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LP/MB/NS/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on July 14, 2003
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July 14 Note-1

Well, I am having a hard time predicting the rankings these days .. It turns out that ATP reduced the points for the Swiss Open .. It was 200 points last year and is 175 this year .. The prize money apparently reduced from 600K to 550K .. This is utterly ludicrous of course .. They even play a 5-set final for singles at Swiss Open and it has the same points as the $350K annual mickey mouse dog and pony grasscourt show at the Hall of Fame (with due apologies to great players who have won it in the past) .. I mean, Robbie Ginepri wins Newport beating nobody in the top-90 and gets the same points as Jiri Novak who toiled for five-sets to beat Roger Federer at the Swiss final .. Come on, ATP had a perfectly logical ranking and point system a few years back with points, bonuses and everything and they messed the whole damn thing up with fewer point levels (supposedly for people to understand it better - yeah right!) ..  All they really did was to confuse everybody with two separate rank lists (race and entry) and get the press off their back about rankings .. The US and European press had this pet story then, that the ranking system was illogical because somebody who was ranked #1 had not won the latest grand slam or whatever .. That was one of those "safe" stories that "sounded like" constructive criticism but without any substantive suggestions for change, like the doping story these days, that the press pulled out whenever they had nothing else to talk about! .. Anyway, it is ridiculous to see the Swiss Open getting short-changed, though it was according to the book .. So, anyway, LP got 25 points less and so Fabrice Santoro at 3085 points is ahead at #10 in the ranks and LP at 3070 stays at #11 .. So, unlike what I said yesterday, LP needs to wait some more to crack the top-10 again .. Also, MB-MM stays ahead of LP-DR by 5 entry points (one race point - 498 to 497) at the #3 spot!

The top five doubles teams are - #1 Bob Bryan/ Mike Bryan (655 pts), #2 Mark Knowles/ Daniel Nestor (640), #3 Mahesh Bhupathi/ Max Mirnyi (498), #4 Leander Paes/ David Rikl (497), #5 Jonas Bjorkman/ Todd Woodbridge (405) ..

Have not seen the Manchester draw for Rohan yet .. Also the Aptos doubles draw for Harsh.

July 13 Note-2

Harsh Mankad went down in a tight match, 46 67(6) to the 6th seed Andres Pedroso (USA,298) last evening at the Aptos qualies, after his 64 36 64 win in the Q1 against Jay Gooding (AUS,619) in the afternoon .. Rough start to the challenger circuit in the last two weeks in the qualies, but it is to be expected at the beginning, as he is just graduating from the satellite circuits to full-time challenger tour from now on (hopefully he will keep his ranking in thje top-350 from now on and move it up from here on out) .. He will not need qualies for the challengers in the next two weeks, so things will get better from here on .. I suppose Harsh will be playing doubles this week and should relatively easily make the main draw ..

Nothing much else to report for today.

July 13 Note-1

Doubles Title number 27 in the bag for Leander, at the $550K Swiss Open ATP in Bastad .. Another easy outing, and he helped David Rikl defend his title with Josh Eagle last year at Bastad .. [F] #1 L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. F.Cermak/ L.Friedl, 63 63 .. They shared Euro 26,800 for the title (about $27K) .. 200 entry points each (40 race points) .. That takes their team race point total to 502, inching them back ahead of MB-Mirnyi at 496 pts to the #3 spot that they had lost to Mad Max this week .. Leander's point total will go up from 2935 to 3095 which should be enough to take him up to the #9 spot, as he will be returning to the top-10 for the first time since May 20th of 2002 .. This is the second title in three finals with Rikl for LP and 3rd title in 5 finals this year.

The qualifying field at the $50K Aptos challenger in California is tougher than I expected .. Harsh Mankad, who was 14th in the qualies list originally, only moved up to #9, and did not get seeded among the eight, which means he has to upset two seeds in the top-300 to make the main draw .. He had beaten Jay Gooding (AUS,619), 64 36 64 yesterday morning and was playing the 6th seed Andres Pedroso (USA,398) in the evening - I have not got the scores yet .. If he won, then it would be the 3rd seed today.

Top seeded Madura Ranganathan was upset yesterday by Porntip Mulsap (THA), 63 06 63 at the grade-5 Bangtok ITF juniors semi.

July 12 Notes

Hey, the Indian u19 team is in the world volleyball final! .. They keep on rolling - 3-1 win over Iran and they face Brazil tomorrow in the final .. How about that?

Jiri Novak beat Radek Stepanek in the singles semifinal at the Swiss Open in Gstaad, and Novak-Stepanek promptly gave a walkover in the doubles semi to Frantisek Cermak and Leos Friedl (CZE) .. So, LP-DR will play  Cermak-Friedl tomorrow in the final .. Federer vs Novak in singles.

July 11 Note-3

"Czech Inde Mail" are winning the matches faster than Federer can milk his cow up there in Gstaad .. [SF] #1 L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. P.Pala/ P.Vizner, 62 61 .. The final will be on Sunday .. They will play the winners of the other SF between four other Czechs tomorrow night between Novak-Stepanek and Cermak-Friedl .. Interestingly Novak is playing Stepanek in a singles semifinal as well ..

Not much else going ont today .. Just saw that Rohan Bopanna is in the main draw of the $25K+H Recanati challenger in Italy starting on the 21st .. That makes it Manchester, Recanati and Denver challengers for him the next three weeks, as he goes from UK to Italy to USA .. Harsh Mankad probably would be playing qualies tomorrow for next week's Aptos (California) challenger, and he has made the main draws of the Lexington and Denver challengers for the following weeks.

Madura Ranganathan has reached the semifinal of  the grade-5 ITF juniors in Bangkok .. She beat Punjaporn Ditthim (THA), 46 63 63 today and will play an in-form Thai girl, Porntip Mulsap, tomorrow .. On the boys' side Sumitprakash went down in the QF, to Martin Sayer of Hong Kong, 63 26 16 .. I believe that is like the 4th consecutive QF loss for Sumit in the grade-5 tour in Indonesia to Thailand .. Martin has been on a winning streak from last week, having taken the title at Hatyai ..

Sandhya Nagaraj has been in the ITF junior tour in Australia .. Won one round last week, and had won a round this week as well - Not sure of the scores after that, but I will find out.

July 11 Note-2

STOP PRESS .. Nothing to do with tennis, but out under-19 team has reached the world semifinal in Volleyball!!! .. Congratulations.. Go INDIA! .. Please go to our sports-india forum (under "other sports") if you want to discuss the sudden emergence of our volleyball team and congratulate them ..

July 11 Note-1

I just received a clarification from ITF .. I had written to their junior website folks earlier this week about Sania and Alisa not getting the 180 grand slam title bonus points at Wimbledon (The Hindu had also had this article yesterday - Is Sania no.1 in the world?  they had found that this was because the draw size was reduce, presumably due to rain delays and ITf was no informed of it) .. Anyway, ITF was kind enough to reply to me and let us know the reason for what they did and that their Grand Slam Committee will have to make a final decision when they meet next .. Instrestingly, the email made a point to tell me that they read what I wrote on monday that they had "botched it up", and that they had NOT (always nice to see of people reading my crap!) .. ouch :-) .. I have posted their communication in the Sania Mirza thread in our forum .. OK, I will retract that little wise crack from me .. By the way, I had myself guessed this on monday itself and had written in the same forum thread that I was assuming that they did not decide to not grant the bonus because of teh reduced draw, as I was aware that it was the only difference from AO and FO where the winners got bonus pts.

As for the effect of a reduction in the draw size, one can actually argue that it can only increase the competition in a grand slam, because more good players might decide not to withdraw from doubles, as only four rounds of play was needed and not five .. In any event, it looks very unfair that everyody else got the points they would have normally got and the only two players who got penalized would be Sania and Alisa .. If you are to reduce the points, do it for all the rounds, and don't take away the bonus points from the title holders! .. That looks like a very logical argument to me .. I think those who update the rank list points had no choice but to not add bonuses, and we can understand that .. I hope the grand slam committee will consider these things and do the right thing.  Sania and Alisa deserve to be ranked #1 and #4 rather than #4 and #15 ..  You can say it is no big deal and that it was after all just the doubles ranks .. True, but it is meaningful in its own way and things need to be fair.

July 10 Notes

Leander and David had another one hour outing and reached the semifinal at the $550K Swiss Open in Gstaad .. [QF] #1 L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. S.Prieto/ A.Sa, 62 63 .. They went up in the 6th game .. Lost a couple of points in the next game but them won 8 more in a row to finish the set off with a break in the 8th game as well .. In the second set they saved a couple of break points in the first game .. Broke to go ahead 2-0 and basically that was that - it went with serve from there .. They seem to be feeling good out there in Federer Republic of Switzerland, enjoying all the hoopla with the Wimbledon champion being flown and given a real cow which he now has to take care of (I am sure you saw the news story)! .. Anyway, LP-DR play right after Federer's QF match tomorrow night at about 7.30 pm on center court .. The SF is against the Czech pair, Petr Pala and Pavel Vizner, the same team that LP-MB beat in their last grand slam title together, at the Frecnh Open two years back.

Bad news from the Bristol challenger .. Rohan went down in both singles and doubles .. In the second round, he lost to Nicolas Mahut (FRA,157), 46 26 .. In doubles, Aisam Qureshi and Rohan went down in the QF to Santiago Gonzales (MEX) and Jean-Julien Rojer (AHO), 67(4) 64 67(3) ..

July 9 Note-2

LP and David Rikl had no problems in the quick transition back from grass to clay courts at the Swiss Open in Gstaad .. [R1] #1 L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. P.Luca/ D.Skoch, 62 62 63 .. They play Sebastien Prieto (ARG) and Andre Sa (BRA) in the next round .. The match is tomorrow by about 4 pm.

Today's Bangkok Post reports that Leander and David Rikl are confirmed to play the Bangkok ATP in its inaugural year this year .. Paradorn'd dad and coach, Chanachai Srichaphan is the tournament director and the event follows the September Davis Cup weekend.

Rohan Bopanna has a tough second round match tomorrow at the Bristol challenger, against The 5th seed Nicolas Mahut (FRA,157) .. The doubles QF with Aisam Qureshi will be against Santiago Gonzalez (MEX) and Jean-Julien Rojer (AHO).

The challenger entry lists show that Harsh Mankad is in the main draw for the Lexington challenger the week after next and the Denver challenger in the week following that .. Sunitha Rao and Nirupama Sanjeev are both in the main draw of the women's challenger at Lexington (also week after next) .. Rohan Bopanna joins Harsh at the Denver challenger and will be in the US circuit, going through the Binghampton and Bronx challengers in the following weeks .. As for next week, Rohan will be at the Manchester challenger and Harsh will try to make the main draw through qualifying rounds at the Aptos challenger in California.

No luck for two of our women at the $25K College Park challenger in Maryland (USA) .. [R1] Jacqueline Trail (USA)/ Megha Vakharia l. (wc) Raquel Kops-Jones/ Kelly McCain (USA), 67(7) 46 .. [R1] Alberta Brianti (ITA)/ J. Sai Jayalakshmy l. #3 Remi Tezuka/ Yuka Yoshida (JPN), 67(4) 16 ..

Five of our kids are at the Grade-5 ITF juniors in Bangkok .. Madura (seeded 1st) and Sumitprakash (seeded second) have reached the QF .. Here are the results so far (the boys had first round byes .. [R2] #2 Sumitprakash Gupta d. Worapat Arthiratpunya (THA) 76(7) 62 .. [R3] d. Khunpol Issara (THA) 62 61 .. [R2] #3 Vijay Prtashanth d. Nimman Jeeratanon (THA)  46 63 62 .. [R3] l. Sho Aida (JPN)  26 46 .. [R2] #6 Siddharth Gulati d. Ronald Chow (HKG)  61 57 64 .. [R3] l. Peerachat Chaiyapan (THA) 46 64 06 .. [R1] #1 Madura Ranganathan d. Daowadueng Phonkan (THA) 61 64 .. [R2] d. Wing Yan Venise Chan (HKG), 61 63 .. [R1] Vandana Murali (IND) l. Nungnadda Wannasuk (THA) 46 (retd?) ..  Good to see Madura easily beating in the R2 the girl who had upset her last week at the Hatyai grade-5 ..

I believe Agnel Gladwin (in the ITF team touring Europe) went down 06 16 against Fumiaki Kita (JPN) at the Fila Cup u14 tournament in France .. To be confirmed.

July 9 Note-1

LP and David Rikl play the first round at the $550K Swiss Open in Gstaad today against Petr Luxa and David Skoch of Czech Republic -- the match will start by around 5 pm there .. By the way, I believe the reason why Leander decided to play this week, which is unusual for him after grand slams, is that David Rikl is the defending champion there .. David and Joshua Eagle had won the title there last year! .. Later, with the R1 scores.

July 8 Notes

Good news from the $25K Bristol Challenger .. Rohan Bopanna, ranked #316 this week, beat Doug Bohaboy (USA,296), 46 61 76(4) .. Nice comeback and a close finish in the match .. RB defended the points he had from qualifying in last year and picked up a couple more .. In doubles also there was good news, as the akhanda-bharat pair (:-)), Bopanna-Qureshi beat the Italians, Fabio Colangelo and Massimo Dell'Acqua, also in a comeback, 67(10) 61 64 ..  Go Bofors!

At the Newport Hall of Shame tournament, Prakash Amritraj and Rajeev Ram could not do much in their doubles outing .. Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer of Austria beat them, 61 64.

Some results to report from the qualies over the weekend at the $25K College Park challenger in Maryland, USA .. Sai and Megha were there, along with young Tara Iyer as a wildcard .. None could make the main draw though .. [Q1] #2 Remi Tezuka (JPN) d. (wc) Tara Iyer, 60 63 .. [Q1] #12 Megha Vakharia d. Whitney Jones (USA), 75 62 .. [Q2] l. #5 Natallia Dziamidzenka (BLR), 46 57 .. [Q1] #8 J. Sai Jayalaskshmy d. (wc) Lauren Archer (USA), 61 76(8) .. [Q2] l. #13 Jennifer Embry (USA), 16 26 .. In doubles Tara tried the qualies with veteran player and former top-100 player, Ludmila Richterova .. They lost though - to Christine Alford (AUS)/ Tomoko Yonemura (JPN), 04 42 24 .. Both Megha and SaiI made the main draw of doubles directly .. [R1] Alberta Brianti (ITA)/ J. Sai Jayalakshmy vs #3 Remi Tezuka/ Yuka Yoshida (JPN) .. [R1] Jacqueline Trail (USA)/ Megha Vakharia vs (wc) Raquel Kops-Jones/ Kelly McCain (USA).

July 7 Note-2

At the $380K Newport Hall of Fame ATP, wildcard Prakash Amritraj could not do much against the 4th seed Robbie Ginepri (USA,54), who is a good grasscourt player and was a semifinalist there last year .. PA went down 16 46 .. Also losing today was Rajeev Ram (USA), 16 46 to Thomas Shimada (JPN) in the final qualies .. PA and RR will be playing doubles together and have a main draw wildcard .. They face Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer of Austria in the first round, tomorrow evening.

Leander's doubles first round at the Swiss Open in Gstaad is not on the schedule for tomorrow .. He should be playing wednesday or thursday.

Guess who Rohan Bopanna is playing doubles with at the Bristol challenger? -- Aisam Ul Haq Qureshi of Pakistan .. I am sure Aisam is hell-bent on making some people in Paki-sthanam very upset .. What the hell is he thinking, playing with an Israeli Jew first and now an Indian Hindu .. Can't he find anybody who is not an infidel? .. Come on! ..  By the way I wonder what happened to all those threats from Pakistani politicians that "they would take up the matter with appropriate authorities" etc when he played with Amir Hadad (ISR) at Wimbledon last year! .. But you know, Aisam is smart - he knows the Pakistani talking-heads very well - and that saber-rattling is really all they do .. God/Allah bless Aisam! .. Anyway, they are seeded 3rd and play Fabio Colangelo and Massimo Dell'Acqua (ITA) of Italy in the R1 .. Rohan's first round singles against Doug Bohaboy(USA) may be tomorrow.

Just as I was looking forward to seeing Sania ranked as #1 in the world in doubles, ITF botches up the ranking calculations .. They forgot to add the bonus points for a grand slam title (basically grand slams give the same points as grade-A event, which there are some 4-5 more like Banana Bowl, Orange Bowl, Japan Open, etc -- but at the GS events, the champions get twice the points compared to other grade-A's; so 120 for runner up finish but 360 points for the winner, as opposed to 120 and 180 in other grade-A's) .. Anyway, as they forgot to add the extra 180 points Sania is at #4 and Kleybanova is outside the top-10 though she should be in the top-5 .. I hope somebody will tell ITF to correct the rank list.

In the last event of her 5-week European u16 tour in the ITF team, Kartiki Bhat finished things with a title in doubles at the Paris Cadets ETA category-1 tournament .. She also was in the singles semifinal as I said earlier .. In the final, #4 K.Bhat/ Shuai Zhang (CHN) d. M.Fernanda Alvarez (BOL)/ Estefinia Balda (ARG), 75 46 63 .. They had upset the top seeds in the semi (scores below) .. Kartiki picked up 250 singles point from five weeks and should be getting ranked in the top-15 in the European u16 rankings this week .. I think she fully utlized the ITF-sponsored tour with a bunch of very good wins both in singles and doubles .. Congratulation go to her for a nice end to the trip with a title!

Another ITF team starts its tour this week .. The u14 team that visits 5 events .. Agnel Gladwin is in the team, selected by ITF .. He starts this week with the u14 Fila Cup in Paris .. The tour goes next week to the Windmill Cup in Leeuwarden, NED, Hauts-de-Seine in Rueil Malmaison, FRA, Jüngsten Cup in Koln, GER, and Hasselt Young Champions Cup in Hasselt, BEL in the next four weeks .. Agnel Gladwin plays Fumiaki Kita (JPN) this week .. I will report how his trip goes .. Agnel had done well in the u14 Asian events and that is how he got selected .. All the best!

Sumitprakash Gupta and Siddharth Gulati were runners up in doubles at the grade-5 ITF in Hatyai, Thailand last week .. Vandana Murali was 4th seed and lost to the second seed in the SF .. R.Madura was the #1 seed but was upset in the first round .. I have posted all the results in the thread "Junior circuit abroad for Indian kids" in our forum .. Considering that it was the lowest grade event, I would have expected our kids to do somewhat better.  Hopefully this week at Bangkok would be better.

July 7 Note-1

By the way, I forgot to tell you that Sania Mirza will be ranked #1 in junior doubles in the world, as the rankings come out in a few hours :-) .. I will wait for the ranks to come out to make sure I have the numbers right..

In a departure from the norm, Leander, who likes to take a week off after grand slams and Davis Cups, is playing this week .. Lee and David Rilk are the top seeds at the $550K Gstaad (Switzerland) on clay .. They play Petr Luza and David Skoch (CZE) first.

Nice news keeps coming -- Prakash Amritraj has got a wildcard into the main draw at the $380K Newport Hall of Fame grasscourt tournament! .. The place where his dad had some great results (2 or 3 titles?) and where Leander has his only ATP singles title .. Tough draw though, as he faces a pretty good grasscourt player, the 4th seed Robbie Ginepri (USA,54) .. Prakash has all kinds of grasscourt skills but he will need to play his absolute best .. Prakash and Rajeev Ram (USA) also has a doubles main draw wildcard (how the heck does Vijay keeps on pulling the show - man, he has friends everywhere! .. Go Vijay!) .. [R1] Julian Knowle (AUT)/ Jurgen Melzer (AUT) vs (wc) Prakash Amritraj (IND)/ Rajeev Ram (USA) .. So, good fun awaits us in Newport Rhode Island Hall of Fame (or as some of us call "Hall of Shame", for them picking Becker who is not even technically eligible yet, for inducting into the Hall, over Edberg who fully deserved it this year -- but I digress) .. Rajeev Ram, by the way has won two rounds and reached the final qualies of singles there.

At the $50K Bristol challenger (grass) in UK, Rohan Bopanna plays Doug Bohaboy (USA) in the first round .. At the Granby challenger, Harsh seems to have narrowly missed the doubles cut as well, as his updated top-300 ranking is delayed a week as ATP does not update it in grand slam second week .. The cut went way up from last year - it figures for Harsh, not known for getting lucky anyway .. By the way, Sadovich who beat him in 3 sets also beat the 8th seed in the qualies and made main draw; had Takao Suzuki withdrawn early enough, Harsh would have been in the main draw - well, what can I say .. I suppose he will come down to California for the Aptos challenger qualies next weekend (there he is not at the top of the qualies for a chance for main direct draw with withdrawals).

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on July 07 ..

I am getting some inquiries 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 inquiring 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 inquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.