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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on June 19, 2000

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June 19 Note-1

Srinath made it into the Wimbledon qualies .. He faces Niklas Kulti (SWE,224) in the first round .. He is placed in the same bracket as 11th seed Marcos Ondruska (RSA,144) and 21st seed Mikael Llodra (FRA,169) .. The second round is against the winner of Llodra and Mathew Breen .. 29 yr old Kulti is a tough opponent, not just because his ranking is higher than Srinath's, but because he is a very good grass player .. The qualies have started today .. They do the men's first round over two days .. Srinath plays the last match on court 4 today .. We will know scores in a few hours.

The women's qualifier sign-in ends by this evening and the draw will be known by tomorrow when they start the women's first round .. Niru was 4th in the waiting list when the original entry closed for about 210 spots in the main draw and qualies a few weeks back .. That means she must have made it in by now anyway.

The Delhi staellites have started today .. 4th seed Per Thornadtsson was upset in three sets by qualifier Gweneil Gueit (FRA), and Saurav Panja was upset by young wildcard Parantap Chaturvedi in three sets - other than that, I believe there were no upsets today .. I will update score as soon as I see them, at the Delhi satellites page.

June 18 Notes

#2 seeds Mahesh and Prinosil lost in the final today at the $975K grasscourt Gerry-Webber Open at Halle (Germany), to #3 seeds Tillstrom and Kulti, 67(4) 67(4) .. No details on the match, but it seems to have been a touch and go affair .. Prinosil had earlier won the singles title by eradicating  Richard Krajicek 62 63 in the final! .. This has been some week for the 130th ranked German - to beat those like Krajicek (and Kefelnikov earlier) on grass is impressive ..

As for Mahesh, he gets a week off to practice - though he had expected originally that he may be playing qualies this week if he got a wildcard .. As it turned out they gave him the wildcard to the main draw itself to his surprise! .. The open week is good for Mahesh to rest his shoulder, which does occasionally hurt a bit .. He has three events to play next week - singles, doubles with Prinosil and mized doubles with Martina Navratilova .. Srinath is with him practicing, and is expecting to enter the Wimbledon qualies (though I need to check if his ranking may drop below 400 and cause him trouble next week - his points from last May's satellites have not fallen off yet, but may fall off on monday -- we will see .. Wimbledon qualies is easier to enter than the other grand slams as a lot of players have no guts to play on grass! .. Last year it closed at about 400, I believe) .. I believe the qualies start tomorrow or on Tuesday at the Roehampton grasscourts .. They don't use the Wimbledon courts itself, to preserve the grass for the main draw - and they don't have facilities for online scores at the Roehampton courts, if I am not mistaken .. Srinath has not played as much as he would have liked to in the last few months mainly because his injuries just never seems to go away .. He has a knee problems (I think it's called "jumper's knee" or something) which causes pain - that was the reason why he chose not to play in the Germany F6 futures this week and instead took a break before the Wimby qualies.

Harsh Mankad and Ajay Ramaswamy did win a title yesterday (late report - I was away for most of the weekend) in dubles, beating Chadha and Majmudar, 64 75 .. Though Harsh and Ajay needed a wildcard to enter doubles in the first leg, they have now come all the way to the second spot in point list behind Chadha-Majmudar who won the title last week .. See the doubles circuit points I have added at the circuit points page .. I will start converting the circuit points to ATP points by the latter part of the 3rd leg once the list of players making the masters leg entry becomes clear.

As for the singles final at the Bangalore satellite, it seems Harsh had his chances and came up short by the barest of margins at some big points .. Winning tennis is really all about big points, though .. I remember Mankad telling me about two years back how he had the habit of becoming tentative at big points and that it was something he had to work on .. He later said he had overcome a lot of that over the course of his season in the US colleges .. Basically he got to play a lot of top quality singles matches as he was playing the #1 spot for his university drawing the best player from the other side .. The more chances one gets to play the big points against better players, the better - as there is no way to work on these things other than in match situations, I have to guess .. When we talk about our young players not showing improvement fast enough, we should remember this aspect - they all need more and more match-practce against good opponents to improve .. So I looked at the newspaper reports with interest to see if that was any mention of "tentiveness" or "silky nerves" on Harsh's part as we often hear about our players - I was rather glad to see that there was no mention of anything like that .. Harsh basically went for some shots at the big points and did not make it .. The Deccan Herald says, the best of the day's play was the variety the two players brought onto court. They went for their shots, changed pace, used the court well and pulled off some heart-stopping winners that had the small gathering cheering appreciably .. Harsh was up 5-1 in a hurry, gave a break back and then closed out the set at 6-4 .. In the second set, the turnaround happened at 4-4 when  Harsh "had the chance of his life to go up a break. An explosive backhand opened up the court for Mankad and gave him breakpoint at 30-40. He once again stepped up the pace of play and opened up the court with a forehand that kissed the chalk. Udomchoke replied with a mistimed backhand that barely cleared the net. Mankad made good ground, he got to the ball in time, but couldn`t control himself and overhit a forehand .. That then was the beginning of the story of missed chances for Mankad. In the decider, he went up an early break. The Indian had fine chances to consolidate on that effort in the third and seventh games (3rd set) but Mankad was unfortunate that he missed lines by the barest of margins" (Deccan Herald) .. Well, that's how it goes .. Mankad reportedly said, ''I should have won.  'I played okay but I could have played better and closed it out. A few points make all the difference in tennis and I have nothing to complain about. He's a difficult player to play because sometimes he seems to be tanking and then all of sudden he plays at a different level" .. That last thing he said is interesting, and it is one reason why it's always difficult to play an injured player who has enough skill, guile and fighting spirit as Danai has - this has caused trouble for Mankad and Vinod Sridhar this week against him .. All in all, one has to be happy to see Harsh's show so far too .. I will have some news on the Delhi satellites (leg-3) starting soon on Monday.

Fazal and Ben-Qiang Zhu lost the doubles final yesterday to Alex Kim and Jeff Abrams 26 57 yesterday at the USA F16 futures in Berkeley, California .. Fazal gets 12 ATP points in doubles for being runner-up.

June 17 Note-3

Good news - Mahesh has got a wildcard into the Wimbledon singles !!! .. I had heard from Mahesh a few days back that he would be looking for a wildcard there, but I had assumed it would be for the qualifying next week .. The PA agency report I saw seems to say that it is to the main draw itself ..  How about that? .. Having qualified in twice and reached the final round of qualies last year, having been the mixed doubles runner-up 2 years back, and of course having won the doubles title there last year, Mahesh did deserve some consideration .. We have to thank the Wimbledon folks for the very nice gesture - they prove once again that they look at things comprehensively and with less of a parochial outlook than is often found these days .. (I should thank Nick Rainey of the fanclub for alerting me to the news!)

Even more good news !! .. At the $975K Halle ATP, Bhupathi and Prinosil pulled off a big comeback win against that old nemesis team of Bjorkman and Rafter ! .. 36 76(5) 64 .. Yes .. They will face the 3rd seeds Tillstrom and Kulti in the final tomorrow .. Prinosil is having some kind of dream run now .. He upset top seed Kafelnikov to reach the singles final earlier today too.

June 17 Note-2

Just found that Harsh lost 64 46 46 to Danai Udomchoke in the final at Bangalore .. This guy Udomchoke is amazing .. He keeps saying he can't play with his leg muscle problems, and now this is about the 4th match where the reports say he was ready to give the match away but his opponents have failed to take advantage of it .. PTI says, Mankad failed to grab the opportunities presented by Udomchoke, who was handicapped by a muscle pull. "I could not concentrate in the first set. A terribe muscle pull would have cost the title but I managed to serve well and I was lucky too," said Udomchoke .. Now I don't believe those reports - the wily Thai must be confusing his opponents with this "I am injured and ready to lose - please beat me" act :-) .. More details awaited on the match and the doubles final which must be over by now .. The 21 points here gives Udomchoke 36 total circuit points with Harsh at #2 with 25 points and Sandeep Kirtane at #3 with 24 points .. I have added a circuit points page now .. According to my calculations, the seeds for next round at Delhi should be Udomchoke, Mankad, Kirtane, Thornadtsson, V.Sridhar, Ramaswamy, Leysek and Fulcher.

June 17 Note-2

Mahesh and Prinosil play the doubles semifinal this evening at about 6 pm at the $975K Halle ATP .. Prinosil has warmed the hearts of Germans out there by being the surprising semifinalist in singles as well, as he upset 3rd seeded Nicolas Lapentti yesterday in the QFs .. 130th ranked wildcard Prinosil was the last direct entry there and there were those top-50 Gemans like Kiefer, Haas, Schuttler etc in the draw who all crashed out .. The Germans are happy to still have a German in the semifinals .. I guess Hesh has brought him luck this week .. He plays the only seed remaining there - top seeded Kafelnikov - today in the first SF, and comes back later to play the doubles SF with Mahesh.

Not too much of good news from Friday to report for Niru, Manisha and Fazal ..

Saw some scores from the $25K Grado challenger, and Nirupama lost in the second round of singles to Flora Perfetti (ITA,307), 57 16 .. Perfetti seems to be in good form and has now reached the semifinal there .. Not sure if Niru was in the doubles draw - if she did, she lost before the semifinal, as I have seen the scores after that.

Manisha Malhotra and Leanne Baker lost in the quarterfinal of doubles at the $25K Mount Pleasant challenger to Melanie Clayton and Nadia Johnston, 46 46 yesterday .. She had lost the singles second round the day before as I reported yesterday .. So Manisha gets 4 points in singles and 6 points in doubles this week - not too bad .. Actually this was only the second or 3rd challenger level singles win she has had, I believe.

Fazal lost yesterday to Ryan Wolters 06 36 in the singles QF at the $15K USA F15 futures in Berkeley California .. Two fans who saw the match wrote to me - Deepak  and Nizamuddin, and both said the problem seemed to be that Fazal looked dead tired yesterday .. That is not surprising, as he played six rounds of singles and three rounds of doubles this week .. We have to applaud Fazal for going through the tough week, but it could have been easier had he entered the tournament directly, as he could have avoided the three qualifying matches over the weekend .. The good news is that Fazal later came back with Ben-Qiang Zhu and upset the top seeded Mark Merklein and Ryan Wolters, 46 63 64, in the semis of doubles .. They play unseeded Geoff Abrams and Alex Kim in the final today .. So Fazal picked up 3 points in singles and 12 points so far in doubles this week .. Not bad, again - and Fazal does seem to have got over that problem earlier in the year when he looked unable to beat anybody in the international events .. Good to see him back.

Awaiting news from Bangalore on how Harsh did today in the satellite finals ..

June 16 Note-3

This is turning out to be a very nice week for Indian tennis ..  Just fund out that Fazaluddin Syed won yesterday in the second round to reach the quarterfinal at the $15K USA F15 futures in Berkeley, California .. Fazal won his 5th match in a row including the qualies, beating Jeff Greenwald of USA, 62 67(5) 61.. He now faces the 8th seeded and talented US youngster, Ryan Wolters in the QFs .. Fazal has picked up three points so far there .. In doubles, 4th seeded Fazal and Ben-Qiang Zhu won the doubles QF against Ali Ansari and Scotty Scott, 64 62 also .. They play the top seeded American pair, Mark Merklein and Ryan Wolters, in the semis.

June 16 Note-2

Only one semifinal, #1 Haarhuis/Stolle vs #3 Kulti/Tillstrom is on schedule for today at the $975K Halle ATP .. The #2 Bhupathi-Prinosil vs #4 Bjorkman-Rafter will be tomorrow .. Those are some very good teams in the semis, with all four seeds reaching there.

Great news from Bangalore! .. Harsh Mankad is in the final! .. Today, he beat the second seed Per Thornadtsson  (SWE,463), 64 10 (retd) .. Thornadtsson had an upset stomach by the second set and he conceded - so Harsh has reached the finals of both singles and doubles, making quite a statement and arguing strongly for consideration towards Davis Cup team, etc .. I am glad to see Harsh finally getting past the SF stage, in his 5th attempt .. The other finalist is Danai Udomchoke, who beat Ajay Ramaswamy 63 63 .. Ajay must be a totally tired man, having played 7 singles matches and three doubles matches in the last 6 days .. Hopefully he will get a wildcard to the next leg and he can rest for a day or two after the doubles final .. The final between Danai and Harsh should be a good one - Harsh has beaten him on clay (or whatever the sandy surface was :-)) at Kannur, Kerala, in the masters in late 98, and had a loss last week to Danai in three sets .. Udomchoke and Mankad are the top two in the circuit points tally so far, and would be seeded accordingly in the next leg, I believe .. Will await newspaper reports later on match details from today .. See the Bangalore satellites page.

Will report any news on Fazal yesterday at the Berkeley futures, soon.

There was an Indian player at the Grade-5 ITF event last week in Bishkek, Kyrghyzstan .. 15 yr old Tamil Nadu player, K Arvind Prakash, who is ranked in the top-20 in u16 and top-30 in u-18 in India .. He lost in the second round of singles there, but went all the way to the final with  Damir Zhilkibaev of Kazakhstan .. The unseeded pair upset the top seeds in the second round in straight sets and lost the final to the second seeds, 75 57 63 .. I had never noticed Arvind Prakash in the past, and was surprised to see that result - he was the only Indian in that event.

June 16 Note-1

This thing about the World Doubles Championship coming to Bangalore is pretty much decided it appears .. News slowly trickling in .. One correction in what I said yesterday .. I said "Bangalore won't need to come up with 40 lakhs" .. I meant 4 crores .. Missed a zero (absent-mided professor losing grey cells these days :-)) .. It seems that about $ 700K will be the prize money .. That means a total expense well over 3 crores .. India can certainly afford it .. I am so glad to see so many people thinking big .. If you want to be a big player in anything, the first thing is to have the confidence to think big .. The PTI news item today reports the KSLTA secreatary Sundar Raju confirming that it will be held in the second week of december this year at Bangalore, and that CGK Bhupathi is expected to be the tournament director .. Mr Raju also said that "Mahesh and Leander will be given a wildcard" .. Asked if they would play together, PTI quotes Mr.Bhupathi to be saying, "I hope so" .. The KSLTA stadium will be given a face-lift at a Rs 3.5 crore expense with new synthetic turf etc .. Hey, wasn't it just three months back that we had not heard the word KSLTA for years ? .. The chief minister taking over as the president has made such a big difference so fast, not to mention everybody else getting energized.

In my view, ATP should realize that if they want to save doubles, they should make use of the support it has in India, and LP and MB should realize the big part they can play in it - their brand of doubles play has the potential to keep a lot of tennis fans around the world at least somewhat interested in doubles .. The Woodies will be gone after this year and a lot of others like Haarhuis, Leach, etc will all be gone soon too .. Tell me who else is there other than perhaps the Indian Express that anybody knows or cares about, right now ? .. Somebody needs to carry the torch - so far India has come forward to carry the torch with WDC 2000 .. Now India's favorite two sons would need to help, from the players' side.

Manisha lost the second round at the $25K Mount Pleasant challenger, to 6th seed and #252 Sandra Cacic (USA), 64 46 36 yesterday .. In doubles, Manisha and Leanne Baker (NZL) are in the quarterfinals with a win over Yumiko Kitamura and Marilyn Baker (USA), 63 61 yesterday .. They face the unseeded Australian pair, Melanie Clayton and Nadia Johnston in the QF today.

Nirupama was supposed to play Flora Perfetti (ITA) in the second round, but no news from the $25K challenger in Grado, Italy after the first round.

At the $10K satellite second leg yesterday at Bangalore, the newspaper reports are that Danai Udomshoke continued, pulling off these Houdini acts - this time Vinod Sridhar had him in a bit of trouble after Danai made a bunch of uncharacteristic mistakes in the second set tiebreaker .. Danai had thigh muscle problems again in the 3rd set .. Just as in the case of his match against Mankad last week, Danai held on and won the match basically making the right adjustments to still pass Vinod, while often having trouble moving .. The top seeded Thai is very accurate with his shots and that is what comes through in all these reports .. Ajay Ramaswamy's match against Vishal Uppal did not live up to what it could have been, with Vishal now being down with a fever also, on top of his injury problems .. The newspaper reports are that Ajay was playing top quality tennis and it cannot be said that he could not have beaten Vishal even if Vishal was in good shape, though .. As for Mankad's QF against giant-killer Gavrilov, the newspapers have not written much - it seems like Harsh just took over and had a routine win (which in Harsh's case means dropping serve once at least but breaking the other guy at least twice in each set :-)) .. Harsh tried some chip and charge to unsettle the Russian too, it seems .. Ataboy, Harsh!  ..  Hopefully Harsh will get the monkey off his back and finally make it to the final in his 5th semifinal in the last six satellite legs.

June 15 Note-4

Even more good news -- 17 yr old Sunil Kumar seems to be finally coming out of his little slump .. Last week at the ITF Grade-3 Ervis Epitok Cup in Budapest, Hungary, 5th seeded Sunil went all the way to the final ! .. He beat Peter Czink (HUN), 62 62 in R1, wildcard Georgy Balacz (HUN) 64 62 in R2, Jiri Krkoska (CZE) in the QF, 16 61 61, and then upset the 4th seed and world #82 Matija Zgaga of Slovakia, 76(10) 06 76(5) in the semifinal, before losing to Ivan Cerovik (CRO) 76(6) 61 63 in the final .. In doubles, Sunil and Mark Ridder (USA) beat the Hungarian pair, Tamas Paar and Lorand Szucs, 46 61 75 in the first round  and then lost in the QF to the top seeds and eventual winners, Dumiso Khumalo (ZIM) and Raven Klaasen (RSA), 67(3) 67(5) .. The runner-up finish at this grade-3 event gives Sunil about 40 more points which should be enough to move him to a ranking right around 100 or just inside .. The boy deserves credit for playing his way out of a slump that followed all the hype, wildcards and hooplah .. He is playing this week at the ITF Grade-2 junior tournament at Frankfurt, Germany.

June 15 Note-3

How about this ? .. No news had come my way about this stuff - check it out! .. S.Kannan's article in the Hindustan Times today about Bangalore being the next Hartford - like, right away!!

Here is the article - World Doubles Championship to be held in Bangalore ..  Great news if it all pans out right .. Wildcard to Leander and Mahesh is part of the deal, it seems .. It was high time anyway that the darn thing got the hell out of Hartford - a place where nobody knows a thing about tennis or doubles, in a country where no one cares a damn about doubles .. The best support for doubles anywhere in the world, from the fans' point of view, is in India .. Even causal Indian tennis fans know about more top doubles teams than anywhere else in the world too .. So, why the heck not do it in India ? .. ATP may have wanted to move it to a place where there is a chance for it to succeed and may have been rather hard-pressed to find serious takers for this event anywhere else  (it has been held in the past in Jakarta, South Africa, Netherlands etc, before coming to Hartford for a few years) ..

One correction in what the article says -- the $900K that was the prize money at Hartford were not all raised from sponsorship .. About $400K was being raised by ATP, with the doubles players voting a year or two back to reduce their prize money and put some of it towards increasing the prize money at the Doubles championships .. So, I don't think Bangalore needs to come up with 40 lakhs in sponsorship.

I will find out more about where this is going.

June 15 Note-2

More good news - lots of wins by Indians this week ..

Mahesh and Prinosil won the QF against Andrew Florent and Davis MacPherson just now, 76(2) 63 .. Up next for them is an old nemesis team - 4th seeded Jonas Bjorkman and Patrik Rafter !! - those two beat Federer and Escude 64 63 today in the QFs.

Finally some news from the $25K Grado challenger in Italy .. Niru just missed being seeded there, and ended up with Eva Bes who was seeded 3rd I believe .. Nirupama d. Eva Bes (ESP,186), 63 51 (retd) .. I generally hate it when players withdraw that late in a match, unless it is a serious injury - more often than not, it's those players who don't respect their own quality enough who worry about retiring like that, as they are more worried about making it official that it was the injury that caused them to lose .. I'm not blaming Eva - perhaps she was in serious injury trouble .. I am just making a statement of a personal opinion -- in my view, a lot of what tennis is about is attitude and often late retirements show something about a player .. A true winner who is confident that he/she will have many wins in the future while healthy, won't bother about doing that .. Anyway, I have not seen the draw itself - not sure whom Niru plays next .. Go Niru.

June 15 Note-1

Fazal continues to move on in the USA F15 futures .. The main draw in these futures at Berkeley (California) actually does not have top-ranked players inside top-400 as is usual in the US futures, and Fazal though he had to qualify, ended up as the second seed in the draw ! .. Fazal beat wildcard Robert Kowalcyk (USA), 62 64 yesterday .. In the second round today, Fazal plays Lucky loser Jeff Greenwald of USA .. Nice going.

The two US college players are sizzling in Bangalore - qualifier Ajay Ramaswamy beat Vishal Uppal 63 63 and 4th seed Harsh Mankad beat Alex Gavrilov 76(4) 64 today to reach the semis of the satellite second leg, according to PTI .. Poor Vinod Sridhar lost by a whisker to top seed Udomchoke, 36 76(4) 67(4) .. Damn .. Thornadtsson vs Mankad and  Udomchoke vs Ramaswamy tomorrow in the semifinals .. For Harsh Mankad, this is the 5th semifinal in the last six satellite legs .. Awaiting newspaper reports on the matches .. Doubles scores later at the Bangalore satellite page.

June 14 Notes

Mahesh and Prinosil will play the quarterfinal doubles at the $975K Halle tournament tomorrow at about 5 pm ..

Mahesh just emailed me that Srinath is actually not playing the Germany F6 futures .. He has withdrawn from there though the original ITF draw did have him as the fourth seed .. Instead Sri is actually right now in Halle with Mahesh, practicing! .. Cool.

Pretty good news from the Mt.Pleasant $25K challenger today .. Manisha Malhotra won the first round! .. Instead of Sarah Taylor, she actually played the lucky loser Amanda Augustus (USA,492) and beat her 61 60 today .. I believe Amanda has beaten her once and lost to her once in the past, if my memory is correct - Manisha seems to have blown her off the court this time .. Amanda was the top seed in the qualies ..  This win gives Manisha four WTA points including a bonus point for beating a top-500 player! .. Go Manisha .. In the second round, Manisha faces 5th seed Sandra Cacic (USA,252) - that will be a tough match.

My crystal ball is becoming scaringly accurate! :-) :-)  .. The two qualifiers who I said would be trouble in the main draw, Ajay Ramaswamy and Gavrilov, both pulled upsets today .. Ajay beat 5th seed Barry Fulcher 7-5 7-6(3) in a tight match with just one break .. Gavrilov had the big upset over 6th seed Sandeep Kirtane 61 61 .. I wonder what happened to Sandeep .. The newspapers do not report anything except that he had a terrible match today .. Sandeep may be a bit worn out after the 6-match win streak .. Gavrilov actually has a pretty good chance against Harsh Mankad too, tomorrow .. The reports were that Harsh was really having some serious asthma problems today with the Bangalore weather, and won the match today on sheer determination .. 63 46 63 over Mustafa Ghouse .. Mustafa really took over in the second set with Harsh tiring, and it looked like it was getting over early in the 3rd set when Harsh was down a break .. According to Deccan Herald, the sun briefly came out then, helping Harsh breathe a bit better and he just refused to fold, breaking Ghouse a couple of times to wrap it up .. "With his game refusing to take flight, Mankad was further hampered by a breathing disorder. That he walked away a winner is more a tribute to his will than skill," says Deccan Herald .. Ajay Ramaswamy's upset win does not really surprise me, only because I had followed him closely, and he is a player who clearly improved during his period here in the US college, based on results  - I had expected him to do decently in these satellites .. Vinod Sridhar had an easy win against the last direct entry this week, Patril Stalbark .. Vinod seems to do well quietly all the time .. Vishal Uppal beat Saurav Panja, who has beaten him a few times in the past .. There are some very good QF matches on tap for tomorrow .. Vishal vs Ajay,  Gavrilov vs Mankad, etc .. See the Bangalore satellites page.

June 14 Note-1

The next update here (and at the Bangalore satellites page) will be pretty late in the day here in US - busy time for me today ..

The remaining two first round matches are the only doubles matches on schedule at the $975K Halle ATP today .. Mahesh's QF doubles match against Florent-MacPherson will be on Thursday or even Friday.

I was getting a bit anxious to know what in the world Sri was upto - just got info from Steve Gocha that Srinath is back in action this week in Germany (by the way, he may have been playing some club tennis in Germany, as was Nitin Kirtane also, I believe) .. Srinath is in the draw as the 4th seed at the Germany F6 futures in Villingen (on clay) .. He is drawn to face the German qualifier, Simon Gruel in the first round.

I have only seen the results of eight first round matches at the $15K USA F15 futures, and I think Fazal may not have played yesterday .. He should be playing today .. He did play the doubles match and reached the quarterfinal in the company of Ben-Qiang Zhu of China .. They beat Steve Burke and Jay Gooding of USA, 63 16 63 yesterday.

The few first round results from the Mt.Pleasant challenger from yesterday, did not include Manisha's first round match against Sarah Taylor .. She will be playing today .. In doubles, Manisha and Leanne Baker are the 3rd seeds, drawn to face Yumiko Kitamura (JPN) and Marylene Baker (USA) .. Leanne, however, retired during her first round singles match yesterday, and so I am not sure if they will end up playing doubles there.

June 13 Note-2

Mahesh had a no-fuss win in Prinsoil's company today, it appears - 75 64 win over Bose and Haas at the Gerry-Weber Open .. They face a good team in the quarterfinal - Andrew Florent and David MacPherson.

No big surprises at the $25K India satellites leg-2 at Bangalore today .. Monday rains and soggy clay courts delayed the matches a few hours and some matches were actually played at the nearby Century Club .. SK Shivshankar played well against top seed Udomchoke who is still not fully recovered from the leg muscle problems from last week .. SKS took him to 3rd set, but made some mistakes at some big points and fell in the end .. Manoj Mahadevan, whose penchant to play three-setters I had commented about earlier, played another one and as has happened often he ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline again .. After winning the first set, he reportedly suddenly lost focus and veteran 6th seed Sandeep Kirtane is way too experienced a player to do that against - Sandeep took over from there on .. The two qualifiers my crystal ball had said would do well, did win - Ajay Ramaswamy beat Vikrant Chada and Gavrilov beat Rishi Sridhar (Actually I didn't know who their opponents were when I said they would do well - Vikrant and Rishi are not easy!) .. 7th seed Vinod Sridhar had a good win over Sikanov of Russia whom he took out easily in the second set for a 76(3) 61 win .. Vishal Uppal, nursing injuries and generally more comfortable on grasscourts than on clay, tried staying back against S.Zaman at first and was down 1-4 quickly .. According to Deccan Herald, "Uppal, at that point decided that if he was going to go down he might as well do it playing his own game .. In the next games, he attacked the net with plan and purpose. Though he did stray at times, the bottomline for Uppal today was he learnt early enough what he had to do to come through" .. Got to like that .. Not that playing a grass game on clay would take you far - but the part that he decided to throw caution to the wind and play his game .. Way too often we hear of our players not showing the courage to do that and getting tentative .. Vishal won 75 63 .. The 4th seed Harsh Mankad had a "routine day" said the Indian Express - he won 63 62 over American John Rom .. Harsh "put on display an attractive brand of attacking tennis", said the Deccan Herald .. Good so far this week, and nine Indians are in the final-16 .. See the results at the Bangalore satellites page.

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 Wendy 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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on June 12 ..

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.