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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on June 3, 2002
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June 3 Notes

Sorry for the slow updates for the last three matches for our guys at the French Open -- I only have the scores .. MB-Mirnyi have reached yet another semifinal, with a tough comeback against the 7th seeds Martin Damm and Cyril Suk .. LP-Cibulec play.s the doubles QF tomorrow .. LP fell in the MxD prequarterfinal yesterday and MB has reached the QF of MxD .. Here are the scores:

[QF,Monday]  #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. #7 M.Damm/ C.Suk, 46 64 75
[R2,Monday]  #3 E.Likhovtseva/ M.Bhupathi d. C.Pin/ A.Clement, 64 46 62
[R1,Sunday]   #3 E.Likhovtseva/ M.Bhupathi d. W.Prakusya/ C.Suk, 61 57 63
[R2,Sunday]   #4 L.Paes/ L.Raymond l. E.Bovina/ M.Knowles, 36 67(2)

The #5 seeds Bryan/Bryan reached the QF yesterday and will play LP-Cubulec tomorrow .. MB-Mirnyi will play the semifinals (probably wednesday) against the winners of the Haarhuis-Kafelnikov vs Bjorkman-Woodbridge (Wow, those are four terrific doubles players!) matchup .. In Mixed doubles, MB-EL should be playing the QF tomorrow against Camille Pin and Arnaud Clement of France.

Sania Mirza is in the girls doubles at the FO, playing with Marcela Arroyo (Mexico) - they play Carly Gullickson and James Jackson of USA tomorrow .. Not sure how good a playing shape Sania is in .. I heard that Sania was running some temperature and has been generally quite unwell the last few days - that probably explains her troubles yesterday in the singles.

The women's satellite leg-2 starts today at Muzaffarnagar in UP .. First big event held at that place .. Interestingly they are playing on grasscourts there - always nice to see that grass is still there in some places in India ..  Will have some details soon.

June 2 Note-2

Sania Mirza went down in a weird match that I cannot figure out, from the online score updates .. [R1] S.Mirza l. J.Sakowicz, 76(3), 16 36 .. She seemed to be cruising at first, up 5-1, 40-0 and serving at set point .. Incredibly, she proceeds to lose serve in 5 straight points, and follows it up with two more drops of serve .. In no time she was down 5-6and facing JS serving for the set! .. After letting something slip like that, I expected her to be shell-shocked and unable to get back in it - but too early to think that .. Sania's fight seemed to come in .. She comes up with a timely break of serve to send it to a tiebreaker and wins it to lead as well! .. The streaks in the match were not done .. She proceeded to lose serve twice and is down 0-4  in the second .. Broke Sakowicz once there but dropped serve again to lose the set easily 1-6 .. Now in the 3rd set she goes on another run, breaking JS in the second game and holding serve with some difficulty in the 1st and 3rd games to lead 3-0 .. Before we blinked, it was 3-4 as she dropped serve twice, winning just one point in her two service games .. There was a long break at this point - either Sania took a bathroom break or there was some injury problem .. Anyway, she did not seem to be taking any points at all at that point - either on serve or against the opponent .. Basically, she won two points in losing 6 games in a row from being 3-0 up .. I will await any news on what exactly happened .. Unfortunate loss, but it was to a decent player .. Sakowicz was a top-40 junior player last year and is bascially a pro player now, ranked around #400 - that Sania was able to really dominate her for a while is perhaps the only good sign .. On the other hand, Sania seems to have a streaky nature, as we have seen in grand slam matches in the past too - she perhaps needs to improve on full-time focus during the match, not just when trouble starts! .. Anyway, her ITF losing streak continues .. Good to have it now - she has a lot of junior tennis left, and to learn from so many of matches like this is what makes a player tough and ready for the pros.

June 2 Note-1

LP and MB play their mixed doubles R2 and R1 respectively today - both scheduled for around 4 pm there (10 am NY .. 7.30 pm India).

15 yr old #45 Sania Mirza is in the girls singles draw, playing Joanna Sakowicz (POL) in the first round - tough match but not against a seed .. Joanna is an 18 yr old who has lately been playing some WTA events I believe - she is ranked around #400 in WTA .. Sania plays the R1 today at about 2 pm there .. Pity that Isha Lakhani is not at the French Open .. She would have made the draw with her #51 ranking, but I assume nobody was there to send her to France.

June 1 Note-3

There was a comment by Prasenjit Basu yesterday in our forum after the LP and MB wins that our guys could have "sleepwalked" to a french open title had they played together .. I cannot diagree .. Well, neither could sleep-walk today but the defending champions are the first two guys to take their teams to the QFs at FO this time .. LP had to pull some sort of a monumental comeback with extreme fight to do it .. This was a tough 4th seeds, the current US Open champs Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett that Paes-Cibulec had to upset today .. [R3] #14 T.Cibulec/ L.Paes d. #4 W.Black/ K.Ullyett, 46 76(3) 63 .. This may well be among Leander's best doubles wins in the company of anybody other than MB .. A couple of wins over Woodies, playing with Delaitre and Siemerink (Indi '99 and Orlando '00) would be other such good wins ..

Here is the match report - Set1: Cibulec started with a drop of serve .. They evened it in the second game at 1-1 though .. TC faced  a deuce in the 5th game as well but held serve .. Then LP dropped serve in the 7th game at AD out .. The set ended with Black-Ullyett serving out the 10th game .. Set2: Bad start with TC-LP dropping serve at love and WB-KU serving a love game - it was quickly 0-2 .. They saved three break points to somehow hold serve in the next game to go 1-2 .. That changed the momentum a bit (Black-Ullyett actually had won 11 points in a row at the beginning of the second set), and suddenly TC-LP broke back converting a 30-40 break chance to even it at 2-2 .. LP held serve easily for a 3-2 lead .. AT 3-3, Cibulec was broken at 15-40 and they were again in big trouble again .. Once again they fought back with a 30-40 break in the next game to even it at 4-4 .. Now they were facing a 30-40 BP again in the next game, but LP came through to take the 5-4 lead .. It went to a tiebreaker and they were all over the 4th seeds, going up 6-2 .. LP closed it out on the second set point at 7-3 .. Set3: The match seemed to be really tight now with both sides taking a lot of points from the others and with games going long - the 2nd, 3rd and 4th games all went to deuces .. LP-TC had one break point in the 3rd too .. They had converted their previous three break chances in the match, but could not do it this time .. Then LP was down on serve at 15-40 in the 4th game, but that too went to 4 deuces and three break points before LP held tough for a 2-2 score .. They got their chance in the 7th game, and they converted the first chance at triple break points to go ahead 4-3 .. Now they were on song for the finish .. They converted the first break chance in the 9th game, at AD out, for a convincing ending .. For the match, I believe TC-LP were 5 of 6 at break points and that was the real difference .. The match took two hours and 25 minutes .. LP deserves a break after three matches, two of them three-setters, from yesterday .. I think the doubles QFs are on Monday, and he may get a day off now.

The win makes sure that Cibulec's ranking will not drop from the current #39, as he had reached the QF in last year's French Open (with Friedl, losing to, who else, LP-MB!) .. LP has ensured that he will stay at least inside the top 25 (he has 1000 points from last year's title and the QF is worth 250) .. That is important if these two are planning to play together during the grass season, for seeding at Wimbledon, etc .. Mahesh is not in danger of dropping all that much, because of the 500 big points from the masters win two weeks back with Gambill .. A QF win here gives 450 points, an SF win gives 700 and a title gives 1000 .. So, from now on, it is for big points for both LP and MB ..

Great start for the weekend!

June 1 Note-2

LP-TC are on serve early in the 3rd set right now at 1-1 ..

For MB-Mirnyi, it was somewhat of a difficult match at times but no big problems - [R3] #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. F.Cermak/ O.Fukarek, 67(6) 62 63 .. Traded serve in the first two games .. Went with serve without any drama, except for one BP for MB-MM in the 8th game .. In the tiebreaker, they were up 3-1 but fell behind 3-5 soon, as MB and MM each gave back one minibreak .. They evened it after getting a minibreak at 4-6, saving a set point .. After getting one more minibreak back on MB's serve at 6-6, the other guys converted their second set point to win the set 7-6(6) .. In the second set, MB-MM converted their first break chance at 30-40 in the 5th game .. They got a break in the 7th game as well and won the set 6-2 .. The 3rd set started uneventfully till the 4th game when MB was down 15-40 .. They saved four BPs but dropped serve on the 5th point to fall 1-3 .. They broke right back on Fukarek's serve in the next game to even it, however .. It was all MB-MM from then on, as they went on to a 67(6) 62 63 win ..

June 1 Note-1

MB-MM reached the QF with a 67(6) 62 63 win just now, and LP-TC are in a dogfight, coming back two times from deficits and saving all kinds of break attempts in the second set to send it to a 3rd set at 46 76(3) 00 against the 4th seeds .. Match notes coming soon ..

May 31 Note-3

Leander and Lisa had to play a close match in the first round, but came through after some hiccups .. [R1] #4 L.Paes/ L.Raymond d. L.Arnold/ P.Suarez, 64 67(7) 64 .. I didn't follow the match closely but generally it seemed to be going with serves most of the time .. LP-LR could have finished it off in the second set, after being up at 3-1 and 5-2 in the tiebreaker .. In fact they wasted three match points, at 6-4 on LP's serve, 6-5 on PZ's serve and at 7-6 on Lisa's serve before dropping the second set .. They did the job in the 3rd set to advance though .. Their PQF will probably be on Sunday, against the winners of the Tina Krizan/ Rick Leach vs Elena Bovina/ Mark Knowles match tomorrow ..

Both LP and MB play their 3rd round doubles matches tomorrow .. MB's first round MxD match will probably be on Sunday ..

May 31 Note-2

MB also now has an 8-match doubles win streak at the French Open .. [R2] #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. G.bastl/ A.Portas, 62 64 .. MB-MM broke Bastl in the 4th game to go up 3-1, but were broken back on MB's serve in the 5th game .. They proceeded to break Portas in the 6th game to go ahead, and broke Bastl yet again in the 8th game to win the set 6-2 .. They broke Portas to go up 2-0 in the second set too, but MB dropped serve in the 3rd game and it was even soon 2-2, going with serve from then .. Mirnyi was down 0-30 in the 9th game at 4-4 but they stayed out of trouble to go up 5-4 .. In the final game, they had double break points, and won the match on the 3rd match point at AD out .. In the PQF, they play the unseeded Czech pair, Franticek Cermak and Ota Fukarek, who upset the 11th seeds Leach-MacPhie 64 64 today.

The top seeds Johnson-Palmer were upset in the second round today by Gaston Eltis and Lucas Arnold 16 63 64 today, and so MB-Mirnyi are the highest seeds left in the upper half of the draw .. Paola Suarez is in the second set of her singles match right now, and so LP-LR's mixed doubles match against Arnold-Suarez will start only after she gets some rest after the match - should be starting at least by 6 pm there ..

May 31 Note-1

LP now has an 8 match win streak at the French Open in doubles, as he reached the PQF today with Tomas Cibulec, beating Mardy Fish and Jeff Morrison in a relatively close match .. [R2] #14 T.Cibulec/ L.Paes d. M.Fish/ J.Morrison, 64 76(4) .. TC-LP won the first set rather comfortably, but things tightened in the second set .. They fell behind at 0-3 after dropping serve in the second game off LP .. At 2-5, Cibulec was taken to a deuce but they held .. Then it was time for a timely break of young Mardy Fish, which they did with four straight points .. When Paes served a love game to even it at 5-5, they had won 10 points in a row at a crucial juncture over the younger American pair to get the momentum back .. Starting from 30-40, they had three break chances in the next game to go ahead, but could not convert them, as Morrison held serve .. In the next game, the American pair had a set point on Cibulec's serve but they too could not convert, as the set went into a tiebreaker, where TC-LP went up a minibreak at 1-0 and stayed ahead to win the match .. In the PQF they play the 4th seeded Zimbabwe pair, Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett, who had a slow start but came back strongly from late in the second set to win 67(4) 64 61 over Juan Balcells and Edgardo Massa today.

MB-MM are playing doubles right now and are ahead 62 20 ..

At Chandigarh, Sheetal Goutham put an end to the wonderful run by the hard serving and hard-hitting 15 year old Ankita Bhambri, exacting revenge for her loss in the satellite masters last month .. If you want to know what kind of stuff Sheetal does, check out this article from Kamesh Sreenivasan in the Hindu about her semifinal win yesterday .. It talks about Ankita and her father watching Sonal playing Sheetal - He was getting restless, watching the proceedings on a particularly hot morning ... "Why is she going back so far behind the baseline. Why can't she step in and hit the ball,'' asked Dr. Chander Kumar, bemused at the sight of the better-equipped Sonal Phadke dancing to the tune of Sheethal Goutham in the semifinals of the $5,000 ITF women's tennis circuit tournament at the CLTA Complex ... Dr. Chander's daughter, Ankita Bhambri (also) had no answer to her dad's queries ... But then, it is the same case with most of the girls on the Indian tennis circuit. They have no clue as to how to handle the accurate play of Sheethal who has an uncanny ability to retrieve. She also has the game to hit winners when she finds the openings. More importantly, the longer the match, the better she plays ...  I guess Sheetal did that again today .. Though she was disappointed in not winning the title, today's PTI report says that Ankita played very well with some powerful crosscourt winners .. Sheetal herself is quoted as saying that she found the youngster's pace "awesome" .. See the Chandigarh satellite page .. I have not seen the doubles final score yet - Pereira-Tulpule were to play Goutham-Dhawan ..

May 30 Note-2

MB and Mirnyi did not have as easy a match as I expected, but they were never in much trouble either, staying a bit ahead of the opponents - [R1] #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. R.Koenig/ T.Shimada, 75 76(5) .. MB-MM broke their opponents in the 12th game of the first set to win it, after the set went with serve till then .. In the second set there were no breaks at all, with RK-TS surviving a few break points at 2-3 .. In the tiebreaker, MB-MM went up two minibreaks to 3-0, then MB and MM gave back one minibreak each for it to be tied at 5-5, but they went ahead in the next two points to win the match ..

LP plays R2 doubles and R1 MxD tomorrow .. LP plays R2 doubles as well .. Check the LP and MB pages for the approximate times for the matches.

May 30 Note-1

Extremely easy win for Leander and Cibulec today in the first round at Roland Garros .. [R1] #14 T.Cibulec/ L.Paes d. M.Bertolini/ C.Brandi, 60 62 .. Not much to say about the match, as the Italians just got dominated all through .. Good to see Lee winning a match easily with a new partner after a very long time .. TC-LP next face a couple of younger US guys, 20 year old Mardy Fish and 22 year old Jeff Morrison, who beat Gregory Carraz and Nicolas Mahut, 36 76(6) 64 today .. Good to see that there was no supertiebreak crap there! .. MB-Mirnyi play in the evening today.

The trip abroad with the Indian u16 team must have given 15 year old Ankita Bhambri even more confidence, to add to all that she has from winning the satellite masters last month! -- Ankita just summarily defeated experienced Archana Venkatraman 61 62 today in the first leg semis of the $20K ITF Indian women's satellites .. Continuing from her satellite masters, the 15 yr old has now won 8 matches in a row .. Since losing to Radhika in three sets in the R1 of the 3rd leg in the last satellite, look at the players Ankita has beaten -- Archana, Sai, Sonal, Sheetal, Sandra, Deepa, Shruti, and Archana again .. If Archana lost 46 57 last time, she got "annihilated" today (as PTI says) .. 3rd seed Sheetal Gautam beat top seed Sonal 46 64 75 to reach the final against Ankita, which will be a repeat final from the Pune satellite masters .. Sonal was up 6-4 4-1 against Sheetal, but she is not the first one to be Houdinied by the best fighter in the Indian circuit who can never be counted out .. See the Chandigarh satellite page.

May 29 Notes

#14 seeds LP and Tomas Cibulec play the first match on court 5 against Cristian Brandi and Massimo Bertolini .. The match is at 11 am tomorrow (5 am New York .. 2.30 pm India) .. #3 seeds MB-Mirnyi play Robbie Koenig and Tomas Shimada in the evening at about 5 pm there.

The mixed doubles draw came out today .. LP is back with his successful old partner, Lisa Raymond of USA (actually I am not sure why they did not play together at the Australian Open, after their runners-up finish at last year's US Open) .. They are seeded 4th, in the bottom quarter of the upper half in the draw of 32, facing the Argentinians, Paola Suarez and Lucas Arnold .. Actually, Suarez and Etlis of ARG ousted LP and Oremans in the R2 at the Australian in January .. MB is seeded 3rd with usual partner Elena Likhovtseva (RUS), in the upper quarter in the bottom half .. They face Wynne Prakusya (INA) and Cyril Suk (CZE) .. MxD should be starting by Friday or Saturday ..

By the way, there is now some talk that ATP is may be looking into dropping doubles altogether from the masters events .. Not just reducing the draw size, etc, but just dropping it outright .. It does not seem to be based on any real studies into what is the actual worth of doubles in these tournaments - the tournament directors just seem to want it that way and they seem to think that nobody cares .. I agree that people don't care much these days - also nobody likes to argue about the bottom line gate collections even if they care for doubles in their hearts .. I put a large part of the blame on bad marketing of doubles by ATP, and on the absolutely pathetic effort by the doubles players to actually argue for things that actually *matter*, to study the situation objectively and in giving convincing arguments on why they should be there at all, rather than getting into all the inconsequential bickering over supertiebreakers and the number of singles exempts in the draw (how about doubles news and stats in the daily previews published at the tournaments for a change? - in my view that is the important thing to do, along with making sure that doubles scores and news get out along with singles scores to news wires) .. I read somewhere about Knowles-Nestor talking about how it is not right that doubles isn't popular and talking of "all the people" who were there at the doubles final at Indian Wells to watch them .. That is absolutely the wrong kind of argument to make; and all it does is to make the doubles players look like they are in some sort of denial .. The fact is that the stands are laregly empty even for doubles finals .. If you have a doubt, take a look at the photos from LP-MB winning the FO final last year -- I had posted a picture at the end of the first set, showing the center court not even filled 25% -- and that is for a grand slam final with the team that a lot of people consider the most exciting doubles team out there! .. The first rule in any argument is that you do not dispute numbers - you dispute the WHY behind the numbers .. The tournament directors know all about the numbers at the gates - what they don't know is the "why" behind it .. They aren't known as the most farsighted types, but they are correct in their opinion that doubles is probably NOT worth 1/4th of the total prize money at these tournaments right now .. But the true worth of doubles will become apparent when it is NOT there at these tournaments .. Not that people will be rioting for doubles or anything .. But the paying public will indeed feel it when there is just two matches on a saturday and one on a sunday, as opposed to six now - though they may be only sitting for a total 60 minutes in those three doubles matches and are having a chicken wing with beer at other times, a lot of people like that little distraction and the feeling that their money is buying them the option of watching a few good hours of variety tennis if they wanted to .. The latent worth of doubles has just not been analyzed all that well by anybody .. I hope this latest talk is just talk and that they aren't  really going to start dropping doubles from tournaments .. It will be a historic mistake if they start doing that -- mark my words, they will only realize what they killed after they kill it .. All just my humble opinions.

5th seeded Rushmi Chakravarti was upset 64 64 by Jing-Jing Liu (CHN,514) at the $10K Tianjin satellite yesterday .. Rushmi still cannot seem to string together a few wins abroad like she does in India, though she had a couple of good wins in the last two weeks in China .. She has not played the doubles yet.

At the Chandigarh satellites today, 15 yr old Ankita Bhambri showed once again that she is ready for the senior events in India with a win over 4th seeded Shruti Dhawan .. Archana Venkatraman took out the 2nd seeded Radhika Tulpule to reach semis with Sonal and Sheetal as the other two in the SF .. See the Chandigarh satellites page.

June 28 Notes

They have scheduled only four of the 32 first round doubles matches for tomorrow (wednesday) at the French Open, as there have been some rain delays so far .. LP and MB are not playing tomorrow .. The mixed doubles draw will be coming out tomorrow or thursday.

Rushmi Chakravarti is seeded 5th and plays Jing-Jing Liu (CHN) at the $10K Tianjin satellite this week .. Rushmi and Chin-bee Khoo (MAS) are seeded 4th and play Kun Deng (CHN) and Ji-Young Yoo (KOR) in the doubles R1.

No surprises at all so far at the $20K four-week satellites first leg at Chandigarh .. All eight seeds have reached the QFs rather comfortably ..

After a first round bye, 45the ranked Sania Mirza (9th seed) got upset in two tiebreaker sets 67 67 by Darya Ivanov (AUS,94) today at the ITF junior grade-1 Astrid Bowl in Charleroi, Belgium .. Darya has been trouble for Sania - she lost (actually for a much worse score of 06 16) to Darya in the QF of the grade-1 Victorian hardcourts in Australia this January too .. Sania was seeded #1 in doubles with Kristen Flipkens of Belgium, but gave a walkover today in the PQF after a first round bye .. I hope she is not injured.

May 27 Note-2

The FO draw came out a bit earlier than I thought .. #3 seeds MB-Mirnyi play Robbie Koenig (RSA) and Tomas Shimada (JPN) .. They have #13 Leach-MacPhie in their 1/8th of the draw in the lower quarter (with #7 Damm-Suk and last year's runners up #12 Pala-Vizner) of the upper half ..   #14 Paes-Cibulec play a Italian team who may not be necessarily pushovers  on clay - Massimo Bertolini and Cristian Brandy .. Paes-Cibulec are in the same 1/8th of the draw as #4 Black-Ullyett, in the upper quarter (with #5 Bryans and #9 Prinosil-Rikl) of the bottom half .. MB and LP can meet only in the final.

No surprises at the Chandigarh satellites in the first round today.

No news yet fromTainjin (China) on the $10K draw for Rushmi Chakravarti.

May 27 Note-1

It will be sometime tomorrow when we hear of the doubles draw at the French Open ..

The 4-week India S2 women's developmental ITF satellite circuit is starting today at Chandigarh (to be followed by Muzaffarnagar, UP, next week and two weeks at Delhi) .. Except for Sai Jayalakshmy who played the last circuit in April, most of the women are in the entry .. Sonal, Radhika, Sheetal and Shruti lead the pack .. See the page I have started for the Chandigarh satellite - I have added qualifying results (courtesy - The Hindu)

The Indian u16 boys could not repeat their pool win earlier over Uzbekistan and went down to them 1-2 in the place ment match for the 5th-6th spot at Kuala Lumpur yesterday - Tushar Liberhan d. Arsemniy Komorav 75 62 .. Karan Rastogi l. Farukh Dustov 76(4) 60 .. Liberhan/ Rastogi l. Komarov/ Dustov 63 63 .. What was funny throughout the week was how Tushar and Karan seemed to be taking turns in winning and losing, and then the ties coming down to whether we were ready in the doubles .. Fair to say that I am very disappointed .. As I don't like to criticize kids and the team coaches, we will leave it at that .. On the whole, again, we had a very good set of regionals, placing three of the four junior teams in the world groups .. We need to do better in making sure that our u14 teams continue to develop and dominate the region as they grow up also .. The same team with Tushar and Karan were #2 at the u14 regionals two years back, but clearly Australia, Korea, China, and Uzbekistan have gone ahead of them, which is disappointing .. I don't want to sound like the sky is falling, though :-) .. Karan, Tushar and Vishnu Vardhan have a lot of time to go thorugh the junior ITF circuit and come through in the future .. Let's hope that Rupesh Roy and Sumit Prakash Gupta will keep their u14 domination into the u16 later.

Sania Mirza is at the Grade-1 Astrid Bowl in Belgium, the prestigious tune-up for the French Open juniors next week .. She is the 9th seed and has a first round bye, facing the winner of the match between Darya Ivanov (AUS) and a qualifier in the R2.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on May 27 ..

I am getting some inquiries from US college coaches who are interested in Indian junior players .. I would like to be able to contact Indian players (some of the coaches are inquiring about specific names) .. If any of the junior players are reading this, please contact me .. Or if any of the other readers know the contact emails/address for any junior player, let me know .. I would like to have a mailing list where I can post general announcements and inquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.