Open .. #2 seed Leander Paes plays Wolfgang Schranz (AUT,207) in the first round tomorrow (wednesday) .. Mahesh Bhupathi plays Oren Motevassel (ISR,249) also on wednesday .. Three rounds of qualies ..

At the Bangalore satellites, 8th seed Vijay Kannan got upset in straight sets by qualifier SK Shivshankar, who has been having a good tournament so far .. Top seed Srinath and 4th seed Vinod Sridhar advanced .. See the scores at the satellite results page .. More later.

May 18 Note-1

I have added the complete results from the three rounds of qualfiers at the Bangalore satellites page .. They actually had 58 players show up for three competitive qualifying rounds !! .. This included some foreign players too .. Pretty nice to see 6 Indians come through those qualifiers .. Some of the notables who went own in the qualifiers were teeanagers like Anant Sitaram, Rohan Bopanna, CS Mohanty, P. Vishal, and Dipesh Rao .. Thanks go to Steve Gocha for forwarding the official results he got from ITF - none of the Indian newspapers had even a blurb online about the first two rounds of quals - world cup taking its toll, I guess :-)

I have also added the full main draws for singles and doubles .. Today's schedule includes the 5 remaining first round matches .. Srinath faces wildcard Manoj Mahadevan - not necessarily a "gimme" match for Sri .. 8th seed Vijay Kannan faces qualifier SK Shivshankar, who had a couple of nice quals wins over P. Vishal and P. Ravikrishna .. 4th seed Vinod Sridhar plays another talented qualifier, Kamala Kannan, who also had some quality wins over Saif Ali, Yasser Arafat, etc, in the qualies .. In doubles, the Kirtane cousins are the top seeds, Fazal is seeded second with the Australian, Ashley Ford (who incidentally conceded his singles match in the second set yesterday - not clear if he is injured) .. Harsh is partnering Artem Derepasko of Russia and seeded 3rd .. In addition to the upsets by Harsh and Ravikiran, another notable win yesterday was by qualifier Saurav Panja (the top seed in the qualies), who got past Ashley Ford in the main draw .. Two other qualifiers, Vasudev Reddy and Anand Radhakrishnan, took care of the two Pakistanis in the main draw R1 too .. We will await today's results.

Leander moved up one spot to #98 this week .. Mahesh is at #254 .. Fazal moved up over 50 spots to #569 with the 8 points from the China futures .. In doubles, MB and LP stay at #2 and #3 .. They fell to #3 in team rankings, though .. Ferreira/Leach (1465 pts), Black/Stolle (1268), LP-MB (1093), Adams-DeJager (1073), Bjorkman/Rafter (1067), and the Woodies (1028) are the top 6 teams .. I believe LP has recoevred from his illness (I got a report that LP and MB were watching the IND-RSA world cup cricket match at Hove, on saturday) .. I assume LP will have to play the singles qualies starting tomorrow .. I still have not found much info on where the FO main draw cut stands as of now .. Agassi got injured earlier this week and said he might have to skip FO.

May 17 Note-2

Nirupama did not have to play qualies for main draw doubles this week .. Niru and Amanda Grahame (137, AUS) are in the main draw of the $200K Strasbourg WTA event .. They are drawn against the 4th seeds Emilie Loit (FRA,57) and Asa Carlsson (SWE, 78) .. The match was originally scheduled for today (monday), but I believe rain has been disturbing the schedule today .. She may not have played yet.

A correction from earlier .. Niru's loss to Janet Lee (#104) in the qualifier first round during the weekend at Strasbourg was by a closer score than I said earlier .. She lost 5-7, 5-7 .. I guess Janet did not want to get upset by Niru yet again! .. (Thanks go to Sam for the info).

May 17 Note-1

Early wire report from PTI gives news on three seeds going out today in the first round of the first leg of the men's 4-week satellites, on clay at Bangalore .. The biggest upset is Harsh Mankad beating 3rd seed Fazaluddin, 6-3, 6-2 .. The other big one was by 19 yr old Ravikiran Bhat, who upset 5th seed Alexander Sikanov of Russia .. The bad news is that 7th seed Sandeep Kirtane had to concede his match after he was down a set, due to elbow problems .. As for Harsh Mankad, the one who is most often written off in Indian tennis, the 19 yr-old continues to still show that there isn't sufficient reason for everyone to still keep forgetting him .. I saw a newspaper report yesterday calling him the "still struggling Harsh Mankad" - not sure where that idea came from .. The same article even said "The only other Indian in the field who could trouble the big two - Srinath and Fazaluddin - is Vijay Kannan" .. That is why I called Harsh the "written-off one" :-) .. Actually I am a bit surprised too that Harsh did this on clay - I had the impression that he did not like clay much .. We will await newspaper reports on Harsh's and Ravikiran's upsets .. Fazal doesn't like clay much though - and should be doing much better in the next legs .. Kannan has all the tools for clay and I hope he will do well here and use that to get going in the circuit and make that splash he is capable of .. He is seeded 8th here (both he and Harsh have exactly the same ranking - 855 - they must have flipped a coin for that final seeding!) .. The top seed Srinath must be playing tomorrow .. See the results at the Bangalore men's satellites page .. I will update it later with more scores.

Vasudev Reddy and 19 yr old Saurav Panja qualified into the main draw on Sunday - I believe both would have been in the main draw if they had entered early enough - but no damage done! .. SK Shivshankar, Anand Radhakrishnan and 17 yr old Kamala Kannan also qualified in .. Pakistan's experienced Davis Cup player, Mohammed Khaliq also made it in, along with US' Adam Altshuler .. I have not seen the result for one final qualy match where Dipesh rao and Shailesh Dhoble were fighting for that 8th qualifier spot yesterday.

On the women's side, the new rankings show Niru moving up 27 spots in doubles to 217 .. Her singles ranking moved up 2 spots to 182 (but she loses about 12 pts next week and could drop about 10 spots .. Picking up some points at the FO qualies could be very nice, if she makes it in) .. Manisha Malhotra picked up 0.50 pts (I believe from the Sarasota challenger qualifiers 2 weeks back - her points for qualifying in last week at Midlothian, Virginia, will go in only next week) .. I will trace down some news from Jackson, Mississippi, where she was at the qualifiers over the weekend .. Ther points from the Indian satellite rounds have not reached teh computer yet - so, Sai, Archana, Rushmi, etc stay at around where they are in the rankings.

Ferreira/Leach won the Rome Super 9 doubles title, beating Adams/De-Jager .. So, F/L are the new #1 team in the world .. LP-MB will move down to #3 .. More details after the new rankings come out, later today.

May 16 Notes

Not much news to report today either .. except that Nirupama crashed out of the first round of the qualifiers at the Strasbourg event in France yesterday, 1-6, 3-6, to the 3rd seed Janet Lee .. So, no upset of Janet this time for Niru .. I guess she will be going down to Roland Garros for the qualifiers starting in the coming week ..

No news updates on Leander and Mahesh either .. I assume Leander has recovered from the fever he had from about 10 days back, and will be ready to get going at Roland Garros this week .. As far as I know, the main draw has not come down by 4 spots from 104 to 108 for LP to get in, yet - the usual candidates for withdrawals, Todd Martin and Marc Rosset are both banged up and had to withdraw from the Rome Super 9 this week, but I don't know if anybody has withdrawn yet from the FO main draw .. So, I expect LP to be at the qualifiers this week, with MB ..

No other news today, it appears, unless the newspapers report anything about the qualifying rounds for the men's satellites - I have my doubts, with all the hooplah going on with the world-cup of you-know-what .. I just saw a newspaper with 23 articles of which 20 were about the madness .. Great as cricket is (and I am a big fan myself - I am a player and faculty advisor for our university cricket club here), I have to say I am rather amused, if not annoyed, at all the attention and money pouring into that game which (in my view) is sadly getting more and more marginalized in the world outside the Indian subcontinent - perhaps I am even more annoyed at how it affects the other games .. But, then again, as they say, if that's what people want, that's how it will be - I can only hope that there would be some in the media and other circles who have the balanced view towards all of sports who would attempt to temper the opinions and attitudes of sports fans in the subcontinent, a large portion of whom are plain "fanatics" when it comes to cricket - may be even more so than in the past.

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending May 17 ..