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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on June 26, 2000

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June 26 Notes

Mahesh's first round match at Wimbledon is scheduled for Tuesday ..  Mahesh vs Huet on court 10, after a women's singles match that starts at noon, and should get underway by 2 pm London (9 am New York, 6.30 pm India) .. (+/- half hour) .. We will as usual have our chat session following the scores ball-by-ball at our chatroom .. Come on in - it's been a while since we have a had a good chat session .. What better time than a during a Wimbledon main draw match ? [see the June 24 Note-1 below for info on MB's opponent Huet]

By the way, I got a couple of emails from fanclub people asking why I have not written more about Mahesh playing with Martina Navratilova .. I guess it is just that I was actually concerned about Mahesh playing three events at Wimbledon - just scared about the shoulder, though I am sure Hesh knows what he is doing .. In my mind, mixed doubles has often been a waste of time, except for money;  not that it is not an honor to win a grand slam mixed doubles titles, and any time MB or LP went far in a mixed doubles draw I have always got excited about it .. But it is still an event that does not get much coverage anywhere, though like at Wimbledon last year, a ton of top players played mixed doubles, especially on the women's side (for women, mixed doubles gives really valuable experience facing the big servers from the men's side, but for men it perhaps does not help a whole lot as practice, right?) .. Of course, playing with Martina Navratilova is of course a great honor for Mahesh - it's going to be fun once MxD starts at Wimbledon later in the week, and quite a bit of attention will be on MB, the first one to play mixed with the great one in a long time!  .. For now I am excited about MB's singles - it will only be his second singles match since playing the final round of qualies at Wimbledon last year .. Hard to believe!  Go Hesh !!!

Srinath Prahlad is at the $10K Greece F2 futures at the beautiful coastal town of Nafplio, in the singles and doubles draw .. Sri is the 4th seed and plays Zoltan Boroczky (HUN,834) in the first round .. In doubles Srinath is playing with Jason Marshall, and the unseeded pair has already beaten the second seeds, Martin Sinner and Kobi Ziv, 62 63 in the first round today .. That sounds like a pretty good win, with a partner who is ranked over 900 spots below him in doubles .. Actually Sri has hardly played much in Europe (I wonder if this is doubles win is one of the first - at least I don't remember one for a long time) .. Go Sri ! .. [Thanks Steve, for the news]

This week's USA futures is at Chico, California - I have not seen the main draw to know if Fazal is there ..

At the Delhi satellites, the first round passed without any huge upsets to speak of, except a somewhat surprising win for Mustafa Ghouse over Vishal Uppal in straight sets, 76(5) 64 .. Vishal will end this satellites with one solitary ATP point, but the injury and fever problems he has had in this circuit was a big reason for the poor show .. Also Manoj Mahadevan lost a three-setter to Saurav Panja after having even a match point in the 3rd set (so Manoj comes close in a three-setter yet again - very strange, how he has done that so many times in the past) .. The scoreline of Ajay Ramaswamy's 61 60 win over Vinod Sridhar was rather surprising too .. The guy who will play Harsh Mankad, Gwanael Gueit of France, seems to be in a good form with a 62 61 win over Amod Wakalkar, even though Kamesh reports in The Hindu, that Amod played pretty well despite the scoreline .. Good to see Vijay Kannan winning easily, over Pracharapol Khamsaman (THA) - he has a tough second round match against Barry Fulcher .. Saurav Panja has a tough match also - against 4th seed Thornoadtsson, who is my "dark horse" pick to cause trouble in this leg .. Sandeep should be alright against Sikhanov of Russia .. On paper, it looks as though Rishi Sridhar has the easiest second round foe, Phoemphon Atabut of Thailand .. The tougher ones among R2 opponents for the seeds would be Ramaswamy for 5th seed Majmudar and Gueit for 2nd seed Harsh (and it doesn't get any easy for Harsh either, as he could potentially go through some guys like Barry Fulcher, Thornadtsson, Majmudar, Ramaswamy, etc in later rounds even if he gets past Gueit - ouch, baby :-)) .. Actually Harsh has the most important match tomorrow - he stands to gain 7 extra ATP points over the 14 he has now, if he can win tomorrow and raise his circuit points from 40 to 50 .. Looking at the draw, the upper half looks certainly the easier draw right now .. There was only an eight team masters draw, though by mistake I had said in the circuit points page that 12 teams would make it in .. Sorry .. Anyway, the four teams have reached the semifinal of doubles already - #1 Chadha/Majmudar vs Gavrilov-Sikanov and #2 Mankad-Ramaswamy vs Ghouse-Uppal in the semis .. Top seeds Chadha-Majmudar got revenge on Gueit-Fulcher for their loss in the last leg to them .. See the Delhi masters page.

June 25 Notes

The Monday schedule at Wimbledon does not include Mahesh's first round singles match against Stephane Huet .. That means he will be playing on Tuesday.

Also, a late report of a match for Niru this week .. She actually played the doubles qualies also at Wimbledon (she had lost the singles qualies to 9th seed Vanessa Web and lost in a tough three-setter earlier) .. Niru and Marion Maruska ended up with the 2nd seeds in the 16-team qualies, Caroline Dhenin and Renata Kolbovic, and lost in three sets - 36 76 36 ..

At Delhi, the satellite masters will be starting on Monday .. 8 seeded players and 4 seeded teams have first-round byes, and they won't be playing on Monday .. At least the eight first round singles matches should be on Monday .. I have not seen the draw.

At the 3rd leg finals yesterday, Mankad and Ramaswamy had their 7 match doubles win streak snapped by Gwanael Guet and Barry Fulcher, who had both lost in the first round the previous two legs, but came up strongly here beating the top seeds Chadha-Majmudar, the 4th seeds Ghouse-Uppal and the 2nd seeds Mankad-Ramaswamy .. They won 6-3 3-6 6-3 in the doubles final, making it a miserable day for Harsh Mankad who lost in both the finals.

As for the singles final yesterday, here is the report from Kamesh Srinivasan in The Hindu - "No stopping Udomchoke" .. Kamesh as usual reports a lot of stats (one thing very few tennis reporters take care to do, by the way) .. The key stat that caught my attention is that Udomchoke lost only about 5 points on his serve the entire match .. That means Harsh got cooked right there .. Harsh, on his own serve can get broken, but he is good at breaking the opponents when his returns are working ..  Kamesh says, "Harsh tried to add power to his shots and erred in the process. Of course, there was no point in trying to rally with the Thai who has the ability to hit his top-spin drives on both flanks all day. The weather conditions, though pleasant, was a bit against Harsh as it was gloomy and windy while Udomchoke played his strokes nicely to suit the velocity of the wind" .. That is an interesting observation - Harsh had actually said once that he had got so used to playing indoors at the University of Minnesota that windy outdoors had started giving him serious trouble in the college circuit .. As for Danai, Kamesh says that even on his second serves (he only had a first serve percentage of 55%), the Thai was not losing points ..When the Thai made only 25 unforced errors to 40 by Harsh, there was only one way the match could go .. The only time Harsh got anything done was in the 9th game of the first set when he was down a break but got it back, breaking Danai with "with three inspired winners in a row - a passing shot, a backhand crosscourt winner and a volley", but that was immediately followed by him getting broken again and losing the set .. Then it was all over pretty fast ..

I also have a feeling that playing 18 matches in 13 days has to have taken a toll on Mankad (finals in singles and doubles for two weeks in a row - that is impressive, but despite the proximity, the cigar eluded Harsh in three of the four finals) .. I am actually surprised that Harsh has held up this long, going immediately as he did after playing 54 singles matches in the college circuit in the last few months - and playing another 13 more in the satellite circuit .. The last time that many singles matches were played by anybody in India was perhaps in 1995 when Mahesh was running back for satellites during his college seasons! .. Harsh must be be a tired man looking forward to a two day-break before playing second round in the masters leg ..

There has been some talk in newspaper reports about his chances for Davis Cup team .. I don't know if any of that means anything, as I am sure the three losses against 19 year-old Udomchoke will be held against him - though it shouldn't, as it doesn't appear that anybody other than LP or MB would beat the 307-ranked Danai in his current form (Sandeep did beat him in the first leg, but Danai being immobile with muscle cramps certainly helped) .. Here is what Kamesh wrote after Mankad's marathon comeback in the quarterfinal last week in The Hindu - "The chairman of the selection committee, Shyam Minotra, patiently watched the match, but when the selectors meet on June 29, it is unlikely that they will choose a new candidate - apart from Mahesh Bhupathi, Prahlad Srinath, Syed Fazaluddin and Vishaal Uppal - for the Davis Cup tie against Sweden to be played from July 21 to 23 .. If anything, there is no doubt that prominent Indian players in the present circuit like Harsh Mankad, Ajay Ramaswamy or for that matter Sandeep Kirtane, lack that clincher - the ability to dominate a circuit" .. But then again, domination in a satellite circuit is very difficult to determine, as it really depends on who else is playing - I don't remember a foreigner ranked near 300 (or perhaps even inside 400) ever coming for a satellite in India, and if Danai wasn't there, it would have looked like Harsh completely dominated this circuit so far - as he is #2 in singles circuit points and #1 in doubles points (when was the last time somebody was at the top in both categories in India, I wonder?) .. And it is certainly tough to say that anyone in India other than LP, MB, Sri and Fazal is better than Harsh right now on the basis of his record in the last two satellites, as well as in his junior days .. Kamesh may be right that the team may stay intact and Vishal may stay - after all the selection committee is there to consider all factors and we have some good people who can make judgments .. Hopefully Harsh would at least get a chance to practice with the Davis Cup big boys, regardless of how he does in the last leg - I don't believe he has ever been considered for even that, unlike Vishal, Vijay, Saurav, Mustafa, Sunil, etc .. Some grooming and encouragement for Harsh is also warranted .. Would be nice to see him get some reward as well for all the hard work and good results he has shown - though he might just want to go home and lie down for a month doing nothing after the satellites!

Anyway, let us see how things go in the final leg, which promises to be very interesting as always .. There are some guys out there who have not played their best so far, and want to make their last-gasp push - Thornadtsson, Vishal, etc would be in that group .. Those who have done poorly in the earlier legs have a habit of doing well in the final leg (remember  Fazal playing Chicoine in the November satellites masters final?) .. Basically they benefit from being fresher too, having played less - both Danai and Harsh would suffer a bit from that .. And I would watch out for Sandeep Kirtane in the final leg - never forget him.

June 24 Note-2

Well, last year it was Srinath who was Mankad's nemesis, beating him three times .. This time it is of course Danai Udomchoke, who has done it three times in the three legs .. The final doesn't seem to have lived up to any expectations - Udomchoke d. Mankad, 64 62, according to .. I have not seen the doubles final scores yet.

June 24 Note-1

No news from Leander in a long time - as you know, he is recuperating from a wrist injury suffered at the French Open three weeks back - we heard then, that he will be out for up to 2-3 months and will be back only for US Open or just before .. I have not been able to get any news from him for over a month, and so I have no updates .. Hope his wrist is getting better.

Here is the draw for Mahesh at the Wimbledon:

15 Marat Safin (RUS)     vs    Galo Blanco (ESP)    \ 
   Martin Damm (CZE)     vs  Q Dejan Petrovic (AUS) / \
   Sargis Sargsian (ARM) vs  Q David Prinosil (GER) \ / \
WC Mahesh Bhupathi (IND) vs  Q Stephane Huet (FRA)  /    \ __ QF
   Jerome Golmard (FRA)  vs LL Cyril Saulnier (FRA) \    /
   Adrian Voinea (ROM)   vs    Stefan Koubek (AUT)  / \ /
   Todd Martin (USA)     vs LL Fredrik Jonsson (SWE)\ /
 2 Andre Agassi (USA)    vs  Q Taylor Dent (USA)    /
Stephane Huet (FRA,107) was the second seed in the qualies and beat Luis Vosloo (RSA), Ville Liukko (FIN) and Francisco Cabrello (ARG) in the qualies to reach the main draw .. His final round qualifier match went to 5 sets against Cabrello (who is from Argentina and not a grass player if I were to guess) .. Huet himself is really not a grass player, but he has qualified in two times to Wimbledon - in 96 and 97, both times losing in the first round - the 96 match was a washout against Todd Woodbrige but the 97 match was a five-setter against Jonathan Stark .. He has reached the second round twice at the French Open and once at the Australian .. He is a 29 year old left hander who is 5 ft 11" tall - one could call him a journey-man, who has been on the tour for close to 10 years but got inside top 150 only this year, reaching a career high last month at #101 in entry ranking .. This year he has some challenger wins, the best being a final at the Heilbronn challenger on clay, but he has done very poorly in the 7 ATP big tournaments he has got into, as he has lost six matches and won just one match .. He didn't play any grass events in the main draw last year, and generally does not play any grass events other than Wimbledon qualies in any year .. His career rank profile is one of a journey-man's - he got near top 200 as early as in 93, but fell to near 500 by 95, got back inside top-200 by early 97, fell below near 300 in 98, back again in 99 getting close to 125, and finally reaching his career high of 101 last month .. Got to give it to him for perseverance, but frankly he seems like somebody a healthy Mahesh would rather easily beat on the Wimbledon grass that seems to suit MB's game pretty well .. As of now though, MB has just started singles practice this week after not having played singles for almost a year .. He is not serving at 100% for singles purposes yet and his shoulder is still not fully pain-free - so we can't say anything about how his match will go next week .. If he advances, there is a decent chance for him to play his doubles partner David Prinosil who has had to play qualies based on his ranking last week, though he is in fantastic form on grass, having won the big Halle event last week.

June 23 Note-3

The Mankad show is going on in doubles too, at the satellites .. He has reached both finals for the second week in a row - today the 2nd seeded pair of Mankad and Ramaswamy beat the Russian pair of Gavrilov and Sikanov (3rd seeds) 63 62 in 55 minutes easily .. In the other semifinal, the 4th seeds Ghouse and Uppal were upset by the Britrish-French pair, Fulcher and Guet, 76(5) 64 .. Actually Mankad and Ramaswamy are now tied for the top spot in doubles as well, and they can take the top spot for themselves with a win tomorrow in the final.

June 23 Note-2

No big adventures for Harsh Mankad today, as he seems to have stopped cold the giant-killing spree of Rishi Sridhar today, with a 64 62 win to reach the final against, who else, Danai Udomchoke once again .. Udomchoke on the other hand dropped a set against Kunj Majmudar, but came back in classic Danai style for a 67(4) 61 60 win today ..  Rishi Sridhar had beaten #3 Sandeep Kirtane and #6 Ajay Ramaswamy in the last two rounds and was showing great form, but there were reports yesterday that he had picked up an ankle problem - and that may have added to his troubles against Mankad .. PTI says, "Rishi paid for his over-ambitious gameplan of hitting every groundstroke with fierce power" - I guess that does not necessarily work against Harsh, who I understand is basically a very good counter-puncher who can hit the ball on the rise and kill you with accurate passing shots .. In the circuit standings now, this places Udomchoke and Harsh at 51 and 40 ATP points each, ahead of Sandeep at 30 points ..  I have added a page showing the conversion table for circuit points to ATP points (here it is, linked at the top of the circuit points page) .. As you can see, the conversion table is very non-linear .. That is, you get very little ATP points till a certain level of circuit points, then you get a lot for the next few, and it flattens out once you are at about 65 circuit points .. Take a look .. Right now, Udomchoke already has 21 ATP points, Mankad has 14, Sandeep has 7 and everybody else less than 4 points .. Both Udomchoke and Harsh seem headed towards 30 or more points .. 36 ATP points is the maximum you can get now, as opposed to about 45 to 50 last year (but ATP entry points are all running at about 80% of last year's total in most events).

As for yesterday's comeback win for Harsh, after he was in huge trouble at 3-6 1-5, it seems he made the comeback nicely in the second set holding serve a few times (that has been a problem for him in some matches - breaking the other guy never seems to be any trouble :-)) - also with Fulcher losing a bit of steam and missing some shots by inches and getting a couple of bad calls too .. Harsh could have finished the match in about 2 hours 15 minutes when he was up one break at 5-2 in the 3rd set, and had his first match point at 5-3 .. Then he dropped serve once to let it go to a tiebreaker - went up again to 5-1 in the tiebreaker, only to see three more match points go astray, till finishing the job .. Too many twists and turns in that script .. No doubles matches got done yesterday and both the semis were postponed to today - no news yet on that .. See the Delhi satellite page.

Too much bad news from USA to report today .. 5th seeded Fazal lost both his singles and doubles match yesterday .. In singles R2, he was upset by Robert Kendrick, a talented college player,  57 75 62 .. In the doubles QF, Fazal and Ben-Qiang Zhu lost 06 63 67(3) to David Roditi and Trace Fielding .. So, only 1 ATP points in singles and 4 in doubles for Fazal this week .. His 6-week US tour has got him only about 6 ATP points so far, but he has still done much better than he did earlier for almost a year in pro events ..

More bad news - 4th seed Manisha Malhotra lost in her second round match against Adria Engle (USA) today, retiring injured in the first set at 2-3 .. Not sure what the injury was .. Yikes - she also seems to be a bit injury prone .. Actually every time one of our players go for more than 3 or 4 weeks at a stretch without a break, I start worrying about injuries .. I was keeping my fingers crossed about Manisha, and I guess she came down yesterday - it need not necessarily have anything to do with having played a lot, though.

So, this week's action is pretty much over except for the satellite final tomorrow.

June 23 Note-1

With the qualies done, the final draw is made and Bhupathi plays Stephane Huet (FRA,107) in the first round at Wimbledon next week .. More later.

June 22 Notes

Right from when I talked to Harsh Mankad for the first time in early 98, I had always felt that the guy had a sense of purpose in him though not everything had gone perfectly in his transition from juniors to seniors .. That drive was one reason why I have always been a cheerleader for him - but I doubt he had a reputation as a totally diehard fighter, though he was never really known as one who chokes either .. Today he pulled off an incredible comeback which surprises even me .. According to PTI, in today's QF, the 20 yr old was down 36 15 against a reasonably in-form British player who likes the fast-paced courts at Delhi, but came back from the brink to win 36 75 76(4) to reach yet another semifinal .. "Some excellent double-fisted passing winners powered him to the win", says PTI  in the "Mankad does Houdini act" article today .. That made me wonder - does Harsh have a double-fisted backhand ? .. I thought his was basically single-fisted though he does use a touch with his left hand, almost like it's for moral support :-)) .. Anyway, hats off to Harsh for showing that the cupboard is not totally empty in the 17 to 26 age group [there has hardly been any significant singles success from that group, though Saurav, Vishal and Mustafa have done fine in doubles] .. But Harsh is not the only one who is creating news out there - how about Rishi Sridhar, the "where have you been all along, buddy?" player of the satellites so far! .. The 21 year old had a huge upset of Sandeep Kirtane 75 62 today to reach his first satellite semi and assure himself of a seeding and a first round bye in the final .. His match against Mankad tomorrow should be very interesting - and he may have the upper-hand now with Harsh having played a gruelling three hour match today .. Danai Udomchoke had yet another easy two-setter against Marian Leysek, the 8th seed .. We also have an Indian-American in the semis, with unseeded former US college player Kunj Majmudar ending the run of qualifier Gueit of France .. See the Delhi satellite page.

4th seed Manisha Malhotra won the first round at the $10K satellite at Easton, Maryland, over lucky loser Eva Wang of USA, 75 64 .. She next faces Adria Engel of USA .. Manisha is not playing doubles this week, though her earlier partner Leanne Baker is also there .. I think she may be trying to conserve some energy after all the work lately .. Manisha is ranked 315 in doubles and 359 in singles this week.

Unlike what I had expected, Sunil Kumar is not at the ITF Grade-2 junior event on grass at East Moesely, Surrey, UK .. Actually what I had heard earlier was that he might go to the Queens junior event, which is actually next week (that is a grade-1 event) - it was my guess that he might go to Surrey also if he was anyway going to UK .. We will see if he is at Queens next week.

Fazal's second round singles at the USA F16 futures in Redding (California) was not yesterday, as they were completing the remaining first round matches - Fazal's R2 opponent was determined, and it is Robert Kendrick, a talented colege player .. In doubles the "India-China bhai-bhai" team of Fazal and Zhu will face David Roditi and Trace Fielding in R2 .. Roditi from Mexico was a college player at Dallas a few years back, but had gone quite high in ATP doubles - I didn't know that he is back to the futures circuit again.

June 21 Note-2

Fazaluddin is still hard at work in the US .. He is the 5th seed at the $15K USA F16 futures in Redding, California, and won a very good first round match yesterday against a player he had lost to in the past .. Fazal beat Dmitri Toursounov (RUS,599) 76(4) 62 .. He picks up one ATP point and now faces the winner of the match between Robert Kendrick and qualifier Nathan Jackmon .. In doubles we have the pair that represents more of humanity than ever before in ATP tour history (I don't know if any India-China combo has ever played a pro event - I don't think so), Fazal and Ben-Qiang Zhu of China .. The pair that was runner-up at last week's futures started this week with an upset of the second seeds Brandon Hawk and Doug Root of USA (yeah, let's show the yankees who the real super powers are, eh? :-)) -- Fazal/Zhu advanced 64 76(5) ..  Fazal seems to have come back at least to his form about a year back .. He has had a horrible time ever since finishing highly at the Indian satellites last May .. Actually all his satellite points fell off this monday, taking him down 227 spots to #689 this week with just 17 ATP points [it is based on his rank last week that he is seeded this week - technically his win yesterday was an upset, I guess] .. 17 points is all he had picked up for 12 months, and out of that 11 points came from the November satellites in India - that leaves him with 6 other points, some of which were first round losses in the Indian challengers, too ..  Nice to see him showing that he has not completely lost it - I am sure Fazal also wants to keep his spot in the Davis Cup team which was really in serious doubt .. It probably still is in some doubt, especially as the tie is on clay, but with some good wins in the US, the best being the QF in the futures last week (4 ATP points) and one win earlier over a top-300 player, he has kept himself in contention .. The 5 points in the last two weeks will take his ranking up nearer to top-600 again ..

Srinath has fallen over 125 spots to #441 this week as his satellite points fell off .. Harsh Mankad completely fell off the rank list as he lost all 17 of his points from the #4 finish in the May 99 satellites - they were the only points he had, as he had not played professionally after the satellites, proceeding  to US for college tennis .. He will definitely pick up more points than 17 this time and get back in the rank list though.

At the satellites today, the decibel level went up again in the noise that Rishi Sridhar has been making - today he beat the 6th seed who had been making some noise himself .. Rishi beat Ajay Ramaswamy! .. Kunj Majmudar pulled the other upset, over 5th seed Vinod Sridhar .. Danai, Harsh and Sandeep had easy wins .. Harsh's wins over Vijay Kannan seem to get easier and easier eveytime - it's still disappointing how Vijay, who many had hopes on for a while, does not seem to show any upward trend in his results .. Mustafa went down very cheaply to Danai and Sandeep had it easy with Kedar Shah retiring after a set with an ankle injury .. The PTI report says Sandeep's semifinal entry is almost certain, as he is playing unseeded Rishi Sridhar - I won't be so sure, but Sandeep is perhaps experienced enough to avoid another Rishi upset .. With Parantap losing to 7th seed Fulcher, the 24 players for the masters leg is all set with 13 Indians in it, along with 3 Thais,  2 Americans, 2 Russians, and one each from Slovak Rep., Sweden, France and Britain .. Harsh will play Fulcher in the QF tomorrow, which should be an interesting match - Harsh beat him two weeks back, though .. Check out the Delhi satellite page .. I think the players who make the doubles entry for the masters leg are also set now - check the circuit points page.

The other road warrior, Manisha Malhotra also continues her travels through the small towns of US, and she is at the $10K satellites at Easton, Maryland, this week .. She is the 4th seed and plays the lucky loser Eva Wang (USA) in the first round today .. Another interesting player in the draw is Canada's Kavitha Krishnamurthy, one of the top newcomers in the US colleges this year - she has a tough match against the second seed Jacqueline Trail in the first round today.

June 21 Note-1

OK, got confirmation on Niru's match .. #9 seed Vanessa Webb (CAN,111) d. Nirupama, 62 57 75 .. That is the beginning and end of Niru's obligatory grass "season" which normally is one or two matches out there at Roehampton every year :-) .. Nice fight till the end though .. As you can see I was not expecting too much from Niru on the grasscourts, and so I am perhaps less disappointed than I normally would be ..

The doubles draw also has come out at Wimbledon (unusually early - normally the grandlsam doubles draws don't get posted till the main draw singles actually starts!) .. Mahesh and Prinosil are the 10th seeded, drawn in the bottom-most quarter of the draw with 7th seed Damm-Ferreira .. The other seeds in the quarter are 16th seeds Carbonnel-Garcia and the 2nd seeds Haarhuis-Stolle .. MB-Prinosil vs Mariano Hood/ Sebastien Prieto in the first round, after a week from now.

June 20 Note-4

There was a five hour rain delay at the Wimbledon qualies today and only a few matches were completed in the women's qualifier draw .. Basically the first matches on each court;  but even a couple of them were not completed including Nirupama's match, as the official site has not given a score for it .. Seeing that a couple of three-set matches were completed, it looks like Niru was having a long match with Vanessa Webb .. No idea what the score is, though.

As for the Delhi staellite matches today, I was sad to hear of Vishal Uppal still being down with a fever .. He was actually under antibiotics and really had nothing much left .. On the other hand, Rishi Sridhar who beat him is a talented customer for whom confidence was always the question, and he seems to be getting that problem behind him slowly .. Basically Vishal has had a wretched series of satellites - he has made it into the masters leg though .. Here is what the Hindustan Times wrote about Harsh Mankad's comeback three-set win against Sikanov - "Mankad looked a different player after having lost the opening set ... He matched his opponent shot for shot in the closely-contested second set. There were no easy points for the Russian, as Mankad produced many an excellent winner .. Sikanov, who had looked a better player in the first set, had to work hard in the second set as Mankad raised the level of his performance. It was Mankad's ability to play big points better which stood him in good stead in this set ... Mankad clinched the tie-breaker and then rarely allowed the Russian to gain an upper hand in the third and deciding set" .. Apparently Mankad did get broken a couple of times in the 3rd set but kept breaking the other guy though! - that match was a marathon fight for 2 hours 40 minutes .. Good to see a fight from him, though he probably should have avoided getting into a mess in the first place! .. It will be yet another Vijay Kannan - Harsh Mankad match tomorrow .. Ajay Ramaswamy is again looking strong, taking out Manoj Mahadevan 63 62 .. Kedar Shah is the other player along with Rishi Sridhar who has had a very nice satellite series so far - he beat Vikrant Chadha in a marathon three-setter with two tiebreaks .. Here is something that Kamesh wrote in The Hindu - Of course, when it came to missing a chance, there was none to match Kamala Kannan on the day. The 18-year-old bundle of power had three matchpoints in the second set in his clash against Mustafa Ghouse on the faster courts, in which he played as if in a dream in the first part. However, Kamala Kannan let go the opportunity and lost out in three sets. With the 19-year-old Mustafa struggling to strike a rhythm, Kamala Kannan was on song, as he recovered from a 1-3 start to take the first set 6-3. After dropping a break on taking a 4-2 lead in the second set, the Krishnan centre trainee from Chennai had three matchpoints at 6-5 on Mustafa's serve. Eventually he missed all of them with erratic strokes ..  Kamala Kannan is one I was keeping an eye on ..  I believe his travel for the satellites was sponsored by the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association, also .. Though he had some nice wins in the qualies etc, things have not gone great for the young guy this time .. As for Mustafa, it has been a while since he had a convincing win over anybody, but he did what was needed in the 3rd set today .. In doubles, all the seeded teams have advanced .. See the Delhi satellites page.

June 20 Note-3

Correction in my calculations below .. I had made a mistake in calculating the points for Stalbark .. Check out the updated circuit points page .. Stalbark is actually out of the picture .. Now, unless Parantap beats Fulcher tomorrow, the top 24 are already fixed including Atabut, Sikanov, Aloke Bhide and Manoj Mahadevan .. If Parantap wins, then we will need a playoff between three players for 2 spots, or four players for 3 spots .. I hope my calculations are now correct .. I know it's big deal for a lot of you - it's important only for those players .. Also, those who like number games may enjoy doing these silly calculations!

June 20 Note-2

The Wimbledon main draw got done today and  Mahesh is drawn to face a qualifier to be determined! .. Drawn in the same 1/8th of the draw as 15th seed Marat Safin and 2nd seed Andre Agassi, but no seeds in the second round as well, if MB advances - winner of Sargisian vs Qualifier is the second round opponent .. Not bad at all!

Awaiing news on Nirupama's match against the 9th seed in the qualies - Vanessa Webb .. The match was scheduled to be the first on one of the Roehampton courts, but the official site has not updates scores yet today.

At the Delhi satellites today, there were some hard-fought matches .. Second seed Harsh Mankad had to fight back from the brink of defeat against the Russian Alexander Sikanov 16 76(5) 63 .. According to PTI, Harsh had a terrible day adjusting to the pace of the decoturf on Delhi where he had no practice, and he made way too many double faults on service .. His fighting spirit seem to have come through though .. The other tough match was Mustafa Ghouse's, as he beat wildcard Kamala Kannan in a similar three set comeback .. Vishal Uppal's problems continued, as he went down once again to Rishi Sridhar .. See the Delhi satellite page for all the singles results .. I will update the doubles scores later, and report anything in teresting from the newspapers on today's matches ..

21 players for the masters leg are already determined, with 11 Indians (Harsh, Sandeep, Vinod, Ajay, Rishi, Kedar, Vishal, Mustafa, Vijay, Saurav and Amod in that order) .. See the circuit points page .. The last three spots will be determined from 5 players, of which Phoemphon Atabut (THA) and Parantap Chaturvedi can book their spots with second round wins at Delhi .. There will be a plyoff to pick the last entries .. It will be a three-way tie for 1 or 2 spots or a 4-way tie for three spots in the end, and there will have to be a playoff to pick players .. Sikanov, Aloke Bhide and Manoj Mahadevan can make the masters leg only through a playoff (but all three are assured of getting one ATP point as of now even if they don't make the masters leg) .. 16 year old Parantap has the tough job of having to win a match against 7th seed Barry Fulcher tomorrow, without which he will miss the playoff, the masters-leg and any ATP points .. Atabut can advance with a win tomorrow, or through a playoff .. Does that all make sense ? :-)

June 20 Note-1

Sunil Kumar finally cracked the top-100 in junior rankings this week, as he is up to #92 in the world now! ..  He had finished runner-up at the grade-3 event in Hungary two weeks back picking up 45 points to get 180 points in his total .. He however could not continue his good run at the Grade-2 ITF event at Frankfurt, Germany, last week  .. This time he was unseeded, and went down in the first round to the 70th ranked and 5th seeded Raven Klaasen (RSA), 64 36 67(5) in a close fight .. In doubles, Sunil and Darko Aljei (Ghana) lost in the first round to Markus Dickhardt and Tim Krabs of Germany, 06 36 .. I am happy to see Sunil doing alright, but I am still waiting for some outstanding junior results from him - as I always say, my hopes and judgements on our players are only based on their results .. 17 yr old Sunil does have another year in the juniors after this, and so he is well on schedule to go up much higher in the juniors in the next year or so ..  I think the Frankfurt event completed his 5-week European tour sponsored by the ITF, during which he raised his point total from 120 to 180 and his ranking from near #135 to #92 .. Not bad at all .. Right now Sunil is the 5th highest ranked Asian junior player, behind 17 yr old Yen-Hsun Lu (#13) and 15 yr old Yeu-Tzuo Wang (#27) both of Taiwan, 18 yr old Hiroko Kondo (#28) of Japan and 18 yr old Sonchat Ratiwatana (#85) of Thailand .. I believe Paes-en-sport is managing his trip to UK now to play a couple of grass events as well - this week's event in UK is at East Mosley, Surrey (Grade-2 event) .. Next week's event is at Roehampton (Grade-1) .. Wimbledon Juniors follows the week after, but Sunil may not get a direct entry with his current ranking.

Not sure yet if Fazal and Manisha are playing this week .. The women's satellite this week in the US is at Easton (Maryland) and the men's futures is at Redding, California .. I have not seen the draws at either place yet.

June 19 Note-2

Wimbledon news is not great -- N.Kulti (SWE,224) d. Srinath Prahlad, 76(3) 75 .. Here is Jay Merchant writing from the courts there - "Srinath had a tough loss against Niklas Kulti 7-6, 7-5. Sri went up early 3-0 and 5-2 in the first set but double faulted on break point at 5-3 up. The match then went on serve before Kulti won the tie break pretty handily. The second set went pretty much like the first with Sri getting an early break and with Kulti serving a second serve at 2-4 (15-40) things looked good. But Sri missed a couple of return of serves and then made 3 unforced errors on his own serve to be broken. At 5-5 Kulti was serving at 0-40 but a couple of return errors by Sri on second serves and a couple of good Kulti serves allowed him to hold. Then at 5-6 Sri saved four match points and had a couple of easy volleys to hold but missed them. Like I said tough loss for Sri as he had a lot of chances to win. Tomorrow Niru plays Vanessa Webb (No 111 in the world)" .. Aaah, the way some matches are lost .. It's a pity that Srinath couldn't pull this one off ..

As for Nirupama's opponent tomorrow, Niru has a loss against Vanessa Webb in an Australian challenger at the end of 1998 .. That will be a tough match too, but I am not sure how good Vanessa is on grass (Niru is certainly not known as a grass player either, anyway!).

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on June 19 ..

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.