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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on July 13, 1998

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July 13 Notes

The new rankings are not out yet, as ATP is waiting for the scores from the Bristol challenger finals which was postponed to today, due to rain .. I am pretty sure that Leander will be #102 this week; may be 103.. Meanwhile, here is an article by Bud Collins in the Boston Globe today .. Check it out ! .. Bud is one who is always enjoyable to read. He even finds out some little trivia that nobody else seems to find out - Did you know that Leander's ear-ring was a gift from Bhutia, the Indian football captain ?? ..

And.. Aha .. Finally, we have a Nirupama Vaidyanathan sighting !! .. Just got news from Spain that she is at the $25K Getxo challenger there .. They tell me that she is scheduled to play Selima Sfar (#254) of Tunisia, in the first round tomorrow .. Nirupama stays at around the same ranking this week, down two spots to #168. This is an important week for Niru, as I think she has 10 points from last year's Pucheim challenger (germany) quarterfinal to defend.. Those points fall off next week, I believe. Even if she does well at Getxo this week, I am not sure if those points will enter the computer next week. If not, she is in danger of falling about 10 spots in the rankings on July 20th, which may cause her to miss the early entry cutoff for the US Open qualifiers next week (but she may be close enough still to get in by the time the qualies roll around). I have not looked closely enough at these numbers to be 100% sure though .. WTA's computer is a bit uncertain with points from tournaments going in at odd times, not necessarily the week after. She has fallen quite a bit this week in doubles though, from 196 to 224. I don't have the results with me, but I believe these were the doubles points from the Vaihingen challenger last year in Germany ..

July 12 Note-4

"I'm Indian .. It comes naturally" .. that was a great answer from Leander to the TV announcers' post-game question on how he finds it so easy to play on grass. Then the granddaddy of tennis peers, and a hall of famer himself, Bud Collins announced it during the prize ceremony : Indians own this tournament ! .. reminded off Vijay Amritraj's three titles here, LP said: "I wouldn't mind winning this event three times, like he has," ..

The game was pretty strightforward: Once again, LP was ready from the beginning, and his opponent had trouble getting into any flow in his game. Godwin would put two great shots together and then follow it with a double fault and an unforced error or get pressured into netting or hitting out something by Leander who kept him off-balance with his chips and charges and often charges without any chips ! .. The game started with Godwin making 4 double faults but still somehow clinging to dear life tying it at 1-1 after a couple of deuces ..  After 44 consecutive service game at Newport where he hadn't dropped one, LP then dropped serve, going to that old bugaboo twice, the backhand slice from the baseline, which Godwin returned well .. the breeze and sun in the eyes also seemed to cause a bit of a problem, adding to the nerves that both showed at first .. LP broke back immediately though to tie it at 2-2 with a very nice bakhand crosscourt, and turned it up a notch at the right time, winning four games in a row to go up 5-2, the fourth game showing his intentions amply .. Serving to stay a break up at 3-2, he was down 15-40 but came up with some classic Leander tennis including the shot of the match, running left to right and smashing a forehand passing shot down the line from 5 feet behind the baseline .. Godwin was constantly running into trouble with his serve, but held in the next game, but LP served it out at 6-3, winning the set on his first ace, right down the middle.

The second set started with Godwin serving a double fault immediately, and LP was up a break after 7 deuces. LP could have finished off the break faster but for him teeing off on every break point, sending a backhand top spin return long, and getting the strings broken once - pure, unadulterated aggression was LP's game then and Godwin seemed to be cracking under that pressure .. Down 0-1, Godwin produced some good fight of his own and broke Leander back to even it at 1-1 .. LP was not done though, and came right back to break Godwin again, this time showing clearly what LP's game does to people in the point of the match .. A backhand return from the left corner and a full sprint to the right to retrieve a smash from Godwin at the net that not many in pro tennis are fast enough to catch up to .. A classic lob from way back in the right corner that took for ever to come down to Godwin who looked so confused with that great lob that he tried a cute drop shot which didn't make it across the net ! .. That was the end of the game. Godwin looked clearly deflated at the silly mistake, and LP was ready to pounce. LP was up a break 2-1, and went through 5 consecutive games, going up 5-1. The set ended on LP's serve for a sweet 6-3, 6-2 win. That made it 10 consecutive sets won by Leander, with some cool $39K going into his pocket.

First title and 151 points (inluding 11 bonus points) that will take his point total to a career high 489 (the previous being 462 after the Chennai semifinal). The ranking this week may be right outside 100 at around 103, and he may not go over his career best ranking of 98 this week. The good news is that he only has about 120 points to defend for the next 8 months, which would mean that he could go higher, much higher, pretty soon.

What a week ! Just last week it appeared as though, incredibly, Leander would be going through the whole grass season with ZERO points (he had 30 points from the Vadodara grass challenger in India but that is not part of the 5-week ATP grass season). But we really shouldn't have worried, huh ? .. The man likes grass and needed just one week to show what he can do on that.

It was nice to see Leander thanking coach "Nails" Carmichael during the award ceremony. We finally see Leander taking the next step after a year and half of pretty good coaching from Nails, though the singles' "step" came only a year after the big strides in doubles .. "Nails" looked genuinely happy, when Bud Collins asked him to stand up to an ovasion, raising his cap .. And Leander did not forget to thank another man who has made a huge difference - his new trainer, Sanjay Singh, who looked a bit shy at the camera focus .. I don't know what he did with Lee's ankle Friday night, but that miraculous ankle recovery was a big key behind all this.

Now it will be two weeks of peaceful rest at Florida. He *will be* in the main draw at the US Open, for which the cutoff rank date is next Next Monday (July 20th). That also means that he will most probably be playing at the Boston ATP tournament the week before US Open, as he does not have to play the qualifiers. I don't think the Los Angeles Mercedes-Benz-Cup folks would come through with a wildcard for LP there, so we should be seeing him getting back into action 3 weeks from now at the Windy City Classic challenger at Winnetka outside Chicago. It will be a nice way for LP to get back onto the hardcourts, with the North American hardcourt season starting now and ending in the US Open.

July 12 Note-3

LP won it, 6-3, 6-2 .. more details later, after the world cup final .. :-)

YEAH !!! YEAH !! YEAH !!!

July 12 Note-2

Correction: Leander *has* played Neville Godwin once before .. ATP's stats doesn't seem to include this (go figure!) but LP lost to Godwin in the final round of qualifiers at Wimbledon in 1996 .. LP made it in as a lucky loser and lost to Mark Petchey that year, and Godwin created the biggest ripple that year going to the 4th round .. I don't know the score of that match, though .. LP has to exact revenge here .. The Providence Journal-Banner says Tieleman considers Paes' style of play "annoying", with all the chips and slices .. LP said that was exactly his ploy here, to keep chipping and slicing Tieleman's serves to death, allowing him to serve aces down the middle if he was going to (and Tieleman double-faulted 7 times trying to do that) .. I thought LP did not go for much of the backhand slice in most of the rallies, though.

July 12 Note-1

So, it will be Leander Paes vs Neville Godwin today in the final at the Newport Hall of Fame tournament. Godwin played a very close semifinal against first seed Jason Stoltenberg and won it 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), as the "Casino Jinx", as it is called by Newporters continued - that is, no first seed has ever won the title in the 23 year pro history of this event, starting from Vijay Amritraj's title there in 76 .. Of course, that is the current version of the Newport event; they used to even host the US Open there in the early part of the century at this oldest tennis court in the US, converted from what was in 1870s the Longwood Cricket Club in the days when there were few playing cricket in the US .. Jason Stoltenberg was up a minibreak in the 3rd set tiebreaker, but the jinx got to him when he double faulted and Godwin came up with a beautiful backhand volley to get the upper hand and then win it.

As for the doubles semifinal played in the evening, they told me from the tournament office at first that LP and Tramacchi won the first set 6-4 .. Later they told me that Doug Flach and Sandon Stolle won the match 6-4, 6-4 .. I don't see the doubles result posted anywhere in the usual media outlets, but I assume LP/PT lost the match. I am sure LP isn't bothered about that all that much right now.

Who is Neville Godwin ? .. 23 year old talented youngster from South Africa, who some may remember reaching the 4th round at Wimbledon in 1996 after going past Boris Becker ! - They were in a first set tiebreaker when Boris badly injured his wrist and gave the match to Neville .. Godwin had his best run starting then (mid-96), with wins over Caratti, Stafford, and Becker at Wimbledon, over Wheaton, Courier, and Arazi at the Washington Legg Mason, then over Chesnokov and Kuerten at the 97 Australian, ending with a win over Damm at Hong Kong. That placed him at a career-high of ATP 90, but he has fallen off in rankings a bit since then, even though he has beaten guys like Byron Black and Tommy Haas etc.  He also was a finalist at the Eilat challenger late last year and the Jerusalem challenger this year .. He knows Leander very well, and has a challenger doubles title with LP (Jerusalem in 1996). Based on how well he played Stoltenberg yesterday, though after a patchy start, Leander has a tough match at hand .. LP and Godwin have never played each other in singles .. LP was carefully watching the semifinal yesterday and scouting .. A confident LP said in his post-match interview that "if I get into my rythm, it doesn't matter what the other guy does" .. That is very true about LP .. He normally wins if he does what he can do without mistakes, as he did yesterday.

GO LP !! .. Let us make this the first ATP tour singles title by an Indian since Ramesh Krishnan's title at Schenectady, NY, in August 1990 (only titles in ATP events higher than challengers count in common parlance as ATP titles) .. Eight years is a long time, and let's end the drought right here !

The match will be at 2.00 pm EST (11 am PST, 11.30 pm India) .. Will be on live TV in the US, on FOX cable, and we will have running commentary in our chatroom .. Hope they finish it in an hour and half at most, so that we won't miss any of the Samba action from France ..

July 11 Notes

Great win, 6-3, 6-4 over Laurence Tieleman !! .. LP looked determined to win this right from the start .. Tieleman suddenly looked human too. LP played a very solid first set, with Tieleman making a few too many mistakes, netting the ball and double-faulting. LP broke him in the 4th game to go up 4-1, and held serve the rest of the way to coast to 6-3 .. In the second, Tieleman showed some signs of life at first, though LP had a break chance in the 3rd game. Then came the game of the match, the 4th of the second set. LP was serving and Tieleman came up with some great returns to jump out to a 0-40 triple break point. One could see in LP's eyes that he was not ready to give it back .. (by the way, there aren't too many players who show their intentions and adrenaline level as clearly as LP does in his eyes!) .. 2 Aces, and another terrific serve which Tieleman netted .. It was deuce. It went back and forth for 4 deuces, and finally LP put it away to avoid danger at 2-2 .. Tieleman clearly looked deflated in letting 4 break point chances go away. LP was back on top, moving up and putting pressure on Tieleman all the time, forcing (:-)) him into unforced errors .. LP got the break again in the 7th game. LP had a match with Tieleman serving at 3-5, but Laurence held on. LP served out the final game easily. Overall, Leander seemed to do most things right, today. The match took an hour and 15 minutes. Both had about 6 aces each, even though LP seemed to come up with those just when he needed them. Laurence had 12 unforced errors to 6 by LP. There were 6 doubles faults by Laurence (and they did play a part in his loss), to a couple by LP..

By the way, they showed on TV an ankle injury LP sufferred yesterday in the final game of his quartefinal win. He twisted his ankle. It looked serious, and they said he had to be helped off the field after the win .. Apparently the ankle has had a miraculous recovery overnight and LP was moving well today (in the post-game interview he said it was a bit sore but not bothering him).

The first career ATP final for Leander Paes !! He gets 110 points which is the highest single tournament point total for leander, ever (the previous best was 81 points from the Shanghai semi last year). He goes up to 448 total points and a ranking around 110-112 now. Terrific job, Leander !

Stoltenberg is tied with Godwin, 6-3, 1-6, 2-2 as of now, with Stoltenberg playing alright again after a miserable second set.. LP and Tramacchi come out to play the doubles semi after this match ..

July 10 Note-2

LP was ready to do his thing today, it seems .. 7-6 (4), 6-2, he took out Schuttler .. Yes, Yes, Yes ! .. The win gives Leander 68 points (including 8 bonus) and he has defended his 66 points from last year. His rankings will not go down after this week. One more win, and he will have 110 points (including 10 bonus), and that should bring him up to around ATP #110-112 and give him a chance to possibly squeeze in as the last direct entry into the US Open (the entries close based on the July 20th ranking, but LP is taking the next 2 weeks off) .. Anyway, this is semifinal #5 of his career .. 3 of those 5 have come at Newport .. I suppose Newport qualifies as his "happy hunting ground" as cricket fans would say, huh ? .. Interestingly, the Newport club was originally a cricket club .. but I digress in excitement !

The last 4 times he reached semis in ATP world series events, Leander failed to advance to the final .. I hope 5th time will be the charm. Standing in his way is Lawrence Tieleman of Italy, who beat Mark Knowles today. In the other semifinal, top seed Jason Stoltenberg plays Neville Godwin (Godwin upset Gimelstob today, and Jason beat 7th seed Van Lottum) .. Tielman, though ranked a few spots below Leander, should not be taken lightly. Virtually all his points are on grasscourts. I think he has some 14 or 15 wins on the ATP circuit in his career, and they are all on grass ! .. He is yet to win a single match on any other surface in any ATP world series or higher event, amazing as it seems .. He talked this week about how he waits the whole year for the one month of grass tournament .. I mentioned below his terrific upset-streak at Queens last month where he reached the final, after entering the draw as a qualifier. It is rather odd to find anybody like him, who *only* wins on grass .. There are a lot of guys who just cannot buy a win on grass, but the reverse is very rare. LP has played Tieleman twice before (at the Perth challenger in 1992 and at the Mumbai challenger in 1995) and both were straight sets wins for LP, on hardcourts. It doesn't mean much, as Tieleman transforms to Superman on grass. If LP weren't a superb grass player himself, I would have said he had no chance. But, this is the 5th attempt for LP to win a semi and reach the first ATP world series final of his career. Hey, he is good, and he is due !

The key for LP is not to make mistakes tomorrow. In Woodforde's loss to Tieleman this week, he made several mistakes, and Tielemen made him pay every time, according to Woodforde himself. LP needs to serve consistently, and that is important. Most importantly, LP needs to get his juices flowing and not suddenly have an off-day, as he tends to have just when we think he is ready to string a few wins together and make the next step in his career.

Now, here is even better news: North American fans can watch LP on live TV tomorrow (saturday) ! .. The semifinal is televised from 2 to 4 pm EST on Fox Cable channel. The tournament folks tells me that the first semi scheduled tomorrow is LP vs Tieleman, and that it should start just past 2 pm, right after the Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Jimmy Connors. That means only this semi will be televised. How about that ? ..

One doubles match was completed today: Stoltenberg and Draper defeated Kinnear and Kilderry and are in the finals. The other semifinal is scheduled after the second singles semifinal tomorrow; so LP will have to come back after his singles match for a doubles match. What is riding on the doubles part of the tournament for LP, you ask ? .. well, he can be the #3 player in the world and jump over the Woodies and even Mahesh by a few points, if he wins the doubles title here. Go LP !

July 10 Note-1

Leander's quarterfinal match has just started and is tied at 2-2 in the first set at Newport .. Meanwhile, I found a bit of news on Syed Fazaluddin who seems to have won a round at the Greece futures at Veria, but has lost in the second round to Andy Ram of Israel .. Andy is a top-20 junior player in the world, but is ranked above Fazal in ATP. This came from an Israeli news source, but I will try to find out more on whom Fazal beat in the first round.

July 9 Note-3

LP and Peter Tramacchi won the doubles quarterfinal today, over David Dilucia and Michael Sell, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 !! .. The upsets continued in doubles too .. The other two seeded teams in the quarterfinals lost - top seeds Lareau/O'Brien lost to Kent Kinnear and Paul Kilderry in a surprise (well, may be not .. L and O are playing together after 8 months and are probably rusty as a team), and the 4th seeds Neville Godwin and Kevin Ullyett lost to Scott Draper and Jason Stoltenberg .. The doubles draw for the semis is (there are 5 Aussies alive in doubles!) :

  S.Draper(AUS)/ J.Stoltenberg(AUS) vs P.Kilderry(AUS)/ K.Kinnear(USA) \
3-L.Paes(IND)/ P.Tramacchi(AUS)     vs D.Flach(USA)/ S.Stolle(AUS)     /

In singles, the draw from the quarterfinals is:

 1-Jason Stoltenberg (AUS, #35)  vs  7-John Van Lottum (NED,# 85)  \
   Justin Gimelstob  (USA,#109)  vs    Neville Godwin  (RSA,#170)  / \
   Rainer Schuttler  (GER,#115)  vs    Leander Peas    (IND,#123)  \ /
WC-L.Tieleman        (ITA,#133)  vs  Q-Mark Knowles    (BAH,#744)  /

The singles QFs will be on Friday .. The doubles semis may be on Saturday (not sure) .. LP has a good opportunity to do very well here, if he focuses down on the job at hand !

July 9 Note-2

The 4th seed Sargsian was upset by Schuttler today, 6-2, 6-7(0), 4-6 .. This means that there are no seeds left in the bottom half of the singles draw .. LP will play Rainer Schuttler (Germany, #115) and Mark Knowles (Bahamas, #744) will play Laurence Tieleman (Italy, #133) in the quarterfinals .. Basically, any of these four can get to the final, as they are all very capable players. Don't let Mark Knowles' rank fool you - he has been in and near the top-100 just about a year and half back .. His rank is so low only because he hardly played for a year due to injury, and qualifying at Wimbledon this year is what just brought him up from almost no ranking to #744 ! .. He seems ready to play again, and his upset of Grant Stafford, a very good grass player, shows how he is doing. As for Tieleman, he is another one who has been terrific on grass this year (though he is an Italian, I believe he lives in UK and plays on grass quite a bit, if I am not mistaken). Laurence was ranked in the 300s when he entered the main draw at the Queens grass tournament last month as a qualifier .. Well, all he did was to reach the final of a $675K tournament, beating a few small names along the way - like Stoltenberg, Lareau, Rusedski, Henman and Byron Black, in a row (he lost to Scott Draper in the final)! .. Shows you how good he is on grass, and he ended up inside the top-150 in a hurry. I am not sure how good Schuttler is on grass, but he is a young player who has come up during 1997 from low 200s to high 100s in ranking .. Well, he upset Sargsian, the defending champ at Newport (.. and it is never that easy to beat Sarge when he is fighting hard and making a comeback as he was, after losing the first set) .. LP shouldn't take him lightly, 'cause he can beat you ! .. By the way, the top seed Jason Stoltenberg reached the QF beating Lleyton Hewitt today .. 7th seed Van Lottum is in a good fight with forner Newport champ David Wheaton right now. Anyway, we know that there will be 3 unseeded players in the semis.

News from Tulsa: Vikrant Chadha and Amod Wakalkar lost in the first round of doubles to Gibson and Waite, 6-7, 2-6, yesterday .. This north American swing hasn't helped either player much so far .. :-(

July 9 Note-1

According to the schedule I have seen, the singles quarterfinals are not today, at Newport. They will complete the postponed second round match between Sargsian and Schuttler and play the remaining two second round singles matches .. All four doubles quarterfinals are scheduled for today .. It all depends of rain staying away, though.

Some news in doubles: Knowles/Nestor, originally seeded 2nd and expected to face LP/Tramacchi in the semis, never entered the draw, and were replaced by the lucky losers Laurenzo Manta and Steven Randjelovic, who have advanced to the QFs .. Nestor did play singles on Monday but lost - I assume he has some injury or something. The quarterfinals in doubles are :

1-S.Lareau(CAN)/ A.O'Brien(USA)  vs P.Kilderry(AUS)/ K.Kinnear(USA)  \
4-N.Godwin(RSA)/ K.Ullyett(RSA)  vs S.Draper/ J.Stoltenberg(AUS)     / \
3-L.Paes(IND)/ P.Tramacchi(AUS)  vs D.Dilucia(USA)/ M.Sell(USA)      \ /
  D.Flach(USA)/ S.Stolle(AUS)    vs L.Manta(SUI)/ S.Randjelovic(AUS) /

So I correct my comment from Jul 7, Note-3, that all four seeds have advanced to the QF .. The quarterfinal doubles results from today may not be known till late in the evening there.

July 8 Note-2

Pretty good upset win for LP today .. Actually the highest ranked player he has beaten since Arnaud Boetsch (then inside the top-50) at the US Open 10 months back .. Leander got his first win in 3 trials against Scott Draper today at Newport, 7-5, 6-4 !! .. He gets 36 points so far including 6 bonus points .. It has been upset-day there at Newport, as all four seeds who have completed their matches lost today (2nd seed Woodforde to Tieleman, 3rd seed Tarango to Gimelstob, 8th seed Grant Stafford to Mark Knowles, 6th seed Draper to LP). Actually another seeded player was struggling, though coming back as rains came down - 4th seed Sargis Sargsian was 2-6, 7-6(0) against Rainer Schuttler .. The two remaining seeds (#1 Stoltenberg and #7 Van Lottum) didn't play due to rain, and their matches have been postponed.

LP next faces Sargis Sargsian or Rainer Schuttler next. If Sarge loses the 3rd set tomorrow, there will be no seeds left in the bottom half of the draw with LP .. Sargsian is the defending champ and the one who beat LP in a very close 3-setter last year in the semis at Newport.

July 8 Note-1

Here is some unfortunate news: The Providence Journal-Banner reported yesterday that Mr. Stenning, the Newport Hall of Fame tournament director, had called up Mahesh at Wimbledon on Saturday with a wildcard offer, which MB had to refuse due to his leg injury (which he said had reduced himself to 65% efficiency, and I guess that explains some of the problems he had in the mixed doubles final on Sunday) .. Todd Woodbridge, who was expected to be the #1 seed at Newport, withdrew on Friday which left an opening that they wanted to fill with a top name .. Mahesh was the obvious choice, as LP was already there and they could enter the doubles too .. This is indeed sad news, and all I can say is that I simply cannot believe the bad luck that continues to haunt Mahesh. Hang in there buddy, we are all with you !

Also, yesterday's The Hindu reports after an interview with Mahesh at Bombay, that he would take two weeks off, and then play at the Tampere (Finland) challenger and the Istanbul (Turkey) challenger, before going to Toronto for the DuMaurier Super 9 .. I will check into that and the injury matter, soon ..

Leander is scheduled to play his second round singles match against Scott Draper today. I have not seen what time the match is expected to start.

July 7 Note-3

Leander won a doubles match also today. LP and Tramacchi beat Tommy Ho and Mitch Springelmeyer, 6-3, 6-4 in the evening .. They face David Dilucia (again!) and Michael Sell in the quarterfinal .. David must be sick of running up against Indians - he and Park Sung-hee lost to Mahesh and Mirjana in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon, and then he had Leander today .. Anyway, all four doubles seeds have advanced to the Quarterfinals.

Bad news from Tulsa .. Dr. Sharma sends the news that Vikrant Chadha lost to Jaymon Crabb, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the $15K USA F8 Futures .. Tough luck, as he ran up against a much higher ranked player. Crabb is ranked #441, which would mean he is one of the top seeds there. Just last year, he was ranked in the upper 200s, and even played in a grand slam (97 Australian .. guess who beat him in the first round there ? .. Leander..). Well, for one more week, Vikrant's heroics to qualify into the tournament yields him no points !

July 7 Note-2

Leander seems to have taken a while to get cranked up today, but he won, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, over David Dilucia (#278, USA) .. Up next for Leander is the 6th seed Scott Draper (AUS, #68) .. Draper is a tough opponent for Leander, but he is due for a win against him. In their previous two matches, LP lost to him at Nagoya (hardcourt) in 1995, 3-6, 4-6 and again lost to him at Beijing (carpet) in 1996, 4-6, 2-6 .. Draper is a pretty good grass player too, and recently won the Queen's tournament beating guys like Rafter (that title brought him up from #108 to #73) .. But then again, when he is ready to beat someone, LP can beat anyone on a grass surface. This is a good time for LP to get going again. Ever since that hot streak in March-April, LP has hardly picked up any points. He reached the semis at Newport last two years and has 66 points to defend there (he has 404 points now). He has now defended 15 points .. Basically, he only has another 3 weeks or so to pick up about 100+ points to have a chance to qualify into the US Open directly (the direct entries close in about 4 weeks). LP is aware of the need to pick up some singles points .. I had recently heard that there is a chance that LP may chose to go to the Winnetka challenger in Illinois rather than the Los Angeles Mercedes-Benz Cup (former Infiniti), 3 weeks from now, unless he is sure of getting an entry at LA, where he is in the waiting list as of now. That means he is serious about singles during this stretch, with the next doubles tournament with MB being after 3 more weeks at Montreal .. LP was to take time off in Florida the next two weeks, but I am not sure if he is still sticking to that plan. Anyway, putting together 4-5 wins at Newport will make it all easier for Leander .. Go LP !

Leander and Peter Tramacchi are scheduled to play their first round doubles today evening, against a qualifier pair, Tommy Ho and Mitch Springelmeyer .. Haven't seen the result yet.

July 7 Note-1

Leander will be playing Daviud Dilucia today at Newport, but I don't know the exact time .. No live updates from Newport, anyway. Will update whenever the results come in.

I was told that Mahesh is on his way to India, and probably would have taken the week off anyway, as he has a leg injury, which I assume is not major.

Some news on Asian Tennis (since nobody else seems to cover Asian tennis): There is a new #2 this week, behind Leander in Asia, and it is Takeo Suzuki of Japan. Remember him ? .. Yes, he is the one who won the title at the Mumbai challenger in early december last year, after entering the draw as a lucky loser (and he became the lowest ranked lucky loser to ever win an ATP challenger ever) ! .. 21 yr-old Takeo won the Denver challenger last week, beating Justin Bower of USA, got 63 points and jumped all the way from #292 to #212, in the process jumping over Goichi Motomura of Japan, Yong-Il Yoon of Korea and Oleg Ogorodov of Uzbekistan .. Watch out for him in the future. He looks promising.

July 6 Note-3

The new rankings show Leander at #120 and Mahesh at #309 ..

Dr. B.Sharma from Tulsa, Oklahoma has kindly send some good news on Vikrant Chadha .. He has once again made it into the main draw through the qualifiers (for the 4th week in a row) at a futures tournament - this time at Tulsa .. There were 3 rounds. He defeated Thomas Kao 6-3, 6-1in round 2 and a South African, Shaun Smith, 6-4, 7-6 in the 3rd round. Apparently Amod Wakalkar was also there in the qualifier draw, but he seems to have lost in the second round .. Will keep you posted as I hear again from Dr. Sharma (thanks !) ..

Syed Fazaluddin has moved up a few spots to #673 in the latest rankings, with 1 point from the Tallahassee Futures a few weeks back .. He has 4 more points from the two canada Futures yet to show up in the computer, which should soon move him up to around #630 .. Ed Toombs sent the score for his loss in the quarterfinal Friday evening at the Quebec Futures to Jonathan Pastel - 3-6, 6-3, 3-6 .. Fazal may have left for Greece, but it is doubtful if he would have reached there early enough to play the futures there, this week ..

Nirupama Vaidyanathan is ranked #166 in singles and #192 in doubles this week. Still not sure if she played at the Obertello challenger in Italy last week, as WTA has not entered the results from there into the computer .. She may have just been taking some time off.

July 6 Note-2

Mahesh has jumped over the Woodies in the individual doubles rankings to a career high #3 !!.. actually the Woodies jumped back behind him, as they couldn't defend their title .. The Flying Dutchmen finally got their first Wimbledon title beating Woodies, the 5-time reigning champs, in a 4 hour marathon, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(3), 5-7 and 10-8 on Saturday .. Eltingh is having one of the best years anybody has ever had, amassing an incredible 5500+ points, and running for a doubles grand slam with titles at AO (with Bjorkman), FO and Wimbledon (both with Haarhuis) .. Leander moved one spot down, but is very close behind the 3 thru 6 spots .. Here are the rankings: 1. Jacco Eltingh 5525, 2. Paul Haarhuis 4451, 3. Mahesh Bhupathi 3829, 4. Jonas Bjorkman 3823, 5. Mark Woodforde 3823, 6. Todd Woodbridge 3821, 7. Leander Paes 3783, 8. Ellis Ferreira 3121, 9. Rick Leach 2935, 10. Patrick Rafter 2552 .. The team ranking remains at #3, but LP-MB are about 400 behind the Woodies and 1100 behind the Dutchmen .. Here it is: 1. Eltingh/P.Haarhuis 3197, 2. T.Woodbridge/M.Woodforde 2765, 3. M. Bhupathi/L. Paes 2118, 4. E. Ferreira/R. Leach 1937, 5. D. Johnson/F. Montana 1580 ..

The complete singles rankings have not been posted by ATP but LP should remain at about the same ranking around #123 and MB should move up a few spots closer to #300 with a couople of extra points from the qualifiers at Wimbledon. LP has 66 points to defend this week, and so it is important for him to do well at Newport .. MB has 8 points to defend this week from the Granby challenger last year, but won't have a chance to do that, which means he will unfortunately drop even more spots next week, bascially because of not getting a chance to play singles.

July 6 Note-1

The update is a little late today .. was fixing my home computer which suddenly showed corrupted registries (horror) late last week .. I feel like a big computer guru now, after manually editing and correcting the Win 95 registry !! .. The machine started breathing again at 3 am last night, and I am back now ! ..

Leander is at Newport for the Hall of Fame tournament on grass. He does not have the easiest part of the draw, but he has done well the last two years there, reaching consecutive semis, upsetting a few seeds. Hope he repeats it. Here is the bottom half of the draw:

 6-Scott  Draper (AUS)     vs Oscar Burrieza (ESP)       \
   Leander Peas (IND)      vs David Dilucia (USA)        / \
   Rainer Schuttler (GER)  vs Tommy Ho (USA)             \ / \
 4-Sargis Sargsian (ARM)   vs Daniel Nestor (CAN)        /    \
 8-Grant Stafford (RSA)    vs Q-Steven Randjelovic (AUS) \    /
 Q-Mark Knowles (BAH)      vs Q-Eyal Erlich (ISR)        / \ /
WC-Laurence Tieleman (ITA) vs Kevin Ullyett (RSA)        \ /
 2-Mark Woodforde (AUS)    vs Stephane Simian (FRA)      /

In doubles, Leander is playing with a good friend of his (and MB's), Peter Tramacchi of Australia; they are seeded #3. Here is the draw, which is pretty strong for a $250K tournament, with two very good teams, Knowles/Nestor and Lareau/O'Brien .. It's been a while since L and O played together .. This is their first tournament together, since they split up after the loss to LP/MB at the Hartford semis ..

1-S.Lareau(CAN)/ A.O'Brien(USA)  vs M.Arnold(USA)/ J.Blake(USA)       \
  E.Erlich(ISR)/ B.Martinez(MEX) vs P.Kilderry(AUS)/ K.Kinnear(USA)   / \
4-N.Godwin(RSA)/ K.Ullyett(RSA)  vs E.Taino(USA)/ M.Wakefield(USA)    \ / \
  S.Draper/ J.Stoltenberg(AUS)   vs T.Gevorkian(ARM)/ S.Sargsian(ARM) /    \
  D.Nainkin(RSA)/ J.Thomas(USA)  vs D.Dilucia(USA)/ M.Sell(USA)       \    /
3-L.Paes(IND)/ P.Tramacchi(AUS)  vs Qualifier/ Qualifier              / \ /
  D.Flach(USA)/ S.Stolle(AUS)    vs S.Pescosolido(ITA)/ G.vanEmburgh  \ /
2-M.Knowles(BAH)/ D.Nestor(CAN)  vs A.Painter(AUS)/ G.Silcock(AUS)    /

Leander is not scheduled to play today, and so he plays Dilucia (USA, close to #300) tomorrow ..

Now, for Mahesh .. Poor guy keeps winning in doubles, and keeps paying for it by missing the next week's singles.  He wanted to play a challenger (probably at Bristol), but the folks up there just told me that they were disappointed that he couldn't make it up there for the qualies over the weekend (hey, give the guy a wildcard if you care that much ! ) .. The bad thing is that there are 3 other challengers this week and he would have made it in somewhere. Anyway, it looks like a rest week for him.

More news soon, with the news rankings etc ..

July 5 Note-2

There were over 600 matches played at Wimbledon this year, and the final serve of the tournament was from Mahesh Bhupathi a few minutes back .. alas, that was a double fault, but he has once again done us all proud by keeping us glued to Wimbledon for over two weeks, starting with the heroics in the qualifiers, then the near-upset of the 4th seed Moya in 5 sets, and then the trip all the way to the mixed doubles final with someone he has never played with, Mirjana Lucic .. The gates are closed, the trophies have been given, and the big show is over ..

MB-ML lost today, 4-6, 4-6 to Belarus' Max Mirnyi and USA's Serena Williams .. The match took an hour and 15 minutes .. The first set went with serve, even though MB-ML had a couple of break points off Serena's serves .. Both MB and Lucic were also having some troubles in service, with a few deuces off their serves, and MB finally dropped serve in the 10th game, losing the set 4-6 .. In the second set, they had Serena on the ropes in the 3rd game, and got the break in the 3rd chance there.. Then Miki was serving at 40-0, and still somehow managed to give the break back right away, to tie it up at 2-2 .. One could see right there that it was slipping away, and Mahesh was broken in the game 10 again. He went up 30-15, and then fought off a match point at 30-40, had a deuce, and another saved match point .. Then Serena came up with a beautiful passing shot off a ball that "nobody knows how she got to", as the radio commentary said. It was match point once again, and this time Mahesh served the double fault .. Congrats to Max Mirnyi and Serena Williams for doing this in their very first doubles tournament together.

To recap some records for MB: In the last 12 grand slam doubles draws he has entered, he has gone to semifinal or better an incredible 6 times ! .. 3 semis with LP, 1 semi with Caroline Vis, a final with Lucic and a title with Hiraki .. all in 13 months ! .. Impressive.

Back to the ATP tour: Leander should be in Newport, Rhode Island, by now for the Hall of Fame tournament that starts tomorrow. He is in the main draw, and the draws will be out soon.. Syed Fazaluddin lose in the quarterfinal of the Quebec Futures on Friday, to Jonathan Pastel .. Fazal should still move a up a little bit in the ATP rankings soon, after these points go into the computer, to around 650 or higher..

July 5 Note-1

Max Mirnyi and Serena Williams will be facing Bhupathi/Lucic in the finals this evening .. Earlier today, they beat Paul Haarhuis and Caroline Vis, the second seeds, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 .. They are taking some rest right now, during the finals of the senior ladies doubles on court 1 .. As soon as it gets done, they should have the mixed doubles finals starting (around 6.30 pm there .. 1.30 pm EST, 10.30 PST, in the USA and 11pm India).