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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on June 15, 1998

(Previous week's notes) (Next week's Notes) (Daily Notes Index)

.. Sorry that this site was down for almost two days ..

Further updates are at the next week's notes (Link above).

June 16 Note-1

Sorry the website was down for almost two days ! .. Hold on .. Some news updates coming up in a few minutes .. LP to face Wayne Black at Wimbledon .. Draw just announced .. More coming soon .. 7.15 am PST Tuesday 16th ..

June 14 Note-2

I am told that the ATP site did post the doubles result a bit earlier today, before taking that page off (thanks, Raina Luk and Srikanth Voorkaranam), and so we now know that LP/MB won the QF over Doug Flach and Greg Van Emburgh, 6-4, 6-0, and then lost the semis to Bjorkman/Rafter, 1-6, 6-7 (12) .. It looks like another match where the experienced doubles veterans made LP/MB make adjustments, which perhaps were late and fell short. The good sign is that in these matches, our guys do seem to make the comebacks, pointing to the hopeful aspect that they are learning from it and will start making things work soon (the "surprise factor" that our guys' style presented to the veterans is no longer there; they all know each others' games well enough, and the Indian Express has the work cut out for them to start outsmarting these few who have been able to beat them lately .. Bjorkman twice in a row, once with Eltingh at the Australian Open semi and this, and Eltingh thrice in a row, the other two times with Haarhuis .. ).

As for rankings, LP/MB will fall to #3 behind the Woodies, regardless of the outcome of the final at Queen's. The individual rankings will all remain the same, but Bjorkman has cut the gap between him at #7 and LP at #6 a bit. A title would place him just a few points behind LP .. LP/MB get 92 points from here and becomes the 3rd team to go over 2000 points this year (by the way, about 2200 points normally puts a team in the Hartford draw, so our guys are pretty much already in it !)..

..But none of it matters now. All that matters is Wimbledon. Win that title and we can safely call LP/MB the #1 team in the world. They have some work to do still. They still have not shown enough on the grass (no titles bigger than challengers on grass yet .. Queen's last year was one win and out, Wimbledon was a first round loss, and this is the 3rd tournament ), but all will be forgotten if they do the magic at the Big-W !!! ... Go LP/MB  !! ..

Looks like LP has a rest week now .. MB should be in the Wimbledon qualies.. Later.

June 14 Note-1

The tournament desk at Stella Artois gets my award for the most unhelpful (and shall I say, clueless, too) place among all the ATP tournament info desks, in my experience. First, those in UK seem to have no idea what internet is (notice that Stella Artois and next week's Nottingham are two of the very few tournaments with no websites and score updates) .. and then, when the good old phone based information is attempted, you get clueless sounds from the other end.. Anyway, The Woodies and Bjorkman/Rafter are in the finals of the doubles .. That is all they could find after shouting across the room to passers-by .. I assume LP/MB lost in either the QF or the SF today, but we will just have to wait to find out .. Is there a pressbox to contact ? .. No, you are talking to the press box, they say .. Frustrating inefficiency .. The sun never sets over the British, they say, right ? .. Yeah, may be they need to lower the window blinds and get some sleep .. might help in removing some of that rudeness and cluelessness :-) .. just kidding ..  There actually was a woman a couple of days back who was very nice, so I guess it was just the people there today and yesterday who have been pretty weird.

I think the Woodies have a chance to move up ahead of LP/MB to the #2 spot if the win this, but I have to see the actual results to figure that out. Will know by this evening in the US.

Scott Draper (Australia) and Laurence Tieleman (Italy)were in the singles finals and Draper won it, today. An amazing run by Tieleman, ranked below 200 ..

June 13 Note-3

Well.. It rained again today after a couple of hours of play, and that means another delay .. Only the two prequarterfinal matches and one quarterfinal match were completed. Doug Flach and Greg Van Embergh beat Ken Carlsen and Tomas Enqvist and will play LP/MB in the quarterfinals tomorrow .. Galbraith/Steven beat Black/Lareau in the only QF match today, to reach the semis. That's it .. I don't see any way for them to complete the doubles without pushing it all to Monday now. Woodforde still has to finish the singles semifinal which was suspended when he was down 3-6, 2-5 to Scott Draper ..

June 13 Note-2

Our guys took just 42 minutes to roll over Henman and Sampras this morning, 6-1, 6-1 ! .. Here are some excerpts from a Press report at the Sporing Life Online that just came up, which talks about Henman and how Rusedski's bad injury yesterday after slipping on the turf might have affected Henman's play in this match (yeah, excuses, excuses!) : The world number 18, who was knocked out of the singles quarter-finals last night by Italian qualifier Laurence Tieleman, failed to raise his game sufficiently alongside Sampras to upset second seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes ... Even the unlikely sight of a waitress arriving on court to serve them steaming cups of hot chocolate during the second set failed to lift their fortunes as they were comprehensively beaten 6-1, 6-1 in just 41 minutes ... Indians Bhupathi and Paes clearly gave notice of the problems they are likely to cause Britain when the two countries meet in the Davis Cup at Nottingham in September ... Yet Henman and Sampras were clearly not stretching themselves fully in the doubles match and the British number two revealed afterwards that they had been "pretty cautious." ... He said: "The main purpose was to come out of that match unscathed on a wet court with the conditions so cold after what had happened to Greg yesterday. It would have been different if I had been playing singles as that is a lot more important". .. Do we see a bit of arrogance in all that ? .. Like they really had much of a chance ! Ha ! :-) ..

But really, I amd sure Henman/Sampras could give our guys a better game, though. After all, they did beat Knowles/Nestor in the first round in 3 sets ..

The other round-16 match is not done yet, so our guys' opponents for QF aren't determined yet. They might play the QF later on in the evening..

June 13 Note-1

OK, the situation is considerably cleared up at Queen's going into the weekend .. The singles semifinals to be played today (saturday) are, Byron Black vs Mark Woodforde, and Scott Draper vs Roger Tieleman .. The doubles draw looks like this:

  1-T. Woodbridge (AUS)/ M. Woodforde (AUS) vs 8-S. Stolle (AUS)/ C. Suk (CZE)      \
  4-P. Galbraith (USA)/ B. Steven (NZL)     vs 5-W. Black (ZIM)/ S. Lareau (CAN)    /
  3-J. Bjorkman (SWE)/ P. Rafter (AUS)      vs Q-A. Clement (FRA)/ J. Golmard (FRA) \
Final-16                                                                           /
WC-K. Carlsen (SWE)/ T. Enqvist (SWE) vs  Q-D. Flach (USA)/ G. Van Emburgh (USA) \/
 2-M. Bhupathi (IND)/ L. Paes (IND)   vs WC-T. Henman (GBR)/ P. Sampras (USA)    /

All 4 seeds are alive in the QF in the upper half of the draw, and only 2 seeds remain in the lower half .. It looks like the dynamic duo will finally play their first match today, and if they advance, the quarterfinal also .. Considering that Woodforde will be a playing the singles match also, they will probably only schedule the doubles quarterfinals today .. They would then schedule the doubles semifinals and probably the finals also tomorrow ..

June 12 Note-2

This is getting to be very strange .. They played the remaining 3 first round matches and also 6 of the 8 second round matches today.. But the Indian Express still has not had a chance to play ! .. The final-16 match to determine their QF opponents also hasn't been played .. The Woodies played their match and have advanced to the QF, beating Kempers/Oosting easily (Woodforde played two singles matches and a doubles match today, and won all three !!.. Woodbridge played a singles match also but lost there).. I have no earthly idea what the schedule is going to be. I hope our guys will get to play tomorrow (Saturday).

June 12 Note-1

It is Friday evening at Queen's and still no news about our dudes' doubles match .. Sampras lost earlier today in singles, 6-3, 6-2 to Woodforde, but Henman beat Ivanisevic, 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-4 in the prequarterfinals. They have currently scheduled 4 quarterfinal singles matches also for today (Byron Black has already won his second match of the day to advance to the semis !) .. If Henman is going to play his second match now, I am not sure when/how they will play that doubles match against our guys .. They certainly can't push the doubles final-16 matches to saturday, I would presume .. Are we talking walkover here ? .. We will see.

June 11 Notes

Oh, this is a boring, boring week of tennis .. Nothing happens.. And it keeps raining in the land of fish and chips .. They did get a good number of singles matches done today but there was another rain disruption and only 5 doubles matches were played.

Looks like the LP/MB doubles match was not played even today. I saw scores of 5 matches, which leaves about 3 mor of the first round matches still to be played. Both Sampras and henman are in the 3rd round of singles and will be playing tomorrow, so I am not sure what they are going to do (actually the tourney folks are trying to get a few of the singles players to play 3rd and 4th round tomorrow.. good luck to them !) .. It is all messed up out there and apparently they will extend matches into Monday.

It appears that Kulti/Tillstrom (the 7th seeds, in the 1/8th draw of LP/MB) have withdrawn and were replaced by Andre Sa and Maurice Ruah who lost today to wildcards Carlsen and Enqvist .. So the immediate draw (of round 2 matches) is:

WC-K. Carlsen (SWE)/ T. Enqvist (SWE)  vs   Q-D. Flach (USA)/ G. Van Emburgh (USA) \_ to SF
 2-M. Bhupathi (IND)/ L. Paes (IND)    vs  WC-T. Henman (GBR)/ P. Sampras (USA)    /

Now, if only they could play some of these matches ! .. The Woodies have also not played yet (actually none of the 4 seeded teams have played, as second round has not started yet..). At the other grasscourt tournament, at Halle, Germany, the top seeds Eltingh/Haarhuis got upset in the first round by Fredrick Bergh and Sander Groen today which ended the Flying Dutchmen's 22 match win streak .. The second seeds there, Ferreira/Leach, have reached the semis.

June 10 Note-2

Play was pretty much all washed out today at Stella Artois .. The LP/MB vs Henman/Sampras match is now scheduled for tomorrow (thursday), and apparently will be a late evening match after Henman and Sampras get done with their singles matches. This tournament is in serious scheduling trouble now. A 56-draw tournament does not have too much of slack time, and losing 2 days to rain basically messes things up totally.. They may even have to go into Monday to finish the doubles if any player reaches the semis of both singles and doubles ! .. the tournament may have to extend to Monday anyway for that matter, as 5 rounds of singles still remain to be played (it is not normal to schedule two singles matches in a day for any player). No other news today.

June 10 Note-1

Henman/Sampras upset the FO finalists, Knowles/Nestor, 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-3 yesterday .. So LP/MB face those two in the second round of doubles, after their first round bye.. No chance for a revenge match with the guys who beat LP/MB last week .. I don't know if Henman/Sampras are serious about doubles here, but they have played together a few times before and should be expected to be a pretty tough pair on grasscourts .. Should be a fun match. Not sure when it will be played, as Henman and Sampras are playing their second round singles today. Will be either late tonight or tomorrow.

As for LP's singles, things are up in the air again, as he does not have a direct entry at Rosmalen for next week (the entry cut-off is #87 right now, and I expect there to be a few people ahead of him based on the rankings a few weeks back), and he will have to play qualifiers, which is uncertain, depending on how LP/MB do in doubles this weekend (last year they lost at Queen's in the second round to the Woodies, and LP went and qualified at Rosmalen over the weekend) .. There is also the Nottingham ATP open in England .. I am not sure LP had applied for entry there anyway (as Rosmalen is his preferred place), which means he will have to play qualifiers there too, which he may not be able to .. There are a couple of challengers next week, but they are meant for the Spaniard and the other clay-loving players who want to play on clay even if it is the week before Wimbledon .. Most of them go to Wimbledon as an obligatory gesture and do not want to play on grass even a minute more than they have to (heck, guys like Berasategui just skipped the big show and went to a clay challenger last year !) .. Anyway, I doubt if LP will want to play on clay at the Zagreb or Braunscweig challengers next week. So, basically he will be looking at possibly not being able to defend any of the 43 points he has in these two weeks (from Queen's and Rosmalen last year) .. He will get his chance at Wimbledon .. I have this feeling that this is LP's year to finally do some serious damamge out at Wimbledon .. He played there the last two years and lost in the first round both times, surprising everyone who always think that should be his favorite grand slam surface (he has moved on past first round in 4 of the other 5 grand slams he has played last, but at at the big W !) .. He can easily get those 40+ points back and more, at Wimbledon, but two weeks get possibly lost right now .. It was an important match to win yesterday, against Stafford, as he would have had players ranked 150 or below in the next two rounds .. I guess these things happen.

Saw the complete results from the Tallahassee USA F4 last week .. The guy that beat Syed Fazaluddin in the second round, the 13th seed Egberto Caldas (who SF had beaten the week before in the USA F3 second round) went on to upset the 2nd and 3rd seeds and win 5 rounds to reach the final where he lost to the top seed Cecil Mamiit .. Anyway, Fazal hasn't had any bad losses yet and has pulled a couple of upsets so far in the two USA Futures he played, though he got only one point from all that (his ranking has gone up a few spots to 684 this week). Fazal and Manuel Jorquera won a round in doubles at the USA F4, and then lost. Nitin Kirtane and Amod Wakalkar were also at Tallahassee, Florida, and played doubles together, but lost in the first round. There are no futures in the USA this week, so I think Fazal is taking a break before proceeding to canada next week for the Futures (at Toronto, I believe) ..

June 9 Note-2

Oh, what a pity .. The whole draw had just got cleared up for three rounds with Nydahl losing, and Martin getting upset .. LP could have really kicked some butt here, but he too lost, though in a hard-fought three-setter to his old nemesis, Grant Stafford .. 3-6, 7-5, 4-6 .. So, that is that !

June 9 Note-1

Cedric Pioline withdrew yesterday from the Stella Artois tournament, due to ill-health after dehydration in Paris last week.. He was replaced by the lucky loser, Brian MacPhie (#152, USA), who is doubly lucky as he moves into a spot with a first round bye, sine Pioline was the 6th seed ! .. The draw became easier around Leander, that means ..

LL-Brian Macphie (FRA)  [152]      bye                       \
   Tomas Nydahl (SWE)   [ 96]  v Q-Max Mirnyi (BLR)    [296] / \
   Grant Stafford (RSA) [ 98]  v   Leander Paes (IND)  [114] \ /
11-Todd Martin (USA)    [ 30]  v Q-Ivo heuberger (SUI) [159] /

That is about as easy a draw for the first 3 rounds as Todd Martin could have hoped for in a 64-draw $750K tournament !.. Hope Leander can do the damage here, though .. LP's match has not started yet, but there seems to be no rain disruptions today, yet, and it should be starting soon..

June 8 Note-3

A little note to add to the news on on Divya Merchant in the last note .. A couple of fanclub members tell me that her dad is not the Vijay Merchant of cricket fame .. I had seen the name in a bio for Divya at the Univ of Florida archives. The name is indeed Vijay Merchant, but it's not the cricketer .. As it turns out, I didn't say he was the cricketer, but I had thought he was .. Hope that removes the confusion. I should have remembered that Vijay Merchant of course was from quite older days (he passed away in late 1980s in his mid 70s) .. Divya's dad is a businessman in Bombay, I am told.

June 8 Note-2

Major rain problems out at London .. Hey it's that jolly good country famous for fish and chips and rain , after all ..

Hardly much tennis today, and LP's match is postponed to tomorrow ..

The new rankings show LP at #114 in singles. MB is at #328 .. All the doubles rankings remain the same.

Nirupama remains at the same rankings (#167 in singles, #191 in doubles) this week. I noticed something in the WTA site's latest rank list .. Divya Merchant (remember her, playing last year for US-collegiate runner up, Univ of Florida, before graduating ? .. Vijay Merchant's daughter, 23 yr old, who was in the top 40 in world juniors about 5-6 years back before going to Florida ) has shown up in the list at #997 as the 8th Indian in the list .. The funny thing is that she is listed under Indonesia ! .. I assume this is a mistake, and she has to be under India .. WTA is known to make many mistakes in their printed rankings, including spelling mistakes and even country affiliations .. there is a player by the name of Eman Shahab who has been listed under India in doubles for a while, but nobody in the fanclub seems to know who that is! .. Perhaps that is an Indonesian player ! .. I don't know when and where Divya got the couple of points, but she must have played at least 3 WTA tournaments to get into the list (she is listed as a new entry, in the rank list) .. That is good news. When I last heard, last November, Divya Merchant was taking some time off after college and was to decide soon about whether to turn pro. If she has decided to take a stab at it, all the best to her ! ..

June 8 Note-1

LP's first round match against Grant Stafford at the Queen's Stella Artois is scheduled as the 4th one today, and has not started yet.

The doubles draw is out.. LP/MB are the #2 seeds behind the Woodies. Elt/Haarhuis are not playing at Queen's. Here is the bottom half of the draw.

6-N.Broad (GBR)/ P.Norval (RSA)     vs    D.Sapsford (GBR)/ C.Wilkinson (GBR) \
  qualifier/ qualiufier             vs WC-D.Vacek (CZE)/ K.Kucera (CZE)       /
  G.Stafford (RSA)/ K.Ullyett (RSA) vs    A.OBrien (USA)/ B.Black (ZIM)       \
3-J.Bjorkmn (SWE)/ P.Rafter (AUS)   vs    bye                                 /
7-N.Kulti (SWE)/ M.Tillstrom (SWE)  vs WC-K.Carlsen (SWE)/ T.Enqvist (SWE)    \
  K.Kinnear (USA)/ D.Randall (USA)  vs    qualifier/ qualifier                /
  M.Knowles (BAH)/ D.Nestor (CAN)   vs WC-T.Henman (GBR)/ P.Sampras (USA)     \
2-M.Bhupathi (IND)/ L.Paes (IND)    vs    bye                                 /

The Woodies have #4 Galbraith/Steven, #5 Black/OBrien and #8 Stolle/Suk on their side. The top-4 seeds get first round byes .. How about that potential second round revenge match for LP/MB against Knowles/Nestor ?? .. Yeah !

I have not seen the complete ATP singles rank list posted yet, but the top-50 doubles and team ranks are out. LP/MB stay at #5 and #6, pretty closely behind the Woodies at #3 and #4 .. The team rank is #2 behind Eltingh/Haarhuis. I expect Leander to drop to somewhere around 115 in singles, as his point total has come down by 21..

By the way, I haven't talked about Nirupama in a while .. She may have been at the Uzbekistan challenger last week, but I have not got any news for some time ..

June 7 Note-4

I am again getting some emails about Indians and "killer instinct" .. Not too many, and none from the fanclub, but a few people have this complex about Indian sportsmen and the lack of a so-called "killer blah-blah" .. It comes up every time LP/MB lose a match .. The three grand slam semis seem to tell them that LP/MB do not show that insinct business to take the next step .. The 10-1 record in finals or the "Egyptian Magician" shots do not seem to change this opinion .. So I decided to take a look at how the Woodies did in their first few grand slams to see if they had that instinct .. Here is their record: 1990: Woodbridege won the U.S. Open mixed doubles title (w/Liz Smylie), Woodforde playing well with John McEnroe. 1991: Woodies join, and win four doubles titles, and lose in SF at the ATP World Doubles Championship. SF loss at Australian Open, Early loss at Wimbledon, and SF loss at U.S. Open, finished the year at #3 (with pretty much a 100% record in all other finals) .. 1992: Eight doubles titles, Australian Open title, still no Wimbledon, but the title at the ATP Tour World Doubles Championship .. finished as No. 1 team in world .. 1993 - 1997: FIVE Wimbledon doubles titles in a row and 35+ more titles .. By the way, The Woodies have always had a winning percentage of 85 or more in the finals, throughout their career, despite the semifinals and other setbacks in grand slams at first .. See any similarities ?? .. Folks, experience is not to be taken lightly in doubles. Despite having learned a lot from the doubles guru, Johnny Mac, Woodforde took a little while to start winning the big ones with Woodbridge .. The Woodies themselves talked about LP/MB while at Madras, and their potential. There are still a chink or two in their armour, according to the Woodies, who expect them to figure them out soon. Give them a bit more time, and watch out for the Indian Express ! ..

Of course, keep the emails and other comments coming .. Always good to discuss these things.