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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on June 28, 1999

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June 28 Note-2

First-time quarterfinals at Wimbledon for our guys !! .. This was, as expected, a tough match, but the Indian Express kept on grinding it out and beat the 16th seeds despite dropping serve a few times and not looking fully in command in many of the service games .. Paes-Bhupathi d. Patrick Galbraith (USA,30) and Justin Gimelstob (USA,34), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in 2 hours 15 minutes .. The break sequence was, [set1: PG-JG broken in game 3] .. [set2: LP-MB broken in games 2 and 10; PG-JG broken in game 7] .. [set3: PG-JG broken in games 3 and 9; LP-MB broken in game 8] .. [set4: PG-JG broken in game 1 and 5; LP-MB broken in game 2] .. Our pair has earned 206 points (inlcuding 38 bonus) so far .. Their opponents in the QF are yet to be determined, as the Bryan twins have taken the 9th seeds Lareau/O'brien into the 5th set and it is 6-7 on serve right now (rain again there!) ..

June 28 Note-1

Since there was nothing going on for Indians in the last couple of days, I took a day off too .. Time to restart for the Wimbledon second week now - it starts rightaway for us, with Leander-Mahesh playing Galbraith-Gimelstob at 12 noon (4 am PST, usa .. 4.30 pm India) .. Come to the chatroom to follow the match ball-by-ball .. It gets interesting from now on .. Gimelstob-MacPhie was the team that knocked off LP-MB in the second round last year at Wimbledon in a close match .. LP-MB will have some revenge in mind, but this 16th seeded team looks pretty formidable with Gimelstob's hard serves and Galbraith touch and experience.

June 26 Note-2

There was no play today at Wimbledon, as the middle Sunday is a traditional off day there .. The Indian Express takes on the 16th seeded American pair of Patrick Galbraith and Justin Gimelstob in the prequarterfinals on Monday - at 12 noon (first match on court 5) .. Neither LP nor MB is scheduled to play mixed doubles on Monday, which surprises me a bit, as they have both gone only one round in Mx-D so far with 5 more rounds to go .. If they are successful in both events, then there will be 2-3 days when they will have to play two matches each during the second week ..

June 26 Note-1

Neither Leander nor Mahesh is scheduled to play any match today (Saturday) .. Also, if I am not mistaken, the middle Sunday is normally an off day at Wimbledon .. If so, these two will now get a couple of days off ..

June 25 Note-2

Leander and Lisa had some nice practice session this afternoon for 41 minutes - and I think they won a match too at the same time :-) .. Leander Paes - Lisa Raymond d. David Roditi - Sonya Jeyaseelen, 6-2, 6-1 in the mixed doubles first round .. Basically this was a breeze, as can be seen from the break sequence - [set1: DR-SJ broken in game 4 and 8] [set2: DR-SJ broken in game 2, 4 and 6; LP-LR broken in game 3] .. .. If the male player started serve in each set, then Sonya probably didn't hold serve even once (not sure of that) .. Anyway, the top seeds played like the top seeds today and advanced .. They face the winner of Haggard-Callens vs Vizner-testud in R2 .. Also, MB-Ellwood next face the 4th seeds Knowles/Likhovtseva in R2 .. .. In other matches, Lucic upset Seles in two tiebreakers .. On the men's doubles side, Reneberg/Stark (the perennial trouble makers) upset the 12th seeds Arthurs/Kratzmann, and my other dark-horse picks, the Bryan twins, upset the 7th seeds Ferreira/Leach .. Actually some of these teams are no longer dark-horses, they are basically "dangerous floaters" :-) .. 16th seeds Galbraith/Gimelstob won and will meet LP-MB in the prequarterfinals in what promises to be a real test of how comfortable LP-MB are on the Wimbledon surface now - I think the Indian Express is looking good now!

June 25 Note-1

Leander and Mahesh faced a couple of tall big-serving guys today who did not make it easy for them, but LP-MB pulled it off by doing the right things at the right time -- LP-MB d. B.Kokavec/ G.Trifu, 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-3 .. Kokavec is a 23 year old who stands at 6-3 and Trifu is a 24 year old who is 6-4 ! .. They started well, holding serve well, though LP-MB had a break chance they couldn't convert in the 5th game of the first set .. Then in the 6th game LP-MB was down 15-40, fought off two break attempts but dropped serve on the 3rd one at AD out, to fall behind 2-4 .. Then the Indian Express took off on a run winning 5 of the next 6 games with breaks in the 7th and 11th games (2 of 3 in the break attempts at that time) closing out the set at 7-5 .. In the second set, neither team faced any break points at all and the opponents seemed to be well in the match .. Both the 11th and 12th game went to several deuces, though .. In the tiebreaker, our boys were all fired up (must have just intimidated BK-GT there - they seemed to choke) .. With three minibreaks, LP-MB were up 6-0 when they got a point off LP's serve and held serve twice to stay alive through three set points .. MB finished it off for a 7-3 tiebreaker .. In the 3rd set, once again it seemed like a rather even match in points won, till the 5th game when LP-MB got the break in the 3rd break point .. It was all over quickly after that .. The match took an hour and 45 minutes to complete .. So, Paes-Bhupathi are in the final-16 for the first time at Wimbledon .. Now the real test starts - their opponents are to be determined from the match between 16th seeds Galbraith-Gimelstob and Grabb-Johnson .. In other matches today, the 4th seeds Black/Stolle and the 5th seeds Delaitre/Santoro from the upper half advanced .. By the way, the doubles match of the day yesterday was one between Kafelnikov/Mirnyi and Kuerten/Oncins that Kaf-Mir won 14-12 in the 5th set ! .. Very few upsets so far in doubles.

I received info today that Nirupama is right now in India and is taking another break to feel physically 100% before playing again - she hopes to be at the Atlanta challenger in Atlanta starting on July 19th ..

June 24 Note-4

Leander and Mahesh play their second round match on court 5 at 12 noon Friday (4 am PST, USA .. 4.30 pm India) against qualifiers Gabriel Trifu (ROM) and Bobby Kokavec (CAN) .. I don't know much about those two guys, but I will try to find out .. Come to our chatroom for ball-by-ball during the match ..

Leander and Lisa Raymond did not play their first round mixed doubles match today - I am not sure why they scheduled it as a fifth match on court 7 on Thursday anayway .. Lisa was already scheduled to play a singles and a doubles match before that ! - What did they want her to do - faint from exhaustion ? .. Anyway, she had a great day, upsetting 7th seed Arantxa Sanchez and then winning the doubles with Rennae Stubbs too .. LP and Lisa will be out there tomorrow (around 5 pm) for their mixed doubles first round match.

I got some info today from a press friend (thanks!) that Sai Jayalakshmi and Rushmi Chakravarti are in Holland right now trying out the satellites there - no great results yet, but let's hope they get some nice exposure and match experience (and some good points!) .. I believe Manisha Malhotra is taking the week off, but I will confirm .. Nirupama has been awfully quiet lately - I still have not got through to Italy to find out if she is there.

June 24 Note-3

Man-Oh-Man .. What a match !! .. The world #2 and last year's runner-up was not going to be denied today !! .. Annabel was up to the task too, I guess, as Anna-ben didn't let Ben-anna (brush up your Gujarati and Tamil there - PJ courtesy "dar" on the chatline) win one from her either .. Bhupathi/ Annabel Ellwood d. Ben Ellwood/ Asa Carlsson, 2-6, 6-4, 10-8 in the first round just now .. There was some serious drama in the end too .. My following description assumes that the male players started serve in each set (when will the IBM guys start telling us which player, not just which team, is serving in their online updates?) .. Anyway, the first set saw Annabel dropping serve rather tamely in both her chances, in games 4 and 8, and the set ended in about 15 minutes, 2-6 .. Just when it looked like they didn't stand a chance Hesh and Annabel went to work .. They broke Asa Carlsson in the 3rd game of the second set .. Annabel's serve didn't seem to be under much pressure this set and they evened it up with a 6-4 second set .. In the 3rd, they had a break chance on Asa's serve in the 3rd game again, but couldn't convert that, as they went through several deuces .. Same thing happened off Annabel's serve in the next game and after a couple of deuces, she dropped serve .. Ben Ellwood's service games seemed to be a breeze, as were Hesh's .. Serious drama started in game 8 when at 2-5, Annabel was down 15-40 with 2 match points .. Hesh and Annabel somehow held on after 5 deuces and three match points .. Then they won some 7-8 points in a row, including a quick break of Ben Ellwood, and then an easy game from Hesh .. All of a sudden we were tied at 5-5 .. Trouble started again when Anna was serving in the 12th game, as she was again down 30-40 with another match point .. Once again they held! .. Then it was Ben's turn .. he was down 15-30 facing 2 break attempts .. He too held .. Off we go to the 17th game when MB-AE finally got their break off Ben Ellwood to go up 9-7 .. Then it was all Hesh's to serve it off for a hard-fought 10-8 third set .. All in all, after averting 4 or 5 match points, Mahesh and Annabel advanced to the next round!

June 24 Note-2

There are two mixed doubles matches for us today - Mahesh/Annabel vs Ben Ellwood/ Asa Carlsson starts at about 3.45 pm (7.45 am PST USA .. 8.15 pm India) .. Leander/Lisa vs David Roditi/ Sonya Jeyaseelen should be starting at about 6 pm (10 am PST USA .. 10.30 pm India) .. Sonya Jeyaseelen is a Canadian whose parents immgrated from Sri Lanka, I believe .. See you in the chatroom during the matches.

In doubles yesterday, the young guns, Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer, the "diaper dandy" team, pulled an upset over Kulti-Tillstrom, the only upset so far in doubles .. Bjorkman/Rafter were taken to 5 sets but came through yesterday winning the final two sets.

June 24 Note-1

Here is the upper half of the mixed doubles draw at Wimbledon:

 1 Leander Paes (IND)/ Lisa Raymond (USA)   vs David Roditi (MEX)/ Sonya Jeyaseelan (CAN) 
   Chris Haggard (RSA)/ Els Callens (BEL)   vs Pavel Vizner (CZE)/ Sandrine Testud (FRA) 
   P. Albano (ARG)/ Manon Bollegraf (NED)   vs Brian Macphie (USA)/ Debbie Graham (USA) 
12 A. Florent (AUS)/ Elena Tatarkova (UKR)  vs Wayne Arthurs (AUS)/ O.Barabanschikova (BLR)
10 Wayne Black (ZIM)/ Cara Black (ZIM)      vs Devin Bowen (USA)/ Laura Montalvo (ARG) 
   Nebojsa Djordjevic (YUG)/ O.Lugina (UKR) vs Scott Humphries (USA)/ Catalina Cristea (ROM) 
   Bob Bryan (USA)/ Lisa McShea (AUS)       vs Neil Broad (GBR)/ Amanda Coetzer (RSA) 
 5 Cyril Suk (CZE)/ Caroline Vis (NED)      vs Marius Barnard (RSA)/ Katrina Adams (USA)
 4 Mark Knowles (BAH)/ E.Likhovtseva (RUS)  vs Michael Tebbutt(AUS)/ Catherine Barclay (AUS) 
   M.Bhupathi (IND)/ Annabel Ellwood (AUS)  vs Ben Ellwood (AUS)/ Asa Carlsson (SWE) 
   Kevin Ullyett (RSA)/ Laura Golarsa (ITA) vs Doug Flach (USA)/ Rika Hiraki (JPN) 
13 D.Rikl (CZE)/ Karina Habsudova (SVK)     vs Patrick Galbraith(USA)/ Kristie Boogert (NED)
15 Max Mirnyi (BLR)/ Mary Pierce (FRA)      vs Peter Nyborg (SWE)/ Sabine Appelmans (BEL) 
   Martin Damm (CZE)/ Barbara Rittner (GER) vs Robbie Koenig (RSA)/ Nicole Pratt (AUS) 
   Mark Merklein (USA)/ Erika de Lone (USA) vs Tom Van Houdt (BEL)/ Dominique Van Roost(BEL) 
 7 David Adams(RSA)/ Mariaan DeSwardt (RSA) vs Aleksander Kitinov (MKD)/ Nana Miyagi (JPN)

The bottom half has some of the more "flashy" teams - 3rd seed Bjorkman/ Kounikova, 8th seed Gimelstob/ V.Williams, 9th seed J.McEnroe/ Graf and 2nd seed Woodbridge/ Davenport .. John McEnroe is playing mixed doubles for the first time in 21 years, due to his admiration of Steffi - the lady couldn't dispose when the legend proposed and the Wimbledon folks couldn't stop salivating !

I am not sure what fell through in the last minute (I have to assume his original partner withdrew or something) for Mahesh to be playing with Annabel Ellwood who is ranked #125 in doubles .. I will try to find out.

Here are the pictures of the two partners:

Lisa Raymond: lisa-raymond.. and Annabel Ellwood: annabel-ellwood...

Leander is playing with 25 yr old Lisa Raymond from Pennsylvania, USA, for the second time (they were partners at the French Open) .. She is ranked #8 in doubles and #38 in singles .. She is 5 ft 5 inches and right-handed .. Has 10 wta tour doubles titles in her career .. This year she reached the AO doubles semi and won the Oklahoma city title, both with her long-time partner Rennae Stubbs .. Was a finalist at 94 and 97 French Open and 97 Australian Open .. In mixed doubles she won the 96 US Open and was the runner up at USO last year, both with Pat Galbraith.

Annabel Ellwood, who appears to be a lucky one to be playing with the world #2 and last year's Wimbledon runner-up, is considered a talented 21 yr old Australian .. She was ranked as high as #57 in singles and #60 in doubles as a 19 yr old in 1997, but had a relatively patchy 1998 .. Some may remember her stunning upset of Jennifer Capriati in the 1996 US Open, which was the first time Jennifer had lost to a younger player on the WTA tour .. Annabel was in the semifinal of the Gold Coast tounament doubles earlier this year, with Alicia Molik .. She is also 5-5 and is right-handed .. She lost in the second round of the singles qualifiers at Wimby this time, and has already lost in the first round of doubles .. Let's hope MB and AE match well - sometimes the rankings and all that don't matter in doubles and this unseeded pair may not have much expectations right now, other than to just play loose and cause trouble for others! .. By the way, they play Ben Ellwood and Asa Carlsson in the first round .. Hey Annabel, know any tricks to beat your elder brother ?? - like yelling something embarassing from school days at the right time ? :-)

June 23 Notes

Leander and Mahesh appear to have played one of their cleanest matches in a long time today .. Not allowing many points on their serve at all, and constantly putting pressure on the opponenets in their serve .. Just one double fault in the whole match, not facing any break points at all, and dominating the other guys .. LP-MB d. T.Kempers-M.Kohlmann, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(3) .. The match took an hour and 40 minutes to complete .. In the first set, LP-MB got the break in the 5th game (Kohlmann's serve) in the first break chance of the match and they tightened the screws from there on .. In the second set, they won 5 games in a row to finish the set at 6-2, with breaks in games 5 and 7 off both Kempers's and Kohlmann's serves .. In the 3rd set, they continued the pressure, going up on the opponents' serve almost every time .. But for 4 wasted break chances in games 3 and 5, the match may have been over even earlier .. In the tibreaker, the Indian Express went ahead 6-1 in a hurry, and finished it off at 7-3 .. Stroll in the park, so to say .. TK-MK did serve some hot ones, with 11 aces, but they also had 8 double faults and countless unforced errors .. Our guys got 77% pf the first serves in (very good!) won 81% of those points, and won 68% of the second serve points .. The opponents had 67, 67 and 41 in those categories .. 107 points won in the match by LP-MB to 79 by TK-MK .. Before not converting the last 4 break chances, our boys were 3 of 6 in break attempts .. The only time I remember LP or MB even falling behind on their own serve was in the very final game when they were down at 15-30 .. But there was no danger and they finished it off fast .. So, a very good start to Wimbledon .. They now face Gabriel Trifu (ROM, 202) and Bobby Kokavec (CAN,197) who were qualifiers and surprised A.Martin-E.Ran today ..

LP is top seeded in mixed doubles with Lisa Raymond (USA) .. Mahesh, for some reason, seems to have a new partner this time, as he is playing with Annabel Ellwood of Australia .. MB-AE are unseeded .. More later on mixed doubles.

June 22 Note-2

Leander and Mahesh are scheduled to play the 4th match on one of the bigger courts, the court 2, at Wimbledon - first round doubles .. It should start at about 5.30 pm Wednesday (9.30 am PST, USA .. 10 pm India), plus/minus half hour or so, depending on how fast Rusedski, Venus Williams, etc win their matches before that on that court .. Fans will be in the chatroom, during the match following it ball-by-ball .. I believe you will be able to see net-cam pictures at the official wimbledon site from that court.

The opponents, 30 yr old Tom Kempers (NED,109) and 25 yr old Michael Kohlmann (GER,101) are playing together for the first time .. Tom Kempers, you may remember, was the partner for Menno Oosting from Holland for the last couple of years, and he was ranked as high as #42 in August last year .. Menno Oosting, a well-respected former Davis Cup player was considered part of a group of players who helped to put Dutch tennis on the map a decade back .. Menno died tragically in March of this year while driving back home from a tournament in Germany when his car hit a pole in a heavy rain (he was 34 yers old) .. Sad loss for the tennis fraternity .. Kempers and Oosting was a pretty good team (they even beat the Woodies in one tournament, if I remember correctly) - they had beaten LP and Norval in Sydney last year and had lost to LP-MB at Monte Carlo later .. Tom Kempers has not had a regular partner after Oosting passed away .. Kempers is a 6-2 tall guy with a good serve .. Also tall at 6-2 is his new partner, Michael Kohlmann, who has had some pretty good success this year with Filippo Veglio of Italy with whom he won two challenger doubles titles and reached a final (actually they had a 14-1 winning streak or something at one point in Feb-March this year) .. Not sure why he is not playing with Veglio here .. Kempers/Kohlmann would give our pair a good test in the first match ..

Here is an article in wednesday's Indian Express with some pretty good details of LP's match yesterday (It may be the rest of SK John's article which seem to have not made it into the IE online yesterday at press time) .. It mentions that Andre Sa played very well and just did not allow LP to move up to the net and win anything, passing him at will and even outplaying him in some volleys, thus forcing LP to stay back .. Ground strokes and rallies from the baseline is not LP's forte, and the article points out that as his undoing yesterday .. LP just may have no way but to put his heart into improving this aspect of his game with practice .. One of the fans in the chatline during the match yesterday mentioned how even on grass strong groundies is becoming a must these days .. I often hear that LP is simply not patient to stay back and gets bored playing that kind of tennis .. I am not an expert on these matters, so I don't know .. The tennis theoreticians among you are welcome to sound off at the bulletin board (the freeworld site where the guestbook sits may be having some problems - you may need to click 3-4 times on "view guestbook" before getting through - you will get through though) .. Anyway, I have not been able to find the articles on the LP match from the other Indian correspondents out there - this happens every year from there, as they end up only reporting only on the earlier matches of the day by press time for online editions which normally come up much earlier than the print versions.

In the three doubles matches played today, 9th seeds Lareau/OBrien, the Bryan twins and Grabb/Johnson advanced .. Wimbledon is turning out to be interesting already, with Martina Hingis being ousted by young Jelena Dokic in one of the all-time great upsets .. On the men's singles, there wasn't a single genuine upset today .. Agassi, Becker, Rafter, Ivanisevic, Kafelnikov, Krajicek - all advanced .. A Britisher of Indian ancestry, Arvind Parmar, reached the second round yesterday, in a big upset by a 400+ player over a top-30 player, Albert Costa of Spain .. Parmar was in a couple of Indian challenger earlier in the year, the only time I have seen him coming to India .. My man, Danny Sapsford (see June 16 Note-2) had one of the first wins yesterday and easily beat Julian Alonso of Spain .. He now gets Galo Blanco (also of Spain) who took care of the other Asian in the draw, Takao Suzuki (JPN) .. 23 yr old Suzuki, the #2 Asian player behind Leander, has also been stuck in the top 100-110 for quite a while now, since getting up there several months back.

I need to find out where Nirupama is, this week - the possible place is a $25K challenger in Italy .. Also, I will report soon if Manisha Malhotra is at the $10K futures at Easton, Maryland .. In other news, the masters of the Adidas junior circuit is in Delhi this week .. No big upsets reported yet, but the press stories have all been very patchy on that.

June 22 Note-1

Alright .. It's time for doubles .. Here is the draw till the semifinals for our boys (with the latest ranks shown in brackets):

 1 M.Bhupath/ L.Paes    [IND,2   IND,1  ] vs   T.Kempers/ M.Kohlmann   [NED,109 GER,101] \
   A.Martin/ E.Ran      [ESP,107 ISR,89 ] vs Q B.Kokavec/ G.Trifu      [CAN,197 ROM,202] / \
   M.Hill/ P.Nyborg     [AUS,114 SWE,64 ] vs   J.Grabb/ D.Johnson      [USA,37  USA,48 ] \ /
16 Galbraith/ Gimelstob [USA,30  USA,34 ] vs   M.Ardinghi/ Lopez-Moron [ITA,127 ESP,130] /__ SF
 9 S.Lareau/ A.O'Brien  [CAN,19  USA,26 ] vs   M.Hood/ S.Prieto        [ARG,69  ARG,62 ] \
   D.Bowen/ M.Sell      [USA,98  USA,112] vs   G.Koves/ R.Stepanek     [HUN,99  CZE,110] / \
   B.Bryan/ M.Bryan     [USA,67  USA,67 ] vs W L.Childs/ S.Dickson     [GBR,NR  GBR,812] \ /
 7 E.Ferreira/ R.Leach  [RSA,9   USA,17 ] vs   G.Grant/ T.J. Middleton [USA,102 USA,108] /

The second quarter of the draw has #4 Black/Stolle and #5 Delaitre/Santoro .. In the bottom half, the 3rd quartter has #6 Knowles/Nestor and #5 Bjorkman/Rafter, and the 4th quarter has #8 haarhuis/Palmer and #2 Woodies .. Some unseeded "darkhorse" teams are: MacPhie-Tarango in the second quarter, Reneberg-Stark in the 3rd quarter and Kafelnikov-Mirnyi in the 4th quarter .. If you need a youth movement, there are Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt playing the 13th seed Kulti/Tillstrom in the 3rd quarter, and the Bryan twins in the top quarter .. It is certainly not a tough draw, by grand slam standards for the Indian Express, especially for the first two rounds, but it's Wimbledon - the one tournament where no prediction can be made for our guys based on the draw or the opponent .. Mahesh's run last year to the final of mixed doubles with Mirjana Lucic being the only comforting performance in the past .. More soon on Kempers/Kohlmann that our guys play first.

June 21 Note-3

There is an unprecedented number of Indian correspondents at the Wimbledon this year - S. Kannan of the Hindustan Times, Nirmal Shekhar of The Hindu, SK John of Indian Express, Uday Bajekal for the Deccan Herald, etc .. We will know what they all thought about Leander's match today, in the Wednesday editions of the paper tomorrow, as the match ended too late for most of them to make the press deadline for Tuesday .. SK John had a small bit in the Indian Express, which said the "myth" about Leander being a grasscourt player should be "thrown in the dustbin" .. That's a bit too impulsive a statement to make, but since SK John hypothesized this angle a couple of days back, I am not surprised at him saying that, especially after getting some corroboration today .. I would say that Leander is not necessarily one whose game is suited for *all* grass surfaces, but he is still a darn good player on grass - after all, he has done well at Rosmalen, Newport, and in numerous grass challengers, and he is not just a "self-professed" grasscourter, as the newspaper article says! .. One match (or even 4 at Wimbledon where only two were really against players he should have beaten) doesn't negate Leander's career record .. And, no, it's not at just Indian Davis Cup matches in Calcutta that LP has done well on grass .. Tarango, Nestor, Knowles, Cash, B.Black, Golmard, Santoro, Petchey (the same one that LP gets slammed for losing to, in Wimb 96 ! -- LP has beaten him on grass on two occasions afterwards), Kulti, Radulescu, Draper, Schuttler, Tieleman, etc, are some of the good players he has beaten on grass in the last three years .. All except Petchey have been in the top-100 at various times, if you are wondering .. Some of his bigger wins (Sampras, for instance) have come on hardcourts, but let's not go overboard in discounting what LP has done and can do on grass .. His Wimbledon record is baffling, and let's just leave it at that ! .. (I thought I would write that, not necessarily in response to SK John, but for others who are emailing me in frustration, wondering if LP is over-rated on grass, etc!) .. As they say, "it's just one match", folks - hard as it is when that loss is at Wimbledon!

And it's just bad form for all of us to not give credit to the winner of the match today - what I have heard so far is that Andre Sa played a very good match! .. I had already written that he is not one who thinks that "grass is for cows" - not *all* South Americans think like that, and this 22-year old has taken the effort to play grass challengers in the UK last two years .. His abilities, especially with a big serve, should be clear from the fact that he won three rounds to qualify into the draw .. If you need to know more, he is also considered a good one for the future - the ATP web site had an interview recently with the veteran Brazilian, Fernando Meligeni, who mentioned how he has been helping two Brazilians youngsters with advice, and Andre Sa was one of them .. We should know that he has beaten LP once before (64 63) too - so he is not just sliced cheese .. He has been inconsistent for sure in the last 2 years and many young players are like that .. He just may have played a good match today and that shouldn't be all that hard to accept if that's the case (by the way, Mark Petchey in 96 did play a great match against LP at Wimbledon, egged on by his friends and partisan UK crowd) .. I don't want to sound like making excuses for LP's loss, but I do want to put some records straight!

In other news, the new rankings have come out and the satellite points have pushed some Indians to nice higher rankings .. After LP at #102 and MB at #247, we have Srinath Prahlad (#323), Fazaluddin Syed (#399) and Harsh Mankad (#602) .. Vinod Sridhar, Sandeep Kirtane and Vijay Kannan follow .. In doubles, after LP and MB at #1 and #2, we have Nitin and Sandeep at 313 and 322, followed by Fazal at #391 and Harsh at #553 ..

Forgot to mention last week that Fazal was expected at the Netherlands satellites, but had withdrawn .. I am not sure what the reason was - definitely he wanted a break after 4 weeks of Indian satellites, and now that he has a chance to try the grass challengers in UK after the Wimbledon, he may not have wanted to get stuck in the Dutch circuit .. Nice to see fazal's ranking up inside the 400 .. Srinath was reported to be going to Germany to finish a couple of weeks of club tennis commitments, and then he will be in the challenger circuit, though I doubt he is interested in playing the grass events.

Later, with info on doubles for LP-MB ..

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 !

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending June 21..