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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the weeks ending on June 7, 2004
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June 7 Notes

LP and Rikl had to quickly get on the grasscourts and play, as their R1 match at the Halle ATP was scheduled for Monday itself .. Payed a pretty good match today against a tough team in Federer-Allegro and came away with a 67(5) 63 75 win .. There is an exciting onsite fanclub member match report in the Leander thread of our forum, by our very own Florian from Germany .. This was an important first match to win -- I hope they will go deep in the draw at Halle..

Prakash Amritraj (IND,224) went down to Kepler Orellana (VEN,357) 16 67(6) today at the Forest Hills challenger in New York .. There was also good news, as Harsh Mankad (IND,328) qualified into the main draw with a 63 26 63 win over Mirko Pehar (USA) .. Harsh is drawn to face Federico Luzzi (ITA,291) in the first round tomorrow morning .. HM-PA's doubles R1 match was not done today and is rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon .. Manoj Mahadevan and Dirk Stegman (USA) are in the final round of qualies tomorrow against Travis Rettenmeier (USA) and Michael Tebbut (AUS) .. A couple of lucky loser spots got cleared today in the main draw, and both the teams may be in the main draw already, I think .. Manoj and Dirk had played a wildcard team of Jonathan Chu (USA) and Fredick Jonsson (SWE)  in the Q1 .. Akshay Vishal Rao and Bradley Sherwood (USA) was the team that lost to Rettenmeier-Tebbut .. AVR-BS also may have made the main draw as a lucky loser pair? .. No idea about today's doubles scores - we will know later for sure.

The four week India satellites have started with the first leg at Indore .. The next three weeks are all at Delhi and all 4 legs are on hard courts .. Only three matches in the singles main draw today. Top seed Sunil Kumar and 3rd seed Vinod Sridhar won, as did the Pakistani wildcard Aqeeb Khan who is unranked but pulled an upset .. Good job by him, and nice to see a Pakistani making use of some help from India .. The interesting news was about P.Srinath playing the qualies and making it in .. He will turn out to be a big headache for everybody - and it's nice to see him play .. Sri could never seem to get adjusted to not playing it seems! .. Was a bit surprised to see that Sunil Kumar was unable to find any of the top players from India to partner in doubles .. Vijay, Saurav or Srinath would have been great .. All but one of the doubles R1 matches were done today .. See the Indore satellite page for all the scores.

Megha Vakharia (IND,421) and Neha/Shikha Uberoi of USA are in the main draw of the $25K Allentown challenger this week in Pennsylvania .. Draws not out yet .. All three are listed for the $10K events in Fort Worth (Texas) and Edmond (Oklahoma) in the next two weeks in the US.

No news from Kuwait yet about Rohan and Mustafa.

June 6 Notes

LP is playing this week at the $750K Gerry Weber ATP (grass courts) in Halle, Germany , with David Rikl .. They are the third seeds but have a tough first round match against Roger Federer and Yves Allegro of Switzerland ..

MB is not playing this week and Mirnyi is playing with Zimonjic at Queens .. I was a bit worried about some injury problem with Mahesh .. Nothing like that; he has gone to India, as he will be carrying the Olympic torch this week (he said it was a "once in a lifetime chance" he didn't want to miss - of course!) ..

Prakash Amritraj is drawn to face #364 Kepler Orellana (VEN) at the Forest Hills grasscourts challenger in New York .. Harsh Mankad is in the final round of qualies there with a 60 61 shellacking of Sanjin Sadovic (CAN,700) today .. Sadovich had beaten Manoj Mahadevan in the Qualies first round, 62 16 76(5) yesterday, as Mankad had a bye .. Sadovich had actually beaten Harsh last year in a three-setter at the Granby challenger qualies last yea, and seemed to be alright on grass, considering he beat Manoj who is a good grasscourt player - so perhaps Harsh can do well this week at Firest Hills along with Prakash who should love the grasdcourts there .. By the way, these are the same courts where they used to play the US Open 25 years back (has it been that long? -- even I remember the last year of play there) .. Interestingly, they still have the strict "all-white" dress code there, even for the challenger qualifying matches, as they indicated in strong words in the fact sheet! .. I believe it is after a long time that they are conductinga  couple of pro events there .. They also did a claycourt challenger a few weeks back .. In another Q1 match, ArunPrakash Rajagopalan went down to Diego Ayala (USA,861), 16 57 .. Harsh plays Mirko Pehar (USA,784) tomorrow in the final qualies ..   IN the doubles main draw, Harsh and Prakash are playing together and are seeded 3rd .. They play a wildcard pair, Michael Kosta and Hamid Miorzadeh .. PA's singles R1 is on Monday

At the $15K Kuwait F1 futures Rohan Bopanna went down a couple of days back in the semis against the top seed Filip Prpic (SWE,299), 57 06, after a QF win against Mohammed Al Ghareeb (KUW,902) 26 61 62 and a second round walkover .. In the second round, Mustafa Ghouse wenty down to  Jakub Hasek (CZE,744) 46 16 .. Mustafa and Rohan won the doubles title there, however, beating Gilles Kremer (LUX)/ Peter Mayer-Tischer (GER) in the SF and 4th seeds Sebastian Fritz (GER)/ Frank Moser (GER), 46 64 63 .. Mustafa keeps on winning in doubles with great consistency.

I was wondering yesterday about why Vishal Punna was not in the Indian satellites - and then I found out today that he had played the first round of qualies at the Queen's ATP in Londoin yesterday! .. 850th ranked Vihsal went down to James Auckland (GBR,433), 26 36 .. While I am generally reluctant to criticize the players' tour planning as I don't know the particulars of their situations, I just cannot understand how so many players skipped these satellites .. On the other hand, AITA perhaps shouldn't have set up the dates of these satellites smack at the right time when there are grasscourt events in Europe/USA where our players feel confident of at least trying their luck for a big break .. I think AITA probably wanted to conudct the satellites before the last year's satellite points fall off from the indian players' point totals, though .. In any event, it is just doesn't seem prudent for the players to not pick up the cheaper points from an easier field in the satellites - why not try your luck at bigger events after getting some good points in the kitty and a higher rank? .. Not trying to single out Vishal, as there are a few others who have done this, now and in the past.

June 5 Notes

Sorry for a little delay in updating yesterday's news .. The fantastic run at the French Open junior doubles came to an end for Tushar Liberhan and Divij Sharan who wentd own in the semifinals to the 7th seeds Alex Kuznetsov (USA) and Mihail Zverev (GER), 67(5) 46 .. Oyr guys were down a break in the first set and made a late charge but dropped a close tiebreaker .. They just could not get over the hump in the second set, but the fought hard .. Still a terrific week of work by the pair - always impressive to play one of the last 6 matches among 94 matches in the junior boys' section! ..

In another bad news item from yesterday, top seeded LP and David Rikl were surprisingly upset in the semi of the $125K+H Prostejobv challenger in the Czech Republic, 62 61 by the 3rd seed Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) and Jaroslav Levinsky (CZE) .. So, not much accomplished there, but I would be happy if they got out of there wiothout any injuries or anything.

Still have not got any news from Kuwait on how Rohan and Mustafa have done since the second round earlier this week .. Last year ITF had stopped their folks from sending draw sheets and updates to SteveG, the one man who has done such a fantastic job for such a long time in promptly updating scores - the rationale was that they would do it themselves at their website .. Yeah right, like they are capable of it! .. We were skeptical and after several months convinced that we were right.  The ITF guys basically update scores from Monday through thrusday and go home after that leaving all of us in the dark in the later rounds .. The ITYF officials are not allowed to send news to SteveG - like it is such a crime for tennis fans to know such privileged information like scores! .. When will these tennis mandarins learn hopw to make the damn game popular? ..  Anyway, our problem has also been that the Kuwait newspapers do not seem to have any idea about such an event going on out there..

Today's news .. Prakash Amritraj will be in the main draw at the $50K Forest Hills grass challenger next week in New York .. Harsh Mankad missed the draw by one spot ayesterday and has entered the qualifying draw as the top seed .. He was a little worried earlier in the week about whether his ankle was fully 100% (he was feeling pain by the end of the Fergana challenger) .. Had got it checked out and there seemed to be nothing serious ..  Anyway, he got one more day of rest, with a Q1 bye .. Tomorrow he will play the winner of today's match between Manoj Mahadevan and Sanjin Sadovich (CAN) .. Also in the qualifying draw is Arun Prakash Rajagopalan, the Asian junior champion from last year who has been training in the US and has not played much this year so far .. Arun Prakash plays Diego Ayala (USA) in the Q1 ..

I am rather disappointed at how many Indian players are skipping the 4 week satellites starting next week in India .. Sunil Kumar Sipaeya is the top entry .. Vinod Sridhar, Vijay Kannan, Vishal Uppal, Ajay Ramswasmi, Rohan Gajjar and Jaco Mathew are the ones in the main draw .. The number of good players missing is astounding .. PA, HM and RB are the only ones who really should have skipped this .. Even Mustafa I can understand, because he has done the satellites so many times and with his doubles ranks having gone way up, he is trying to get that big break in the futures circuit and challengers .. Somdev, I believe, got all his plans messed up with postponed board exams which fall in the second week of the satellites or something like that .. Vishal Punna has been totally missing in action since that great start at the beginning of the year .. Then ArunPrakash, Manoj Mahadevan, etc etc .. On top of that ITF seems to have changed the classification now to $25K+H (all four weeks are in Delhi and AITA will give hospitality), so the winner now stands to gain 46 pts - so all thoise who skipped it will regret having done that .. VERY unfair for ITF to allow that AFTER the entries were closed - according to ITF, they changed it on June 2nd this week, a full 10 days after the entries closed .. They should start getting a clue or two -- it is just wrong to fix a player field and then change the point table .. Anyway, a great great opportunity for Sunil Kumar to clean up (unless Vijay, Vinod, Ajay give serious resistance) and pick up some 40-- odd points and get his ranking to skyrocket into the top-300 ..

At the Delhi $10K ITF women's event, Rushmi Chakravarthi once again got Ankita in the final, 64 64 today ..  Terrific run by Rushmi to pick up 14 points in two weeks of work with 2 singles titles .. Also one doubles title and another final .. Rushmi is in irrepressible form right now, it seems .. Sanaa Bhambri and Liza Pereira pulled the big upset in the doubles final over Rushmi and Ankita in a 3rd set tiebreaker win .. Those two had also beaten the second seeds Sai-Archana earlier .. Fine run by young Sanaa - she got a bit of revenge on the elder sister too.

June 4 Notes

The French Open doubles final is between Llodra-Santoro and Malisse-O.Rochus .. Llodra-Santoro upset the Bryans in three sets .. The Bryans had a 10 match win streak going at the FO where they had won 20 of 21 sets going back to last year .. More significantly, now we seem to have to worry about yet another top-notch doubles pair at the Olympics, if this Belgian pairing of Malisse and Rochus keep this up and play at Athens.

Divij and Tushar play a big semifinal today at the FO against the 7th seeds Alex Kuznetsov (USA) and Mihail Zverev (GER) .. Zverev is the one who beat Tushar in the singles QF before losing yesterday in the SF to his doubles partner Kuznetsov, who has now reached the singles final today after upsetting the 5th seed Brendan Evans .. Tushar and Divij play the final match on court 1 where the two boys' singles and doubles semis are scheduled.

Leander and Rikl seemed to be matching MB-MM's score yesterday at the Prostejov challenger QF as they too dropped a 67(1) first set .. They came back to win 67(1) 62 62 though, over the Czech wildcard pair, Jan Masic and Ivo Minar .. Today they play the SF against the 3rd seeds Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) and Jaroslav Levinsky (CZE) ..

Bad day for Prakash Amritraj (IND,231) yesterday at the $50K Tallahassee Challenger, as he went down to Rajeev Ram (USA,351) in a roller-coaster match, 16 63 16 .. Later in the evening PA and Frederico Luzzi could not do much in the doubles R1 either, losing 36 26 to the tough second seeds, Huntley Montgomery and Brian Vahaly.

At the Kuwait $15K futures, Rohan Bopanna and Mustafa Ghouse have reached the doubles semis .. The top seeds beat Abdullah Magdas (KUW) and Ahmed Rabeea (KUW) 76(3) 62 and then Trent ASaron (USA) and David Brady (AUS) also by the same score, 76(3) 62 .. The SF is against Gilles Kremer (LUX) and Peter Mayer-Tischer (GER) .. No updates on their singles R2 yet though.

At the Delhi $10K ITF women's circuit event, Karishma Patel's nice run ended against the second seed Ankita Bhambri, 06 26 .. Top seed Rushmi's unbeaten streak also continued as is demolished Liza Pereira 61 60 .. Ouch is the word for today's semifinals .. No big surprise, because Rushmi and Ankita are clearly playing at a dfifferent level than everybody else out there .. The doubles final is this evening between Rushmi-Ankita and Liza-Sanaa .. See the the Delhi $10K page.

June 3 Note-3

Things didn't go right for MB-MM today at the FO, it seems .. [SF] (3) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi l. Xavier Malisse (BEL)/ Olivier Rochus (BEL), 67(1) 64 26 .. MB-MM were quickly up a break in the second game of the first set and led 2-0, but then MB dropped serve in the 7th game .. Soon it was 4-4 .. Our guys had two break points at 6-5 to go ahead, but they didn't convert there .. The Belgians stepped it up a notch and won 10 of the next 11 points, and the set was over with a very poor tiebreaker for MadMax .. In the second set, they forced a timely break in the 9th game and served out the set .. In the 3rd set, after 2-2, it all went downhill as MM and MB dropped serves in succession and it was over.

June 3 Note-2

Great work by Tushar Liberhan and Divij Sharan .. They reached the junior doubles semifinal at the French Open with a 64 62 shellcaking of Phillip Simmonds (USA) and Fritz Wolmarens (RSA) ..  This match was competitive for, oh for a few minutes .. Our guys were ahead a break and were broken back even at 4-4 in the first set .. That was the end of the resistance as the guys went on a rampage and won 8 of the next 10 games to finish off the American-SouthAfrican pair .. The semifinal opponents for our boys will be determined later today .. Go Tushar! Go Divij !

June 3 Note-1

Mahesh's doubles semifinal starts at about 3 pm at the French Open, after an MxD semi that starts soon at 1.30 pm (a Legends match ahead of the doubles semi is not listed as a walkover) .. But first, the boy's doubles QF between Tushar-Divij and Simmonds-Wolmarens starts at 2 pm (5.30 pm India, 8 am New York) .. Come to our new flash chatroom during the matches for score updates and to cheer our guys on ..

Prakash Amritraj continues his nice form - he easilyt beat the qualifier, Huntley Montgomery (USA,497) at the Tallahassee (Florida) $50K challenger, 75 63 yesterday .. In the R2 today, Prakash faces his good firend, Rajeev Ram (USA,351), who upset the 3rd seed Noam Okun (ISR,165) yesterday .. Good to see two indian names facing each other in Florida .. In doubles, Prakash and Frederico Luzzi (ITA) had their doubles R1 postponed to today .. They play Montgomery-Vahaly this evening.

Top seeds Leander and David Rikl advanced with an easy 63 64 win over Jan Hajek and David Skoch at the $125K+H Prostejov challenger last night .. They play another wildcard Czech team, Jan Masic and Ivo Minar today.

At the $15K Kuwait F1 futures, Rohan and Mustafa have both reached the second round .. The 4th seed Rohan Bopanna beat Karim Alyali (Lebanon,1415), 62 63 and 7th seed Mustafa Ghouse beat Jhonathan medina-Alvarez (VEN,713) 62 26 62 .. Rohan plays unranked Mohammed Abdelaziz Al Nuaimi (UAE) and Mustafa plays Jakub Hasek (CZE,744) next ..  I haven't seen the doubles draw yet.

It was another big day for comeback lady, Karishma Patel, today at the $10K Delhi women's ITF .. She upset the 3rd seed Sonal Phadke in three sets .. 23 year old Karishma, who had bneen off the tour for over 2.5 years since 2001 October, is making a comeback at these two Indian events .. Nice to see the qualifier reach her second $10K semifinal (she had one in 2001 in India as well) .. She will run into the 2nd seed Ankita Bhambri in the semi tomorrow .. Ankita once again beat younger sister Sanaa, who had a good start winning the first set in a tiebreaker .. Rushmi keeps cruising and Liza has also reached semi, showing some decent consistency these two weeks - it will not be easy for her to tackle Rushmi who seems to be in "roaring" form, so to say .. See the Delhi $10K page.

June 2 Note-2

Nice work by Tushar and Divij at the French Open .. They once agains upset the highly ranked Korean team whom they had beaten ins traight sets in Belgium last week .. [R2] T.Liberhan/ D.Sharan d. (2) Woon-Sun Jun (KOR)/ Sun-Yong Kim (KOR), 63 76(5) .. Our boys were up quickly with two breaks to 3-0, then traded breaks and won the set at 6-3 ..  In the second, they were behind 0-2, came back to even it at 4-4 and took it from there .. In the QF, they play the same team that beat Karan-Yi today, Simmonds-Wolmarens.

Very interesting French Open so far .. The Williams sisters get unceremoniously dumped back-to-back, and then we get three Argentinians and one unlikely Briton in the men's semifinal .. How the heck is Tim Moorgiwallah doing what he is doing? .. Every now and then we hear obituaries that the guy is nearly washed up, and usually that is after after the British hype machine goes into overdrive before Wimbledon and comes crashing down after yet another listless late round loss by TH .. But Mr.Moorgiwallah keeps on trucking and he has been staying up there in the rankings seemingly for ever .. Sure, he does lay his eggs not too infrequently, but one has to respect his abilities when he does well on both grass and clay, not to mention his determination in showing that he is not going away just yet ...

June 2 Note-2

Terrible day so far .. Karan Rastogi and Chu-Huan Yi let one slip through their hands today in the second round of boys' doubles at the FO .. 76(2) 67(6) 57 loss to Phillip Simmonds (USA) and Fritz Wolmarens (RSA) .. They had multiple match points while up two minibreaks at 6-3 in the second set tiebreaker, but proceeded to lose 5 straight points and drop the set .. In the 3rd set Karan dropped serve in the 3rd game and the 11th game .. They had evened it in the 6th game at 3-3 .. Karan served at 30-0 at 5-5 but our guys dropped four points in a row and 8 of the last 9 points to lose the match .. Well, what can I say, it has not been a great day.

Some good n ews too - Divij and Tushar just got a walkover in the R1 doubles match postponed at 36 61 00 yesterday from Troicki and Visak .. They have just started their second round against the 2nd seeds Woon-Suk Jun and Sun-Yong Kim of Korea.

At the Delhi $10K, seven Indians made it to the QF .. The big upset was by young Sandhya Nagaraj who beat Sai Jayalakshmy in a 3rd set tiebreaker .. Karishma Patel's good run continued as she got a 3rd set retirement from the Japanese opponent .. Ankita beat Sheetal easily .. Rushmi, Liza, Sonal, and Sanaa are also in the QFs .. See the Delhi $10K page.

June 2 Note-1

Mahesh has the day off, as the doubles semifinals are tomorrow at the FO ..

Bad news from Tushar Liberhan in the final-16 of the boy's singles at the FO, as he went down to a very talented Mihail Zverev (GER,6), 36 36 .. He played very well in patches and broke the German many times, but a very poor first serve percentage, especially in the second set did him in .. Here is the match report, based on the online real-time stats and updates -

Tushar started with a few unforced errors in the first three games and dropped serve twice to fall 0-3.  He got it back together very quickly and broke Zverev twice, converting his first two break chances in games 4 and 6 to even it at 3-3.  However he lost a couple of points at the net in the next game and two more unforced errors caused him to be broken in the 7th game - 3-4 .. The errors continued as he dropped serve once more to lose the set at 3-6 .. He made 5 errors in the first six games and then 8 in the last three games, playing well only in the middle three games.  It appeared that Zverev was able to counter his net approaches in the last three games when TL lost 4 points at the net ..

In the second set, Tushar started well, breaking Zverev in the first game itself .. Suddenly TL's first sreve deserted him, as he got only one of four in the next game .. He got broken back thanks to a double fault .. Once again Tushar got two break points in the next game and went ahead 2-1 .. At this point Zverev was 5 of 5 in break chances and Tushar 4 of 6.  Rare to see that kind of efficiency from players in converting BPs!  TL's first serve problems continued, as he hit only one good one in the next game as well, allowing Zverev again to convert a 30-40 break chance to go to a perfect 6/6 on that .. Again it was even at 2-2 .. His first serve continued to misbehave in the 6th game as he hit only 2 of 6 serves (Only 3 good serves out of 14 at that point in the set; he was again winning a few points at the net and that was all that was keeping him in the game) ... He had two more double faults and faced a few decues .. Tushar somehow saved three break attampts with some points at the net, but dropped serve in the end .. 2-4 .. Now I think he must have got demoralized, as Zverev held easily for the first time in the match .. 2-5 .. One more double fault and only 3 of 8 good first serves in the next game, but he held serve after saving one BP .. 3-5 .. He lost the match at 36 36 ..

In the final analysis, despite the scoreline, I think Tushar showed in patches that he was very much able to handle a very talented top player in Zverev .. The reason for his loss was essentially the first serve problems and unforced errors (as usual, some of it must have been forced) .. The match took an hour an 7 minutes .. 16 winners and 24 errors by Zverev; 14 winners and 38 errors (6 double faults) by Tushar .. 7 of 11 in break chances by MZ, 4 of 6 by TL .. The mistakes did him in this time, it appears .. Still a very nice run making it to the 3rd round of a grand slam, the first time an Indian has done that on clay at the French Open in at least a decade.

June 1 Notes

The semifinalists are all set in doubles at the French Open .. 3rd seeds Mahesh and Max face Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus of Belgium who upset the 9th seeds Etlis and Rodriguez of ARG in straight sets .. The Belgians look like yet another Olympics combination that is looking good .. The other SF is between the top seeds Bryan twins against the 6th seeds Santoro-Llodra .. The potential French Olympics pair, Santoro-Llodra upset the 4th seeds Knowles-Nestor .. The Bryans won a classic over the Zimbabwe Olympics pair, Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett, 67(8) 76(3) 75 .. Black and Ullyett, who have woin grand slam title in the past but had not looked all that great last year, have been playing very well lately - they have won two masters events (Miami and Hamburg) and have reached the QF of both the Australian Open of French Open so far this year .. Unless somebody can prevail upon the ITF seeding committee with some arguments that the Indian Express pair was so good once upon a time, the Zimbabwe pair who will both crack top-10 next week, may have already ousted our pair from consideration for a top 4 seed at the Olympics .. It looks like the Bryans and Santoro-Llodra are a lock for that, and now the ZIM pair also have positioned themselves rather firmly .. Arthurs and Hanley haven't done much lately for AUS .. Perhaps our pair can oust Woodbridge-Arthurs form top-4 consideration? - not much chance unless Woodbridge is not playing Olympics .. We are not in great shape, as far as LP's rank is concerned .. He has just lost 375 more points from his total (last year's SF at the FO) and his rank will drop below 25 now with 1600 points .. He still has 120 more pts from Den Bosch, 450 from Wimbledon, and 175 from Gstaad to defend in the next 4 weeks - so his ranking could really drop a bit unless he does well at Wimbledon.

So, I was hoping that Lee and David could get on to the grass courts early and be ready to do some damage in the three grass events including Wimbledon .. Obviously it was quite puzzling to find today that Leander and David Rikl decided to play this week (now that he is done with FO) at, of all places, a clay challenger! .. They took a wildcard and are seeded first at the $125K+H challenger at Prostejov, CZE.  Why waste time on clay and risk injury or something for hardly much money or points (90 pts and $3500 for even a title)? .. I don't know - well, Lee knows what he is doing, I hope .. Anyway, this is nothing new for us fans  though - when have we ever been able to figure him out? .. All we can do is to just cheer him on! :-) .. They play a wildcard pair, Jan Hakjeck and David Skoch in the first round on wednesday.

Prakash Amritraj (IND,231) plays qualifier Huntley Montgomery (USA,497) tomorrow at the $50K Tallahassee challenger in Florida .. In doubles, he is playing with Frederico Luzzi and they run into the second seeds Montgomery and Brian Vahaly of USA .. The doubles R1 is also tomorrow evening ...

Rohan Bopanna and Mustafa Ghouse are at the $15K Kuwait futures .. No draw info yet .. Late update on a score from last week .. Mustafa and Aisam Qureshi went down 46 46 in the final at the $15K+H in Soudi Arabia last week against Senastien Fitz (GER) and Karim Mamoun (EGY).

At the $10K women's event in Delhi, the first round of singles and doubles got completed by today .. Lata Assudani had a good upset of the 5th seed Susanne Aigner yesterday, ASrchana Venkatraman was upset today and Karishma Patel pulled off a big win over Iciri Rai .. All the other big names, Rushmi, Ankita, Sai, Liza and Sanaa have all advanced .. In doubles there was one surprise, as Sanaa and Liza upset the second seeds, the experienced Sai and Archana .. Sanaa, by the way, did things the right way, playing a couple of qualifying rounds for practice, rather than take a wildcard to the main draw - I always have big respect for those who choose to play qualies when they don't have to (I assume Sanaa would have been given a WC if she wanted)! .. Sanaa gets Lata tomorrow in the PQF. All the results are at the Delhi $10K page.

Some more good news from French Open in the juniors .. Karan and Chu-Huan Yi staged a nice comeback to advance to the final-16, beating Lukas Lacko (SVK) and David Navarrette (VEN), 67 64 61 .. Tushar and Divij were tied at one set apiece at 16 63 00 against Viktor Troicki (SCG) and Vilim Visak (CRO) when bad light caused a postponement to tomorrow .. Looks like Tushar may ened up playing three matches tomorrow .. First his singles match, then after some rest the unfinished doubles R1 set .. If he wins he may play a doubles R2 match as well .. Karan and Yi play Phillip Simmonds (USA)/ Fitz Wolmarens (RSA) also tomorrow.

May 31 Note-2

Good news! -- Mahesh and Max advanced to the semifinal at the French Open, hardly sweating in a QF match .. [QF] (3) M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. Karsten Braasch (GER)/ Sargis Sargsian, 63 64 .. No drama in this match, and I don't have much details as I was following a more ineteresting match, where Tushar Liberhan pulled a big upset of the 10 seeded world #9 Woong-Sun Jun, 46 62 63 to reach the final-16 in the boys' section!!! .. LP's MxD match yet to start.

Here is the report on Tushar's match - Tushar took a while to get a measure of Jun's game .. He was down a break by the 4th game .. He was further down after another break at 2-5, but then it all changed .. He mounted a late charge, breaking the 10th seed in the 8th game .. He saved a set point to take Jun to a decue in the 10th game as well but lost the set there. 

In the second set, TL had break points in the second game itself which the Korean boy saved.  IN the 6th game he converted his 4th BP of the set to go ahead to 4-2 .. He seemed to be playing solid tennis without too many errors, compared to Jun who was hitting one winner followed by an enforced error all through. Then Tushar jumped all over Jun in the 8th game to win the final 3 points and take the set at 6-2.

As Jun continued to add more to his unforced errors tally with 5 more in the first two games of the 3rd set, Tushar converted another 15-40 BP to go ahead 2-0 .. Under some pressure from Jun and facing a bit of trouble in the next game at 0-30, Tushar served his second ace and hit another winner to hold serve and go to 3-0 .. Now it was just a question of playing steady and waiting for Jun to continue to make mistakes .. The Korean boy obliged, adding three more errors in the 4th game and handing the game to Tushar .. 4-0 ..  At 5-1 and serving for the match, it got a bot tioght though .. Tushar started with a double fault and fell to 0-30 .. But then he made an uncharacteristic trip to the net, winning the point and getting a match point at 40-30 .. Jun had suddenly played error free for a couple of games, and he now got a break point with a winner.  He converted that to make it 5-2 .. But he could only play error-free for about two games .. At 5-3, Tushar got two more errors from Jun and that was that.

Tushar seems to have played clay tennis simply to perfection .. Went up to the net just 5 times in the whole match (winning 4 of those points), compared to 26 times by Jun. Played from the baseline and waited for Jun to make mistakes.  That is the name of the game on clay - patience and steadiness .. 12 winners and 15 errors by Tushar .. Compare that to 31 winners and 52 unforced errors (a lot of them definitely "forced" by Tushar's steady baseline play, I am sure).  The match took 89 minutes .. Go Tushar!

May 31 Note-1

Karan Rastogi's patchy clay season (actually patchy year ever since the great start at the Australian Open) continued today, as the 5th ranked 12th seed was upset by the 78th ranked Martin Fisher of Austria at the French Open juniors in a back and forth match where Karan wasted a whole bucketfull of opportunities in the 3rd set aftera  great comeback in the second set .. Here is a match report based on the online scoreboard and stats update -

Karan had a double break pt in the first game and converted the first chance itself to go up 1-0.  Helped by an ace, he went up to 2-0 soon .. After a couple of deuces, Fisher held serve in the 3rd game. Now KR started having first serve troubles and was facing two break pts at 15-40.  He saved them both, but got broken after a deuce .. 2-2 .. A double fault caused a BP again in the 5th game.  Saved one, but yet another uinforced error saw his drop serve again .. 2-4 .. Now Martin Fischer seemed to be getting into full flow as he won 7 of the next 8 points and forced triple set points at 2-5 on Karan.  Once again Karan saved all of the break points for deuce, and then saved a 4th set point at AD out too, but then dropped the set.

In the 3rd game of the second set, Karan went up ahead, with the help of a couple of winners and a couple of unforced errors from Fischer. With the DF count mounting from the Austrrian and Karan started hitting more winners, it was 3-1 and KR again broke him in the 5th game to go ahead 4-1 .. At 5-1, Karan wasted three chances from triple set point, but converted a fourth set point to even it up at one set apiece.

He started kept the foot on the pedal to start the 3rd set .. Served his second ace, to hold serve at love and then had Fischer down at 0-40 again. A couple of unforced errors from Karan helped Fischer to save the BPs and hold serve though. Now it was a key juncture again for Karan and he had to keep his mind in the game .. But alas, just like that he was down 0-40 on serve and was suddenly in trouble at 1-2 .. He lost Eight points straight three of them in a row at the net, based on the stats. Karan really needs to do something about his tendency to lose points in a bundle at times - he does snap out of it but against better player it is suicidal. Anyhway, as expected, he quickly had Fischer down at 0-40 again and he got the break right back to 2-2 .. That did not last much longer either, as KR dropped serve yet again after saving a couple of BPs (one with an ace) .. 2-3 though .. Then, for the second time in the set, Karan wasted triple break chances on Martin.  He held serve to go 4-2 as Karan went 1 of 7 in break chances in the set.  Then at 3-4, Karan had yet another break chance at 30-40 and that too went unused.  Losing 7 chances in a row is a killer.  Martin held serve to ghho up 5-3.  Now KR started with a double fault, having invited all the pressure on himself.  He faced a match point at 30-40 but an unforced error from the Austrian boy gave him a reprieve.  Another UE from Karan saw him face a second match pt but he again saved it with a point at the net.  On a 3rd match point, Martin hit a winner and Karan was upset.

The match took 94 minutes .. 3 aces and 4 DFs by Karan .. no aces and 4 DFs by MF .. 6/17 in break points by MF and 5 of 16 by Karan (1 of 8 in the 3rd, which was really the key stat of the match that caused the loss) .. This was an extremely rare case of the loser having more points in a match - KR woin 79 to 78 by Martin.

Tushar is right now playing the 10th seed Woong-Sun Jun .. Mahesh's doubles QF has also started.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on May 31 ..

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