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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on June 13, 2005
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June 13 Notes

Update 3:  Wow, what a match .. Harsh went toe to toe all through the 3rd set, holding serve while behind 6 times (coming back from 0-30 at 4-5 and serving it  off at love at 5-6 to send it to a tiebreaker etc .. But he was unable to convert one BP each that he had in games 5 and 7 .. In the tiebreaker, one minibreak at 2-3 proved to be the difference .. HM saved two match points one his serve at 3-6 and 4-6 but could not save the 3rd match pt  off Carlsen's serve .. 67(5) 64 67(5) loss in a two hour 40 minutes marathon .. Actually Harsh won 114 points to 112 by Carlsen .. It was incredible to see Harsh's nerves of steel late in the 3rd set .. You can see my point by point score transcript in the forum thread .. 5 aces and 5 DFs by Mankad, 3 and 5 by KC .. 2 of 5 in BPs by KC, 3 of 10 by HM .. 63 percent on first serves by HM, and he won 75% of those points .. 62 percent first serves by KC who won 76% of those .. They both won 33% of the receiving points .. The stats are almost identical between the two today .. Amazing match against a #52 ranked player.  Harsh is certainly playing top-100 tennis these days.

Update 2:  Mankad is in an incredible barn-burner against #52 Kenneth Calsen .. 67(5) 64 00 all even going to the 3rd and the match is an hour and 40 minutes old .. Come to chat!

Update 1:  The Harsh Mankad match starts 45 minutes earlier than expected, as the previous match finished fast .. Starts in 10 minutes at 3.15 pm there (7.45 pm India, 10.15 am NY) .. Come to the chatroom!

At the Nottingham ATP, Harsh Mankad's big first round match against Kenneth Carlsen (DEN,52) is scheduled for about 4 pm  (8.30 pm India, 11 am New York) .. We will have live point-by-point score updates at the chatroom .. Please come in and cheer the Indian #1 to a big upset, folks!

The Wimbledon women's qualies draw will be out later today .. Hoping to see Shikha Uberoi with a nice draw .. .

June 12 Notes

Terrific news from Nottingham!!!  .. Harsh Mankad just became the first Indian in 4 years to qualify through three rounds of qualies into an ATP event abroad, as he made it into the $375K "" ATP in Nottingham !!! .. Actually the first one other than LP to do it 7 years since MB qualified into Wimbledon in 98 .. Harsh had to beat two guys in the qualies who had caused 2 of only 6 losses he has had in 32 matches in UK this year - Richard Bloomfield (GBR,360) and Nathan Healey (AUS,270), two guys who play much better grass tennis than their rankings show .. The latter had even beaten Harsh in straight sets just 10 days back - one of only 2 losses in 17 grass matches this year for Harsh .. So, it was a big revenge match against Healey today, when it counted a lot -- of course, Harsh came through beautifully .. [Q3] (3) H.Mankad (IND,253) d. Nathan Healey (AUS,270), 63 36 61 .. Minor hiccup in the second set, where a late break caused him to drop the set .. Apparently an ace by Mankad at break point was misjudged by the linesman, according to our own Samarth who was in the stands .. According to another eyewitness account, this match was superb, both guys displaying top notch shot-making .. In the main draw tomorrow, Harsh plays Kenneth Carlsen (DEN,53) .. Not an easy match, though 32 year old Carlsen who made a big comeback in the last couple of years, seems to be on a losing streak for now.

Here are some stats of how well Harsh has done in UK this year in 8 weeks --
The record against British players in Britian -- 13-2
The only British player he has played and not beaten this year in Britian -- Mathew Smith.
Total points from UK -- 39 (in 4 weeks) + 22 + 8 + 3 + 10 => 82 points from 8 weeks.
Harsh's record on grass this year = 15-2 (hey, Isn't he supposed to have no clue on grass, if we believe the Indian experts?)
The only player he has played and not beaten on grass in 17 matches this year -- #88 Marcos Baghdatis
Those are some impressive numbers .. By the way, by qualifying into Nottingham, Harsh took himself out of the running for a spot in the Wimbledon qualies starting tomorrow .. The cut did drop a few more spots today, but I believe as the draw is right now being made for Wimbledon Q, Harsh finished 2 out from the cut ..  So he took the right decision in going to Nottingham .. More importantly, he did a great job in not thinking ahead to the Wimbledon Q options and focusing down on the job at Nottingham.

It was announced that we will play the Davis Cup world group playoff against Sweden on grass courts at Delhi at the RK Khanna stadium .. I really hope that AITA would do something about getting a challenger organized in the week before .. Not necessarily on grass though that would be great too (that would have to be away from RKK which has only one grass court) .. Getting our players all together a week ahead of the swedes is the best thing we can do .. I also feel that Leander, if he has any plans to play singles, MUST play that challenger .. He should not make the mistake of assuming that he can keep doing what he has done many times - which is to go in with 4 days of singles practice and beat people .. It becomes tougher and tougher .. If he puts in one extra week of singles practice, he could still beat some top players on grass .. Those like Harsh, Prakash and Rohan can all do well on grass too .. Let us hope we would do everything we can to give ourselves the advantage .. But I repeat that AITA should try to get a challenger to India in the week before Davis Cup.

Mahesh Bhupathi had some injury problem yesterday, as MB and Todd Woodbridge had to retire at 57 00 to Roger Federer and Yves Allegro .. Mahesh just told me that it was a herniatd disk that caused some back pain .. Said he should be fine in a week or so .. That is good news for Wimbledon .. Get well soon, Hesh.

Vivek Shokeen's fine run came to an end yesterday at the ITF grade-1 in Offenback, Germany, as he went down in the semis 16 46 to Jochn Schottler (GER,46) who had beaten him earlier at the French Open .. A fine job in GHermany by Vovek, nonetheless.

As for Sania's loss yesterday, I am a little peeved at all the newspaper reports in India talking about "disappointment" and all that .. Come on .. Everybody needs to take a deep breath and get with the program on how the WTA tour is .. The margin of error is not much when you are playing a top-75 player .. Tammi tanasugarn was ranked ahead of Sania and is a former top-30 player .. Not for nothing is she ranked that high .. For instance, yesterday wehn Sania was up 61 41 and everybody was celebrating a sure win in our chatroom, I looked at how her first serve was going lately .. She had just gone 7 of 26 in getting her first serve in, from late in the first set .. I smelled trouble and said that we should wait just a bit longer and see if she would hold serve at 5-2 .. Sure enough she dropped serve and opened a small crack in the door for Tammi .. That is all you need to los a match against a top-75 player .. Sania's main problem yesterday was that her serve was on and off throughout the match .. She was still blitzkrieging Tammi, but once the adrenaline flows close to a win (at the 5 match points she had) and your toss is not perfect or you are too excited, small mistakes happen which an experinced player like her opponent knows how to exploit .. That is why we keep saying that everybody should leave Sania alone and let her improve at her own pace .. The expectations that she will walk out there and win over top-75 players every time is all wrong .. She is not there just yet .. The postive yesterday was that she once again showed that she has the game to simply pummel a top-75 player into submission ..That does not mean that she is well-rounded and consistent enough just yet .. Give her a bit more time ..

June 11 Note-2

Yikes .. Sania just lost a match she just shouldn't have, after having 5 match points, 2 in the 2nd set and three more in the 3rd set .. Lost 61 67(6) 57 to Tanasugarn .. Details later, as I am too upset to type now.

We needed some good  news .. And Harsh Mankad to the rescue! .. He is in the final round of qualies, with a 75 63 win over Richard Bloomfield (GBR,360) who had beaten Harsh 4 months back once .. Two wins today by Harsh who is now at the footstep of only the 3rd ATP event main draw of his career.

India decided to play the Davis Cup at the RK Khanna stadium on grass courts .. Thinking outside the box is never our forte, and so I expected nothing else.

More later.

June 11 Note-1

Sania Mirza plays the qualifying first round against #64 Tammi Tanasugarn in 15 minutes, as I type (at 4 pm UK, 8.30 pm India) .. The touornament gives online score updates; so we are meeting in the chatroom .. Come on down.

I have not got the scores, and know only the results so far from the Nottingham ATP qualies .. Harsh Mankad beat Jamie Murray, but Prakash was upset by Martin Lee (GBR), and Mustafa lost to the 6th seed Jan Vacek (CZE) .. Harsh plays Richard Bloomfield of Britian in the second round soon today.

Earlier today, Rohan Bopanna, obviously not as sharp as he would like to be, at the end of so many matches, went down 46 63 46 to Peter Clarke at the Gurgaon satellite final .. Clarke had some cramp problems late in the third set and took a break, but Rohan made too many errors right after that, loding the final two games even though Clarke was not too mobile .. Rohan reportedly did not look tired, but what happens is that it is very very difficult to keep focus when one plays so many matches (some 17 including singles and doubles in the last 13 days!) .. Rohan still has 36 points and leads the field, way ahead of everybody else ..

June 10 Notes

Mahesh and Todd got a QF walkover yesterday at the Halle ATP from Kiefer and Waske .. They play Yves Allegro and Roger Federer tomorrow in the semis.

Sania, Harsh, Prakash and Mustafa have all signed in for qualies at the British grasscourt events during this weekend.  At the $585K Tier-II "Hastings Direct" WTA at Eastbourne, UK, Sania Mirza (IND,75) is drawn to face Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA,64) in the Q1 round tomorrow at about 4.30 pm .. At the $325K "" ATP at Nottingham, Harsh Mankad (IND,253) is the third seed in the qualifying rounds, facing wildcard Jamie Murray (GBR,1259) in the first round .. Prakash Amritraj (IND,316) is the 8th seed and he plays Martin Lee (GBR,640) in the Q1 .. Mustafa Ghouse gets Jan Vacek (CZE,281) .. All four of them play tomorrow there.

Harsh Mankad decided to go and play the Nottingham qualies, as he is still a few spots out from the Wimbledon qualies cut .. Unfortunately, as I said before, Harsh's rank had fallen temporasrily from #255 to #279 just in the week when the qualies entry list was made.  He immediately went back #253 but that rank is of use only for a sign-in alternate entry if there are no-shows .. The cut drropped a few spots from #255 to #269 now .. Harsh is still 8 spots out .. Doubtful that he would make it directly, and so he is playing the Nottingham qualies .. If he does not lose the qualifying rounds by Sunday 6 pm, he will be taken out from the waiting list and he is not allowed to play the Wiumbledon qualies that starts on monday .. If he loses in the qualifying rounds at Nottingham, he can either make it in direct if the cut falls, or he can sign in and wait for a couple of no-shows in the qualies.  Let us see what happens.

At the $25K+H Barcelona challenger, the 3rd seeds Mustafa Ghouse and Daniel Kiernan (GBR) went down in the QF yesterday to Marcus Fornell and Javier Genrao-Martinez of Spain, 60 46 46.

At the $25K Seoul challenger, the Bhambri sisters went down today in the doubles SF to the second seeds Maki Arai and Eun-Jeong Lee (KOR), 46 46 .. They had beaten Rushmi Chakravarthi and Napaporn Tongsalee (THA), 61 75 in the QFs yestrday .. Ankita wentd own in singles 16 16 to Kyung-Yee Chae (KOR) in the QF earlier, according to ITF's website, but there is also a report from two different sources that she had lost in the second round to Maki Arai .. I am not sure of that.  The sisters and Rushmi will be at the $25K Inchon challenger in Korea next week ..

At the $25K Allentown challenger in Pennsylvania (USA), qualifiers Megha Vakharia and Jnnifer Tuchband had a very good 63 75 upset of the 5th highest ranked team in the field, Tetiana Luzhanska (UKR) and Aneta Soukup (CAN) yesterday, but they fell today to the 4th seeds Sarah Riske (USA) and Aleke Tsoubanos, 36 36.

At the $10K ITF event in Nazare, Portugal, 3rd seed Punam Reddy went down in the second round to Ana Salas of Spain, who has now reached the SF .. I have not seen the score of the R2 match ..

At the Gurgaon satellites second leg, Rohan Bopanna is again in the final .. Today he had a tough win over Vinod Sridhar in three sets in the semis .. He faces Peter Clarke, a 25 year old Irish player who had once been near top-225 .. Clarke has upset 2nd seed Vijay Kannan and 5th seed Stephen  Mitchell in the last two rounds .. Rohan and Vijay won the doubles title today .. See the Gurgaon satellite leg-2 page.

Excellent work at the grade-1 Offenback clay ITF junior in German, by the top seed Vivek Shokeen .. He beat Hans Podlipnik (CHI,192), 64 62 today in the QF .. He had beaten Victor Schmid (GER,201), 64 46 76(5) in a barn-burner yesterday ..  This is only the second semifinal in a top graded European clay event by any of our kids that I remember - at least in some 8 years or more .. Karan had reached the semi at the Frankfurt grade-1 two years back .. Several of our players have gone to europe and been seeded in many many clay junior events, but only twice has anybody reached a semi .. Great job, Vivek !! .. He now runs into Jochen Schottler (GER,46) who had beaten him in the first round at Roland Garros in a tight 3-setter last week.

June 9 Notes

At the $25K+H challenger in Barcelona, Spain, Mustafa Ghouse and Daniel Kiernan (GBR), seeded third, advanced to the QF yesterday with a 76(5) 76(8) win over a wildcard pair, Jose Checa-Calvo (ESP) and Marcus Sarstrand (SWE) .. Their next match is against Marc Fornell and Javier Genaro-Martinez in the evening today.

At the grade-1 ITF juniors in Offenbach, Germany (on clay), the second seed Sanam Singh won the second round against Marc Meigel (GERR,236), 63 57 62, but then fell in the PQF against Luka Belic (CRO,195) in a 36 46 match .. Top seed Vivek Shekeen beat Paul Puscacu (ROM,209), 76(3) 64 in the R2 .. Haven't seen his score from the PQF against Victor Schmid (GER,201) .. In doubles, our boys are seeded first with an R1 bye .. They play an Australian pair, Brydan Klein and Joel Lindner, in the PQF round .. I believe Vivek is playing the PQF today. 

June 8 Notes

Pretty good win by Ankita Bhambri to reach the QF of the $25K challenger in Seoul, but Sanaa Bhambri could not sustain the fine form from the big upset in the first round there .. Ankita won 75 64 over Maki Arai (JPN,582) who had upset the top seed Hisamatsu (#194) in the first round .. Sanaa lost to fellow qualifier Kyung-Yee Chae (KOR,792), 36 16 .. Ankita now gets a chance to  exact some revenge for her younger sister, against Chae .. In the first round of doubles, Rushmi Chakravarthi and Napaporn Tongsalee (THA) upset the 4th seeds Jin-Hee Kim and Kyung-Mi Chang of Korea, 64 64 .. The Bhambri sisters won a tough 75 36 62 doubles match over Hiroko Komori and Tomoko Sugano of Japan .. The sisters now lock horns with Rushmi and Napapron in the QF ..

At the $10K in Nazare, Portugal, 17 year old Punam Reddy (IND,572), seeded third, beat unranked 16 year old qualifier Jenny Saarnilinna (FIN), 75 64  to reach the second round, where she will play a 33 year old, Ana Salas-Lozano (ESP,735) .. In the doubles main draw Punam and Elena Gancheva (BUL) play Stefanie Boffa (SUI) and Florencia Molinero (ARG) in the first round ..

At the Gurgaon satellites, 4th Vishal Uppal, reportedly having injury probolems, went down in the second round, but Vinod Sridhar had a very nice straight set win against last week's runner-up Prima Simpatiaji (INA) .. Rohan Bopanna is still in cruise mode .. Bofors is a big class aprt from the rest of the players in this circuit and only his getting tired after day after day of matches could really cause a loss for him there .. Vijay Kannan got a tough fight from Navdeep Singh in three sets but advan ced to the QF .. The nice runs ended for youngsters Vishnu Vardhan and Vijay Sundar Prashanth, but both have done very well so far in the circuit .. See the Gurgaon-2 satellite page for all the scores.

At the grade-1 ITF juniors on clay at Offenbach in Germany, Vivek Shokeen (IND,32) is the top seed and Sanam Singh (IND,38) is the second seed .. Both advanced to the round of 32 yesterday .. Vivek won a 63 62 match against Leander Van Der Vaart (NED,138) and Sanam won 64 36 63 over Andrei Pltnyi (RUS,273) .. Vivek takes on Paul-Mihai Puscasu (ROM,209) and Sanam plays Marc Meigel (GER,236) in the R2 .. Not sure why Jeevan did not go to this tournament .. I assume he will be in the grass events in UK over the next three weeks ending with the Wimbledon juniors.

June 7 Notes

Sania went down today against Jelena Jankovic (SCG,20), 16 57 in the second round at the $200K DFS classic WTA in Birmingham .. Even the first set, where she could not convert about three break points and ended up dropping serve two times, the match was not as one-sided as the scoreline looked.  In the second set, Sania broke and went ahead in the first game, but immediately dropped serve once more .. Then she broke Jelena once more in the 7th game to ghho ahead, but once again dropped serve immediately .. At that point, one statistic said what was really going wrong.  Sana had won only 7 points off her 19 first serves ..  Her first serve percentage was in the 40 to 45% range for the whole match, but when you are winning only that few on first serves, it adds to the problem .. To me it seemed like a case where Jelena was making use of her first serve and taking charge in the points, which rquired some sort of adjustment .. Just when we were discussing that in the forum, we found that Sania was winning a good number of first serve points .. In fact she won 8 of the points off the last 10 good first serves in the match .. About five of those points were when she was facing match points, one after another in the 10th and 12th games of the second set .. She saved 5 match points at 4-5 to hold serve and even it at 5-5 .. Saved one more at 15-40 in the 12th game but then fell .. I hope Sania has figured out what exactly jelena was exploting, becaus it will come in handy later .. I am glad she is  getting to play all these top-50 players .. That is exactly what you need to make adjustments in the game .. The serve mechanics was recently adjusted once more by Bob Brett, from what I understand, and perhaps some of the problems were from getting used to it .. Little things are enough for a top player to take advantage of .. Anyway, not a bad week, as she picked up some 12 points and she seems to be getting close to decent match shape now .. Let us hope for the best at Wimbledon .. I think she is playing at Eastbourne next week, but I still have not seen an entry list for that event to comfirm that she is in the main draw.

At the Halle WTA, Mahesh celebrated his 31st borthday (Happy B'Day Hesh!) with a first round win .. 63 64 win for MB and Woodbridge against Juilen Knowle and Jurgen Melzer .. There is a great match report (as usuall!) from our own Florian Buechting in the forum ..

It was great day for the Bhambri sisters at the $25K Seoul women's challenger .. Qualifier Sanaa Bhambri (IND,509) pulled off one of her biggest wins in the pro circuit, upsetting the 5th seed Ayami Takase (JPN,274) 46 64 75 .. Fellow qualifier Ankita Bhambri (IND,503) also won her first round, in a mild upset over Thassha Vitayaviroj (THA,453) in a close encounter, 16 75 76(5) .. Ankita now runs into the top seed Shiho Hisamatsu (JPN,194) [correction: Shiho was upset by Maki Arai in the R1] and Sanaa faces a qualifier, Qyung Yee Chae (KOR,792) who had beaten yet another qualifier in the R1 .. The Bhambri sisters play the Japanese pair, Hiroko Komori and Tomoko Sugano in the first round of doubles, while Rushmi Chakravarthi and Napaporn Tongsalee (THA) face play the 4th seeded Korean pair,  Jin-Hee Kim and Kyung-Mi Chang .. Yesterday, the 8th seeded Rushmi (IND,347) had lost to Akiko Yonemura (JPN,425), 63 16 46 ..

An odd and very surprising result from Megha Vakharia today at the $25K Allentown challenger qualies in the US .. Seeded 10th, she lost the second and final round of qualifying by a 60 61 score to the 7th seed Aleke Tsoubanos (USA,606) .. I am not sure what went wrong - I hope Megs is not injured .. She is 3rd in line for an LL spot and two LL's have made it in .. Hope she would also make it in tomorrow .. Meghaa is in the doubles draw with Jennifer Tuchband (USA) .. They play Tetiana Luzhanska (UKR) and Aneta Soukup (CAN) in the first round.

Some new young names continue to do well at the Indian satellites .. 18 year old Vijay Sundar Prashanth had another nice win, as he beat qualifier Luke Cambell of Britian .. 17 year old Vishnu Vardhan also reached the second round, easily beating experinced Anjan Viplav .. Rohan, Vijay, Vishal, Vinod, etc have all won .. See the Gurgaon satellite-2 page for all the scores.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on June 6 ..

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