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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on May 25, 1998

(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index)

May 25 Note-1

There were no injury withdrawals at the French Open today, so it is looking bleak for Leander to get into the draw.  Marc-Kevin Goellner, who was earlier reported to be sick, played today. Filip DeWulf had said a couple of days back that he was considering withdrawing due to a bad back problem, but since no other updates have come from him, we have to expect him to play tomorrow. At this point, it looks like Leander will be left waiting for one more day and probably may not get to play singles there.

The doubles draw should be announced very soon at Paris.

Nirupama has made a pretty good jump in the rankings, up from 175 to 167, her highest ranking since the week after the Australian Open. She added the 12.5 points (7 from the 2 wins at the Madrid qualifiers last weekend and 5.5 from the Oporto challenger qualifier, the week before) which replaced 2 points at the 18-th spot in her list (the WTA rankings are based on the best 18 tournaments in 52 weeks) .. Her point total has gone up from 126 to 136.5 .. On the men's side, the complete rank list is not out at the ATP site yet, but Leander's ranking stays at #105 .. The doubles rankings and for LP and MB also remain same ..

May 24 Note-2

As of Monday morning at Paris, nothing new on Leander getting an entry to the main draw, according to the French Open site.. The wait continues.

Some good news: Syed Fazaluddin is in the main draw for the $15K Futures tournament starting at Boca Raton, Florida tomorrow (Monday). The draw will be out tomorrow only, and I will report it as soon as they fax it to me.. At the US collegiate championships at Athens, Georgia, Vikrant Chadha and the University of Mississippi crashed out in the quarterfinals to Louisiana State University in the quarterfinals yesterday, I believe .. More details later on that.

May 24 Note-1

The lucky loser watch continues .. As of 9 pm Sunday in Paris, no further withdrawals at the FO, after Mal Washington. It's actually a half hour before the match that some of the last minute withdrawals happen, and so LP will have a long day tomorrow waiting for someone to fall sick or badly sprain an ankle in practice .. :-) .. The press office there told me just now that they did indeed make a mistake in the draws posted yesterday (as well as the schedule for tomorrow, posted an hour back!) .. Gross is the lucky loser and will be playing Magnus Norman  (Mal Washington's spot), and Karbacker is the qualifier who will be playing Philippoussis. So far, all the press agencies are reporting the wrong schedule and draw, flipping Gross and Karbacher, though .. Anyway, it doesn't matter to us. Leander is now the first in line for a spot, and we wait .. and wait..

LP is leaning towards having Larissa Neiland (Latvia) as his mixed doubles partner. No word yet on who Mahesh will play with.

May 23 Note-3

Now it has become even stranger .. The FO draw has changed again and Bernd Karbacher has come back into the draw now ! .. Not at a qualifier spot, though, but as a replacement for Mal Washington and playing Magnus Norman. I have no idea how it is possible. He is the qualifier after the 3rd round win, which means he has to play at a qualifier spot, and Norman was not supposed to play a qualifier. If Oiliver Gross got in as a lucky loser and plays at a qualifier spot, then that qualifier has to have withdrawn. As the other 15 qualifiers are in the remaining spots, the spot that Gross took (playing Philippoussis) had to have been Karbacher's. Now, if Karbacher withdrew, how can he come back into the draw at another spot (that just cannot be allowed, as someone can withdraw hearing somebody else's withdrawal and come back in at that spot, if it's a favorable one, right?..). Not sure if you are with me on all this, but it all looks really mysterious for now, and there may be some mistakes somewhere.. Anyway, as far as we know, LP is still the next one to get in as a lucky loser, if Gross is already in. Don't be surprised if Mal Washington did indeed withdraw and was actually replaced by Leander.. For now, we cannot trust the FO site's draw. Stay tuned.

May 23 Note-2

Strange things are happening at the French Open. Oliver Gross, who was the 3rd seed in the qualifiers and lost in the final round today, has already made the main draw according the the French Open site's draw, but he takes the places of Bernt Karbacher, and plays Philippoussis.. What that means is that Karbacher who had qualified to the main draw with a win today has withdrawn from the main draw. That's very strange. Anyway, what that means is that Leander is the next in line for a lucky loser spot as soon as any other withdrawals happen.  A couple of fanclub members alerted me to this just now, and it's true. I have to run now, but will try to get some inside info from Paris later today or tomrrow, if I can .. Stay tuned.

I heard from someone who talked to Leander this afternoon at Paris. LP was dejected about the loss today, but he didn't know where he stood as far as a lucky loser entry was concerned, which means we probably know more, for the time being. Later.

May 23 Note-1

Ah, I hate having to wait for lucky loser spots to clear up. LP lost, 6-7(5), 4-6 to Michael Sell today. The match started very well for Leander.. He came out smoking, and broke Michael Sell in game 1 and game 3 to lead 4-0 (Sell was hardly getting a point in those games), and then the big slump strated. Sell won the next 5 games, breaking LP in game 6 and 8 to go up 5-4 even though LP had a couple of break chances on Sell's serves .. Then they went with serve to 6-6. In the tiebreaker, LP was up a minibreak at 3-1 but Sell got that back at 3-3. They went with serves and Sell got his second minibreak off LP's serve and won the tiebreaker at 5-7 .. LP was totally offcolor on his own service games in the second set, losing games 1, 3, and 5 .. He was playing better when Sell was serving and came close to breaking a couple of times, just like in the first set. He finally broke MS in the 4th game, but still found himself serving at 1-5 .. He made a good comeback, winning the next three games including a break in game 8, to pull up to 4-5. He continued to fight and took MS to a couple of deuces in the next game, but lost it to finish 6-7(5), 4-6.

So, we now wait to hear word of lucky loser spots. Among the 5 seeds ahead of LP in the quals, only two had made it into the final round. Today, #5 seed John Van Lottum won and qualified for main draw (Van Lottum is the only seed among the top 7 to qualify, which shows how competitive the qualies have been). The #3 seed Oliver Gross lost, and that makes LP the next in line behind him for a lucky loser spot. Will there be two withdrawals after the qualies started ? .. We will only know later.

May 22 Note-3

Leander's match against Michael Sell is scheduled as the second one one Court 19 tomorrow. It should be starting at about 1 to 2 pm at Paris .. Feel free to come to the chatroom to follow the progress of the match with other fans (that is 4 to 5 am Pacific time, USA and 4.30 to 5.30 pm in India) ..

Just got some info on Syed Fazaluddin's tentative schedule. I assume he has been busy finishing his semester at the Temple University in Philadelphia, and is ready to play some tournaments. He will be at the USA Futures #3 and #4, the next two weeks.. The website of the United States Tennis Association, USTA, says the venue is to be announced for the $15K USA F3 Futures next week, but I remember seeing some snippet somewhere that it is at the Chris Evert Tennis Center in Boca Raton, Florida .. Not sure if he will have to play qualies for that (the $15K Futures series in the US have 64-men draws, and he may possibly get in without qualies). The week after that he will be at the USA F4 Futures at Tallahassee, Florida.  After a week of break, he will then go to Canada for three futures (Canada F2, F3, F4) and a challenger (I think the challenger is at Granby, CA, where Mahesh had played last year). Then he will be in England and try for the Manchester and New Castle challengers. I believe the the British challengers are both on grass, his favorites surface. He might play at the British GBR3 Satellite circuit starting the week after, or go to the Istanbul challenger in Turkey .. Looks like the man is serious about taking a stab at coming up in the pros. Great news. In the meanwhile, Prahlad Srinath, I am told is now in Germany and has been doing well.. Not sure what tournaments he is playing, but probably the Futures series there. No new points have shown up in his rankings this week, so I assume he just got there. Stay tuned for any news I may find on him. (For any new readers here, Prahlad is the Indian #3 player, ranked #470 now, and Fazal is the Indian #4, ranked 694 now).

French Open: There is a news item today that Filip DeWulf (Belgium) who is in the main draw may withdraw due to a bad back injury, but apparently he has not decided yet. There was a report last week that Marc Goellner (Germany) was down with a fever and might withdraw, but he appears in the draw as of now. Albert Costa who withdrew from the finals at Rome last Sunday with a bad elbow injury is also in the draw .. No definite news of anybody's withdrawals after the qualies started.. As of now there are no lucky loser spots but there could be one or two by early next week .. I think LP will win the match tomorrow, so we won't worry about lucky loser spots. Here are the opponents that the qualifiers face, according to the main draw released today: Felix Mantilla (15), Marcello Craca, Mark Philippoussis, Jean-Baptist Perlant, Julian Alonso, Carlos Costa, Yevgeny Kafelnikov (6), Goran Ivanisevic, Jan Siemerink, Andre Agassi, Jan-Michael Gambill, Christian Vinck, Albert Portas, Petr Korda (2) .. The remaining two qualifiers play each other ! [Thanks, Prashant Murti, for the list] ..

By the way, Petra Kamstra, who beat Niru yesterday went on to upset the #2 seed in the qualifiers, Seda Noorlander today, and will be playing in the final round of qualies. This has been a pattern for those who beat Niru lately, to go and upset big players .. Kristie Boogert who beat Niru in the 3rd round of qualies at Madrid earlier this week went onto pull a couple of upsets and reached the quarterfinals there.

May 22 Note-2

Leander goes through to the 3rd round !! .. He just defeated Ben Ellwood (#212, Australia) in a come-back three setter .. Here is the onsite fanclub member report (kidding .. it is only an on-web-site fanclub member report .. Kim Das was following the score updates at the French Open site, which has been great so far, unlike what I expected): "LP advanced into the third round with a hard fought 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Ben Ellwood. I was amazed that IBM finally got their act together and were updating ball by ball. In any case I stumbled into the match in the second set where LP was cruising to a 5-2 lead after dropping the first set 6-4. Ellwood put up a small comeback but LP eventually closed out the second 6-4. In the third LP took an eaarly break in the fifth game....only to lose it in the seventh. Elwood took it to 5-4 but that is as far as he got as LP broke back convincingly in the eleventh game and then finished it out 7-5! He now takes on Michael Sell who posted a strong win over Nicolas Coutelot 6-1, 6-2" .. Thanks, Kim, for the report .. I was fast asleep at 3 am here in the US when the match was on, though I am fast awake now at 5 am .. :-)

Michael Sell, LP's next opponent, is ranked 145 and is the 28th seed in the qualifiers. He is 25 years old and has had a lot of challenger success, though he has never made any big splashes .. Seeing how easily he beat the wildcard, Coutelot (#402), he is playing well now .. I think the final round of qualifiers will be tomorrow. We can breathe a little easy now, as LP is in good shape for an entry if there are a couple of last-minute withdrawals (there normally are a couple), regardless of the 3rd round outcome. This win takes away a little bit of the disappointment from Niru's loss yesterday.

News on US Collegiate Tennis: Manisha Malhotra and the University of Tennesse had the misfortune of having to face the defending national champion and the second seed Stanford University at the 16-team women's collegiate tennis championships that started yesterday at the Notre Dame university. The result was a 6-0 whitewashing by Stanford in the 6 matrches they played. #21-ranked Manisha lost her singles match 3-6, 5-7 to the #8 ranked women's collegiate player, Ann Kremer (these two are the top players for UT and Stanford) .. After the team championship ends, Manisha will be playing in the individual championships (starting early next week) for singles and doubles.

May 22 Note-1

Well.. we had a bad feeling about Petra Kamstra as the opponent for Nirupama, and it was justified .. Kamstra beat Nirupama, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of qualifiers at the French Open thursday.. no other details on this. Will have to wait to see if she makes it into the doubles draw once it comes out.

On the men's side, half of the second round qualifiers were completed today. The #1 and #2 seeds (Canas and Squillari) lost today. The #4 seed had lost in round 1. The 3rd seed (Gross) has reached round 3. The #5 seed, Van Lottum, and #6 Leander Paes play Friday. That means, if Leander wins in the second round, he will be at least 3rd in line for a lucky loser spot even with a 3rd round loss. Leander's match is the first one scheduled on Court 20, at 11 am. The results should be available by the afternoon there.

May 21 Notes

Saw the draw at the $100K Budapest challenger which started this monday, and Mahesh has not gone there. The curious thing is that there are at least three people who went there, lost in the first round and came right back to Paris to sign in for the qualifiers at the FO (Cristiano Caratti, Jose "Pepe" Imaz, and Vincenzo Santopadre) .. I wonder if this caused the qualifier draw to close just a couple of spots above Mahesh.. Tthe players can show up and sign in till a little before the qualies start, so it is possible that MB found himself in the draw at first and then got pushed out in the last minute when these guys showed up .. Well, there is what my detective mind can come up with this morning .. :-) .. But seriously, MB's singles tennis needs to pick up some time, and opportunities are coming in way too infrequently. By the time he finishes the FO, he would have gone two full months without a single match of singles except that super match at the Genoa Davis Cup where he upset Sanguinetti in three straight sets. It's a pity that he goes without a chance to play any ATP matches all through the claycourt season .. and clay is a good surface for him .. The two months before that he kept getting those top seeds in the draws too.. Go MB ! .. You will get your chances soon.

LP's round 2 match is tomorrow (Friday). Niru plays her first round match today.

I figured out why Petra Kamstra's name "rang a bell" yesterday (Niru's first round opponent) .. I had seen her listed as a qualifier entry with an injury protected ranking in the Roland Garros commitment list from Michael Blue. Got some more info on her just now from Erik Leertouwer from Nederlands who was nice enough to write. Kamstra is an interesting case. She was ranked as high as in the top75 or so in 1995 (after having had a very promising junior career). She even reached the 4th round at Wimbledon that year, beating the 16th seed Naoko Sawamatsu, and then reached the second round of the French Open in 96. Since then she has had a bunch of injuries and had stopped playing. She recently decided to make a comeback and has been playing some Dutch domestic tournaments etc. She played the Lipton qualies and lost in round 1, and she entered the FO qualies draw with an injury-protected ranking of around 120 or so. Thanks Eric, for all the info. As he rightly says, this could turn out to be a tricky one, not easy to predict as we don't know what kind of form she has and how Niru would handle her. We will know in a few hours when they finish the match (the FO site may not update the draws with scores till late night out there, so it may be a while before we get the news unless I get very impatient and call up Paris)

May 20 Note-2

I guess it helps to whine .. Surprisingly, the French Open site came alive this afternoon with the qualifiers draws .. The bad news is that I don't see Mahesh in the qualifier draw. The lowest player that I can figure out in the qualifier draw is Takao Suzuki (#297) of Japan. It would be an incredible pity if Mahesh missed the qualifiers that narrowly (he is ranked #302), and I still would blame him a bit for not trying to play at least one more challenger somewhere along the way (I am still wondering why he went to play doubles at Hamburg with Mark Knowles, insted of playing the Jerusalem challenger, for instance).. All he would have needed would have been one win in a challenger to be up in side the top290. Oh well, these things happen .. but then again, I may be figuring it all wrong and there may be some other problem.

Here is the draw for Leander

6- Leander Paes (IND) [105] vs    Ben Ellwood (AUS)      [212] \
28-Michael Sell (USA) [145] vs WC-Nicolas Coutelot (FRA) [402] /

Not bad at all .. LP *must* take care of Ellwood tomorrow .. The 3rd round is much less critical for him.. The 1,2,3, and 5th seeds above him have won their first round. Unless there are more than a couple of 3rd round losses among those, he will make it in, because the lucky losers are the highest ranked players who lose in the 3rd round .. So he wants the higher seeds to lose in round 1 or 2 but not in round 3 .. Of course, LP is more than capable of just winning the next two rounds anyway, so we don;t have to think about this lucky loser business ! .. Here is the draw for Nirupama Vaidyanathan:

15-Raluca Sandu (ROM)          [135] vs Tathiana Garbin (ITA) [157] \
   Eva Bes (ESP)               [164] vs Tina Krizan (SLO)     [148] / \
   Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND) [175] vs Petra Kamstra (NED)         \ /
2- Seda Noorlander (NED)       [108] vs Sandra Nacuk (YUG)    [163] /

The women's qualifiers are also 3 rounds .. I don't know anything much about Petra Rampre, whom Niru faces in round 1 tomorrow. The name does ring a bell, but for some reason she does not appear in the WTA rankings. Here is a Dutch site with some info on Kamstra .. She is a 24-yr old who has some wins to her credit in the past. She may have been off the tour for a while or something for her not to be ranked now .. and I am wondering how she made the qualifier draw; may be a wildcard but why would they give it to a Dutch player (as they have given pretty much all other WCs to French guys and girls) ? .. Whatever..  Niru can hopefully handle her. She faces a couple of potential tough foes in the next two rounds if she advances. Raluca Sandu (Carlos Moya's girlfriend) has been playing very well lately .. Niru may face the #2 seed Noorlander in round 2 first, anyway .. Rather unfortunate draw for her on the whole.

May 20 Note-1

Leander moved on to the second round of the three-round qualifiers at the French Open. This afternoon, he defeated Fabio Maggi of Italy (#251) in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4 .. That is a good start for Leander. He faces Ben Ellwood of Australia (#212) in round 2, scheduled for Friday .. Looks like another beatable opponent for him, but Leander has a habit of sometimes taking things too easy and running into trouble in qualifiers. It is absolutely essential for him to win round 2 to have a chance to make the main draw as a lucky loser or something even if he loses the final round when he could potentially face one of the top 32 seeds (16 advance from the draw of 128) .. I have not received the qualifier draws which were to be faxed to me, but I was told LP is the #15 seed in the qualifiers, which doesn't make sense to me (perhaps they misread 5 as 15) .. Also, they cannot find Mahesh in the qualifier draw, even though they said the qualifers closed at a rank beyond ATP 300 .. Now I need to confirm if MB went somewhere else (perhaps Budapest) for a challenger this week. Since I had not heard anything like that before, I assume not. Anyway, stay tuned for more details once the draw comes in .. As usual, the official French Open site run by IMB has chosen not to bother with the qualifiers (every time when a grandslam sites come up - and all of them are designed by IBM thanks to their ability to handle large volume sites - a few of us send protest notes to the web developers on this issue, and they never change.. they don't understand that info is available from all kinds of sources once the main draw starts and that the benefit from an info standpoint is if they can give us news on things like the qualifiers, which are *never* reported by the press or any media agencies .. which means unnecessary phone bills for news-hungry folks like us in the fan club.. OK, enough whining for the morning.. :-)) ..

The women's draw will be finalized by this evening there and the women's qualifiers start only tomorrow. Nirupama will be in it.

May 19 Notes

No news yet on the French Open qualifier draw. As of late afternoon today at Roland Garros, the draws weren't out. We should know soon what's up. One more player (Lionel Roux) has withdrawn from men's singles, due to a shoulder injury. He has been replaced by Dinu Pescariu. That leaves Franco Squllari, John Van Lottum and Andrei Pavel ahead of Leander in the waiting list. There was a report a couple of days back from Germany that Mark Kevin Goellner was in bad shape with a virus and could withdraw, but no official word yet from Roland Garros. So, I assume Leander will be playing the qualifiers starting tomorrow. As far as I can figure out, at the current ranking, there are 7 players ahead of him and so he could be as low as a #8 seed in the qualifier draw of 128 players (Pavel, Canas, Squillari, Dreekman, Gross, Puerta and Van Lottum are ahead of him). All these players were below 106 in the ranking on Apr 13th, but have gone up since. Also, it means that there are quite a few players in the main draw based on earlier ranking even though they have fallen below now.

There was a report in the Indian Express today that Mahesh had chosen Mirjana Lucic, the 16 yr old Croatian sensation (ranked #23 in doubles) as his partner for the mixed doubles. However, a few hours back the French Open site reported that Lucic had withdrawn from women's singles due to illness. Not sure if that means she will pull out of mixed doubles too; MX-D starts only by late next week and with a possible first round bye, they won't have to play till possibly Saturday or Sunday next week. There was interest after the Australian Open from a couple of others including Serena Williams to play with Mahesh (15 yr-old Serena is #59 in doubles, which may be a bit too low to get one of the top seedings and a first round bye in mixed doubles even with MB's #5 ranking, but she is very talented). Leander is supposed to play with either Larissa Neiland (Latvia, #8 ) or Elena Likhovtseva (Russia, #19) , based on what I remember from a conversation with him a while back (don't quote me on this .. I may be totally wrong..). Will touch base with LP or MB and confirm whom they play with, soon.

No other news as of now. We will have a whole lot of news pouring in from the French Open pretty soon.

May 18 Note-2

A correction from the last note (I shouldn't type stuff when I am sleepy in the morning !) .. The points Nirupama got last week were at the Oporto Challenger, not Cardiff .. Cardiff was two weeks back and there were no points for her there. Her few points from Oporto will show up only next week in the WTA computer .. In the meanwhile, she has been busy in Madrid, at the $164K WTA Madrid Open qualifiers over the weekend ! She beat Martina Nejedly (#184, Canada) in the first round 6-1, 6-3.. Yesterday she pulled an upset over Fabiola Zuluaga (#154, Colombia) 6-2, 6-4 !! Today, she couldn't repeat an upset and lost to Kristie Boogert (#123, Nederlands), 6-4, 7-5, in the final round of qualies .. I have not seen the qualifier draws, so I am not sure if she could be a lucky loser or something .. Anyway, if she is, then she really can't play there, as she needs to get down to Paris by Wednesday to play the French Open qualifiers (That is why I didn't even bother to check if she was at any qualifiers over the weekend ) .. Two pretty good straight sets wins out in Madrid for Niru, despite still having a bad cough (the source who wrote to me says she almost fained at the end of the match against Nejedly..) Hope she gets to Paris soon and gets some rest and sleep before the FO quals. It was a useful trip to Madrid for her, points-wise. She gets 3 points for winning two rounds of qualies and 2 points each for beating top-250 players, for a total of 7 points. This plus last weeks' 3-4 points should show up next week in the WTA computer and move her rank up by a few spots next week. Of course, the big enchilada would be to win three rounds and qualify at the French Open !

Talking of the French Open, the qualifier draws are supposed to come out tomorrow (Tuesday) evening at Paris. Will report then who Leander, Mahesh and Nirupama will be playing..

May 18 Note-1

Not much news today. Leander and Mahesh are #5 and #6 this week, with a team rank of #2, as we expected (3564 and 3473 in individual points, and 1634 in team points .. See the LP-MB-Doubles-Points page for details). The full rank lists are not out yet, and so the singles rankings are unknown right now. Should be out soon, but there shouln't be much change in those..

Nirupama inched up a couple of spots in both singles and doubles this week, to #175 and #187 respectively, from 177 and 189 .. I am a bit puzzled why the points from the three Cardiff challenger qualifier wins last week (about 3 to 5 pts) have not shown up in her point total this week, even though WTA says the Cardiff results are included in the new rankings ..

Some US Collegiate tennis news: Manisha Malhotra has led University of Tennessee to the final-16 of collegiate tennis this weekend. The top-10 national teams get automatic berths for the team competition to decide the NCAA national champion and 6 more come through 6 regional tournaments. Since Tennessee was #16 in the rankings last week, they had to win an 8-team SouthEast Regional, which they did, and advanced even though they were the #2 seed in that regional. Manisha won all three of her singles matches. She is already in the draw for individual singles and doubles draws at the national championship tournament starting at Notre Dame (May 21-24) .. On the men's side, Vikrant Chadha will be part of the #6 ranked U. of Mississippi already in the final 16 without having to play the regionals, thanks to their team rank. His personal rank was awfully close to get him an entry in the 64-draw individual singles tournament, but he didn't make it .. The Men's national championship tournament will be at the U. of Georgia (May 23-26). Will report scores during the next weekend and follow how these two do.