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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on June 21, 1999

(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 99)

CONGRATS LEANDER, MAHESH - 1999 French Open Champions !!

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June 21 Note-2

Wimbledon always makes me miserable for a couple of weeks, as our boys just can't get anything going there (except MB's mixed doubles last year!) .. And once again we start the week in a melancholy mood - Leander lost to Andre Sa, 4-6, 4-6, 6-7(4) in a match where LP seemed to never be out of pressure, and seemed comfortably making points only for a couple of short stretches .. I don't have the stats for the match (no online stats from the outer court they played on), but the points won in this match may be rather even .. Just that LP seemed to often win points after falling behind on his serve, or after Sa went up on his own serve .. He did break Sa 4 times, but got broken 6 times too .. The games where LP got broken were largely of the quick 0-40-and-out variety too .. Here is how the breaks went: [set1: LP broken in game 3 and 9; Sa broken in game 8] .. [set2: LP broken in game 5 and 9; Sa broken in game 6] .. [set3: LP broken in game 1 and 7; Sa broken in game 4 and 10] .. Sa seemed to get the breaks at the right time, like at the end of the first two sets after LP had evened things up .. Once again, in the 3rd set LP evened up by jumping on Sa 40-0 when he was serving for the match and sending it to a tiebreaker soon - only to find himself falling by two minibreaks at 2-5, and then breaking back to go 4-5 before dropping serve again for a 4-7 loss .. A dejected pair of onsite fanclub members, Bill and Merle files this short report - "we just finished watching Leander lose to Sa; very sad day for us .. Sa played very well, good serves and an aggressive all court game .. Leander had chances in all three sets but that one shot at the right time was not there".

So that is quick curtains for LP again at Wimbledon .. His next chance for singles is two weeks later at Newport .. He is the defending champion with 150+ points to defend .. That place seems to suit his game and he always does well there - let's hope that he comes through well again, as there is serious pressure on him to keep his rankings where it is (he has a few weeks without anything to defend, but another 110+ points to defend in late summer for the QF at New Haven last year) ..

OK, it's doubles .. Hopefully this will give added incentive for LP to do well in that .. Both LP and MB have been careful in their press statements in not promising anything there, knowing how they have not had big success at big W yet .. Some doubles matches start tomorrow (Tuesday), but our guys are not playing - it will probably be wednesday when they play their first round against Kempers/Kohlmann.

June 21 Note-1

At Wimbledon, the LP-vs-Sa match is today at about 5.30 pm (9.30 am PST, USA .. 10 pm India), +/- an hour, depending on how fast the first three matches, starting at 12 noon on court 16 .. We will be following the match ball-by-ball at our chatroom.

So, who is Andre Sa (BRA,171) ?.. He is 22 years old, a tall guy at 6-2, and is pretty talented .. Was ranked as high as #110 in singles in May of last year .. Not a big claycourter (not every Brazilian is a Kuerten, as people think!), and has some of his best wins on hardcourts .. He does play 2 or 3 tournaments on grass every year, but has not been very successful on it .. His last losses on grass were to pretty good grasscourters like Tramacchi, Woodbridge, Martin and Gimelstob .. In general, Sa has been rather inconsistent in his career, though he has quite a few good wins against good players .. Last year, he lost to Jeff Cotzee (who beat MB last week) once, but came right back and beat him next week .. You might remember him playing in India in April .. Ended up drawing the same player, young Andreas Vinciguerra of Sweden (the one who made so much news at Chennai time!) at both Chennai and Delhi in successive weeks, and lost in the first round both times to Vinci (by similar three-set margins, if I remember) .. OK, none of that really says much about how good he is .. He has just had three singles wins on grass in the qualifying rounds at Wimbledon (Jan Hermansson, Razvan Sabau and Alex O'Brien) .. Finally, here is the key point to note: He has beaten Leander the only time they played! .. At the Ho Chi Minh City challenger in 1998 March .. LP lost in two easy sets to Sa in that hardcourt challenger .. So, obviously he is not to be overlooked ! ..

Here is the draw again, for Leander:

 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS,  3) vs   Magnus Larsson      (SWE, 53) \
   Guillaume Raoux    (FRA, 68) vs Q Paradorn Srichaphan (THA,251) / \
   Martin Damm        (CZE, 69) vs   Cedric Pioline      (FRA, 52) \ / \
   Arnaud Clement     (FRA, 76) vs   Albert Portas       (ESP, 88) /    \ _ QF
   Daniel Vacek       (CZE, 57) vs   Bohdan Ulihrach     (CZE, 40) \    /
   Gianluca Pozzi     (ITA, 77) vs   Vladimir Voltchkov  (BLR,107) / \ /
   Leander Paes       (IND,101) vs Q Andre Sa            (BRA,171) \ /
13 Karol Kucera       (SVK, 14) vs Q Alejandro Hernandez (MEX,160) /   

Let us hope that LP will be ready to do a Samba on the Samba king Sa from Brazil .. or make sambar out of him !! .. Go Lee !

June 20 Note-4

The earlier schedule I reported seems to have changed .. The official schedule at Wimbledon for Monday now shows Leander playing the last match on court 16 .. So, it should be starting at about 5.30 pm (9.30 am PST, u.s.a .. 10 pm India), plus or minus an hour, depending on how fast the three singles matches before it get done .. They may have given a break to Paes and Siemerink who got there only by late evening, as Siemerink is also scheduled to play the last match on a court.

June 20 Note-3

I have just learned from a press friend (thanks!) that Leander is scheduled to play Andre Sa at 12 noon itself, on court 16 at Wimbledon tomorrow (Monday) at Wimbledon .. More later!

June 20 Note-2

They cancelled the doubles final at the $475K Heineken Open in sHertogenbosch, which means Paes-Siemerink and E.Ferreira-D.Rikl share the title! .. The normal procedure is to share the prize money (so the 4 of them will share the $20K plus the $34K for the runners-up and the winners, giving them each about $14K each), but they will all get no more points over what they have so far for reaching the final .. At least that's the procedure they used last year at Queens when Woodies and Bjorkman/Rafter shared the title (but I am told that ATP announced something different at Rosmalen today -- I will confirm later) .. Anyway, I was expecting the internet telecast of the match at the official website, but they showed an interview with Jan Siemerink (in Dutch, so I did not understand what he was saying) and showed the helicopter that LP and Jan were about to leave on .. They couldn't delay their departure, and the rain hadn't stopped even at 4 pm there (the singles final is yet to be played, between Rafter and Pavel - not yet cancelled, but may get cancelled pretty soon) .. Congrats Leander, for the first ATP world-series doubles title on grass, though it came in an anti-climactic way .. Hmmm, I guess even the rain-Gods don't want Leander to get his first final win on grass in anybody but Mahesh's comapany! -- on to Wimbledon, folks!!!

June 20 Note-1

The doubles final at sHertogenbosch was supposed to start at about 3 pm, after the singles final .. But, as of 3 pm, there is serious rain delay there and the singles final scheduled to start at 1 pm has not yet started .. It appears more and more like they will be cancelling the finals altogether and sharing the titles .. Hold on, I will update soon again.

June 19 Note-1

Leander is expected to play on Monday itself at Wimbledon .. The Wimbledon folks don't consider the previous week's results, etc, and schedule all matches in some parts of the draw (I believe 2 of the 4 quarters) on the same day - scheduling is pretty tight over the two weeks .. LP says he is scheduled to play on Monday, and so has arranged to leave Netherlands to London by helicopter on Sunday evening, soon after the final match .. He is feeling good and is motivated to try his best this time, he tells the fanclub and everybody .. By the way, he has left a note in the guestbook/bulletinboard page (#145 there) thanking everyone for comments "and criticisms" ..

There is an excellent article in The Hindu today that everyone should read - Reminiscences of a father and son, with interview comments by Ramanathan and Ramesh Krishnan related to Wimbledon, put together by Subroto Sarkar .. It's a wonderfully informative article and all serious tennis fans will enjoy reading it .. It's the kind of historic info on tennis that is so hard to find in the print media anywhere around the world .. As I tell my graduate students when I need them to look at any important research paper, it's mandatory reading!

June 18 Note-2

Paes-Siemerink will play the 3rd seeds, Ellis Ferreira (11,RSA) and David Rikl (22,CZE) in the final at the $475K Heineken Open in Den Bosch .. Ferreira/Rikl beat the 2nd seeds Bjorkman/Kulti today, 6-3, 7-6(7) .. The final is scheduled for Sunday, as the men's and women's singles semis are on tomorrow .. It would have been better if the final were tomorrow itself, as that would have given LP an extra day to get to Wimbledon and get some practice in .. No such luck .. Leander will have to hope to get his first round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday rather than Monday.

June 18 Note-1

Well, well, well .. how about that ? .. Leander and Siemerink d. #1 seeds Haarhuis/Nestor, 6-4, 7-6(3), to reach the final at the Heineken Trophy in sHertogenbosch just now!! .. And Leander just became the #1 player in doubles, edging ahead of Mahesh - only the 6th player (from only the 3rd team) in 5 years to reach that spot ! .. They have 189 points so far in this tournament (66 bonus points for beating three very good teams) .. That puts LP's points at 4019 - the first time that either LP or MB is crossing the coveted 4000 points barrier (they have both been above the 3900 a few times) .. Nice week of work in Netherlands so far, as LP reaches the first ATP world series final by either of them in anybody else's company since MB reached the LA Infiniti final with Rick Leach in 97 .. The opponents in the final are yet to be determined - the semi between #2 Bjorkman/Kulti and #3 Ferreira/Rikl is on at den Bosch now ..

June 17 Note-2

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LEANDER!! .. June 17..

Leander seems to be enjoying the grass at den Bosch .. At the Heinken trophy today, LP and Jan Siemerink (NED,88) upset the 4th seeded Czech pair, Martin Damm (#34) and Cyril Suk (#13), 6-4, 7-5, to reach the semifinal .. They next face the top seeds Paul Haarhuis (NED,3) and Daniel Nestor (CAN,12) .. The QF win gives LP-Siemerink 105 total points (including 12 and 18 bonus points for the two wins so far) .. Interestingly, one more win will put Leander above Mahesh as the #1 doubles player .. LP has 3935 points right now, and Mahesh has 3948 points (MB had a semifinal with Kafelnikov at the Stuttgart outdoors last year with 133 points which is the reason why he has been ranked above Paes) .. I believe this is only the second time since winning the Reunion challenger title with David Johnson in November 1996 that LP has reached a doubles semifinal in the company of anybody else other than Mahesh (he was in the Newport semi with Peter Tramacchi last July) .. MB has a final in 97 with Rick Leach (Los Angeles Infiniti), and the Stuttgart outdoors semi with Kafelnikov, along with a challenger title (with Tramacchi at Vietnam last year) and a challenger final (with Natekar at Mumbai this year) .. LP on the other hand has only played very few times with anybody other than Hesh .. In the semifinal, it will be a tough matchup against the two veterans who are both good on grass - Haarhuis and Nestor .. The semifinals will be tomorrow (Friday) .. A win can give them 36 more bonus points for 189 total points .. More importantly than getting the points, it is good to see LP putting in some nice work on grass to get ready for the big W next week.

June 17 Note-1

Leander and Siemerink play the 4th seeded Czech pair, Martin Damm and Cyril Suk, in the QF at the $475K Heineken Trophy in sHertogenbosch soon .. I will post the result later today.

Manisha was not very lucky with the draw this week at the $25K Mount Pleasant challenger in South Carolina - she lost in the first round to one of the high seeds, Renata Kolbovic (CAN,242), 3-6, 4-6 .. Manisha will now require to take the proverbial "next step" - that is, start winning matches in challengers to move her rankings up from inside 400 to inside 250 .. That is a tough step - only LP, MB and Niru have been able to do that in many many years from India - Sri, Fazal, Manisha, etc will all need to do that.

June 16 Note-2

Just got the fax from Wimbledon, and the qualifiers have been placed in the draw now .. Leander plays Andre Sa (BRA,171) in the first round, and the potential second round opponent #13 Karol Kucera faces Alejandro Hernandez (MEX,160) in the first round .. Other qualifiers are W.Arthurs, N.Zimonjic, S.Stolle, C.Vinck, P.Srichaphan, L.Manta, M.Tillstrom, G.Stafford, R.Reneberg, A.Parmar, N.Marques, D.Sapsford, J.Delgado and C.Caratti .. Rafter gets Caratti, Bjorkman gets Stafford, Ivanisevic gets Tillstrom, Johansson gets Reneberg, etc, in the main draw .. I suppose Leander avoided getting one of those guys who would have been more threatening than Andre Sa (who is by no means a pushover - nobody who can win three rounds on grass out there is a pushover!). Nirupama and Nora Koves of Hungary were among the 16 teams looking for two qualifier spots in doubles, but ended up with the 3rd seeds Tina Pisnik and Jelena Dokic, two highly-talented teenagers in the first round .. Niru and Koves lost 3-6, 4-6 .. I guess the trip to Wimbledon ended up as a waste for Nirupama once again - it's alright, one should definitely make an attempt to play at Wimbledon, however uncomfortable one is on grass!

Good news from sHertogenbosch - Leander and Siemerink d. Andrew Florent - David MacPherson, 7-6(2), 6-4 today .. They face the 4th seeds Damm/Suk in the next round - Thursday at about 4 pm.

On a sad note, Petr Korda retired yesterdy from tennis, after losing the second round of qualies to Danny Sapsford of GBR in three sets .. Sad end to what could have been a well-remembered career .. Instead, illegal substance controversy brings the curtains down sadly! .. Sapsford on the other hand is a tremendous story - he was the second lowest ranked player in the qualies (he needed a wildcard to get in, and had to play three rounds last week in the pre-qualifiers for the British guys, to get that WC!!) .. He went on to win the final round of qualies today, over the 32nd seed Michael Joyce, ranked 375 spots above him, winning 8-6 in the 5th set !! .. What drove Sapsford to such adrenaline-driven miracles ? .. This is his last tournament, and it was his dream to retire with a match on the Wimbledon courts, before becoming a coach next month .. Is that a great story or what ? .. He gets 166th ranked Spaniard Junlian Alonso, who I belive has never won a match on grass and only has a first round loss at Wimby last year to show - I am putting my money on Sapsford reaching second round .. Heck, with Suzuki/Blanco winner coming in the next round, Sapsford may even reach the 3rd round and play Sampras to end his career .. Go Danny Go!! .. (I know this has nothing to do with Indian tennis, but what the heck - let's give the guy some props!).

I will find out soon how Manisha is doing at the South Carolina challenger.

June 16 Note-1

Leander's doubles match at the sHertogenbosch Heineken trophy is today in the evening .. Will know the score soon.

The Wimbledon doubles draw is out .. Leander and Mahesh are the top seeds and play Tom Kempers and Michael Kohlmann in the first round .. The potential quarterfinal matchup is against 9th seeds Lareau/OBrien or 7th seed Ferreira/Leach .. More later on that.

There was a report in today's Deccan Herald (print version) on yesterday's Wimbledon qualifier losses, which was sent to me (thanks!), as it did not make the online edition of the newspaper ..The report is by Uday Bajekal, HT's UK correspondent, who reports that the short and quick Cotzee played a great game against Mahesh .. Here are some excerpts: Several times during the match Mahesh Bhupathi's booming first serve would come shooting back at acute angles off the racket of the bustling and industrious Coetzee and would find Bhupati unable to deal effectively with the returns ... Bhupathi's first two service games contained two aces each and both were won comfortably. By the third service game however, Coetzee had begun to return so well that he fashioned two break points and took the second to go a break up. Although Bhupati broke back immediately with two good returns of serve and an excellent crosscourt forehand and brought the score level at 4-4, the South African was now really into his groove and broke Bhupati's next serve to then serve out the first set at 6-4 ... The second set featured some excellent tennis from the scampering, industrious South African, with several superlative returns of serve and an incredible lunge to make a volley which resulted in him having to somersault in the air before falling on the court. Coetzee also applauded Bhupati's shots which were of high quality and, after being outwitted with an excellent top spin lob by Bhupati at one point, asked loudly of himself "Why are you so short?" (he is only five feet eight inches tall) which raised a cheer from the crowd watching! ... Coetzee was not really troubled in the second set however, and emerged a victor at a final score of 6-4 again ... On Nirupama's loss, Uday writes: Nirupama Vaidyanathan played a tall, big serving, Russian player, Nadejda Petrova, only 17 years of age ranked 130 in the world rankings. Nirupama won the toss and served but was broken instantly by the Russian who hit two winning returns of serve and seemed to be brimming with confidence. Although Nirupama broke the Russian's second service game her own serve seemed to be under constant pressure and Petrova broke Nirupama's next serve to retain her original advantage and held her next serve to win the first set 6-4 ... Petrova's big first serve and deep, kicking second serve meant Nirupama had to work extra hard to break and the Russian also returned well which meant the Indian was also working hard to hold her own serve. Petrova broke Nirupama's first serve to go a break up in the second set and also broke her second game to go 4-0 up at one stage. Nirupama rallied to level at 4-4 but could not prevent Petrova from winning the set 6-4 .. So, basically both Niru and Hesh got outplayed yesterday .. It goes like that sometimes!

June 15 Note-2

Only bad news to report today .. Mahesh lost to Jeff Coetzee, 6-4, 6-4 and  Nirupama lost to Petrova, 6-4, 6-4 at the Wimbledon qualies at Roehampton .. So, MB's seven-match win streak at Roehampton comes to an end (and I must say I am rather surprised at the loss to Coetzee) .. Also, Nirupama's discomfort on grass continues .. That is the end of all excitement about Wimbledon qualies .. Now, we need to wait for LP to help us with some good singles results next week!

LP's doubles first round match at sHertogenbosch is scheduled for wednesday, I believe .. Also, the first round action starts today at the Mount Pleasant (South Carolina) challenger where Manisha Malhotra should be playing this week .. I will also see if by any chance Fazal is playing anywhere this week .. There was a newspaper report that had left India for Europe on Friday evening itself, right after winning the satellite masters in the morning.

June 15 Note-1

The Wimbledon main draw has just come out .. Leander gets a qualifier in the first round! .. Here it is:

 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS,  3) vs  Magnus Larsson     (SWE, 53) \
   Guillaume Raoux    (FRA, 68) vs  Qualifier                    / \
   Martin Damm        (CZE, 69) vs  Cedric Pioline     (FRA, 52) \ / \
   Arnaud Clement     (FRA, 76) vs  Albert Portas      (ESP, 88) /    \ _ QF
   Daniel Vacek       (CZE, 57) vs  Bohdan Ulihrach    (CZE, 40) \    /
   Gianluca Pozzi     (ITA, 77) vs  Vladimir Voltchkov (BLR,107) / \ /
   Leander Paes       (IND,101) vs  Qualifier                    \ /
13 Karol Kucera       (SVK, 14) vs  Qualifier                    /

LP has a good chance to get his first Wimbledon win, but Kucera in the second round is a tough match .. Actually this whole 1/8th of the draw (top half of the bottom half of the top half of the full draw :-)) is rather "weak" with just one unseeded top-50 player, and three qualifiers!

I will post the results for Nirupama and Mahesh today from the Wimbledon qualifiers, as soon as I get them.

June 14 Note-4

Got the women's draw at the Wimbledon qualies, and here it is for Niru:

15 Nadejda Petrova (RUS,133) vs    Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND,190) \
   Jelena Kostanic (CRO,142) vs    Catherine Barclay (AUS,216)     / \
   Katalin Marosi (HUN,174)  vs WC Louise Herbert (GBR,659)        \ /
 4 Nana Miyagi (JPN,114)     vs    Eva Bes (ESP,166)               /

Not an easy draw, but the women's qualifiers are typically very tough, with only 8 spots for qualifying in, and 64 players, mostly all inside the top-200 competing .. I don't believe Niru has played Petrova before .. Her match is the second on court 9, starting at about 12.30 pm Tuesday.

Just as happens whenever I predict things (see the last note!), Tramacchi lost to Ruah today, though in 2 tiebreakers .. It is MB, Coetzee, Stolle and Ruah looking for that one qualifier spot now .. MB plays the 3rd match on court 16 tomorrow, at about 2.30 pm.

June 14 Note-3

Here is the qualifier draw for mahesh at Wimbledon (with this week's rankings):

   Mahesh Bhupathi (IND,247) d. 16 Ivo Heuberger (SUI,192)       \
   Jeff Coetzee (RSA,240)    d.    Jean-Michel Pequery (FRA,330) / \_ main draw
   Sergi Duran (ESP,402)     vs    Sandon Stolle (AUS,318)       \ /
18 Maurice Ruah (VEN,175)    vs    Peter Tramacchi (AUS,413)     /

That is not a bad draw at all - about as good as it can ever get at a grand slam - MB and his good friend Tramacchi are the two players I would expect to play in the final round here, but may be I am being a bit presumptuous (hope Tramacchi hasn't already lost today :-)) .. also, I hadn't noticed that Tramacchi had fallen as low in ranking as he has - probably he was among the last players to make it into the draw .. The Wimbledon qualifier draw normally closes about 100 to 125 spots below other grand slams, as many players don't have any idea how to play on grass and skip it in favor of the challengers this week or try to qualify to the ATP tour events this week .. By the way, notice that Heuberger was seeded 16th in the draw (based on his 168 rank last week)! .. I thought he was unseeded and assumed that Coetzee must have beaten a seeded player ..

June 14 Note-2

Mahesh Bhupathi extended his Wimbledon qualifier win streak to seven matches with a nice and easy win this afternoon .. Bhupathi d. Heuberger (SUI,168), 6-2, 6-2 !! .. He now gets Jeff Coetzee (RSA,238) in the second round .. Coetzee is a very talented 22 year old, who came up inside the top-250 after topping two satellites (ITF South Africa and ITF Central Africa) in late 1998 .. He has not had great success in the challenger circuit yet so far (you might remember him losing to LP, though in three sets, at the Delhi challenger this year) .. As are many South African players, he is good on grass - I believe he must have upset a top-32 seed in the first round .. I am awaiting a fax with the full qualifier draws at Wimbledon soon, and will post the draw for MB .. Anyway, good job by Hesh!

June 14 Note-1

The "gentlemen's" (why are men so gentle in UK ?? :-)) qualifying rounds for Wimbledon are about to start at the bank of England sports club grasscourts in Roehampton .. Mahesh Bhupathi plays Ivo Heuberger (SUI,168) in the first round today .. I will report MB's match results later .. I think Mahesh has played Heuberger only once before - at the New Haven Pilot Pen qualifying rounds last August when MB lost a close one, 26 63 46 .. Heuberger is 23 years old .. Since reaching a career-high #125 in late 1998, he has done rather poorly recently, and appears not to have won anything much in the last 3 months .. He is a good grass player and had reached the quarterfinal at the Queens Stella Artois last year (though he lost in the final qualifying round this year to #213 Goichi Motomura last weekend - so Ivo's ranking will fall way down this week!) .. He was also one of the 16 players to qualify into the Wimbledon main draw along with Mahesh last year .. Very tough to predict which way this match will go, but there should be some boom-booms there .. I believe Heuberger is a tall guy with a good serve too, as is MB.

The women's rounds start only tomorrow and the draws are yet to be done ..

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending June 14..