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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on June 25, 2007
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June 25 Notes

All the Wimbledon draws are out.   Sania Mirza plays Tuesday in the first round against Yaroslava Shvedova (RUS,80) .. 19 year old Shvedova is one of the bigger movers up the ranks this year - her big results coming at the Bangalore WTA in February, where she beat Shikha Uberoi and upset second seeded Sania on the way to her first WTA title .. Sania lost 76(2) 46 46 to her in the quarterfinal; so this is revenge time .. But realistically, unless she is uncomfortable on grass or something, Sania will have her hands full against the Russian .. Since upsetting the top two seeds Sania and Santangelo at Bangalore, she has gone 3-3 against the top-40 with wins against those like the current #6 Ivanovic, #37 Bremond and #39 Bondarenko.

In doubles, bother LP-Damm and MB-Stepanek are seeded.  Sania is playing with her old partner Shahar Peer, who split up last year because of some senseless opposition from some quarters about a Muslim-Israeli partnership .. They also became the last seeded pair in the draw. Here are the first round matchups for Indians:
[R1] (5) Martin Damm (CZE)/ Leander Paes (IND) vs Chris Haggard (RSA)/ Marcin Matkowski (POL)
[R1] (11) Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)/ Radek Stepanek (CZE) vs Christopher Kas (GER)/ Alexander Peya (AUT)
[R1] (16) Sania Mirza (IND)/ Shahar Peer (ISR) vs Sofia Arvidsson (SWE)/ Lilia Osterloh (USA)

For Indians are at the $25K challenger in Turkey this week.   Rushmi Chakravarthi, ranked 389, made the main draw directly, and was joined today by three more Indians, as Ankita Bhambri, Isha Lakhani and Sanaa Bhambri qualfied in as the top three seeds in the qualies .. After a Q1 bye, #529 Ankita Bhambri beat 15th seed Jana Albers (GER,1187) 16 63 60 to qualify ..
Isha Lakhani, #530, also with a Q1 bye, beat the 16th seed Huliya Velieva (BUL,1293) 63 61 in final qualies .. #508 Sanaa Bhambri beat Ayse-Ece Yavuz (TUR,UNR) 62 62, and then the 12th seed Sofia Kvatsabaia (GEO,960) 16 64 62 .. Very tough matchups for three of them in the main draw though .. Rushmi plays top seed Kyra Nagy (HUN,145), Isha faces second seed Monique Adamczak (AUS,202), and Sanaa runs into 4th seed Maria-Fernanda Alves (BRA,269) .. Ankita is the only one with an easier match - she gets wildcard Tugce Dogan (TUR,UNR) .. In doubles, Rushmi and Isha face Tugce Dogan (TUR) and Melis Sezer (TUR) .. The Bhambri sisters play Velieva sisters from Bulgaria - Huliya and Lyutfya.

Rupesh Roy, #48 in the world junior rankings, is with the u18 ITF team to Europe, and is playing this week at the ITF grade-1in Roehampton .. He faces #62 Nikita Zotov (RUS) in the first round.  I believe rain is causing all kinds of schedule delays at Roehampton.

Three Indians u16 kids had terrific results at an ETA category-2 claycourt event in Foggia, Italy this week .. Two qualifiers, Sudanwa Sitaram and Ashvarya Shrivastava reached the final with Sudanwa pulling off the title, while a thrid one, Kyra Shroff who was the last direct entry in the field, reached the QF as well, all of them upsetting top-100 seeded Euroepans.  Congratulations go to them! .. It is nice to see them showing that they are at least in the top-25 or top-50 talent level in releation to European kids.  ETA top-25 roughly translates to top-50 in the world juniors at that level.  Only Europe has well-coordinated u14 and u16 circuits with multiple-country entries.

Jan 23 Notes

Defending champions and top seeds LP and Martin Damm lost a good chance to win another title, as they went down to the third seeds Jeff Coetzee (RSA) and Rogier Wassen (NED), 73 67(5) (10-12) just now in the final at the Ordina Open ATP at sHertogenbosch, Netherlands ..
What was interesting in the final today was that Paes and Damm were throwing in aces like there was no tomorrow .. I believe they had 20 aces and no double faults in the match, as compared to 1 ace and 2 DFs by the other guys.  LP-Damm could be a force at Wimbledon if they can do that kind of stuff .. 20 aces in a two set match? .. The flip side of it is that our pair seemed not to be taking enough points in other ways today .. They were not broken in the whole match and did not even face a break point on their serve, but they only converted 1 of 8 chances they had for a break .. In the second set tiebreaker, our guys were down 1-3 and were unable to get that minibreak back .. Then in the supertiebreaker, they were down a mini at 3-5, went on a nice run to go ahead and serve at a match point at 10-9 .. They then lost the next three points to lose the final ..  Looks like LP-Damm let a title slip right through their hands.  Hats off to Coetzee-Wassen for finding a way to win this match - I don't know how they did it, frankly.

This was the 4th final at den Bosche for LP, twice in a row with Martin .. He had shared the title there in 1999 with Jan Siemerink, when the final was abandoned due to rain .. That in fact the day when LP reached the #1 ranking in the doubles world for the very first time .. LP had also reached the doubles final at den Bosch one other time - in 2003 with temporary partner Donald Johnson, losing then to, who else, Martin Damm with his then partner Cyril Suk .. Generally it has always been a place where LP had done well, both in singles and doubles.

The British wildcards who upset Mahesh and Gimelstob at the Nottingham ATP R1 this week, has gone on to win the title there today .. So, I suppose our guys only lost to a hot team.

Jan 22 Notes

The top seeds Leander and Martin Damm are in the doubles final at the
350K Ordina Open in s-Hertogenbosch in Netherlands.  In the semifinal today, they beat Michael Kohlmann (GER) and Robert Lindstedt (SWE) 62 63 .. In the final tomorrow they face Jeff Coetzee (RSA) and Rogier Wassen (NED) ..

Our u16 kids are finally doing well in the grade-3 European Tennis Association (ETA) clay event in Foggio Italy this week, with two qualifier, Sudanwa Sriram and  Ashvarya Shrivastava reaching the semifinal .. Sudanwa upset the 4th seed and Ashvarya upset the 3rd seed in the QFs .. Also, the last direct entry (based on ETA ranks), Kyra Shroff also reached the QF upsetting the 8th seed in the R1, falling only in a threesetter to the 4th seed ..  Good job, kids!

Jan 21 Notes

At the Ordina Open in s-Hertogenbosch, Paes-Damm moved on to the semfinal with a realatively easy 64 64 win against Benjamin Becker (GER) and Kristian Pless (DEN), last evening.

Some congratulations are due to our neighbour country's guy, Aisam Qureshi (PAK) who qualified into the main draw of Wimbledon today ..  He was among the last couple of guys to make it into the qualifying draw, as he was initially some 20 spots out from the qualies cut and made it in only after withdrawals.  That is quite an achievement for Aisam.

June 20 Notes

Bops and Zovko got upset in the doubles Q1 today at Wimbledon in the restarted match .. 75 26 (8-10) supertiebreak loss to Cipolla/ Economidis.  Yikes.  Shikha Uberoi and Liga Dekmeijere (LAT) lost in the Q1 there to the British ladies, Anna Fitzpatrick and Emily Webley Smith after a fight, 36 63 36 .. So, there will only be Sania (singles and doubles) and MB (doubles) and LP (doubles) in the draws at Wimbledon for us .. Rupesh Roy will be in the junior draws.

At the Ordina Open ATP in s-Hertogenbosch (Rosmalen) in Netherlands, the top seeds Leander Paes and Martin Damm seem to have struggled a lot yesterday but they got past the French pair, Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Devilder, 67(1) 75 13-11 in one of the longest doubles matches (nearly 2 hours) on the ATP tour this year .. In the QF, they play Benjamin Becker (GER) and Christian Pless (DEN) ..

Mahesh Bhupathi and temporary partner Justin Gimelstob (USA) were seeded 4th atthe Nottingham Open in UK, but went down 75 46 (8-10) in yet another supertiebreaker to British wildcards Joshua Goodall and Ross Hutchins in the R1 .. Yikey Yikes .. After a great run to the finals at the FO, Hesh and Radek Stepanek had struggled last week, going out in the first round 16 46 to the third seeds Hanley and Ullyett at the Queens ATP in London.  So, pretty bad buildup to Wimbledon, but things could change next week.

June 19 Notes

At the Wimbledon doubles qualifying rounds, the sixth seeds Rohan Bopanna (IND,147) and Lovro Zovko (CRO,88), seeded 6th are 7-5 1-4 in their match against Flavio Cipolla (ITA,126) and Konstantinos Economidis (GRE,179) .. The match is suspended due to bad light, to resume tomorrow.

Also in doubles qualifying is Shikha Uberoi making a return after quite a few weeks off due to injury .. She is seeded 4th with plays with the Latvian, Liga Dekmeijere against British pair, Ana Fitzpatrick and Emily Webley-Smith.

Many of the top Indian juniors are o a three-week swing to Morocco - Yuki Bhambri, Vijayant Malik, Akash Wagh, Poojashree Venkatesha and Janaki Gunuganti.  No great results yet in the first two weeks' grade-3 and grade-2, except for one QF by Yuki last week, when he fell to world 90th ranked second seed.  They are all at the Meiterranee Avenir grade-2 this week in Morocco.  The highest ranked Indian junior, Rupesh Roy, is with the ITF u18 team to Europe, and is awaiting the draw for the Roehampton grasscourt grade-1 ITF juniors that starts later this week in UK.

In other news, a few Indian u16 players are in Europe, playing the European Tennis Association (ETA) u16 events.   Sweta Solanki, the only one who is in the ITF Asian team to these European events, has won doubles title three weeks in a row with Beatrice Gumulya (INA) in Italy.  Sweta was at the ETA category-2 event in Crema, Italy, followed by category-1 events in Montecatini and Ambrosiono, and is in La Baule in France this week for the ETA cat-1 "Derby Cadets" u16 .. She has had a tougher time this year in singles than last yeat when she went to the same events on her own.   Also traveling in Italy are Christopher Marquis, Kyra Shroff, Ashvarya Shrivastava, Sundanwa Sitaram and a couple of others.  After Montecatini and Ambrosiono, they are all staying in Italy at Foggia this week.   No great results but the kids have been regularly qualifying into these events and picking up a win or two.  Sweta gets direct entry to these events, as she is with ITF, but the others do not have top-500 European ranks and have to play qualies.   This is great early experience for Indian kids on red clay .. I am very glad to see their being advised to do this (and being sent by academies like MBTA) .. The long-time readers here would remember my constant whining to Indian parents to look towards these u14 and u16 events in Europe for years.  Now this idea seems to have become accepted in Indian circles, which is great to see.  The results do not matter as much as getting all the match experience and having an idea of what all to improve on, physically on strength and mentally on patience, to stay up with the European tennis standards later on.

June 18 Note-2

Sania Mirza let a good chance go, to upset a top-30 player, as she went down tp Francesca Schiavone (ITA,29), 63 46 46 .. She will proceed to Wimbledone next week.   Though Sania has said that she likes playing on grass, I have never felt that she is a classic grasscourt player, especially on lowbounce somewhat-uneven type courts.  Wimbledon has higher-bounce true grass courts, and that probably suits her better .. Let us hope that she would start on something big there.

Now the heartbreaking news from today .. Rohan Bopanna (IND,287) played yet another incredibly competitive narathon match but fell against Wesley Moodie (RSA,137) today, 6-3 1-6 17-19 .. That was not a supertiebreaker or anything .. The third set went to 17-19, effectively making it longer than many 5-setters .. Bopanna lost after he got injured and was in obvious pain at 16-16 in the third set, as the Wimbledon website said .. My God, can this man ever get a right break in these long matches? .. He lost that monumental long 5th set in Davis Cup against the then top-15 Verkerk in Netherlands after getting a bad call on a match point .. He has fallen to Wesley Moodie twice before in multiple tiebreaker barnburners, in some important matches .. There are many many such matches against many many guys in his career.  Something or other goes wrong for him in the end, and he rarely gets the credit for the massive grit he shows to stay competitive with guys ranked much higher than him and take these matches to such incredible lengths .. Because close does not cut it in sports, I guess .. In his case, on top of whatever technical deficiencies or flaws he may have that troubles him at crunch points, or perhaps simply running out of variety options and having to rely on plan-A serve and nothing else, he also seemingly never gets any help from luck .. I hope he stays strong and keep coming back; one of these days things have got to go his way, and then he really is doe for a lot of it going his way! .. Bops is also in the double squalifying rounds - hopefully his injury will not prevent him from playing.

More later.

June 18 Note-1

Qualifiers Sunitha Rao and Ryoko Fuda (JPN) won the doubles title yesterday atthe $25K challenger in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA .. They upset the 4th seeds Angela Haynes and Lindsey Lee-Waters of USA, in a tough comeback 67(3) 64 61 .. They were even a break down in the second set but then went on a very good run to pull it off.

.. Previous news are at Notes for the week ending on June 18, 2007 ..

.. Please email questions/comments/criticism to me email me - R.Jayakrishnan