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

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June 6 Notes

Quick updates:  Bad news! .. Leander Paes is reportedly off for at least 3 weeks, perhaps including Wimbledon too, due to an elbow injury he had at the end of the first set of the MxD final at the French Open .. Get well fast, Lee! .. Sania totally shellacked Claudine Schaul today, 62 60 at Birmingham to reach the second round tomorrow (about 4.30 pm UK time) against the 3rd seed Jelena Jankovic (SCG,20) .. Good to see Sania having a Sania-like dominating outing, though something seems to be wrong lately with Schaul (who was ranked #41 this time last year) who is on a 1-6 losing streak .. Both Sanaa and Ankita qualified into the $25K challenger in Seoul, South Korea .. 8th seeded Rushmi lost at Seoul to Akiko Yonemura in the main draw first round though.  Megha's final qualifying match at the $25K Allentown challenger in the US will be comeplted only tomorrow.   Most of the first round singles at the Gurgaon men's satellite second leg will be tomorrow.  More later.

June 5 Notes

Sania Mirza gets back on court tomorrow in the main draw of the $200K Tier III "DFS Classic" WTA at Birmingham, UK .. 70th ranked Sania is drawn to face Claudine Schaul (GER,166) in the first round at 11 am .. If sh advances, she will run into the thirs seed, 18th ranked Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, who has a first round bye .. Let us hope that SM has got comfortable on grass by now and would be in shape to advance and get a chance to play a revenge match against Jelena who beat her in the 3rd round at Dubai a couple of months back.

Othrwise, the qualies for ATP and WTA events did not yield any great news for us .. At Birmingham, the 3rd seeded Shikha Uberoi (IND,134) went down today, 36 36 to Natalie Grandin (RSA,198) .. I don't think Shikha has much grass xperience, and it has shown in the couple of matches in UK so far .. Neha Uberoi lost 46 46 to the 6th seed Shenay Perry (USA,102) .. Grandin then upset Shenay in straight sests in the Q2 to qualify - so the South African is doing well on grass .. Also losing today was Sunitha Rao (USA,174) who had a loss that I did not really expect .. She went down 62 36 67(6) to wildcard Sarah  Borwell (GBR,333), who incidentally was Meghaa Vakharia's second round upset victim last week at Phuket if you remember ..

Speaking of Meghaa, after her fantastic run at the Phuket challenger a couple of weeks back, she arrived in the US a couple of days back, and is at the qualifying rounds of the $25K Allentown challenger in Pennsylvania .. Her rank will go up a whole lot tomorrow, but based on the current #655 rank, she is only the 10th seed in the qualies .. She was drawn to face Raluca Ciulei (ROM,1201) todat and then possibly face the 7th seed Aleke Tsoubanos (USA,606) in the Q2 round.

Nothing much else happening ..

June 4 Notes

Sorry for a delayed update .. I was too upset yesterday to type anything, after both Harsh and Prakash ended up missing the qualifying cut of the Quens ATP, which was followed by Leander and Martina losing the fmixed doubles final after having the upperhand a few times .. Oh well, there are these kinds of days when you have to suck it up and move on.

Lee and Martina went down in the final to Hantuchova and Santoro, 63 36 26 in the mised doubles final at RG .. The sad part is that they were up 2-0 in the final set and then something seemed to go wrong - not sure what .. They lost the final few games in a row .. Unusual for LP and MN to go down like that .. Oh well .. A very nice run to the final once again for them.

Then came the heartbreaker froim Queens .. Harsh had got there thursday after the Surbiton loss .. Prakash had gone up there a couple of days back, as soon as he was done at the Yuba City challenger .. Unfortunately, the cut ended at #255 and both of the missed it - to say I was shellshocked to see that cut would be an uynderstatement .. The sad part is that everybody and his uncle normally used to make it into the Queens qualies which closes at 900+ every year .. This year ATP decided on "experimenting" with a reduced draw size at Quens .. When the main draw is of size 56, the usual rule is to have a 56-size qualifyiung draw .. Last month ATP decided to experiement with a smaller draw .. I wonder whay they ALWAYS experiment only with options that take away opportunities from hard working players who have their liveliehood relying on oppotunities to play .. Anyway, unlike 56 spots at the Queens Q and 32 spots at the Halle ATP qualies, we have only 32 and 32 at both places this time .. Normally Halle closes near 500 and Queens near 1000 .. We knew of the change, but players could not have expected a cut higher than 300 and 400 at the two places .. Instead, the Queens cut goes up top #255 and Halle FALLS (incredibly!) to near 900 .. There is really no logic in it, excpet that there are probably an extra 10 players more who have gone to UK to take a chance and prepare early for grass .. Gone are the days when people did not want to play on grass at all and we hardly found 15 guys who went to Englad for the grass season early when there are clay challengers all around (as there are next week) - there are about 30 odd players ranked in the 150-275 range in UK right now .. So we finally have a good number of guys who *want* to play on grass, and what does the idiots at ATP do? -- they take away a chance for them to play .. The player council at ATP (and the bigwig players who are members in there who stand by and watch) should be ashamed of themselves, if not the oithers who run the ATP .. I am still livid at how this kind of crap keeps happening .. What the hell does it cost for them to conduct 10 or 15 more qualifying matches at these events? .. Just like when they removed the qualifying rounds for doubles at all ATP events, which makes no sense at all, this is another case where the top players and those who can get wildcards would find it easy to make the draw but the ones who make a sincere attempt with their best, cannot even get chances to prove themselves .. Harsh and Prakash were not the only ones .. A couple of players above #277 Harsh, like the 2003 Wimbledon junior champ Mergea of Romania (he probably does not have any sugar daddies to help him either) a clay player who has teaken grass court tennis seriously, also missed out on the cut at Queens yesterday, while LTA was able to push in 5 British players .. But still, it is very sad to see Harsh and Prakash who have both been doing the hardwork and showing superb results lately are having to cool their heals and do nothing for a week now.  What can I say?

Shikha, Neha (USA) and Sunitha (USA) are all at the qualifying rounds for the $200K Tier-III "DFS classic" WTA in Birmingham this weekend .. Shikha Uberoi (IND,134) is the 12th seed and she faces #198 Natalie Grandin (RSA) today in the Q1 .. Neha Uberoi (USA,295) has a tough match against the 6th seed Shenay Perry (USA,102) .. Sunitha Rao (USA,174) is seeded 15th and plays wildcard Sarah Borwell (GBR,333) first .. Neha and Shikha can meet in the second round if they can both advance - but tough matdches all around.

At the Gurgaon satellite, Rohan Bopanna won the title today with an easy win over Prima Simpatiaji who had ended the fine run of Gurmehar Singh in the semi yesterday .. Rohan had a bit of a struggle for a while yesterday against Salifu Mohammed of Ghana, as he was taken to three sets, but he had no trouble today .. SDeeing ho9w well Salife played, I am impressed at the run that VijaySundar Prashanth had, as he went down only in a close thre-setter against Salifu, after his upsets in the first couple of rounds ..  Remember that VijaySundar is only 18 years old! .. IWe have got to be happy with a nice show so far from those like Gurmehar, Vijay Sundar and Vishnu Vardhan, even though the experienced ones like Vishal Uppal, Vijay Kannan and Vinod Sridhar could not do much this week .. By th way, Jaco Mathew and Ashutosh Singh had a very good doubles win in the final in three sets over Rohan Bopanna and Vijay Kannan - impressive again.  I get the feeling that the youngsters are indeed playing with a some nice sense of purpose, evben if it is one of the toughest satellites to play, weather-wise..

Jan 2 Notes
It is yet another grand slam final for the kids at the French Open .. Oops, Octogenarians, as their combined age is over 80 now .. Well, they still play like kids .. Leander and Martina advanced to the final today with a 62 63 bomb-raid of the Australian pair Samantha Stosur and Paul Hanley in the semifinal ..  Hanley was broken time and again in the match .. He dropped serve in the first and 5th games of the first set .. Martina was then down 0-40 on serve in the 8th game but LP-MN won 5 points in a row to finish off the set .. In the second set, our pair went ahead immediately by breaking Hanley in the first game .. They were ready for another break in the 7th game, but somehow Samantha held serve after 7 break points .. That was about all the resistance there was .. Then it was over, as our pair got another break on Hanley's serve in the 9th game to finish off the match .. If you are wondering how 48+ Martina and 31+ Leander are so good - it is because they know the doubles game inside out like nobody else .. Here is a picture from the match (courtesy: the French Open official site)

LP and MN at 2005 semi

What do you think Samantha can do from there, with Martina and Leander ready to pounce on whatever she could come up with? .. She better be sharp enough do a running winner with a lob .. Well, she couldn't, and our guys held serve to go up 3-1 there off Martina's serve .. That is agressive stuff from LP and MN and they know how to get away with that kind of out of position play (of course, pardon me if my "analysis" makes no sense -- I don't play this damn game, as many of you know! :)).

Anyway, tomorrow's final will be a difficult one though, as the opponents, Fabrice Santoro (FRA) and Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) are no pushovers .. They have beaten the top seds Stubbs-Nestor, 5th seeds Huber-Ullyett and 4th seeds Myskina-Bjorkman so far to get to the final .. Our pair will need some really good magic to beat them and take their 3rd grand slam title together.

In other news, the rain-induced two day rest did not help Harsh mankad at all, as he lost the adrenaline-driven sharpness during the 10 day stretch when he kept winning matches one after another .. Harsh lost to the 3rd seed Marcos Baghdatis (CYP,94), 63 64 .. From eye-witness accounts, he just did not have the incredible shots he had 4 days back while beating some really good grasscourt players like Florin Mergea .. That is what happens when you get a day off - the fatigue that you had no time to think about comes in, and the aches and pains you did not notice get noticed ..  Harsh did a very good job of picking 11 total points in the last few days, as that would help raise his rank back inside top-260 and places him in position to be one of the highest ranked sign-in players at the Wimbledon qualies week after next, should he happen to miss the final cut which is still a few spots above his #277 rank .. I believe Harsh will go up to the Queens club ATP in London for the qualifying rounds this weekend.

At the Gurgaon satellites, the big story today was former hockey great Ajit Pal Singh's son, Gurmehar Singh, pulling another upset, this time over the 5th seed Richard Irwin (GBR) to reach the semi .. The 6 ft 2 inch tall Gurmehar himself mentioned later that his game has gone up a level because he is learning to keep his mind under control to win the matches .. Another late bloomer? -- could be! .. Rohan Bopanna easily won his match, but P.Ravishankar and VijaySundar Prsahant went down in the QFs .. Qualifier VijaySundar has been playing very well - and he again went down only after a tough fight, in a 5-7 third set .. See the Gurgaon satellite-1 page for all the scores.

June 1 Notes

Leander and Martina got a bit of a fight today in the MxD quarterfinals at Roland Garros .. They were behind a break in the first set, came back to win the set, then dropped the second set and finally won the match at 76(5) 46 63 over Corina Morariu and Jared Palmer of the USA .. In the semifinals tomorrow, they match wits with the Australian pair of Samantha Stosur and Paul Hanley .. The match is scheduled on the big Suzanne Lenglen court for about 1 pm ..

Prakash Amritraj could not do much magic against the top seed Justin Gimelstob (USA,117) at the $50K Yuba City challenger .. Also going down today was Mustafa Ghouse and Scott Lipsky (USA) who were upset by Brian Dabul (ARG) and Marcel Felder (URU).

Harsh Mankad was scheduled to play the R1 at the big Surbiton challenger today against the 3rd seed Baghdatis, but there was hardly any play today due to rain.  The match is postponed to tomorrow there.

At the Gurgaon satellite, Vijay Kannan was strciken by a heat stroke and had to unfortunately conceded the match to P.Ravishankar - that is really the big problem in our doing this satellite circuit in summer .. Hope Vijay is OK .. He seems to be, as he and Rohan seems to have won a doubles match later today .. The big story is really Vijay Sundar Prashant, who had upset a seed in the qualifiers and had upset the 3rd seed Vinod Sridhar in the first round - today he reached the QF with a win over fellow qualifier Makeyev .. Also playing very well, thou gh in a loss, was qualifier J.Vishnu Vardhan, who took the 6th seed Stephen Mitchell of South Africa all the way to a 5-7 3rd set before falling .. Gurmehar singh and 19 year old Tushar Liberhan had an excellent match, which went to a long third set tiebreaker before Gurmehar pulled it off .. Rohan Bopanna is cruising .. So there are 4 Indians in the QF - all of them facing foriegn players in the QFs.

May 31 Notes  

Not a good day at the French, as Mahesh and Lisa lost in the QF of mixed doubles (46 26) to Myskina and Bjorkman, and later Leander and Zimo lost in the QF of doubles to the 3rd seeded Bryans, 67(5) 36 .. Vivek and Martin Sayer lost their doubles R1 match in the juniors against Bester and Polansky, 36 46 .. Oh well, a bad day .. The big story is from qualifier VijaySunder Prashant who has

For some consolation, all three of the boys who beat our boys in the first round have played very well in the later rounds, one of them (Dolgopolov who beaet Jeevan in three sets) later upsetting the second seed Donald "Phenom" Young, and another (Schottler who beat Vivek in three sets) nearly upsetting the 3rd seed Kim in a 3 hour 3-setter, etc.  I am pretty positive about the boys, despite early exits at RG .. They will be able to do some damage at the Wimbledon juniors, especially as Jeevan and Vivek have recently got some grass tennis practice with the big masters like LP, MB, Harsh and Prakash at the Davis Cup prep sessions .. Otherwise, our boys would be like fish out of water on grass too, the way we have removed grass from the domestic circuit; but hopefully not that bad this time at the upcoming Wimbledon, thanks to some thoughtful work by Leander in getting the juniors to come to the Davis Cup camp.

At the $25K women's challenger in Surbiton, Neha Uberoi (USA) lost a 67(5) 67(0) match to Anne Keothavong .. Apparently she was hurting during the match .. We know that she has that rib cage problem which will go away only after it flares up a few times unexpectedly for a few months .. Anyway, it seems that Anne did not understand the situation and accused Neha of silly gamesmanship as she asked for a toilet break and an injury break in the second set .. I am sure people found it strange when she suddenly complained that she is hurting .. Arguments etc on court - and in the end Neha refused to shake hands with Keothavong (who herself is known as a firebrand type - and so I am not surprised) .. Anyway, it made LTA's website news etc, and they lost no time in painting Neha as a bad girl .. I wish they would be less biased in their coverage .. OK, the girl who has been quietly winning these days is Sunitha Rao (USA) who beat Laura Peterzan (GBR) easily and reached the second round.

I have now added the page for the Indian satllite leg-1 which is in full swing at Gurgaon .. The first round got done with seeds Vinod, Vishal and Jaco all falling .. Good show so far by qualifiers like Vijay Sunder Prashant, Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan and J.Vishnu Vardhan .. Rohan Bopanna had no big problems ..

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 ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on May 30 ..

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