LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on June 12, 2000
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June 13 Note-1
Good news from Berkeley, California - top seed Fazaluddin came through the qualies of the $15K USA F15 futures, winning the fourth and final round 62 63 over Ryan Newport of USA .. Only the #1 and #2 seeds among the top 10 seeds advanced to the maind raw - we will know the main draw soon .. Fazal will need to win one more round to get an ATP point though.
Manisha Malhotra is in the main draw at the $25K Mount Pleasant challenger in South Carolina .. She plays Sarah Taylor (USA,305) in the first round .. She is drawn in the bottom quarter of the draw next to #5 seed Sandra Cacic (USA,252) and #2 seed Milagros Sequeira (VEN,168) .. Will know the doubles draw soon .. Both Wedndy Fix and Leanne Baker with whom Manisha had won doubles titles in the last few weeks are in the singles draw - so she must be playing with one of them.
By the way, both Manisha and Nirupama had lost to qualifiers last week but both can take some comfort in knowing that they only lost to the eventual winners .. At the $25K Galatina challenger in Italy, qualifier Antonella Serra-Zanetti who had beaten Nirupama in the first round went on to win the title .. Similarly, qualifier Allison Bradshaw who beat Manisha in the second round went on to win the $10K satellite in Soth Carolina last week.
Does anybody know where Srinath Prahlad is ? .. There has been absolutely no continuity in Srinath's career .. Can't find him playing for any reasonable length of time anywhere .. Just when you think he is about to play a few challengers and try to turn the corner, he disappears .. He had been ranked inside the top-350 for almost two years now, and he has probably played in only 3 or 4 challengers outside India - which sounds awfully like wasted opportunities .. Earlier this year, after reaching the doubles final at the Chennai Open, his doubles rank shot up high enough for him to qualify into the doubles main draw doubles at virtually any challengers - which means assured hotel room, etc, even if he did not make the singles draw .. But that too doesn't seem to have changed anything .. He he suddenly showed up in Uzbekistan for three weeks a couple of months back, that's all .. Oh well .. He has hardly had a win this whole year and his ATP points are going to start falling off soon .. Actually a big bunch goes off next week for last May's satellites, which will drop his point total from 93 to the 50s, and the ranking to near 425 from the 308 now - that means he will no longer make the direct singles entry at any challengers .. And Sri is nowhere to be found :-) .. Strange!
June 12 Note-3
Bhupathi and Prinosil are scheduled to play their first round match against Bose and Haas tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon at about 4 pm at the $975K Gerry-Webber Open in Halle, Germany.
Not sure yet where Nirupama is this week - most probably at the $25K challenger in Grado, Italy .. No news yet from there .. Niru is expected at the Wimbledon qualies next week .. When the entries closed 5 weeks back, Niru was 5th in the waiting list for qualies, which means she has a very good chance of making it next week.
There were only four main draw singles matches at the India satellites second leg at Bangalore today .. There were two closely fought three-setters, though .. Vijay Kannan defeated Gwenael Gueit of France, 76(3) 46 76(4) .. Kannan apparently lost a bit of focus in the second set, and was also down a break in the 3rd set before getting back in it, aided by some errors from Gueit .. Vijay did his job when it counted in the final tiebreaker .. The other match was one which Rohan Bopanna simply gave away to Mustafa Ghouse .. Bopanna, a talented hard-server, had 13 aces and was cruising to a win, serving for the match at 64 65, when some strange announcement at the court made him lost his focus when he tossed for serve - he was down 0-30, and got broken after a deuce .. He just simply caved in after that, 64 67(4) 26 .. Mustafa himself admitted he got gift from Rohan .. Vijendra Laad fell to 5th seed Fulcher and P.Ravishankar went down to 2nd seed Thornadtsson .. There was one upset in doubles - the top seeds Sandeep Kirtane and Saurav Panja lost to unseeded Ajay Ramaswamy and Harsh Mankad 46 67(1) .. Ajay could not do much last week as he went down to a good player, Alexei Gavrilov, in the qualies .. This time he qualified in with three easy straight sets wins (as did Gavrilov) .. Thes two are capable of giving some trouble to those in the main draw .. I have added all the results, including all the qualifying round results at the Bangalore satellite page.
No news on where Manisha is - probably will be at the $25K Mount PLeasant challenger .. I haven't seen the main draw yet to confirm.
June 12 Note-2
I have updated the draw at the Bangalore satellite page .. Correction on my comments about the wildcards below .. That was according to last week's press release .. As it turned out, Vikrant Chada, SK Shivshankar and Patril Stalbark (the top three seeds last week in the qualies) made the main draw, as three guys who were no-shows last week are not in the draw this time .. So Shivshankar did not need a WC .. Also, contrary to last week's announcement, Tushar Gautam was not a wildcard this time, and I don't believe he played the qualies either .. Kedar Shah, who did well beating a couple of good players in the qualies to make the main draw last week, deservedly got some reward with a wildcard this time .. P.Ravishankar, Saurav Panja and Rishi Sridhar got the other three wildcards .. See the full draw at the results page.
June 12 Note-1
Here is the draw at the $1M Gerry-Weber Open grasscourt tournament at Halle, Germany:
1 P.Haarhuis/ S.Stolle vs M-K.Goellner/ N.Kiefer \ R.Koenig/ A.Olhovskiy vs O.Delaitre/ J.Tarango / \ 4 N.Kulti/ M.Tillström vs D.Johnson/ P.Norval \ / \ Q K.Braasch/ F.Stauder vs M.Bertolini/ C.Brandi / \ _ title Q N.Escude/ R.Federer vs T.Shimada/ M.Wakefield \ / 3 J.Björkman/ P.Rafter vs D.Bowen/ A.Kitinov / \ / A.Florent/ D.Macpherson vs M.Kohlman/ R.Schüttler \ / 2 M.Bhupathi/ D.Prinosil vs A.Bose/ T.Haas /Alex Bose and Tommy Haas are unranked and lowly ranked in doubles, so I believe they are a wildcard team .. Kafelnikov/Vacek withdrew and have been replaced by qualifiers Escude/Federer .. It's a pretty good doubles draw with a lot of good players.
The Woodies have come back to the top of the doubles ranks after three years again .. Woodbridge and Woodforde with identical 4009 points are at the #1 and #2 spots again!! -- The legends showing again why they are the all-time best pair out there .. LP and MB who had said many times how the Woodies inspired them, should look at the perseverence and drive they showed in not giving up after they were down for a few years .. The Woodies have had some pretty nasty incidents between them too - one of them calling the other some nasty names and them not even talking to each other and all that, from what I have heard! .. But they stayed together through thick and thin and they have made history .. There is really only one proven team out there right now who are young enough (in doubles age!) to even atempt to make a run at the Woodies record - the Indian Express (it is my belief that LP-MB are perhaps the last of the great doubles teams we will ever see, the way doubles is going these days - but that is just my opinion) .. Even for them it will take 7 or 8 titles a year for about 6 or 7 more years .. I will rather confidently predict that the 58 title record of the Woodies will stand for ever unless some tremendous determination is shown by that Indian team, if they ever come together and get lucky to stay injury-free that long .. Frankly, unless one is looking for such great accomplishments, doubles is becoming rather pointless other than for some decent money these days .. Going past 30 or 40 titles to be among the top 3 or 4 teams, winning a couple of Olympics medals, winning all four titles in a year, etc would be serious achievements .. Reaching four finals in a year is perhaps the only accomplishment the Woodies never had - everything else they have done in their great career!
The Indian satellites Leg-2 main draw start today on clay at Bangalore .. I had posted the qualifier results and some first round matchups yesterday at the Bangalore satellites page .. Take a look .. Ajay Ramaswamy, Kamala Kannan, S.Zaman, Kedar Tembe and Aloke Bhide are among six qualifiers determined yesterday, with two more decided today .. Vikrant Chadha may have missed the qualies as he was playing the doubles final (Chadha and Majmudar won the title at Mumbai, by the way - it took me a while to find out that result - 36 75 75 win over Gavrilov/Sikanov!) .. The wildcards have gone to Rishi Sridhar (he deserved it for his grand show last week), Saurav Panja (did not enter early enough I guess, just as last week), SK Shivshankar (highest ranked player in the qualies last week - he deserves it), and Tushar Gautam (don't know why) .. The Bangalore leg is improtant as it is the only leg on clay, and there is a good chance that one or two players will get picked for the Davis Cup on clay at Sweden based on these four satellite legs' results .. The seeds remain the same as last week as ATP did not have a new rank list last week .. All four of the top seeds have had physical ailments in Mumbai .. Danai with muscle cramps, Thornadtsson with heat exhaustion, Vishal with a sore shoulder, Harsh with asthma and back problems, etc .. Sandeep Kirtane has had a lot of physical problems in the past that prevented him from playing up to his promise and tealent, but he stayed healthy last week and got the reward with the title .. Sandeep has a decent opponent in the first round - Manoj Mahadevan .. The TN players like Manoj are more used to clay that most others .. Harsh has normally done well on clay, but has not played on clay for a year (the last time may have been in the Bangalore leg of last May 1999 satellites), and he seems to be not 100% healthy, coming to India with hardly a break after a long US college season .. Harsh gets a qualifier, as does Vishal Uppal .. I will update today's scores at the results page later today.
Manisha won yet another doubles title this week, with a new partner, Wedndy Fix (USA) .. They were the 2nd seeds and beat the top seeds Sequera/ Volekova, 64 76(3) .. The singles title was won by qualifier Allison Bradshaw (USA) who was the one who had upset 5th seed Manisha in the second round there .. Manisha's doubles rank this week is #332 and will be at around #310 with the new points .. In singles, Manisha is #360 after she lost a few points from a title and a runner-up finish in the US tour at this time last year.
At the $15K USA F15 futures qualifying, Fazaluddin is in the fourth and final round after beating Nguey Ley (USA) 63 61 yesterday in Q3 .. Fazal's next opponent is a talented US youngster, Ryan Newport .. Only 5 of the 16 seeds in the 120-player qualifying rounds ahave made it to the final 16 .. Tough fight, but Fazal is doing fine! .. Shriranga Sudhakar lost in Q3 to Chris Magyari of USA 67(3) 26 yesterday.
June 11 Notes
Mahesh is the second seed with David Prinosil (GER) in the $1M Gerry-Weber Open in Halle, Germany (Grass) starting Monday .. I had to pinch myself a couple of times to make sure I was looking at the correct draw, as I saw a couple of old favorites in it (actually two pairs who were the nemesis for LP-MB in the past) - Kafelnikov/ Vacek and Bjorkman/ Rafter !! - Those two are in the bottom half with MB .. Haarhuis/Stolle who just lost the doubles final at the French Open are the top seeds .. MB-Prinosil play Bose and Haas in the first round .. I will post the draw later.
Actually Mahesh had told me last week that he might try to play the singles qualies at Halle .. But that was depending on how the shoulder felt and he wasn't sure if he would make the draw anyway .. I think Hesh is feeling that itch to play some singles after almost a year of no singles at all .. He may have decided to play it safe for a little longer, as the shoulder was showing a bit of soreness at the French Open after all the work at St.Poelten the week before.
At the Hilton Head $10K ITF satellites, Manisha Malhotra has reached yet another doubles final - she and Wendy Fix (second seeds) beat the 4th seeds Yumiko Kitamura and Timoe Hotta of Japan, 60 62 in the semis yesterday .. They face the top seeds Milagros Sequera (VEN) and Gabriela Volekova (SVK) today in the final.
Manisha may continue next week in the $25K Mount Pleasant challenger in South Carolina .. The top seed in the qualies which started yesterday was ranked below #450, which is rather low for a challenger .. Manisha may have made the main draw, if so.
In the qualies of the $15K USA F15 futures in Berkeley, Fazaluddin won the Q2 match yesterday over Rob Cheyn of New Zealand, 64 67(2) 62 .. In the 3rd round of the 4-round qualies, Fazal will play Nguey Ley of USA .. Shriranga Sudhakar is also in Q3 today, after a Q2 walkover from Geoff Boyd of USA, and he will play Chris Magyari (USA) next .. Arindam Dutta lost in Q2 to Eric Basica (USA) 36 16 .. Stephen Amritraj also lost in Q2.
June 10 Note-2
Sandeep Kirtane is on a roll ! .. In the final at the Mumbai satellite leg, he went after the top seed Danai Udomchoke, apparently still hampered with the cramps he sufferred late in the match against Mankad yesterday .. Sandeep passed him at will on both sides as Danai was not mobile enough and tried to play the shots without positioning himself .. The results was a total white-wash, as Sandeep won 6-0 6-2 in no time .. Sandeep gets his first satellite singles title .. How about that ? .. The final was rain-delayed and was played late in the evening .. Not sure if the doubles final was completed yet - I have not seen the score reported anywhere yet.
The Woodies had their record-breaking performance today as they beat Haarhuis-Stolle 7-6(7) 6-4 for their 59th title together the most ever by any team in history .. This is their first grand slam title in close to three years (12th overall I believe), and their first title on the clay at Roland Garros .. Thus they finally have grand slam titles on all four surfaces.
June 10 Note-1
Nirupama is listed to have lost to Italian qualifier Antonella Serra-Zanetti 16 16 in the first round at Galatina (according to the tournament web site) .. The scoreline just doesn't look right to me - unless there is some injury problem, Niru *never* loses to anybody like that - talented as the youngster Serra-Zanetti is (I also believe Niru has beaten her once before) .. In doubles, Niru and Van de Zande won a round beating Cabrera/Vierin 62 61, but lost in teh quarterfinals to Basting and Goni, 64 46 36.
Manisha seems to have lost in the second round of the $10K Hilton Head satellites to qualifier Allison Bradshaw of USA - not sure of the score, but I saw that Allison has upset the top seed Jane Chi in the next round in straight sets to reach the SF (I love those "qualifiers" in the US events - somebody is always pulling off such things!) .. I am awaiting the score of Manisha's quarterfinal doubles match.
At the USA F15 futures in Berkeley (California) today, Fazaluddin will be playing Rob Cheyne of USA in Q2 (round of 64) of qualies after a bye in Q1 .. There are a few interesting names in the 4-round qualies .. Stephen Amritraj of USA has won a round .. Sriranga Sudhakar (IND) won the Q1 yesterday over Vuk Tapuskovic (YUG) 16 62 64 .. Arindam Datta (IND) beat Ilija Ognenovski (USA) 46 64 75 in the Q1 ..
At the French Open the Woodies are trying to become the team with most titles in history with a title in the only Grand Slam they have never won! .. They are in the final today against Haarhuis and Stolle .. The legends are pretty much back to the top again, and seem to be motivated to have a terrific final year before calling it quits .. Best of luck to them.
June 9 Note-2
Nirupama may have lost the first round match at the Galatina challenger in Italy to Antonella Serra-Zanetti .. This is based on an Italian news item I saw which seems to say that Adriana went on to upset Mariam Ramon of Spain in the second round .. Will try to confirm later.
At Mumbai, they finished the quarterfinals and semifinals today .. The 4th seed Harsh Mankad and 7th seed Sandeep Kirtane made it to the semifinal today, the former falling in a hardfought three-setter to the top seed Danai Udomcoke (#306) and the latter pulling the big win over the 2nd seed Per Thornardtsson who seems to have thrown in the towel due to heat exhaustion .. Though he is only turning 19 in a few months, Danai has been full-time in the pro circuit for two years now (he has some good sponsorship from Thailand and has been traveling all over for a while) .. Harsh actually has a win against Danai in Nov 98 in the masters leg of the Indian satellites where Danai was the 3rd seed .. I expected Harsh to play him closely though Danai has been in top form so far, having not given up more than three games in any of the sets in his first three matches .. Danai started well winning the first set 6-3, but then Harsh made a match of it just when it looked like it was over with Harsh down a break in the second set .. He broke back to get on serve and take the second set to a tiebreaker, winning it at 7-6(5) .. In the 3rd set, Harsh was again down 0-3 and again broke back to get on serve at 2-3, when Danai took an injury break for cramps .. Perhaps this upset Harsh's rhythm and he started making a bunch of unforced errors though Danai was still troubled by cramps - he got broken again and lost the next four games to the disappointment of the folks there .. Harsh "had to accept his fate though he won a lot of admirers for the quality tennis he played on Friday", according to G.Vishwanath of The Hindu (he seems to be nicely filling the shoes of Sharda Ugra who used to be the Mumbai correspondent for that newspaper - here is the article - Udomchoke overcomes Mankad's resilience) .. But really, there is no cigar for close finishes and Harsh certainly knows it .. Earlier in the day Harsh had played a fine QF match in beating the 5th seed Barry Fulcher (GBR) in straight sets .. For Harsh, this is the 4th semifinal loss in the last five satellite legs he has played, though it was all against top seeds (two were to Srinath and one to Derepasko, the #2 and #1 finishers of the satellites last June) - one of these days he will need to break through to his first final - he should perhaps look at the 4 semifinal losses LP-MB had in grand slams for inspiration! .. Or just look at Sandeep Kirtane - there is a 27 yr old veteran who finally reached his first satellite final today .. Sandeep had nicely ended Rishi Sridhar's run earlier in the day in the QF .. He kept up his fine game into the semi and got his break too, as the second seeded Per Thornadtsson basically couldn't stand the heat after a set in the 36 06 loss .. So, after all these years, Sandeep finally has his first satellite final ! .. See the Mumbai satellites page .. In doubles, the Russians Gavrilov and Sikanov face the US college products Chadha and Majmudar ..
June 9 Note-1
Nirupama is at the $25K Galatina challenger in Italy this week. She was drawn to face qualifier Antonella Serra-Zanetti (#248) of Italy in the first round .. No news yet on the scores .. Drawn to possibly face 4th seed Na Li of China or Mariam Ramon of Spain, if she advances .. In doubles, Manisha has teamed with the Belgian, Daphe Van De Zande .. They are drawn agains Cabrera/Vierin.
Manisha continues her tough travel through the US circuit .. She drove up from Texas to South Carolina this week, and is the 5th seed at the $10K satellites at Hilton Head island .. She beat Erin Burdette (USA) 64 46 63 in the first round this week (darnit Manisha - stop playing these three-setters and win one in straight sets for a change, will you ? :-)) .. This was a quality win though - Burdette is a very talented 18 year old from the US who, if you remember, was the one who won the titles at the El Paso satellites two weeks back - she was a qualifier there and went on to win the whole thing .. Manisha faces a qualifier (Bradshaw) in the second round .. Manisha is the second seed in doubles with Wendy Fix, and they are in the QF, after beating Patty Murren and Lindsay Reilley of UK, 63 60 in the first round .. Go Manisha..
Fazaluddin is the #1 seed in the qualifying rounds at the USA F15 satellites at Berkeley California for next week (thanks Steve for the news!) .. The 4-round qualies start today, and Fazal has a bye in the first round .. Actually the second seed in the qualies is ranked below #900 - that does not mean the qualies are easy .. There are a ton of talented players who kill each other trying to pick up their first few points in the dogfight in these US futures qualies .. Sometimes I wonder if our Indian players ever realize how good they have got it, with so many of them able to pick up their first few points so easily and be ranked in ATP, with all the events AITA brings to India .. It's absolutely not an easy task to go through the 128-draw qualifying rounds at the US futures .. Fazal would have easily been in the main draw normally - I think he may not have entered on time and thus have to play the qualies .. This means he has to win three qualifying rounds and then a main draw round to pick up one paltry points .. Yikes .. Other than for getting a lot of tough match practice to improve one's game, these US futures are useless .. All I can say is that I am impressed (and a bit puzzled too, actually) with Fazal's drive to fight it out here rather than pick up easier points in Indian satellites - but I don't know how he missed entering the main draw though .. All the best, Fazal!
June 8 Note-2
Major rain brought Mumbai to a standstill today, and washed out all matches at the satellites .. So no news to report .. They hope to play QF and SF of singles tomorrow (Friday) in the morning and evening with the doubles SF played in between, but it looks like this rain thing is not going to go away that fast .. June may not be the best time to play in the west coast!
Many of the fanclub members and others emailed me about the news item that Martina may play mixed doubles with Mahesh at Wimbledon .. I saw that, but I am at this point hoping that LP and MB would stay away from mixed doubles - the way they are being haunted by injury problems, especially! - but I think both enjoy the fun of playing mixed doubles .. Anyway, Martina was asked in the press conference at FO if she had a partner in mind - she said that Mahesh told him that he would be honored to play with her .. She joked that Mahesh had no idea how bad her returns were from the deuce court and how he will need to keep ducking! .. She said "that would be a hell of a partner to play with", about MB ..
June 8 Note-1
There is an agency news item today saying that AITA is already worrying about whether LP and MB would qualify for the Olympics draw, now that LP will miss Wimbledon and quite possibly US Open, leaving him with hardly much points to be ranked high enough for the draw .. It's a valid concern .. "We have decided to lobby with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to seek wildcard entries for Leander and Mahesh for the Olympics' doubles tournament," Indian Davis Cup Committee Chairman Anil Khanna said, according to PTI today .. I checked some numbers and I don't think there is a problem, though .. As far as I can see in the Olympics rules, the rankings on the Monday after Wimbledon (that is July 10th) will be used for entry for doubles .. The sources I have seen mention the July 10th date in connection with singles, and does not mention any separate procedure for doubles - but it does make a mention that a country can enter two doubles players over the maximum 4 singles players allowed in the draw, provided the doubles players are ranked in the top-20 of ATP doubles rankings on July 10 [by the way, this rule was made basically to accommodate the Woodies, I believe!] .. So it appears that July 10th rankings are used for doubles entry as well .. If that is the case, then we are not in any trouble, as LP and MB will have their 500+ points from the US Open finals from last September as well as a few others .. Actually as of July 10th, Leander will have about 1330 points by my calculation (that is after his FO, Wimbledon, and sHertogenbosch points fall off), which will leave him at a rank inside the top-40 .. Even if Mahesh does not pick up any points at Halle and Wimbledon in the next 3-4 weeks, he will still have 895 points and a rank inside the top-60 .. That should be easily sufficient for a direct entry into the 32-team draw .. Of course, in the week going into Olympics by when most of LP's last year points would have fallen off, we will be looking at just about 400 points for Leander (just Shanghai 99, Chennai, Indian Wells, Bermuda and Orlando remaining) - that will place him at a rank near #150 or so, though Mahesh would have played a few events by then and should be ranked quite high .. Anyway, good to see AITA moving fast on this to avoid any problems if at all there is -- but I don't see any problems if July 10th cutoff is used (they will need to use that date - Olympics entry lists need to be fixed up pretty early, unlike normal ATP events where the doubles entry is decided on the week of the event) .. In any event, ITF does have a few wildcards to grant for doubles - and they won't find a pair more deserving than the ones who are their own latest world champs .. By the way, ITF honored LP and MB at a banquet this week at Paris during the French Open as they are the current world champs, having finished #1 at the end of last year, along with Agassi, etc - Incidentally Vijay Amritraj was the master of ceremony there, I believe (Vijay is always in demand for these things - he has his own inimitable charm!).
June 7 Note-3
At the Mumbai satellites today, the Rishi Sridhar story continued as the lucky loser picked up another upset win, over Marian Leysek of Slovakia .. Rishi is the only unseeded player left, as the seeds took up the other 7 spots .. The rather disappointing match was by Saurav Panja who fought hard for 2.5 hours but could not upset the 5th seed Barry Fulcher in a close match .. 20 yr old Barry Fulcher will next face the 4th seed Harsh Mankad .. Barry was among the upper tier of junior players in UK over a year back, and has been trying to get his bearings on the pro circuit with a few satellites .. Harsh vs Barry should be a good match tomorrow .. Mankad was down a break against the Sikanov of Russia after 5 games, but then took out the guy, winning 10 of the next 11 games and finishing the match is just 45 minutes .. Both 6th seed Sandeep Kirtane and 7th seed Vinod Sridhar had second set lapses but did well to advance winning their 3rd sets .. The top seed Danai Udomchoke of Thailand seems to be in very good form, as he has hardly given up any games in his two wins against qualifier players - he took out Amod Wakalkar for a doubles bagel today .. Kunj Majmudar may be a slightly better test for him in the QFs .. See the Mumbai satellites page.
June 7 Note-2
Oh hell .. One starts walking and the other falls down .. Leander's wrist is worse than originally thought .. His hand will be in a cast for 4 to 6 weeks and he will need another 4 to 6 weeks to recover .. That means he will be out of action for up to even three months, according to the report that just came out .. That means Wimbledon and US Open are out .. He should be just about ready by Olympics time, it appears .. LP said he will do whatever he needs to, to make it to Sydney .. According to UNI, Leander, speaking on phone from Paris, said the only good news was that his tendon was not torn completely so it would not require any operation, but "it (the injury) was just one step short of that." .... About his erstwhile partner Mahesh Bhupathi's reported comments about the possibility of re-uniting with Leander soon, the India number one said: "This injury means that I will be out of the circuit for some time and I will have time to sort out the differences with Mahesh. This I will have to do directly and hopefully we will come to the middle ground we are both comfortable with." ..
What a wrteched year this is turning out to be! .. Get well fast, Lee! .. More later.
June 6 Note-3
There was a pretty unexpected upset today in the satellites at Mumbai - Lucky loser Rishi Sridhar upset 3rd seed Vishal Uppal 75 67(4) 76(2) .. 21-yr old Rishi Sridhar has had some good wins over time, but has generally not pulled off the big wins .. According to the article in The Hindu, he himself admitted that he had the reputation to not be a good finisher .. Apparently he even screamed to himself late in the 3rd quarter when he let go of a one-break advantage, "when are you going to learn in life? .. Finish the damn match!" .. I love it when players motivate themselves - and he was up against Vishal Uppal, normally a diehard fighter himself .. Rishi went for it in the final tiebreaker counter-attacking Vishal and beat him at his own game - an interesting match it must have been .. The funny thing is that Rishi Sridhar was the third and final lucky loser who did not even know he would make the draw till a few minutes before playing - he made it when Robert Nita of Romania was a no-show ..
A surprisingly easy win was by 18 yr old Manoj Mahadevan who beat Vikrant Chadha, 63 61 .. Manoj is one who has the tools to break out and surprise us some day - though he has not been able to make any big headway in the seniors after he stopped playing juniors when he had over a year more of junior ligibility left .. He will get a very tough next match though, against the #2 seed, Per Thornardtsson of Sweden .. Per has been doing well, having won the satellite masters in Turkey last month .. Otherwise, the rest of the matches went basically as expected today .. I notice that 19 yr old qualifier Kedar Shah is now in the second round - would be interesting to see how he does next against Kunj Majmudar of US, the 8th seed .. Vinod Sridhar beat wildcard Tushar Gautam 61 61 .. I still don't understand how Tushar got a wildcard - on what basis? why ? .. I was wondering if he had suddenly started playing very well and was going to hold back my opinion, under the assumption that he had perhaps shown something in a coaching camp or something - but seeing that scoreline, I am not sure now .. There were those like Vikrant, Ajay, or SK Shivshankar who deserved that wildcard much more, for sure .. This is one of the very rare cases in India when a wildcard was given quite evidently with no tennis reason - or am I missing something here? .. I have complained in the past about some players getting too many wildcards etc, but most of those were judgment-calls where I felt some others also deserved wildcards .. This case seems different - anyway, it's all moot now .. Eight Indians are in the second round, but only two out of the so-called "group of seven" (see June 4 Note-2 below) have advanced - Vinod and Saurav won matches they would be killed for losing (!), Mustafa and Vishal lost close matches, and Vijay, Mohanty and Rohan could not bring out anything unexpected against their seeded opponents .. Somewhat disappointing .. Need to do better next time, guys! - I am sure they will .. Vinod, Sandeep, Harsh and perhaps Saurav have the best chance to reach QF now .. This Sikanov guy from Russia appears not to be a pushover opponent for Harsh Mankad, though .. See the Mumbai satellites page ..
According to wednesday's Telegraph (Calcutta), Dr.Paes is confirming that Leander has withdrawn from the FO mixed doubles due to the wrist injury sifferred late in the last match .. Excerpts from the newspaper: Leander’s wrist was put on plaster as a precaution that very evening .. X-rays and an MRI scan followed, revealing a partial tear of the tendon. According to doctors in Paris, he will need two-three weeks to recover .. Even if Leander recovers in time for the grasscourt Grand Slam, there’s no chance of any miraculous ‘turnaround’ in his partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi ... “I have already taken a decision and have committed to playing with Jan (Siemerink) for the rest of the year,” Leander told The Telegraph. “Mahesh and I can now only work towards renewing our partnership on the Tour in 2001.” ... According to Dr Vece Paes, the core issue remains Enrico Piperno. “As we have made very clear, he (Leander) won’t think of playing with Mahesh as long as Piperno is his coach,” Dr Paes said, adding that the only way the two players can resolve the crisis is by talking face-to-face. “Mediation via the coaches won’t help. They have to solve it themselves, directly.” .. No coments, from me!
June 6 Note-2
Well, no good news to report .. Just talked to Mahesh in Paris, who said there is nothing new after the couple of days of talks between him and Leander and the two coaches .. Status quo continues, he says .. So much for the short-lived hopes for everyone .. I didn't ask Mahesh any more details .. I am just puzzled (as I have always been) about what *exactly* is the deal, and I am still not sure that we know all angles of this. Anyway, I am not bothered for now. If any good news comes up, I will report - otherwise we all just move on as before.
Some more bad news though -- it appears that LP has a wrist injury from his last match, and he may have withdrawn from the mixed doubles already .. LP was to run some tests on his wrist soon, according to Mahesh .. He may end up missing 2 or 3 weeks now .. So, there goes the grass "season" too .. Damn, how bad can things get ?
June 6 Note-1
Here is some hopeful news - a UNI news story from today - After losing in the initial rounds of the French Open doubles, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have renewed efforts to resolve differences and come together again. Bhupathi said he and Leander have been holding meetings along with their coaches and some things may come out in the next two-three days. "But if it does not happen this week, it will not be possible for the whole year as they have to commit to alternative partners for the year,'' he added while speaking to Zee news from Paris.
We will await good news from Paris .. Let us hope for the best!
17 yr old Sunil Kumar, who had been stuck at a world junior ranking around #145 for a few months and had lost in the first round of 5 junior tournaments in a row, finally won a couple of rounds last week it seems .. He must have reached the Quarterfinal of the Grade-3 Genarali Cup in Austria last week, as he added 15 more points to the 120 he had earlier .. His points came from the three titles he won in a row at Colombo, Delhi and Rajshahi earlier in the year before going into the losing streak in Dhaka and the far east that continued with the first tournament at St.Poelten two weeks back where he was second seed and was upset in the first match .. The few points from last week at the Generali Cup brings him up to #130 - hopefully he will get uncorked again, having won a couple of matches last week .. He has some more work to do still, to even reach the top-80 junior rankings that Chadha, Mankad, Kannan, Mahadevan and Zaman had reached over the last few years [and I hope things have settled down a bit after all the huge hype and pressure he was subjected to late last year] .. He continues his ITF-sponsored European tour with the grade-3 Epitok Cup this week in Hungary and then the Grade-2 event in Frankfurt next week .. I believe he will proceed to England to play some grass junior events after that.
Still no news on Niru, Fazal and Manisha for this week .. We will know soon if any of them are playing.
Mahesh was supposed to proceed to the grass tournament in Halle, Germany next week and Leander to the Queens event in England .. If LP continues into the weekend with mixed doubles at the French Open, he will miss the singles qualifiers at Queens as it stands .. Mahesh was supposed to play with Prinosil at Halle - but let's see if there is any change in plans, based on today's news report.
June 5 Note-2
The match at the Mumbai satellites today between Vijay and Harsh was closer than the score would suggest, at least in the first set, where Vijay often showed an upper hand and even had chances to break Harsh in the 8th game .. Instead, Harsh turned the tables on Vijay in the next game getting the break and serving it off with an ace at set point .. In the second set also, Vijay showed a lot of his talent, but once Harsh was in a groove, he would not let go of the grip, according to newspaper reports.
Anyway, on one of my pet topics, it seems that Harsh Mankad has been getting a lot of press at these satellites .. I saw a UNI report today saying this - "Mankad, who has failed to show the same promise in seniors as he had done in juniors despite training abroad" .. Once again I am forced to comment, as I feel Harsh continues to be the "odd guy out there" in Indian tennis, that nobody really has a handle on .. It is almost like there is some sort of a misinformation campaign on this guy all the time, which bugs me to no end .. First of all, ever since he left DHAITA academy in 97 as a 17 year old, he has hardly got much help from anybody in the Indian tennis circles (I have written even a couple of years back about how the one who has shown the best junior results since Mahesh, was royally discarded by people in a strange manner) .. I look through all records I can find, and the only thing I can say is that Harsh had three bad matches in late 98 when he lost to Asif ismail in the national hardcourts, and then Vinod Sridhar and Vijay Kannan in the Nov 98 satellites (the fact that he had beaten the 3rd seed Danai Udomchoke in the masters went strangely unnoticed, I guess) .. There started this bad press that Harsh was "not living up to his promise" .. Ever since then, he has beaten Fazaluddin, Vijay Kannan (twice), Nitin Kirtane, Vishal Uppal, Vasudev Reddy, and a few other talented Indians, finishing #4 in the satellites last May .. The ONLY Indian he has lost to since that bad day against Vijay Kannan in late 98 is Srinath (whom, by the way, he has beaten once as a 16 year old, if my memory is right!) ..
Those who say Harsh has not "lived up to his promise" should check if he got the benefit of even a wildcard into an Indian challenger qualifier (one WC into a futures event in early 99 is all he has got, as far as I can see) .. Compare that with what has been given to so many of our other young players recently .. He had to get help from some friends in Mumbai to take a trip to the US for two months in 98 to get some decent coaching .. Till he got to the US university last summer, that is the only coaching help he has got - quite a rough time transitioning to the senior level, as you can see .. CGK Bhupathi was impressed by Harsh after seeing him in the satellites and offerred to help, but Harsh had just accepted the University offer from US by then .. Anyway, despite all that, he has come along pretty much on schedule .. It could have been better if people hadn't made such a big deal of him leaving DHAITA .. After all, so many players left the DHAITA academy, which itself doesn't exist anymore .. Why was our best junior the only one who was getting so much of blame for leaving? .. Despite finishing behind only Srinath and Fazal in the satellites last year, I wonder why he was not asked to play the Asia Cup B-team late last year, for instance .. He would have come down from the US for that, but nobody seems to have thought of the guy .. It has been going like that for Harsh .. He is still only twenty, and he does not complain -- but let us stop this yakketi-yakking about Harsh and his so-called "not showing promise" thing .. He has done whatever he could, going back and finishing highschool last year and making it to college in the US, as he saw easily that he was not in anybody's plans in India and that he had to make do with what he can - and he has done well, finishing the year ranked #84 in the colleges as the 7th highest ranked freshman, and the freshman of the year in his collegiate region .. No basis in saying that "despite training in the US, he has not shown promise", that the UNI report said today .. That is the kind of stuff that puts undue doubts and pressure on a player .. I know it was probably just an innocent line in the news story - it got me going nonetheless.
I hasten to add that I am not talking about Harsh as though he is the next Marcelo Rios or Lleyton Hewitt - that's not the point .. For all I know, he has limitations in his game .. He still does not serve as well as some think he can .. Though he is a bit short, his service action is smooth and he can put a bit more punch into his serve if he gets over this mental block that his arm would fall off with some injuries if he served any harder (:-)) as his mother Nirupama Mankad herself once said! (but his university coach has improved his serve a bit, I believe) .. We shouldn't forget that Harsh has the tennis and sports pedigree and very good tennis intelligence .. I am told he is among the better returners in India, and the timing on his groundies is among the sharpest among all Indian players, too .. He has pretty good temperament on court as well, never really getting too upset with bad calls and bad breaks .. He may have what it takes to go into the top-300 or 400, and beyond that it is all anybody's guess - and a lot depends on the mental side of the game and the drive and heart one shows .. He showed enough drive this year in college tennis and he generally is not one who folds easily - it would be nice to see some matches in these satellites where Harsh also develops a reputation like a Vishal Uppal, who is known to stay calm and fight till death every time - one of the most important qualities for winning tennis players!
Players should be treated fairly and on the merit of their results only, and on this count Harsh has never got a fair shake, in my view - and that's what makes me write about this again .. Hopefully we will avoid such things in the future .. But on the positive side though, all the junior players since Harsh have been treated nicely by AITA and our tennis circles, and Harsh has survived - so, perhaps this is all a non-issue .. I thought it wouldn't hurt to remind ourselves the mistakes of the past so that it can be avoided in the future .. Bottom-line results are what counts, and whoever produces from among the juniors should get help .. And we should stop the habit of making too much out of one or two wins (or losses), but look at the overall performance and the number of quality wins our players are picking up. As for Harsh, I am hopeful that he could at least repeat the #4 finish he had a year back in the satellites - but that depends on who else is in the field, and some of the foreign players this time are unknowns at this point except for Udomchoke and Thornadtsson .. I have similar hope for Vishal Uppal, who has warmed a lot of hearts with that tremendous show of heart in the Davis Cup doubles .. I am looking at how high he could finish this time - many think that he has improved a lot in the last year or two.
Not much news to report, and I was in a mood to write today, as an innocent line in the agency news article caught my attention! -- Sorry to bore everyone with my self-styled pontification! :-) .. I am sure Harsh would rather prefer me not bring up his name yet again here, but I couldn't help it, as his career has been a nice case-study that appeals to my academic bent of mind! ..
June 5 Note-1
Rain played havoc again today at the French Open, and a lot of matches are postponed to Tuesday .. They still have not scheduled the 3rd round mixed doubles match for Leander .. That should be on wednesday now.
There were only two main draw singles matches today at the Mumbai (first) leg of the $25K ITF men's satellites today .. It seems the referee accommodated all the eight qualifiers who wanted to get a day of break (they had played a match on saturday and two on Sunday to qualify) .. So, twleve of the matches are scheduled for Tuesday .. Six first round doubles matches were done today .. 4th seed Harsh Mankad defeated Vijay Kannan, 64 62 and 6th seed Sandeep Kirtane easily beat young CS Mohanty, 61 60 ..
I have added all the results, including the complete official qualifying results at our Mumbai satellite page .. There seems to be a couple of good foreign players who have come through the qualies .. Sometimes, there are such surprises, who may be talented players making their first breaks in a satellite .. Two good players, Ajay Ramaswami and Akshay Jagdale, went down to a Alexei Gavrilov from Russia, in the qualies - he has to be a good player .. In doubles main draw action today, Gavrilov and Sikanov upset Fulcher and Vijay Kannan, also .. Kirtane-Panja, Mankad-Ramaswami, and Ghouse-Uppal reached QF today.
I am awaiting news to see if Niru, Fazal and Manisha are playing this week anywhere .. By the way, one fanclub member wrote to me asking why I was trying to justify Fazal and Srinath missing the Indian satellites .. In his view, it was a bad decision by both to lose so many points, as that will mess up their plans to enter other tournaments .. Actually, I was not trying to justify it or anything - I was just guessing that they may have basically "had it" playing the satellites .. It is perhaps not a prudent idea not to pick up points from the satellites, which both of them have found much easier to do than to find points at futures and challengers .. On the other hand, they may have decided that they are just going to take that risk and are going to fight it out in the next level, somehow - at a certain stage, many tennis players take such a decision, though it's normally when they think "it's now or never" - I have no indication that either Fazal or Srinath has reached that stage, though .. Even in that case, however, it may have been prudent to keep the easier points in the kitty for the next 5-6 months before jumping into the deep waters, so to say .. Again, I don't know what their reasonings are, and I don't want to misrepresent them .. Just making my guesses, that's all .. We will know, when we see where they play and how well they do from now on .. I suspect that both have enough of fire left in them still to prove themselves at the next level.
.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on June 5 ..
I am getting some enquiries 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 enquiring 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 enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.