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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on May 30, 2005
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May 30 Notes

LP-Zimo play the Bryans in the QF at about 5 pm tomorrow (Tuesday) at Roland Garros .. Mahesh and LIsa Raymond are to start theie MxD QF a little bit earlier, against Myskina and Bjorkman as well .. Vivek and Sayer play boys' doubles too.

Amazing focus by Harsh Mankad to keep playing day after day like he is doing on the British grass .. Today HM was the only unseeded qualifying player to qualify into the $50K Surbiton main draw .. 61 76(6) win over Fredric Nielsen of Denmark .. HM had fallen behind briefly in the second set to 2-4, but stayed focussd after that to break back and go ahead .. Make it a 9-1 record on grass courts in the last 9 days for Harsh .. Surbiton is of course the toughest $50K challenger on the whole circuit .. In the main draw he has drawn the 3rd seed Marcos Baghdatis (CYP,94), the junior #1 from 2003, who actually had beaten HM once before, 2 years back at an Indian challenger .. This is of course a different Mankad, the way he has been playing this year .. He does get a day off before the first round on wednesday .. He can really use some rest, I am sure .. Folks, regardless of the rankings of some of the players he beat this week, most of them were pretty good grass players (which is why they are all there!) and this kind of a streak over such a short period is really tough to pull off .. It says something about Harsh's physical and mental conditioning .. To me, the last 9 days by Harsh is the most impressively focussed tennis we have seen from an Indian since Leander Paes' three days at the end of the 1999 Wimbledon in doubles and mixed doubles (when he set an unnoticed record with 25 doubles sets in three days in 8 matches, the most ever played by anybody!) .. There is a fantastic report on HM's work from Samarth in the forum - take a look ..

Shikha Uberoi could not do much in her singles match against Vilmarie Castelvi (PUR,158) as she went down 61 64 .. Shikha and Neha did pull off a big upset in doubles however, later today, with a 64 61 upset over the 3rd seed Baker-Lubiani .. They are the same team that beat Sania Mirza and Selima Sfar in the Dubai WTA qualies in three sets, and had beaten Sai-Rushmi in the final at the Mumbai challenger last month .. The Uberois themselves had lost about a year back to this team at the Schenectady challenger in three sets .. To take them out so easily, was rather impressive .. I am sure Shikha was a bit upset at herself for not having had the best singles matches lately, ever since her great show at the Fed Cup .. Good to see them come out with at least a good doubles win .. By the way, today was the first time that Shikha appeared under (IND) in an official draw .. Neha plays singles tomorrow against Keothavong and Sunitha Rao (USA) alaos plays her singles R1.

At the $50K Yuba city challenger, Prakash Amritraj's R1 match against the top seed Justin Gimelstob will be on wednesday .. Mustafa Ghouse went down today in the Q3 at Yuba City against the 2nd seed Ryan Newport (USA,447), 16 16 .. Now he needs a couple of withdrawals to go in as a lucky loser to the main draw - doesn't look lie it .. He had a couple of good wins yesterday to reach the final qualies, 46 62 63 over Mirko Pehar (USA) and  64 63 over Daniel Yoo (USA) .. Mustafa is in the doubles main draw with Scott Lipsky (USA), seeded 3rd .. They play Brian Dabul (ARG) and Marcel Felder (URA) .. Prakash is not playing doubles ..

The 4-week India-1 satellites started today at Gurgaon with Vijay Kannan winning and Navdeep Singh losing in the two singles matches played .. I have not got the draws yet, but the scores are at the forum thread on the the India satellites ..

At the French Open juniors, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan fought hard but could not get a win .. 67(4) 61 16 loss to Alexander Dolgopolov (UKR) .. In doubles, Jeevan and Sanam had a great start, but everything seemed to go wrong at the end as they lost 63 57 57 to Kevin Botti and Jerome Inzerillo of France .. After a close set, they dropped serve in the 12th game after saveing a couple of set points in the second .. They were also up 4-2 in the 3rd but then lost the advantage and the match, dropping 5 of the next 6 games .. Tomorrow, Vivek Shokeen and Martin Sayer (HKG) play the Canadian pair, Philipp Bester and Peter Polansky ..

May 29 Note-2

Leander and Martina Navratilova had absolutely no problems at the French Open today, winning 64 60 over Dinara Safina (RUS) and Simon Aspelin (SWE) .. Can't stop admiring how Martina is able to still do it, even if you count in the fact that his trusted general Leander is capable of doing more than a man's work! .. Amazing .. Their QF opponents are TBD .. Both Mahesh and Leander have the day off tomorrow, but Jeevan Nedunchezhiayan plays the R1 singles, and later plays doubles with Sanam Singh.

More good work from Harsh Mankad, as he picked up two more grass wins today to take his tally to 8 wins in 9 matches in eight days .. He is in the final round of qualifying at the $50K Surbiton challenger in UK .. After beating Sadik Kadir (AUS,474) in three sets in the morning, Harsh cam back later and pulled off his best grass win in this current streak - over the 2003 Wimbledon junior champion Florin Mergea (ROM,270), 61 63 .. That is a very impressive win, against a very latented kid who has come up fast in the rankings .. According to Samarth, who has seen a lot of HM's matches in UK this year, the first set he played against Florin was the best set from HM he has seen .. That sounds right .. Wow! .. That he is did at the end of so many matches out there, is what is mind-boggling .. Keep going Harsh .. In the final qualies, he runs into Frederic Nielsen (DEN,538) who beat Mathew Smith who had upset the 2nd seed #210 Miguel Gallardo-Valles in the first round .. HM had beaten Nielsen in straight sets at the Oxford futures first round 5 days back, and so the Danish guy will be looking for some revenge ..

At the $25K women's challenger at Surbiton, Shikha Uberoi plays the first round tomorrow against Vilamrie Castellvi (PUR,158) at the same (11 am) as HM's final qualies match .. Neha Uberoi  (USA,295) is drawn against Anne Keothavong (GBR,239), the match scheduled for Tuesday, as is the match between Sunitha Rao (USA,174) againstqualifier Laura Peterzan (GBR) .. In doubles, the Uberoi sisters face the 3rd seeds Franceska Lubiani (ITA) and Leaane Baker (NZL) and the match is scheduled for monday evening ..

Prakash Amritraj did not get any breaks from the draw at the Yuba City challenger, as he is facing the top seed Justin Gimelstob (USA,111), the match set for Tuesday .. No news yet on Mustafa' s qualifying matches there today.

By the  way, the 4-week Indian satellites start tomorrow at Gurgaon .. Rohan Bopanna is expected as the man to beat there .. We will have news from tomorrow on that.

May 29 Note-1

Leander Paes and Nenad Zimonjic have reached the doubles QF at the Roland Garros with a 76(5) 64 win over the 10th seeds Cermak-Friedl .. Pretty close match all through .. LP-Zimo were up a break early in the second but got broken back at 3-3 .. Went ahead again in the 9th game to 5-4 and finished it off .. Their QF opponents will be the third seeded Bryan twins who beat the defending champs from Belgium, Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus, for a similar score as LP-NZ .. Will be a close and tough match between these two pairs in the QF, as they have beaten each other once each in their recent meetings.

Mahesh and Lisa Raymond reached the Mixed doubles QF as well, with a close 75 76(4) win over Katarina Srebotnik (SLO) and Todd Woodbridge (AUS) ..

The boys' French Open junior singles also has started at Roland Garros today .. Jeevan, Vivek and Sanam are in the draw, the latter two playing today .. Not a great day, as both lost .. Sanam is coming off a wrist injury which kept him away from last week's prep tournament on clay and I did not expect much from him .. Sanam Singh (IND,32) l. Ginaluca Nazo (ITA,55), 16 36 .. Vivek Shokeen (IND,30) ran into a hot-serving German, #42 Jochen Schottler, and went down in a tough match, 76(5) 57 36 .. The difference in the match was basically that Vivek was 5 of 17 in break points, as the big-looking German boy was 7 of 10 .. Schottler also slammed down 10 aces to 2 by Vivek .. More importantly, he threw in 8 of those in the final set .. That is indeed tough .. Vivek had a lot of chances in the second set that he could not come through on - partly perhaps due to some hot serving by Schottler .. Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,29) plays tomorrow against Alexander  Dolgopolov (UKR,45) ..

Tough start by Harsh Mankad at the Surbiton qualies this morning, but he pulled through in a truly gritty match dspite some serious cramping problems in the third set .. 63 26 61 over Sadik Kadir (AUS,474) .. Amazing third set from HM actually, because he was in pain all through with cramps [Edit - Harsh corrected us in the forum later that there was no problem and that he was fully fine; SKS mistook his extra stretching as some cramp/pain problem and SMSed us from Surbiton, that's all; I assume HM was just being careful I assume]  .. As I type, Harsh is resting for two hours .. Hopefully he will get some massage and take fluids to get rid of the cramps (which is surely the result of 8 matches in 8 days so far) .. He plays the 2003 Wimbledon junior champ Florin Mergea (ROM,270) in the Q2 at 4.30 pm .. Mergea, as expected, upset 8th seed David Sherwood (GBR,265) in three sets .. No idea how this next match will go for HM .. Hope he has some more reserves to somehow pull out.

May 28 Notes

The sixth seeds Leander and Martina Navratilova beat Stephanie Foretz and Nicolas Devilder of France, 64 63 at the Roland Garros to reach the R2, but both Harsh and Prakash went down in UK and Korea ending their beautiful runs this week ..

At the $50K+H Busan challenger, Prakash lost 26 46 to the 6th seed Danai Udomchoke (THA,203), who is in superb form, after having finished runner-up last week at Fergana, etc .. After all the upsets he pulled this week, Prakash was due for a bad day I suppose ..  Harsh Mankad, who was playing his 7th singles match in 7 days was a little bit jaded I am sure, as he went down in the final of the $10K Oxford futures to the 4th seed Nathan Healey (AUS,293) in a close match, 46 57 .. Healey is a better singles player than his ranking shows; considering all the continuous play, I was not surprised all that much .. Great week for HM nonetheless, as he picked up 8 ATP points and has started the grass season with more match practice than anybody lese on tour ..

Prakash must be on his way back to California, as he is in the main draw list for the $50K challenger in Yuba City, California, the Punjabi capital in the US .. Mustafa Ghouse (IND,690) is also at Yuba City, where he is the 8th seed in the qualies, playing Mirko Pehar (USA,764) tomorrow in the first round .. All the men's challenger qualies are starting a day late on Sunday this weekend, to allow one more day to decide if the players at the French Open would be playing a challenger nxt week before finalizing the main draw and qualies list by Saturday 6 pm .. All the players active at the FO as of today 6 pm were taken out from the challenger lists for next week ..

Harsh has gone to the world's toughest $50K challenger, the Surbiton grasscourts in UK, for qualies ..  Our friend Samarth drove him up there to sign in ..  #277 ranked Harsh is only the 10th highest ranked player there in the qualies, and is unseeded - that tells you how tough the challenger field is, because everybody wants to get started on the grass and this is the only challenger available before the short two week ATP season on grass which presedes Wimbledon .. Surbiton main draw closed at an incredible #151, the highest ever cut if I am not mistaken there .. Even after player like Hanescu, Hyung-Taik Lee, Bjorkman etc were taken out as they are active at the FO, the cut only dropped to just around 200 .. It was a great thing that Harsh decided to play Oxford and pick up a few points and matches, because the Surbiton qualies and main draw are a crap shoot even for good grass players .. Almost every good grasscourt player in the top-300 is in the field out there in the main draw and qualies .. Harsh is dran to face Sadik Kadir (AUS,474) in the Q1 round tomorrow morning .. If he wins, there will be a second round also tomorrow, which will be against the 8th seed David Sherwood (GBR,265) or the 2003 Wimbledon junior champ Florin Mergea (ROM,270), and that would make it 9 matches in 8 days for Harsh .. Scary, but HM is holding up, based on reports from UK - thanks to his nice physical conditioning.

There is also a $25K women's grass challenger at Surbiton .. Shikha Uberoi (IND) and Sunitha Rao (USA) were in the main draw earlier, and we just found out that Neha Uberoi (USA,286) who was 5 out from the cut a couple of days back, also made it .. Shruti Dhawan (IND,523) was in the qualies but she went down today in a 67(4) 36 match to Laura Peterzan (GBR) who is a young wildcard - must be talented, beacause she won the next match and qualified into the main draw ..

May 27 Notes

The "Bengal-Belgrade Brothers"  (OK, the "Bengal Belgrade Billions and Billions of Blue Blistering Barbecued Barnacles Brothers" :-)), Leander and Zimo reached the doubles R3 with an easy 61 63 eradication of two hapless french wildcard guys, Nicolas "Bevildered" Devilder and Marc "Jee-I'm-Killed" Gicquel .. Now LP-NZ will play the 10th seeds  Frenticek Cermak and Leos Friedl of Czech Republic in the PQF .. Sania Mirza and Anna Chakvetadze could not sustain the momentum well enough past the first set, and they came up a bit short in the upset bid over the 16th seeds Zie Yan and Jie Zheng of China, in a 64 57 26 second round loss .. The Chinese pairs experience came through in the end, I assume .. Also advancing today were Mahesh Bhupathi and Lisa Raymond (USA) who easily got past Virginia Ruano-Pascual (ESP) and Jonathan Erlich (ISR), 63 64 in the MxD first round .. Tomorrow's schedule shows Leander and Martina Navratilova playing their first round mixd doubles match against the French wildcard pair, Stephanie Foretz and Nicolas Devilder, the latter certainly hoping not be bevildered again, this time by a doubles legend and a doubles giant.

But the great news today comes from our #2 and #1 singles players who have both been in roaring form lately .. Prakash Amritraj decided not to waste any time regaining the points he lost last week when some knee trouble prevented him from defending 35 points at the Fergana challenger .. He has been on the best giant-killer run of his career this week at the $50K+H challenger in Busan .. Back to back upset of seeds by ProKash, who took apart the 4th seed Yeu-Tzuoo "Jimmy" Wang (TPE,156) in a 63 75 match .. This win once again shows how far Prakash has come .. Not too many expected in the junior days, when Yeu-Tzuoo was a top-10 junior and Prakash struggled to crack top-55, that Kash would come up to the levels of taking out a player of Wang's caliber in straight sets .. Well, folks, Prakash is playing some truly smash-mouth tennis and he is finally winning against the kind of solid players that he had trouble beating earlier on .. Certainly he must be learning to mix up his game and properly harness the aggression in his game for winning matches .. We all expected that it would take a while for a player of Prakash's style to settle down in his tennis .. Once again, watch out! .. The younger Amritraj is now earning his name, and none of this is from wildcards and other goodies that people used as a reason to put down PA .. Keep going, Kash! .. He has picked up 27 points this week .. He will tackle the 6th seed Danai Udomchoke (THA,203) in the semifinal tomorrow at about 4 pm.

Harsh Mankad had chosen not to go to Busan, and had instead decided to go early to get some grass practice in UK, ahead of the qualies at the Surbiton challenger, some ATP qualies and hopefully the Wimbledon qualies .. I think he only wanted to get a few matches at the $10K futures that he had not entered earlier .. So he went and qualified in, and now he has gone all the way to the final .. He picked up an impressive win today over former top-100 player Martin Lee who is a good British player on grass courts .. 75 64 win for HM today in a match that was interrupted by rain .. What is also impressive is that he has now won 6 matches in as many days at one event .. I am not sure when was the last time that an Indian player had 6 singles wins in a row at one event in a week .. In my memory it has not happened .. There have been several cases of 5 wins in a row, but never 6th .. No cases where an Indian qualifier has gone to the final in a long time .. This tournament had four top-300 players and is one of the toughest $10K events I have seen .. But then Harsh has been nearly unstoppable in UK this year, having gone 20-4 in six weeks of play there and having picked up 69 ATP points .. The final will not be easy, as he faces Nathan Healey of Australia ranked #293 who is very good on grass .. Heleay upset the top seed Jamie Delgado (GBR,211) there today .. Tomorrow's final at Oxford is set for 11 am.

The news was not great from Phuket today though, as Meghaa Vakharia could not pull another upset .. She went down in the semis to Montinee Tangphong (THA,352), 26 67(4) .. IN the doubles semis, Rushmi Chakravarthi and Wilawan Choptang (THA) went down to the top seeds Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) and Napaporn Tongsalee (THA)  67(1) 57 .. They had won the QF yesterday over Orawan Lamangthong (THA) and Tomoyo Takagishi (JPN) 63 62 ..

May 26 Note-2

Terrible stuff at the French Open today, as the 4th seeds Mahesh and Todd Woodbridge were upset in the very first round by Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR) and Kevin Kim (USA), 76(6) 46 75 .. The whole match seemed to be in catchup mode for Hesh-Todd today, except for a brief period in the second set .. There were no breaks in the first set, though MB-TW faced a few break points in different games .. In the tiebreaker, they were behind a mini, then ahead by one and then went down .. They jumped ahead with a break to 2-0 and held on to it for the second set, but again HTL-KK seemed to be troubling them occasionally .. In the end, they dropped serve at the first break point in the 12th game to lose the set and match .. Mahesh has Mixed doubles left now, and he starts tomorrow afternoon .. Both Sania and LP play the doubles R2 matched at 11 am in the morning (2.30 pm India, 5am New York) ..

Prakash plays the QF tomorrow  (Friday) at the Busan challenger .. Meghaa pays the SF at the Phuket challenger also on Friday, in a few ours actually, as I type.. Also at Phuket, the third seeds Rushmi Chakravarthi and Wilawan Choptang (THA) beat Orawan Lamangthong and Tomoyo Takagishi (JPN) easily, 63 62 in the second round, to reach the SF tomorrow against the top seeds Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) and  Napaporn Tongsalee (THA) .. 

Good news from Harsh Mankad, who steamrolled a couple of hapless British youngsters today to reach the semifinal at the $10K Oxford futures on grass .. Mankad beat Jamie Murray 61 63 and then Tom Rushby 63 60 in the second round and QF, both held today due to rain delays earlier in the week .. In the semi he sqaures up against Martin Lee (GBR,677), a 27 year old who was a top-100 player about three years back .. Martin has upset the 5th seed etc, and so it may not be a gimme match ..

May 26 Note-1

Great news from Thailand comes to us thanks to our Thai friend Jirobkk .. Meghaa Vakharia, who was among the last couple of direct entries in the draw, pulled her thirs top-500 upset in a row to reach the semifinal at the $25K challenger in Phuket, Thailand .. 656th ranked Megs upset the 4th seed Napaporn Tongsalee (THA,316) by a 64 64 score this morning .. Since returning from the serious foot injury layoff, Meghaa has quickly got back to form, and perhaps in better form than she had ever been before, seeing how she is doing this week .. She has racked up 14.5 points so far, including 3 bonus points .. That plus the 2 points from the Indore semi last week, once they go into the computer will take her point total from 18 to 34.5, enough to raise her rank about 175 spots up to around #480 .. Very timely too, as she has some 10 odd points to defend for a couple of US events from last june, when she reached a challenger QF upsetting some seeds at Allentown, Pennsylvania - her last couple of good events, before her big struggle started with a foot problem that refused to go away till she took several months off (actually a small fracture of some sort which took time to heal) .. Great to have you back in roaring form, Meghaa! .. The doubles matches must be just getting done at Thailand I suppose - no news on Rushmi's doubles.

Mahesh's doubles R1 is the only match on tap for us today at the FO ...

May 25 Note-2

May Mr. Sunil Dutt's soul rest in peace .. Finally we had a sports minister who truly cared for the athletes, and sadly God took him away .. Indian sports can never get a break from anywhere .. One of the nicest stories we had heard at the Athen Olympics was about how Sunil Dutt was right there with our athletes and was trying to take pictures of them on his camera to their big surprise, while they all tried to get pictures with him .. If I remember the reports, the sports minister was mixing with everybody, in his unassuming tee-shirts with none of airs put on by the unapporachable VIPs that most Indian politicians act like .. Of course, many of the Indian sports federations were not too happy with a sports minister who actually cared enogh to at least look into what was the real problem in Indian sports (which mostly are rooted right in the federations, only a few of them like AITA deserving not to be accused of actively trying to kill their sports) .. His time was short and he probably did not accomplish much as the sports minister, but we will always remember him as a man who at least wanted to do something good and tried to do his part .. We will miss you Suni Dutt!

Otherwise it was a good day .. Well, when Leander, Harsh, Prakash, Sania, etc, all win and we also get a pretty nice upset from Megha to add to an upset by Prakash, it is a good day for Indian tennis .. At Roland Garros, Mirza-Chakvetadze pulled off a nice dominating win for Sania's first grand slam doubles win - a 62 63 shellacking over Kristina Brandi (PUR) and Nana Miyagi (JPN) today ..  They were up early in the match and never really looked back .. As for Leander, he and Zimonjic had some minor hiccups in the second set but otherwise they did enough to advance to the second round with a 63 46 62 win over Florian Mayer (GER) and Roger Wassen (NED) .. Up next for them are the French wildcards, and Nicolas Devilder and Marc Gicquel of France .. Both Sania and Leander next play on Friday; Mahesh plays his R1 doubles on Friday.

The mixed doubles draw came out at the FO .. LP and Navratilova are the 6th seeds, in the bottom half of the 5 round draw, drawn to face Nicolas devilder and Stefanie Fortez of France first .. Mahesh and Lisa Raymond (USA) are the 4th seeds .. They are drawn in the upper half of the draw, facing Virginia Ruano Pascual and Jonathan Erlich in the R1 ..

The big upset wins today were by Prakash and Megha .. Prakash Amritraj upset the 7th seed Cecil Mammit (USA,236), 61 76(2) at the $50K Busan challenger .. That is quite an impressive win for PA, against a solid and smart player .. I think "ProKash" is beginning to put things together quite well in his game .. Mamiit is the kind of player whom I would have expected him to lose to, earlier on - because he is a smart, mobile, and experienced player .. But PA has certainly been playing great tennis lately and he showed it once again today .. Now he faces another tough player, the 4th seed Yeu-Tzuoo Wang (TPE,156) in the quarterfinal, which is scheduled only on Friday ..

Megha Vakharia (IND,656) upset the 7th seed Sarah Borwell (GBR,333) by an impressive 75 62 score to reach the QF of the $25K challenger in Phuket .. Nice to see Megs doing this well again - she is playing only her 4th or 5th event since returning from a 6 month injury layoff (before which she had gone winless for several months too, due to the hurting foot which is now healed) .. She has picked up two qualifty wins now at Phuket .. Go Megs! .. She played the 4th seed Napaporn Tongsalee (THA,316) next .. Unfortunately Isha Lakhani could not come through today, as she lost 46 67(6) to Annette Kolb (GER,559) .. In doubles, the 3rd seeds Rushmi Chakravarthi and Wilawan Choptang (THA) beat Penporn Chantawannop and Porntip Mulsap of Thailand, 61 61 and now play Orawan Lamangthing (THA) and Tomoyo Takagishi (JPN) in the QF ..

At the $10K Oxford futures, Harsh mankad advanced to the second round with a facile 75 62 win over Frederic Nielsen (DEN,538) .. He now gets a decently talented 18 year old, Jamie Murray (GBR,1310) in the R2 ..

May 25 Note-1

The one loss to report today was from Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan in the PQF of the tough Astrid Bowl grade-1 .. He went down in a three-setter to James Lemke (AUS,121), 64 46 36 .. Still Jeevan showed that he can play quite well on that European dirt which most Indian kids have massive struggles on .. I am hopeful of a good show from him next week at the French Open juniors .. Vivek and Sanam also will be at the FO in juniors .. Sanam was bothered by a wrist injury which had not healed causing him to skip the Astrid bowl this  week, but he will play at the FO .. Sanam is always ill or injured, it seems to me! - glad to know he will play next week, though it would be tough, without much practice out there on the clay.

Sania's first round doubles match is scheduled at about 1 pm this afternoon at Roland Garros (4.30 pm India, 7 am New York), +/- 15 min .. This will be followd late by Leander Paes' first round doubles match which is expected at about 4.30 pm (+/- 45 min)

The men's doubles draw shows LP and MB in opposite halfs .. [R1] (6) Leander Paes (IND)/ Nenad Zimonjic (SCG) vs Florian Mayer (GER)/ Rogier Wassen (NED) .. They have the 10th seeds Cermak/Friedl as potential 3rd round team and 3rd seed Brayn twins as potential QF foes in the bottom quarter of the upper half .. For Mahesh,  [R1] (4) Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)/ Todd Woodbridge (AUS) vs Kevin Kim (USA)/ Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR) .. They have the 16th seed Allegro-Kohlmann as the PQF opponents, with 5th seeds Black-Ullyett as the potential QF opponents .. Tough draw for Hesh, because Gonzales-Massu who are always dark horses to win any tournament, and the tough Ancic-Lujubicic ar also in their 1/8th of the draw. Hesh's R1 match is expected for thursday.

May 24 Note-2

Not a great day but in some ways not a terrible day either for Sania, considering the fact that there was no reason on paper for her to win today .. Ranked about 40 spots below her opponent, who grew up on clay courts in Argentina and is a very talented 20 year old, not to mention still having some cobwebs in the game after the long break due to injury ..  So, I suppose winning 58 points (to 72 by Gisella) and being able to break the top-30 player four times in the match are all positives .. A 36 36 loss to Dulko (ARG,32) .. The writing was on the wall when GD took a 2-0 lead at the start where all 8 points she had were from errors from Sania .. From reporets so far, Sania did pull out her superb FH and BH a few times but could not find the proper strategy to move up and effectively use her weapons, as Gislla managed to pin her back quite well .. A lot of errors from both the players in this match, aned the key difference, stats-wise, was that Gisella found a way to convert every one of the 7 break chances she got, and Sania being able to convert only 4 of 12 (though 6 of those chances came in one specific game) .. Sania held serve only twice today, once each in either set .. That probably points to her inability to think of something to do against a player with very good clay "feel" who used a lot more variety in her game .. These are things that Sania will learn as she plays more  - especially on clay where some of her faster surface weapons get blunted a bit .. On the other hand, the points in the match show a much closer match than the scores would indicate .. In fact it was 52-55 or so at one point in the middle of the second set .. You have to be impressed by Sania being able to do even that much against a top-30 player, against all the odds .. To be frank, I did not expect a win today, and so I am not too disappointed .. She is generally fine in her game, and I am really looking for ward to the grass and hardcourts seasons ahead ..

Prakash Amritraj and Brandon Coupe (USA) went down 46 46 to qualifiers Satoshi Iwabuchi and Tasuku Iwami of Japan at the Busan challenger in the first round .. PA plays a tough second round singles match tomorrow against the seventh seed Cecil Mamiit (USA,236) .. Niot a great matchup in terms of playing styles, but I expect PA can pull off the upset ..

At the $25K Phuket challenger, Isha Lakhani upset Rushmi Chakravarthi, 61 36 75 in the first round  .. According to Kamesh Srinivasan of The Hindu, Rushmi is just returning from a bout of measles - if so, she actually played very well to keep it that close with Isha who has been in fine form lately .. Megha Vakharia (IND,655) also had a very good upset win, over Thassha Vitayaviroj (THA,456), 64 36 63 .. Isha plays Annette Kolb (GER,559) and Megha plays Sarah Borwell (USA,333) next ..

After more rain delays, they moved the final qualifying rounds indoors and finished  them at the $10K Oxford grass futures in GBR .. Harsh Mankad had a very surprising tough match against unranked British player Jonathan Maskens, but he puleld through 63 67(10) 76(4) .. Hope no injuries or anything is bugging Harsh .. In the main draw he is seded second and he plays Frederic Nielsen (DEN,538) .. The tournament has become tougher with two top players, #211 Jamie Delgado and #265 David Sherwood .. Four top-300 in a $10K futures draw is ridiculous, but they are all trying to get some grass practice ..

At the tough Astrid Bowl grade-1 ITF juniors in Charleroi Belgium on clay, 6th seeded Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (IND,29) advanced to the PQF round with a tough comeback, 67(3) 63 62 over 60th ranked Dylan Arnould .. Any good win on red clay is always impressive for Indian kids who normally look like fish out of water on the European clay, and against a good top-60 player it is pretty good, even if American kids are normally not known for clay prowess either .. Unfortunately, the 7th seed Vivek Shokeen lost in the second round to Amas Fattar  (MAR, 62), 26 57 .. Vivek and Jeevan had first round byes .. Unseeded Sandhya Nagaraj (IND,103) had lost yesterday in the first round to Aude Vermoezen (BEL,129), 61 75 .. Jeevan plays James Lenke (AUS,121), who had upset a 10th seeded Brazilian kid today ..

May 24 Note-1

Sania's match starts in about 3 hours or so, at about 1.30 pm today in Paris, +/- 30 min depending ont the length of the previous men's singles match .. That is 5 pm India, 7.30 am New York .. Please come to the chatroom to have some fun and cheer her with point-by-point score updates.

May 23 Notes

Prakash Amritraj had a very good win today at the $50K Busan challenger in Korea, 63 62 over James Auckland (GBR,322) .. When he wins, Kash wins in style, as PKB said in the forum .. He seems to be in good form after a few days of rest .. His next round opponent will be decided Tuesday ..

Sania's R1 match at the FO will be on Tuesday afternoon .. The doubles draw came out for her today, and SM is playing with an old partner, Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) ranked 56 in singles and 462 in doubles ..  Anna is a very talented 18 year old  who had partnered Sania once in the juniors - two years back at the grade-1 Canadian Open where they reached the final .. I assume they made the draw on the basis of their singles rankings, because both SM and AC have low doubles ranks .. Their first round match is against Kristina Brandi of Puerto Rico and Nana Miyagi of Japan ..

Rushmi, Isha, Megha did not play today at the $25K challenger in Phuket (Thailand), but qualifier Parul Goswami went down 26 57 to fellow qualifier Shona Lee (NZL) ..

Harsh Mankad won one round of qualies with an easy 62 61 win at the Oxford $10K grass futures today, but the final round of qualies were postponed to tomorrow due to rain .. What is new? -- It is England after all .. It is the very first grass tournament of the season and it is already delayed beore even the draw can  be made; HM needs to qualify in before they can make the main draw, as he is the is the potential top seed in the main draw! ..

Nothing much else today ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on May 23 ..

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