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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on July 10, 2000

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July 10 Notes

The new doubles rank list show LP and MB falling off from the top-20 for the first time in about three years .. MB is #33 and LP is #43 in the rankings right now .. Actually these July 10th rankings are the ones which will be used for entry into Olympics .. As it stands, they wil be the 6th or 7th highest ranked team in the Olympics .. That may change by Olympics time a bit, depending on which week's ranks they use for seeding .. If they use the rank before last year's US Open points fall off, then LP and MB should be seeded in the top-8 or so.

In the new singles entry ranks, LP is at #148, Srinath is at #417, Mankad is at #542, Sandeep at #590, Fazal at #639, and Vishal at #647 ..

Srinath and Fazal are in the doubles draw at the $25K+H Oberstaufen challenger in Germany this week .. Neither is playing singles - Srinath could not have got there on time for weekend qualies as he was playing the futures final in Greece, and I am not sure if Fazal could have made the qualifying draw .. In doubles they are unseeded, and face the second seeds Hugo Armando and Alexander Simoni in the first round .. So, Sri will be taking a two-week break from singles before the Davis Cup, which is not a bad idea, as he had a busy couple of weeks in Greece and he needs to carefully watch his knee which has been suspect for a while.

Mahesh Bhupathi is of coursze taking this week off, resting his shoulder .. It seems it was only an inflammation and nothing much to worry about, once he takes rest till the pain and inflammation goes away .. I believe he will almost surely not be able to play singles at Davis Cup, but will definitely play doubles.

Niru will be off the tour for a little while more (I think she may be in India still), and Manisha will be taking rest to heal her shoulder strain for at least another week or two .. Sai and Rushmi may be playing some events in Europe this week, but no news yet - actually I still haven't found the score for Rushmi's first round match in the satellites in Amersfoort, Netherlands last week.

July 9 Notes

In the final of the $10K Greece F3 futures in Syros yesterday,  5th seed Srinath lost to the 3rd seed Konstantinos Economidis (GRE,395), 26 26 .. Economidis has been in tremendus form, and has won the futures for two weeks in a row now (he is a 22 year old who started making a move in the tour in the last few months) .. Srinath had lost to him in the semis last week .. Actually, all of Srinath's losses were to the eventual winners in all four draws in the two week swing in Greece .. Huss/Smith who beat Srinath and Jason Marshall in the doubles QF this week went on to win the title, as did Mauck/Pollack who beat them in the semis last week .. All in all, a good couple of weeks in Greece for Sri, who picked up 12 singles points and 6 doubles points ..

Here is a bit from an interview Martina Navratilova had this wednesday at Wimbledon - "Q. How did you enjoy playing with Mahesh?" --  MN:  "Fabulous. He was so nice and so positive. As I didn't know, he just come back from a surgery. It was like only his sixth or seventh week back. He'll be better next year. I don't know if I will, but hopefully I can be the same. He was extremely pleasant and fun to watch him at the net. He's got fantastic hands. That was nice. Again, I wish we could have lasted a little bit longer. Mixed is such a crapshoot anyway. Comes down to a couple points. We didn't make them" ...  As for the future, she said, "Mahesh Bhupathi asked me if we would play next year. I said, "I don't know." Anything's possible at this point. I haven't played for four years, I come back. It was still sort of holding my own. I have no idea. I still don't know about the US Open either" .. She also said, "We were lucky to win the (PQF) doubles match. Really should have lost that match, but we should have won the mixed and lost that. It came out even. It was a blast, a total blast. It's great"  (Thanks, Ranjit, for alerting me to that interview) .. I am surprised that Martina was not even aware that MB was just coming off surgery! .. Very nice words from her about Hesh.

I got a couple of emails from fanclub folks asking me if I am hinting anything more, and specifically accusing anyody, in my long write-up below (last note) .. No, nothing like that .. Absolutely not accusing anybody in particular .. I am not saying that nobody in the LP and MB camp are aware of these things either .. I am also not hinting that *nobody* is trying to help - just that I have not heard anything in the open yet, with time running out, so to say .. I am just frustrated from a fan's standpoint in not seeing any good news on their reunifiction and I wrote my thoughts rather candidly, that's all.

July 8 Note-2

Vijay and Anand lost in the final of the 45-and-over doubles, to Peter Fleming and Sandy Mayer, 62 64 today, ending the Wimbledon championships for Indians.

Apparently ATP has decided to delay their announcement of the world doubles championship venue to Tuesday, after already delaying it once to this weekend - but I hear that Bangalore may be still in the lead .. There will be a wildcard at the disposal of the organizers too .. That is under the assumption that none of it is really worth it unless LP and MB would be playing together there .. I know there are probably some doubles fans who would find it rather unfair to let a team that hasn't played an ATP event together the whole year to play at the world championships; but that is modern sports for you - sponsorship is clout, and if only Indians stuck their necks out to find sponsorship for the event, they deserve something in return too .. My fair mind however still does not agree with the idea, much as I want to see our guys play there (of course, it would be fine if ATP amends the rules and make the previous year's #1 team to be an automatic entry!) .. I have a better idea for LP and MB .. Just go out and win US Open, Olympics and the Paris/Stuttgart masters - they will have more than enough points to qualify in directly anyway! .. But the sad story is that, there is still no news on these two getting back together .. Other than meeting once at the French Open, I believe the two have not even communicated with each other .. How can anything change if they don't take any initiative to cause that ?

OK, I will speak my mind a bit below on something I wanted to write for a while.

The Woodies had some comments about Leander and Mahesh yesterday - about how they expected our pair to carry the torch after their retirement and about how it was important for the game of doubles .. Here is the article from Prajwal Hegde in Deccan Herald, and here is the article from Kadambari Murali in the Indian Express .. Kadambari makes it a point to say that the legends started talking about LP-MB without any prompting, indicating how strongly they felt about the matter .. There was an article by S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times about LP-MB earlier this week too: Doubles needs the charismatic Indians .. I hope LP and MB are hearing .. It is not just a simple matter of two guys deciding not to play together; it's also a question whether there will be teams in the future to give the doubles circuit some sort of identity - right now, things look quite bad in this regard with some big names retiring this year - Woodforde, Haarhuis, Leach, especially .. There is a reason why a US tennis writer wrote last year about how the Indian Express had captured the imagination of a lot of new fans and compared it even to Tiger Wood's effect on bringing entirely new fans to golf .. I still don't know if those in the respective "camps" of LP and MB realize the importance of any of this; at least I rarely see any indication they do - almost making me think that nobody is helping the situation right now .. Everyone seems to have the typical Indian "chalta hai" attitude about it .. My hope is still that LP and MB will realize things all by themselves and stop listening to ANYBODY out there who says it's fine for them to stay apart for ever .. They should do what is in the best interests of global tennis, Indian tennis and in the best interests of their own career and financial future - which will NEVER be as good with other partners, one thing that is beyond doubt .. One of the two dads said to me a couple of months back - "sadly, nobody wants them together, it seems - they will just have to do it with other partners", but somehow I felt that even he was less concerned about it than me and other fans (though in fairness, he may have been just putting on a brave face)..

I had decided sometime back that I was not going to belabour this issue much for a while since both guys needed some time away to figure things out .. I guess it's time for all of us to start screaming a bit too, as there is no outward sign of any movement from either camp so far and things seem to be still drifting apart with everybody seemingly getting comfortable with the reduced expectations for either player .. Funny that I have seen so much in the press about all the efforts to bring the world doubles championship to Mumbai or Bangalore, but nothing at all about LP and MB having any plans to play together ever again .. To me personally, world doubles championship is a "who-cares?" event but for our pair, especially when most of the teams there won't even be playing together next year .. My interest in the event is basically only because of our pair possibly playing there - and not for just a show to satisfy the sponsors, but with some serious commitment to each other about the future as well.

Are we going to really see these two breaking the hearts of all the kids who had them as role-models for sports success in India ? .. Are they really going to throw away everything they can achieve together, and once again prove it beyond doubt that Indian sportsmen can NEVER reach the rarefied heights they are capable of - that we will hardly ever see an Indian sportsman ending his career without all the "what if" questions ? .. Is this all a forgone conclusion ? .. I had never thought so, and had considered the current period as a passing phase, but I would like to see an indication - ANY indication - that LP and MB (and the respective "camps") see their break-up as anything more significant than just two top pros not playing doubles together .. I am seriously beginning to lose hope at this point.

There is so much riding on this .. First, as everybody knows, India has the best chance ever for an Olympics gold in any sport other than hockey, this year - though the Woodies's resurgence has made the odds a bit worse .. Olympics will be in the week after US Open, and as of now, Mahesh will probably be playing USO with Knowles, and Leander's plans are uncertain .. These two will hardly get even practice time together, before Olympics .. At best, LP-MB will be a low seed at Olympics, which means they will end up facing some big team before the SF - can they do anything with no match practice together for 9 months ? .. Will everybody forgive them, EVER, if they mess it up, and end up without even a medal, if not gold ? .. If they went in with proper hard work and practice together and lost because they just had a bad day, we will all understand it .. But it is a different matter if it is apparent that they did not do what was needed and did not take the country's rare aspirations into consideration at all .. I don't want to hear all those people who say Olympics tennis is chicken feed and that grand slams are more important .. That may be true for other countries, but for India, getting that first Gold outside of Hockey is so much more important than LP-MB winning a grand slam .. Will they EVER get the respect and support from India and everywhere else if it ends in a tragedy ? .. Also, will they ever regain their former confidence after facing such a "low" ? .. I would rather have all these questions become moot than find the answers, which may be bitter.

Actually, isn't it absolutely insane for them not to play USO together if LP is playing by then ? .. There will be NO EXCUSES that any of us will buy for that .. We can all accept the impasse at other events where one does not want the other's coach around and the other is unwilling to budge on that - but I don't know how that can be given as a reason for not playing together at at least one event before something as hugely important as Olympics .. Can somebody tell me one good reason why they can play together one week and not play the week before, just because the earlier week's is a pro event ? .. Something is really illogical in that, though the press, all of us, and the respective camps have got comfortable expecting them to play together at only Olympics next .. The "chalta hai" attitude, again - we are all hoping that they will somehow pull a miracle there .. Sure, we know that they are fully capable of that, but we forget that old cardinal rule of successful sports that the moment you think you don't need to plan well and put in work to win, you start losing !  .. Actually they may as well not play Olympics if that is the case, because all it will show is that they were not serious about Olympics .. I am the biggest fan of them both, but if they do not play US Open together to prepare for Olympics, even I will have trouble ever forgiving them .. God, why this mess ?

I think Mahesh will need to fix a partner for US Open soon - and I am not sure if Leander has been in touch .. Leander should pick up the phone and decide on this right away if he thinks he may be playing at US Open, but perhaps he still doesn't know if he will be back by then .. Hopefully LP will get in touch - after all he has always put the country in front of everything else .. On Mahesh's side, he should not hurry in fixing a partner for US Open either .. If I had the power, I would insist that Mahesh should still keep the USO options open till the very last possible minute, and that the first thing LP should do after knowing when exactly he can return is to tell MB [In other words, I don't care what the problems are - they should play USO together, or just skip Olympics - I am taking hard line here! :-)] .. It will be tough on MB if LP cannot return by USO and he loses other good partners, but doing everything to get match practice before Olympics is THAT important for the country, and Mahesh's gesture will be respected and appreciated by everybody .. But neither I nor anybody else have the power to force them to do anything - and they will need to realize the seriousness of things themselves.. Perhaps they already know it .. I guess, as a fan, I should keep hope alive and trust these two guys' instincts to do right in the end, as I have always done.

I got side-tracked talking about Olympics, but that is not all there is and much more rides on these two putting these things behind .. They are not like any other sports heroes .. With some rare exceptions like Prakash Padukone, LP-MB are perhaps all India has ever had in a "true" world sport (thus excluding cricket and hockey) of athletes, who were unanimously the best in what they were doing, though only for a brief period of a year or two .. Sampras may be more popular in the world, but if he chose not to play Olympics or Davis Cup, nobody will cry .. The Woodies are the best in doubles history, but Australia has and has had many bigger heroes and their retirement is not a cause for national mourning there .. A generation of kids are growing up in India with LP-MB as the role model showing them that Indians can be the best in the world with hard work and proper attitude .. A whole group of sponsors had come into the tennis fold thanks to them .. The chest-butting confidence they brought to kids growing up as sportsmen in India was infectious, and we are only beginning to realize the importance of confidence in sports .. To know that these two ended it all because they could not rebuild the trust with each other (worse if they did not even try to rebuild it), would be the worst way to kill that enthusiasm .. Kamesh Srinivasan of The Hindu recently wrote to me that Indian sports, not just tennis, will take a long time to recover from this break up, if LP and MB are really done playing together .. At first I thought it was a bit of hyperbole, but the more it starts to sink in that this really could be a break-up for ever, the more I think what he wrote was true .. I think everybody who sat and watched this saga, doing nothing about it (mostly after gravitating to one side or  the other) will regret it too in the future.

Not sure why I am writing about this today - perhaps it hurts me to see two Aussies chiming in and advising the Indian dynamic duo to get their act together .. Sure, the legends have every right to say it and perhaps some duty to do so too, but it still saddens me to see it all happening .. I continue to be in a dark and complaining mood - sorry about that :-)

July 8 Note-1

The Woodies won the doubles title at Wimbledon easily, 63 64 61 over Haarhuis and Stolle .. Their farewell tour goes on in style .. Their sixth title there, to add to the series of five they had in a row there before a break of two years when the Flying Dutchmen and the Indian Express took the titles .. Vijay and Anand are set to play the over-45 doubles final against Sandy Meyer and Peter Fleming, if rain stays away.

Two Indian women were in Europe this week .. 426th ranked Sai Jayalakshmi lost in the first round of qualies at the $25K Vaihingen challenger in Germany, to Geraldine Aizenberg (GER,578), 57 64 26 .. 518th ranked Rushmi Chakravarti is at the $10K satellite in Amersfoort, Netherlands .. She was drawn to play Diana Gherghi (ROM,407) in the first round - I have not seen scores yet.

July 7 Note-2

Hey, Srinath seems to be in a pretty damn good form - he has had his best win in a long long time today, beating the second seed and 272nd ranked Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan, 64 67(3) 64 .. Actually he is one of the highest ranked players Srinath has ever beaten .. Aisam is a nice guy based on reports when he came to Indian futures last year, but it's always fun to see an Indian upset a Pakistani, right ?  :-) .. So, 5th seeded Srinath is in the final at the $10K futures in Syros, Greece, after wins over the 4th and 2nd seeds ..  He faces the 3rd seeded Konstantinos Economidis (GRE,395) in the final .. Economidis upset the top seed Olivier Mutis (FRA,271) in the other semifinal 63 63 .. Actually the Greek has been having a fine run, having won the Greece F2 last week (Kobi Ziv, whom Srinath beat yesterday had won the Greece F1 two weeks back, but Sri and Economidis weren't at that futures) .. He has not even dropped a set in 9 matches and only Srinath in last week's semi managed to even force a tiebreaker .. He beat Sri 76(5) 64 last week - let us hope Srinath will get his revenge this week .. It is actually very heartening to see Srinath back out there and winning again .. He gets 8 points for reaching the final, taking his tally to 12 points in two weeks in Greece - that is enough to bring him back inside top-400 again, from the #448 he is at, now .. Go Sri !!

July 7 Note-1

Srinath continues to show good form in Greece at the $10K .. For the second consecutive week, he has reached a semifinal .. Yesterday Sri had one of his more impressive wins .. the 5th seeded Srinath beat the 4th seed Kobi Ziv (ISR,442), 64 61 in the quarterfinal .. He now faces the second seeded and 272nd ranked Aisam Quereshi of Pakistan in the semifinal ..

At Wimbledon, the men's doubles final (tomorrow) is between top seeds Woodies and the second seeds Haarhuis/Stolle .. They beat Adams-DeJager and Kulti-Tillstrom respectively in the semifinals yesterday .. As you may have seen by now, Pat Rafter has reached the final of singles today, upsetting Agassi in five sets .. In the seniors over-45 event, Anand and Vijay Amritraj have reached the final !! .. They beat Brian Gottfried and Tom Gullickson, 76(4) 63 in the semi yesterday .. The final is tomorrow, I believe.

No news yet from ATP about the venue for the ATP doubles championship - they had said earlier that a decision would be made sometime late last week .. They had apparently decided to wait for a few more days .. Reports earlier this week were that ATP had decided in their meeting last week that it would be in India - but they had deferred the decision on the venue by a week .. The question is on which bid would get the nod - the one by KSLTA for Bangalore (Mr. Bhupathi expected to be the tournament director) or by Paes-en-sport and ProCam for Mumbai .. The latter one for Mumbai, "put down in black and white", has some financial commitment from Zee-TV who would "pick up the $700K tab and provide live coverage on all 5 days" (Telegraph, Calcutta) .. KSLTA had not originally mentioned the sponsors, though I had heard that that would not be a problem for them either - Actually Zee-TV itself has kept their options open for supporting the Bangalore bid if Mumbai is turned down, according to the newspaper .. The advantage Bangalore has is that it has a pretty good tennis stadium at Cubbon Park though where they will add two new synthetic courts and enhance seating while the Mumbai bid involves creating a temporary stadium at CCI (Cricket Club of India), making use of part of the Brabourne stadium and laying two synthetic courts .. The chief minister's support from Bangalore was also an advantage for Bangalore, as he is the president of KSLTA as well ..  We will hear something soon.

By the way, here is an article by Ravi Chakravarti in the Deccan Herald this wednesday about Harsh Mankad, the newest entry in the Indian Davis Cup team .. Interesting reading .. Here is another one - an article from the website by Anupam Pratihary which has some more good details .. Wahindia, who had covered the Delhi Davis Cup very nicely earlier this year, had reporters out there at the two legs of the satellites in Delhi last month.

July 6 Notes

Srinath is in another futures quarterfinals this week, following on his semifinal last week at Greece .. At the $10K Syros futures in Greece, Sri beat Niko Karagiannis (GRE,1239) 46 63 76(6) .. This match turned out to be tougher than I expected .. He plays the 4th seed, Kobi Ziv (ISR,442) in the quarterfinal .. In doubles, Sri and Jason Marshall bowed out in the quarterfinals, 63 36 57 to Stephen Huss (AUS) and James Smith (GBR).

Ramesh Krishnan and Mikael Pernfors lost to Jarryd and Nystrom 46 16 today in the 35 and over Round robin .. Vijay and Anand play the top seeds Gottfried and Gullickson in the semifinal of the 45 and over section today.

July 5 Note-2

Srinath has won his first round matches in singles and doubles at the $10K Greece F3 futures at Syros .. In singles he is the 5th seed and beat Ulrich Tippenhauer (GER,955) 62 64 .. In doubles, Sri and Jason Marshall beat Nicko Karagiannis (GRE) and Daniel Norberg (SWE) and 36 76(4) 76(0) in a tough come back .. He plays Niko Karagiannis in the second round of singles and Stphen Huss (AUS) and James Smith (GBR) in doubles ..

At the senior events at Wimbledon, Ramesh Krishnan and Mikael Pernfors beat Mansour Bahrami and Henri Leconte in the 35 and over round robin, 46 63 86 .. I wonder what tricks Mansour came up with during this match .. If you don't know, Mansour is like the Harlem Globetrotters of tennis, who can do more tricks on the tennis courts than anybody anyone ever knew .. An interesting story of an Iranian who took to tennis late and never became a pro, but is a magician on the court .. This time, RK and MP did the comeback magic though! .. In the 45 and over section, Vijay and Anand also stayed undefeated after two round, beating Ross Case and Geoff Masters, 76(3) 63 .. the Amritrajs are in the semifinals of that draw now! .. Vijay's son, Prakash Amritraj of USA had lost in the second round of qualies in junior singles, but made the doubles main draw with YeuTzoo Wang of Taiwan .. They went down in the first round to Andrew Banks and Ben Riby of Britain, 46 46 ..

July 5 Note-1

It looks like Mahesh and Prinosil were simply out of gas yesterday, with MB having some serious shoulder pain (darn ..) again which was making him think about even pulling out yesterday, and with Prinosil simply too tired after playing a lot of singles, having come through qualies and advancing four rounds .. Here are some excerpts from S.Kannan's article in the Hindustan Times today - This was a match where the body language of the tenth seeded Indo-German pair was poor. If Mahesh was often seen holding his serving shoulder, Prinosil, for whom this has been a long tournament, looked as flat as stale beer ... "My shoulder is sore. I do not think it is a muscle tear, but will stay here a week for treatment," said Mahesh. And that will include anti-inflamatories, ice packs, and whatever else can be done .. At this stage it does look doubtful whether Mahesh will be in shape to play singles for India in the Davis Cup tie against Sweden to be held in Bastad from July 21 to 23 ..

Here is what Prajwal Hegde said in the Deccan Herald - For most Indians, the interest in the doubles died the minute Bhupathi and Paes parted ways. With Prinosil it is a marriage without the romance. As Bhupathi himself put it, ''there is no chemistry." That perhaps is what let them down today. Paes and Bhupathi always found ways of pulling each other out of trouble. Today Bhupathi was making all the shots but he got no support ....  Bhupathi said later that he was on painkillers and was in two minds on whether or not to take the court today. There is a slight swelling in the shoulder which is troubling him. ''It is tough to beat Prinosil and me on this surface, if we are both up to it. He was low on energy after playing so many matches in the singles and I was hurting," the Indian ace said .... When quizzed if he regretted playing three events this fortnight, Bhupathi said, ''It has been tough. I didn`t expect the singles wild card and when you get it you just take it. But no, I have no regrets." .... The 26-year-old Bangalorean then ruled out any chance of playing singles for India in the Davis Cup against Sweden in Bastad later this month. ''I`ll rest my shoulder for the next week. Take treatment and see how it goes. I`ll go with the team to Sweden. I`d really like to play the doubles. But it all depends on how my shoulder holds up." .... Bhupathi then said he was debating on whether to continue with Prinosil or team up with Mark Knowles for the American summer. ''I would like to go through the season with one player. But Prinosil and me have a problem about playing the same events. I would like to play with Prinosil but I may have to go with Mark Knowles because we are playing the same events. I`ll play the Olympics with Leander and then if Mark Woodforde retires I`ll play with Todd Woodbridge after the Olympics." ...

Interesting words from Mahesh about playing singles at Wimbledon -- actually I believe what happened was that he was really planning to only try his hands at singles qualies, but when the application for a wildcard was put in, Rico asked for a main draw also, with no idea at all that it would come through -- that old line about "being careful about what you ask for, because you might get it!" :-) .. I don't think this was a problem though .. Having got a main draw spot, MB was perhaps obligated to push himself a bit harder than had he been playing the qualies, but I don't think playing four sets of singles on Tuesday caused the shoulder problem by itself .. He probably needed that week off after Halle anyway, rather than play qualy matches .. But the mixed doubles idea should have been avoided (just my personal opinion - I said it before too) .. Even that would have been OK had it been a couple of rounds over a longer period, except that Mahesh also got a bit unlucky with the R1 match going over two days and to an 18-16 final set (effectively making it as long as a five-setter) .. He ended up playing continuously for 5 days and that put stress on his shoulder, especially since it was already hurting a bit after 4 rounds at Halle two weeks back .. A relaxed two weeks with just doubles would have been better .. Sorry to be brutally frank, but I heard from those who watched the match that Martina is really not the Martina of old days and Mahesh had to do hard work in the match ..  But then again, that has been the story for both LP and MB with other partners, shouldering more load than they normally would, had they been playing together - especially since both are champions who hate to lose, whoever the partner is.

Anyway, I don't know what to say, though all of this makes me very sad, once again .... No point in placing blame on people at this point, I guess .. It's fair to say that Mahesh and Leander are both making life miserable for themselves, rather than just deciding to get back together, doing a careful planning of their schedules once LP gets back in 6 weeks, with MB taking it easier till then without the mental stress from uncertainty .. The news in the above two articles scares me, because injuries and uncertain planning is a recipe for disaster for careers .. In my mind, right now things are at a critical phase, though it may not appear so.   Mahesh has absolutely no margin of error right now in his planning .. I am sure he realizes this -- I have not talked to Hesh for a few days and so I don't have any insights .. As of now, I think MB should take a long rest - and yes, if needed, skip the Davis Cup too (singles and even doubles if that is what the doctors say) .. Take as many weeks of rest as needed till ALL the pain is gone from the shoulder .. Actually what happened to Rafter is a good case in point .. He went through about 5-6 months of struggle after his shoulder surgery which I think was a similar one to Hesh's  (he played 2 or 3 doubles events and a few singles events, but rarely two draws in the same week I believe) .. He experienced shoulder pain occasionally, but seems to have been relatively careful about skipping events at the sign of pain .. He expected to be back about 4 months back, but it took much longer .. It seems to have worked as he seems to be finally healthy - able to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon as of yesterday.

The point is - this is not the time to have an "optimistic" attitude and think, "let me see if it will work - it will hopefully be OK" .. This is the time to be pessimistic and conservative and expect the worst every time with respect to the shoulder and play only when it is ridiculous to be that conservative .. I know I am sounding like I am an expert (so what is new ? :-)) and cribbing about Mahesh .. It is just the big fan in me talking - one who wants to see Hesh playing for many years more, who is right now seriously scared and concerned .. But on a positive note, nothing *that* bad has happened yet, and Mahesh is getting a lot of experience on what to expect from the shoulder .. I expect Hesh to be even more careful and handle things well .. Perhaps pushing a bit harder at Wimbledon was a good thing, from that standpoint!

July 4 Note-3

Only our old warriors remain at Wimbledon now .. In the 45 and over section, Vijay and Anand Amritraj won their first match yesterday, over Ken Rosewall and Fred Stolle, 62 63 .. Today, Ramesh Krishnan and Mikael Pernfors beat John Lloyd and van Rensberg, 46 64 63, in the over-35 section ..

In doubles, the top four seeds have all made the quarterfinals .. All the big names, except Paes and Bhupathi are still alive out there .. Damn, it's time our two guys got back together - it hurts to see all these grand slams going by ..

July 4 Note-2

mahesh 8 match doubles win streak at Wimbledon ended today .. R.Federer/ A.Kratzmann d. #10 M.Bhupathi/ D.Prinosil, 76(2) 64 64 .. This was a close match, though RF-AK seemed to have an upper hand throughout, never dropping serve, and breaking our guys once each in the second and 3rd sets .. In the first set our guys faced break attempts in their very first service game and in game 6, but held on .. They had 4 break chances against RF-AK in the 7th game but the next time MB-DP had a break chance was in the very last game of the match! .. In the first set tiebreaker, RF-AK went up 5-0 quickly, and from that point onwards they were on a cruise to the end.

July 4 Note-1

Mahesh-Prinosil vs Federer-Kratzmann today .. Starting right now at about 1.25 am London (8.25 am New York, 6.55 pm India) .. There will be ball-by-ball chat at our chatroom ..

July 3 Note-1

Mahesh will get an extra day off at Wimbledon, as he is not in the schedule for Monday .. In a way it is better for Mahesh to not have to worry about mixed doubles this week and keep the shoulder nice, though it was rather sad to see MB and the great lady lose in the first round .. The shoulder seems to be less and less of a worry now, however .. The doubles draw has reached the final-16 stage and here is how it looks now:

 1 T.Woodbridge/ M.Woodforde vs    M.Bertolini/ C.Brandi           \
 8 J.Novak/ D.Rikl           vs  9 S.Lareau/ D.Nestor              / \
 3 A.O'Brien/ J.Palmer       vs    J.Oncins/ C.Suk                 \ / \
 5 J.Bjorkman/ B.Black       vs 11 N.Kulti/ M.Tillstrom            /    \__ Winners
 6 D.Adams/ J-L.DeJager      vs    W.Arthurs/ B.Ellwood            \    /
 4 E.Ferreira/ R.Leach       vs    Gimelstob-Knowles or Prieto-Ran / \ /
10 M.Bhupathi/ D.Prinosil    vs    R.Federer/ A.Kratzmann          \ /
 2 P.Haarhuis/ S.Stolle      vs    O.Delaitre/ F.Santoro           /
8 of the top 9 seeds are in the final-16, which is rather unusual .. The only top seeds to lose so far were #7 Damm-W.Ferreira, ousted by Federer-Kratzmann, who now play our pair .. Five of the eight PQF matches are on Monday, and Mahesh's match should be one of the three on Tuesday.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on July 3 ..

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.