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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on June 22, 1998

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

June 23 Note

A quick note .. MB is supposed to play the 3rd match on the center court today (first one starting at 2 pm .. So this should be about 7 to 8 pm there.. 7 pm is 1 pm EST, usa, I think .. 10 am PST .. 10.30 pm in India). LP's match is the 3rd one on court 15, but there play starts at 12 pm, so it should be a couple of hours earlier than MB's match.

Anyway, it doesn't matter .. It is raining there as of 4 pm .. Could all be postponed .. The next update here may be only wednesday sometime

June 21 Notes

I am leaving on a 3-day vacation today (I know .. odd time to do that when Wimbledon starts .. Had no choice) .. so, this page will probably have no updates till some time Wednesday here .. During the matches at Wimbledon on Monday (probably MB vs Moya) and Tuesday (LP vs Black), try the chatroom as fanclub folks will be following the matches .. Here are the sites to look at, for all the Wimbledon news .. First the Wimbledon site for draws, schedules, results, ball-by-ball updates, etc .. The Sporting Life online news has an excellent Tennis Page and a special Wimbledon page updated with articles many times during the day .. Both Hindustan Times and The Hindu have reporters at Wimbledon, so check their articles too ..

Our own fanclub member, S. Kannan of the Hindustan Times is at Wimbledon .. Nice to see Indian newspapers sending reporters up there (I don't like wire service reports which don't cover our players much) .. Here are some exceprts from Kannan's article yesterday on Mahesh's marathon second round match against Gaston Etlis : .. It could have been anybody's match in the long final set, where there was no tie-break. Even in distant Roehampton, Mahesh had a bunch of supporters cheering him, not to forget doubles partner Leander Paes. The tension on coach Enrico Piperno's face was all too obvious, though he tried to mask it. Ten-all in the decider, with Etlis serving, he was down two break points but forced a deuce. That was when Mahesh stepped on the gas, letting fly his patent backhand return winner to secure the break for a 11-10 lead. No trouble in the next game as the Indian was up 40-0, mostly with second serves .. Yet, even with three match points under his belt, Mahesh got a bit tight, as he volleyed wide and then double-faulted. Time for the big first serve, which came in the form of an ace to seal victory. Mahesh quietly walked away from the court to stretch his taut muscles after a long match .. Beating an opponent ranked 120 spots ahead of him would be satisfying but the icing on the cake will be if he beats Van Garsse next. Not impossible for a man who has managed to do well on his least favourite surface, just as he made it through the qualifiers last year too .. Meanwhile, Leander Paes decided to rest today after injuring his right knee while on the practice courts with Magnus Larsson yesterday. "The court was slippery and I skidded, banged my knee on the cemented area outside the court. At first, the trainers thought I had busted my knee. But I recovered," he said .. The injury has been identified as 'ruptured tendons' on the outside of his calf muscle. Leander was to see the trainer and physio in the evening. "No need to panic," he assured looking forward to some practice over the next two days. He is hopeful of getting a Tuesday start for his first round match against Wayne Black .. Check Kannan's upcoming articles from there, on the win over Van Garsse etc, at the Hindustan Times link above later.

That looks like a second slip-fall injury to LP on Friday .. I was unsure of this, when I got some emails, if it was a new injury or the one he had last Saturday .. 'Ruptured tendons' don't sound that minor to me, but I guess LP is feeling fine, as he did practice yesterday as far as I know. Hope he will be fine by Tuesday.

June 21 Note-2

Good to see that Nirmal Shekhar of The Hindu has started reporting from Wimbledon. Here are some excerpts from his article on Mahesh's final round qualifier match today: The third round victory, which came in 68 minutes, earned Bhupathi a place in the main draw of the Wimbledon championship - for the second year in a row ...``This is a great feeling. I had back spasms yesterday and I wasn't too sure how my back would hold up. But I think I played well enough today,'' said Bhupathi .. With rain delaying the start of the match by almost three hours, Bhupathi had some extra time in which to rest his back and he came out firing courageously right from the start .. Serving as well as he has in a long time and returning with great confidence and timing, the Indian Davis Cup star took command in the first set tiebreak and never looked back. Although he did not charge the net like a frontline soldier, Bhupathi made judicious sorties that were successful more often than not .. Bhupathi ran up a 5-1 lead in the first set tiebreak and then closed out the set with two service winners before breaking the left handed Belgian's serve in the opening game of the second set with a deft drop volley .. As the second set progressed with Bhupathi growing ever more confident and the Belgian slowly but surely losing his way, it was difficult to believe that Van Garsse, who had made the third round at Wimbledon last year, was ranked 197 places above the Indian whose current ranking is 328 .. when Bhupathi broke serve again in the fifth game for a 4-1 lead the match was as good as over. Five minutes later, the Indian served out the match with the minimum of fuss. - Nice article .. What I like is that he stayed back, which is his strength, and was able to make the right decisions for "judicious sorties" up to the net. If he uses his mind and confidence, he can go places on a grass court.

Leander put in some practice today, and I am told the leg injury is healing. Mahesh might play Monday and Leander should be playing Tuesday. The doubles won't start till Wednesday.

June 20 Note-1

Mahesh qualified !! .. That is the good news; .. the not-so-good news is that he once again gets the worst possible treatment from the Draw Goddess and faces the 5th seed Carlos Moya of Spain in the main draw ! .. Great work by Mahesh to crush the 4th seed in the qualifiers, 132-ranked Christophe Van Garsse, 7-6(7-2), 6-2 to make it two years in a row to qualify for the Wimbledon .. Van Garsse also enters the draw as the lucky loser .. There were 17 spots available for the qualifiers and the lucky loser to be drawn into, and Mahesh ended up drawing the highest ranked opponent among those 17 ! .. I am just simply amazed at the bad draws MB continues to get .. Last year he won three qualifier matches and entered the draw, only to find himself drawn against a top-10 Marcelo Rios .. Having said all that, I don't for a minute think MB cannot upset Moya. You may think I am crazy, but Moya is certainly beatable on grass (heck, any Spaniard is, when not on clay.. though Moya is not one of those totally lost on grass) .. Carlos lost to Richey Reneberg in the second round in straight sets after a win over a luckyloser at Wimbledon last year .. Last week he played his first grass tournament of this year and was upset by the wildcard entry Hendrik Dreekman in 2 straight sets in the second round at Halle. He doesn't seem to be playing any grass matches this week .. I would say MB should just bring out all he has and go after him. MB is in the same 1/4th of the draw as LP, in the upper half of it (see the draw below in the Jan 16 Note-2 updated with his name). How about an MB-LP quarterfinal ? .. yeah !..

MB gets 13 points here which means he has defended the 12 he had last year. That includes the 2 bonus points for beating a top-150 player today and 1 for beating a top-200 player yesterday (I am assuming that one does not get the doubles bonus points in the qulifiers as one gets in the main draw matches at Grand slams.. otherwise he will have 16 points here). If he can beat Moya, he will get an extra 110 points including a whopping 90 bonus points for beating a top-5 player. That will defend everything he has to defend for the whole coming year ! ..

Nirupama played her doubles qualifier round-1 match with Sandra Kloesel today but lost, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6 against the 4th seeds in the qualies, Haruka Inoue (Japan) and Larissa Schaerer (Paraguay) .. So, Niru is done with Wimbledon and is probably relieved that she is done with grass now :-) .. Will keep an eye open to see if she plays anywhere this week. Probably not, as only some $10K Futures are on the schedule this coming week.  She may get to go to a challenger in the second week of Wimbledon.

Jan 19 Note-2

Nirupama lost in the first round of the singles qualifiers today, 6-1, 6-4, to a player that some consider to be a young prodigy from Yugoslavia, 17 yr old Sandra Nacuk, ranked #160. Grass is Niru's least favorite surface and that must be part of the reason for the rather unimpressive show today in singles .. Still awaiting news on how Niru's doubles qualies are going; not sure if they played the first round of that today .. probably not, as they were trying to get in as many singles matches done as possible, in a day when the rains finally stayed away.

Mahesh plays the 4th seed in the qualies, Christophe van Garsse of Belgium (#132) in the final round of qualies, probably tomorrow (Saturday) .. The exact score of MB's win today over Etlis was 6-7(1), 6-4, 12-10 .. They have no tiebreakers in the final set even in the qualifiers, and that final set must have gone on for ever .. According to Steve Zimmerman, mahesh was down a break at 4-5 and was staring at defeat in the 3rd set when he broke back to knot it up at 5-5 ! .. Then he faced a matchpoint at 5-6, down a break again, but warded that off too .. Tremendous !

More info from Merle Benkavich .. Leander is planning to continue playing with Larissa Neiland in mixed doubles, at Wimbledon.. Apparently Lucic has again shown interest in playing with Mahesh and so it looks like MB will be playing with her in the mixed doubles at the Big-W .. Will talk to both of them next week to make sure there is no last minute change .. That's all good news.

June 19 Note-1

Great news .. Mahesh won the second round qualifiers today, over Gaston Etlis, 6-7, 6-4, 12-10 in what I am told was one the most exciting matches a big tennis fan, Steve Zimmerman, says he has ever seen .. Thanks go to Merle Benkavich for passing on the faxed info from Steve .. Yeah ! GO Mahesh !!! .. One more win, baybee, and you are in the main draw ! .. (I will check that scoreline later..)

Some bad news .. Leander is injured, though apparently not too badly. He had injured himself once during the doubles matches last week at Queen's .. Apparently he got a lower leg injury (no fractures, even hairline, detected in X-rays) during practice last Sunady .. Anyway, apparently he has requested a Tuesday time for his first round match against Wayne Black next week at the Big-W .. Again, info courtesy Merle .. By the way, Wayne Black lose meekly, 6-1, 6-3 yesterday to Jerome Golmard in the QF at Nottingham. More later.

This is exactly what I fear every year .. Leander nursing those little nagging injuries going into Wimbledon .. It seems to happen to him every year, after playing the practice matches on grass .. And the slip-sliding wet grasscourts in England don't help either .. May be he should just skip any preparatory grass tournaments and just go and play the Big-W .. He probably doesn't need any practice to do well on his favorite surface, grass, anyway .. :-) ..

June 18 Note-3

Mahesh's second round qualifier opponent will be the 30th seed in the qualifiers, 182nd ranked Gaston Etlis of Argentina .. Does anyone remember Etlis ? .. Yes, he is the one who beat a jetlagged Leander Paes last year at the Chennai Open in the first round .. He had gone through some breakthrough wins at that time last year, but had fallen a bit later on, dropping below 200 recentylu .. He did well last week at the Weiden challenger on clay, reaching the final, and has moved up to #182 this week. He had an up-and-down 3-setter against Jamie Delgado ranked below 500, which he finally won 6-7, 2-6, 6-2 today. Not known as a grass player, and Mahesh should come out firing against him !

They still have about 10 matches to finish in the first round, but if rain stays away, they will play the second round matches tomorrow .. I heard that the women's qualifiers are being moved to another venue altogether now !

June 18 Note-2

They played 45 minutes of tennis today at Roehampton, starting at 4 pm .. and it started raining again. Mahesh's second round opponent is still undetermined, but it could be Gaston Etlis, who was down a break in the first set to Jamie Delgado yesterday, but came back to win the set today on a tiebreaker and was up 2-1 in the second set when play was called off again. Christophe Van Garsse beat Kevin Ullyett 6-1, 6-2 today and Ofer Sela beat Andrei Olhovskiy yesterday, 6-3, 6-2, and so the opponent in the final (3rd round) will be the winner of Van Garsse vs Sela, in MB's part of the draw. Nothing has started on the women's side yet, and it is all now 4 days late ! ..

Syed fazaluddin is supposed to be at the Canada Futures at Toronto this week. No news from there yet.

June 18 Note-1

Yet another big rain day at Roehampton, and the Wimbledon qualifiers are now really, really behind in schedule .. Now they are having doubts if they can complete the qualies by Sunday and be ready for the Big show starting next Monday ..  Awaiting any further news from today, but doubtful if much can get done today either. The qualifier tournament referee's name is Tony Gathercote .. He has been basically gathering his raincoat so far ..:-)

The WTA rankings finally came out for this week. Niru stays at #167 in singles, but drops 4 spots to 195 in doubles. Arati Vankataraman has just entered the rank list at #1024 with 2 points, which means she must have played , perhaps in the Uzbekistan challenger or somewhere (players show up in the rankings only after playing a minimum of three tournaments, and she could have had a point from some earlier tournament too). In doubles, the Venkataraman sisters (Archana and Arati) have also just entered the rankings, at #727, for the first time .. Archana moved up from 790 to 753 this week in singles. All the other Indian girls' rankings remain basically the same ..

June 17 Notes

Mahesh started the Wimbledon Qualifiers in style today, crushing Andy Fahlke (#427), 6-1, 6-2 in round 1 at Roehampton (which is where the qualifiers are held) !! .. Only a handful of matches were completed today, as it rained most of the day again .. I thought the whole day was washed out again but a late fax from the referee's office gave the good news. His next round opponent is yet to be determined but will be the winner of the Janie Delgado vs Gaston Eltis match .. There are still about 24 of the 64 first round matches to be played, and so I assume MB's next match will probably be only on Friday.

None of the women's qualifier matches have been played, singles or doubles .. Nirupama is still waiting to play in both.

June 16 Note-6

Just heard that Leander might have gone to the Nottingham tournament, and may play doubles with Laurence Tieleman .. I don't see it in the draw posted at the ATP site, but the qualifier draw there may be incomplete and something may have change .. there is a possibility that these two made it into the draw some way on a withdrawl or something .. doubtful, though .. and I take it as unconfirmed for now .. What I had heard earlier was that he was going to celebrate his birthday (tomorrow!) at London .. That is most probably the case.

Here is the draw for MB at the singles qualifiers:

 4-Christophe Van Garsse (BEL) [131] vs   Kevin Ullyett (RSA)   [229] \
   Ofer Sela (ISR)             [355] vs W-Andrei Ohovskiy (RUS) [621] / \
   Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)       [328] vs   Andy Fahlke (GER)     [416] \ /
30-Gaston Etlis (ARG)          [208] vs   Jamie Delgado (GBR)   [520] /

Here is the draw for Nirupama in singles.

11-Meghan Shaunessey (USA)     [120] vs  K. Warne-Holland (GBR) [622] \
   Nirupama Vaidyanathan (IND) [167] vs  Sandra Nacuk (YUG)     [160] / \
   Erika Delone (USA)          [145] vs  Drake-Brockman (AUS)   [180] \ /
 2-Haruka Inoue (JAP)          [114] vs  Hannah Collin (GBR)    [663] /

Niru is also trying out the qualifiers with Sandra Kloesel of Germany .. She would have needed somebody with a ranking inside top-120 to qualify directly into the main draaw of doubles. Here is the doubles qualifier draw (3 rounds to qualify):

1-C.Black[159]/ I.Selyutina[153]    vs  C.Martinez-Granados[216]/ C.Tanvier[251] \
  M.Diaz-Oliva[246]/ M.Escobar[184] vs  A.Carlsson[174]/ R.Sandu[284]            / \
4-H.Inoue[206]/ L.Schaerer[136]     vs  S.Kloesel[229]/ N.Vaidyanathan[195]      \ /
  L.Cenkova[170]/ L.Richterova[255] vs  B.Rippner[287]/ J.Steck[162]             /

No women's qualifier matche shave started yet, due to rainouts .. All the above rankings are from last week, as in the faxes I got from the nice folks at the Wimbledon referee's office.

June 16 Note-5

Wayne Black upset 5th seed Todd Woodbridge, 7-6(2), 7-6(3) at Nottingham (not at sHertogenbosch as I had wrongly said earlier) today .. So, Wayne is not *that* lost on grass.. LP better be ready !

June 16 Note-4

More news .. Here is the doubles draw for Wimbledon next week (lower quarter of the upper half):

 3-M.Bhupathi (IND)/ L.Paes (IND)   vs  M.Mirnyi (BLR)/ A.Olhovskiy (RUS)    \
   B.Black (ZIM)/ R.Reneberg (USA)  vs  J.Gimelstob (USA)/ B.Macphie (USA)   / \
   D.Bowen (USA)/ B.Talbot (RSA)    vs  K.Braasch (GER)/ J.Knippschild (GER) \ / \
14-N.Broad (GBR)/ P.Norval (RSA)    vs  D.Roditi (MEX)/ S.Sargsian (ARM)     /    \
12-W.Black (ZIM)/ S.Lareau (CAN)    vs  Qualifier/ Qualifier                 \    /
WC-L.Milligan (GBR)/ A.Parmar (GBR) vs  D.Orsanic (ARG)/ M.Ruah (VEN)        / \ /
   G.Koves (HUN)/ J.Tarango (USA)   vs  T.Kempers (NED)/ M.Oosting (NED)     \ /
 6-D.Johnson (USA)/ F.Montana (USA) vs  D.Sapsford (GBR)/ C.Wilkinson (GBR)  /

Not a troubling draw for our guys. They are in the upper half of the draw along with Eltingh/Haarhuis, the #1 seed. By the way, the A.Parmar we see here in a wildcard British team is Arvind Parmar, who I assume has some indian connection, based on the name, though I have not seen him ever play in any Indian satellites or futures (he is a top-500 caliber singles player who has been in the circuit for some time). As for LP/MB's first opponent, Mirnyi/Olhovskiy is a good team .. Mirnyi has played our guys many times though without success, but he knows our guys' game well .. LP/MB have no losses to the three seeded teams in this quarter ..

June 16 Note-3

Here are the details on Wayne Black whom LP plays in round 1 next week at Wimbledon .. Pretty good player, who made his break pretty late. 25 year old from Zimbabwe who had played Davis Cup for them (with some good results) since 92, but has been a career challenger player till last year .. Last year at this time he was somewhere in the 250s in ranking, but he had his breakthrough period right after Wimbledon during the North American hardcourt season, with a title at the Granby challenger, Canada, Semis at Aptos, CA, Runner-up at Winnetka, IL, and another title at Lexington, KY !! .. About 200 points in a four week period that brought him up to just outside the top-115 .. His next big tournament was the Moscow ATP in November 97, where he reached the semi on carpet with wins over Haarhuis, Kroslak, and Vacek and cracked the top-100 .. He went on to get wins over top-50 Brett Steven (Aus.Open, hardcourt), then Emilio Alavarez (Memphis, hardcourt), and then a huge win over Time Henman (Indian Wells, hardcourt, though Tim was badly slumping then) that placed him inside ATP 70 .. He is ranked #81 now .. Still his 1998 record is not very good with an 8-11 mark in singles, though the losses are to guys like Philippoussis, Woodforde, Safin, Lapentti, J.Sanchez, Reneberg, Gimelstob, Gambil, Goellner and Uhlirach .. He hasn't had a good win in almost 3 months .. Basically he is a "hardcourt specialist" if there is something like that ..:-) .. Has played only a couple of grass matches in his whole life, I think. His win over qualifier A.Hernandez in 3 sets last week at Queen's may be his first win ever on grass .. He then lost to Pete Sampras in two easy sets, but no shame in that .. He has never done much on clay either .. This week he meets Todd Woodbridge at sHertogenbosch, Nederlands, on grass, an we will keep and eye to see how he does. If LP prepares well, and makes use of all his grass experience, he can win this match against Wayne .. So, there you have it ! .. All you ever wanted to know about Wayne's World ! Schwiiing ! :-)

June 16 Note-2

Though the site was down for the last couple of days, nothing much had happened during that period .. LP, MB, and Nirupama are all at Wimbledon - LP resting and practising this week and MB at the singles qualifiers.

The Wimbledon draw came out a few hours back. Here it is, for LP (the 1/4th of the draw, upper quarter in the bottom half):

 5-C Moya (ESP)            vs  Mahesh Bhupathi       \
WC-A Richardson (GBR)      vs  H Arazi (MAR)         / \
   S Sargsian (ARM)        vs  A Portas (ESP)        \ / \
   M Filippini (URU)       vs  M Larsson (SWE)       /    \__
   N Lapentti (ECU)        vs  D Prinosil (GER)      \    /  |
   J Siemerink (NED)       vs  S Dosedel (CZE)       / \ /   |
   J-A Marin (CRC)         vs  Qualifier             \ /     |
11-J Bjorkman (SWE)        vs  Qualifier             /       |
14-G Ivanisevic (CRO)[ 24] vs  G Stafford (RSA)[103] \       |_ to SF
WC-M Safin (RUS)     [ 68] vs  A Medvedev (UKR)[ 94] / \     |
   G Pozzi (ITA)     [ 59] vs  D Vacek (CZE)   [ 69] \ / \   |
   J Burillo (ESP)   [ 90] vs  M Goellner (GER)[ 83] /    \__|
   T Woodbridge (AUS)[ 29] vs  G Blanco (ESP)  [ 64] \    /
   L Paes (IND)      [117] vs  W Black (ZIM)   [ 81] / \ /
   T Martin (USA)    [ 32] vs  A Sa (BRA)      [124] \ /
 4-G Rusedski (GBR)  [  4] vs  Qualifier             /

The rankings are in the brackets.. Not a bad draw at all .. Rusedski got badly injured at Queens on Saturday and is less than 50% to play, as of now, based on his trainer's comments. He is in some rehabilitiation but ligament damage is not easy to get over .. But LP has to go past a few tough guys before thinking of a final-16 against Greg .. First, Wayne Black .. This is easily a winnable match for LP .. More on Wayne coming up soon ..

Mahesh Bhupathi is in the qualifier draw, and is scheduled to play Andy Fahlke (#427) of Germany .. It has been raining (deluge, they say), and only 5 or 6 matches were done on Monday, and it is another washout today .. Should be tomorrow, if the grounds are playable and the rains stop ..

Nirupama Vaidyanathan has finally resurfaced .. :-) .. She was taking a couple of weeks off, and is in the qualifiers (as one of the last minute entries. She also has a reasonable first round match, against Sandra Nacuk of Yugoslavia (#161) ..

I am supposed to get a qualifier draw faxed to me soon (the Wimbledon official site acts like there is nothing going on.. no mention of qualifiers there) .. Stay tuned.

As for the latest rankings, our guys dropped to #3 in team rankings. The Woodies went ahead by a few points (actually they only got the points for reaching the finals, as they shared the title with Bjorkman/Rafter at Queens after the abandoned final). LP lost 13 points replaced by a few qualifier points from earlier, and is down to 434 in points and 117 in ranking. MB stayed at around teh same in singles, up from 328 to 325 .. The individual doubles ranks are the same as before, 5 and 6 ..

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.