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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on July 25, 2005
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July 25 Note-1

At the $50K+H Granby challenger, Harsh Mankad (IND,249) plays the qualifier Toshihide Matsui (JPN,470) at 11 am on Monday .. Harsh and Mustafa are seeded 3rd in doubles .. They play later on monday against Pierre-Ludovic Duclos (CAN) and Lesley Joseph (USA) .. Rohan Bopanna plays the singles R1 on Tuesday, but plays doubles with T.Matsui monday afternoon against Andrew Piotrowski (CAN) and Alex Reichel (USA) ..

Prakash Amritraj (IND,250) is injured .. Nothing is major, but he has, by my count, about 4 different injuries .. He had a bit of a neck-shoulder pain from the Manchester challenger .. Then he picked up a stomach strain during practice at the Tarzana challenger last week .. As the poor guy hadn't had enough problems, I hear that he came down with a foot injury also, during the Tarzana first round loss  .. None of the injuries are major, but these hassles are keeping Prakash "P.Diddy" Amritraj away from court ..

By the way, I learned this week that Prakash Amritraj calls Harsh Mankad "Harry Potter " .. OK, I guess there is some resemblance when he wears the right glasses! .. Anyway, Harsh does not back down and calls Prakash "P.Diddy" -- some resemblance there too ..  Thought I would let the general public know about the naming wars on the tour :) .. I thought it was funny what our top two singles players call each other .. Incidentally, the new rankings show HM at 249 with 143 points and PA at 250 with 141 points - the first time in 8 years, since LP and MB in 1997, that we have had two male players in the top-250 ..

July 24 Notes

I am finally sitting down to type a round-up on a hectic weekend .. Spent all of yesterday on a non-tennis event, but luckily Varma from the fanclub was there at LA ATP to cover Karan Rastogi's big upset win in the Q1 .. Spent today at the LA ATP where KR went down against the 4th seed in the qualies, Dmitri Tursunov, a top-75 caliber player .. Meanwhile, there has been some really exciting stuff going on at the Stanford WTA with Sania, Shikha and Neha all in the final round of qualies!!

First, the most exciting stuff .. When was the last time that two Indian women pulled off top-100 wins on the same day?? .. Never! .. Well it has finally happened, today at the $585K Tier-II Stanford WTA where the qualifying draw was certifiably tough .. First Shikha Uberoi (IND,131) had the huge upset of the 2nd seed Jill Craybas (USA,56), 64 64 today in the Q2 after her tremendous comeback from the brink for a "mild" upset over Shenay Perry (USA,127), 16 76(5) 62 .. Then Sania Mirza (IND,64) flew in from Cincinnati today to pull off two qualifying wins, including a win over Lindsey Lee-Waters (USA,95) 61 63 after an easy 63 63 win over Maureen Drake (CAN,260) .. Not to be outdone by the two, 19 year old Neha Uberoi (USA,279) who was a last-minute alternate replacement in the draw, pulled two upsets, 63 46 62 over Teryn Ashley (USA,229) and 76(4) 62 over Meilen Tu (USA,145) to reach the Q3 as well .. Man, is this exciting or what? .. In the final round on monday, Shikha plays Marissa Irvin (USA,98), 5th seed Sania plays the 4th seed Shahar peer (ISR,62) and Neha plays the 7th seed Alina Jidkova (RUS,79) .. Tough matches for all three .. Hope they keep it going! .. Sania seems to have also played a doubles qualifying match with Yuliana Fedak (UKR) today - they were and alternate team and could not upset Maureen Drake (CAN) and Kim Grant (RSA) in a close 7-9 one-set match.

Karan Rastogi (IND,587) won the 3rd best match of his career, when he beat Thomas Cakl (CZE,270) easily 63 64 yesterday .. You can find a fabulous match report here, from our onsite fanclub member, Varma .. Today Karan was up against the most power-packed player he has ever played against - Dmitry Tursunov (RUS,115) who was in the Wimbledon 4th round this year and was ranked as high as #63 last year .. KR went down 26 26, but actually went down mostly because of his own mistakes rather than being out played .. You can see my match report from today for all the details.

Mustafa lost the qualifying first round at the $50K+H Granby challenger, 67(3) 36 to Chris Drake (CAN) yesterday.

July 23 Notes

Not at all a great day yesterday, as Sania went down 36 46 to Akiko Morigami (JPN,72) .. I was on the road, driving Karan Rastogi to the Los Angeles ATP qualifying sign-in, and could not follow the match .. To add more gloom, Mahesh and Martin Damm went down in the QF at the the Stuttgart ATP, to German wildcards,m Andreas Beck and Sebastian Rieschick, 46 06 - a troubling scoreline, though I assume it was just the two new partner still trying to get in sync, which might take a few matches.

Sania is in the draw as the 5th seed in the qualifying for the $585K Tier-II Stanford WTA and sign-in yesterday, but she still has the doubles SF to play at Cincinnati - and it is not clear if she can play Stanford .. Shikha Uberoi (IND,131) is in the draw, and she plays Shenay Perry (USA,129) in the Q1 round today .. Very tough qualifying draw that starts with the #40 rank! .. This is normal in the summer series WTA events in the US where the main draws close sometimes in the 30s even for Tier-II events ..

Harsh Mankad and Karan Rastogi were practising and training together here in Southern California for the lst 3-4 days .. Karan plays at the LA ATP qualies first round today against Thomas Cakl (CZE,281) .. Varma of the forum/fanclub will be there to report on the match for us .. As Prakash is not in the qualifying draw, I assume that he may have got a wildcard for the main draw, but I am not sure .. Harsh flies to Granby in Eastern Canada today, as he is in the main draw of the $50K+H challenger there - drawn to face a qualifier to be determined, in the first round .. There were hardly any withdrawals in that tournament, but Rohan Bopanna, who was #2 out from the original list, made it in as the last direct entry in the end yesterday .. He plays Alexander Popp (GER) in the first round there .. Mustafa is in the Granby qualies as the 7th seed - he plays Chris Drake (USA) in the first round .. Sunil Kumar has made the cut at the $50K Lexington challenger in Kentucky, USA - the main draw is not out there.

July 21 Notes

At the Stuttgart Open, Mahesh Bhupathi and Martin Damm started their partnership successfully with a comeback 16 61 76(8) win over the wildcard Germans, Lars Burgsmuller and Florian Mayer .. Good that they got a postponement yesterday after they had lost the first set cheaply .. I suppose they got a chance to get on sync - the first few matches together would be difficult ones for any new doubles pair .. They now face another wildcard Geraman pair, youngsters Andreas Beck and Sebastien Rieschick, tomorrow in the QF.

Great day for Sania Mirza again, as she reached the Quarterfinal of the Tier-III $170K Cincinnati WTA today .. 76(5) 74 win over Kristina Brandi (PUR,67) .. Sania was up 2-0 immediately, but was broken back to 2-2, went ahead with a break again, and was then behind at 4-5 with Brandi serving for the set .. Sania came alive once again to break her and take it to a tiebreaker where she prevailed 7-5 .. In the second set, she seemed to take control with a break in the 4th game to 3-1, but she lost two service games in a row to fall behind to 3-5 .. Then Sania held with a backhand passing shot at 15-30 and two aces [thanks "junk2000" for the commentary for us in the forum!] .. She had turned it around yet again -- Sania then won 3 more games with 2 breaks of Brandi to win the final 4 games and finish it off at 7-5, also helped by Brandi choking a bit with a double fault in the 12th game ..  Sania has picked up 53 total points so far, with 23 bonus points, raising her point total from 517 to about 570 .. Good enough to move up a few spots, inside the top-65 .. She now faces Akiko Morigami (JPN,72), who upset Vera Zvonareva .. Akiko had lost to Sania at Wimbledon, and also to Shikha at the Indian Wells .. Let us make it a trifecta over the 25-year old Japanese, Sania!

Sania also won her doubles QF today, beating Angela Haynes (USA) and Bethanie Mattek (USA) easily, 63 62, to reach the semifinal, where they will face the top seeds Kveta Pleschke (CZE) and Maria Elena Salerni (ARG).

By the way, if you are interested in paying about $20, you can get live web video coverage of all of the matches from this tournament for the remaining days, on ZCam, a private webcast company that has been getitng some interest from ATP and WTA tournament directors .. I believe this is only the second event the company with New Zealand connections has been covering (the first one was the Dubai Open) .. You can purchase their coverage at .. They admit that they only had very short notice before the Cincinnati event .. I decided to wait for a couple of days till I saw some reviews from subscribers before recommending the service here .. It seems that the picture quality is decent and they have now added the live score updates etc .. I am actually gald that a private firm has come forward to start webcasting tennis on the internet, because it was a lost cause waiting for ATP, WTA and tournament directors to get it done .. Though the $20 is a bit steep, I assume a good number of scubscribers (and perhaps some competition from somebody else in the future) would bring the costs down .. So, perhaps we should sign on and give ZCam some support for now? .. The other event they have covered is the Dubai Open, again one where Sania made some news .. Hey, Sania might help them add some viewership to their service, I suppose.

July 20 Notes

Sania started well in doubles also, with a new partner, Yuliana fedak (UKR), ranked 111 in doubles .. After a minor hiccup at the end of the first set when they unnecessarily dropped serve and lost the set, they did very well, completely dominating the qualifiers Sybille Bammer and Jewel Peterson in a 57 62 60 win ..

By the way, John Farrington from Bahama, former coach of the doubles players Knowles and Nestor and a Davis Cup captain for Bahama, has started his tenure as the traveling coach for Sania with Cincinnati this week .. The man has got what I would call a "plum" job :) .. He was selceted, "hand-picked" by Mahesh Bhupathi, whose Globosport manages Sania .. It was reported earlier that John had not even heard of Sania when MB talked to him, and he did some surfing to find out who SM was .. I am sure he fell off the chair when he found the 100 million Indian newspaper articles and probably felt embarrassed that he was unaware of Sania Mania  .. Let us wish the coach good luck .. Here are some comments from him after seeing Sania in action, in the Indian Express .. Of course, Sania will continue to be under Bob Brett who will oversee her technical development at San Remo, Italy, which remains Sania's training base - John Farrington has a big role to play in the day-by-day development of Sania as a player, observing her, finding tendencies towards mistakes, motivating her, teaching her game-time strategies, scuting the opponents, booking practice courts, etc etc .. One good reason for selecting John is also that he is young enough tostill play some good tennis, and so can be a good hitting partner for her as well.

Mahesh and Martin Damm also started their new partnership today, at the Stuttgart Open .. The start was not great, as they lost the first set 1-6 to the wildcard German pair, Lars Burgsmuller and Florian Mayer .. They were up 2-1 in the second set when they stopped play late at night.

July 19 Note-1

Sania finally gave something to brighten up a profoundly distressing week, where everybody else seems to be injured and everything else .. At the Tier-III $170K Cincinnati WTA, Sania Mirza (IND,70) pulled the upset of the 7th seed Anna-lena Groenefeld (GER,35), 63 64 .. She went ahead with a break in the 7th game of the first set and served it off .. She then broke ALG in the 4th game of the second set to tighten the screws for a 6-3 3-1 lead, and cruised to a win with no hiccups from there .. Good, solid, top-quality win once agains from sania who continues to show that she has the number of certain of players on tour .. She had upset ALG late last year in a challenger .. That was one of her big wins then, and this one was a bit more of an expected win, I suppose .. Go Sania .. She now plays Kristina Brandi of Puerto Rico, ranked #67 .. That match will be on Thursday and Sania is scheduled to play the first round of doubles today ..

Now for the continuing bad news .. Prakash Amritraj, who picked up an abdominal strain, apparently during practice the day before,  started well in his first round match at the $50K Tarzana challenger, but could not hold up for too long, as he went down 63 26 16 to qualifier Lesley Joseph (USA,323) .. Mustafa and Rohan lost the doubles match 36 67(3) to Marc Kimmich (AUS) and Scott Oudsema (USA), which completed a miserable week for our whole contingent at Tarzana, where the only good thing was the very good play by Karan Rastogi, who at least picked up two decent qualifying wins and almost pulled off a third win ..  

Karan Rastogi will next play the qualifying rounds for the LA ATP this weekend .. Prakash may play the qualies, or may be getting a wildcard to the main draw, but I am not sure of that .. Harsh Mankad is in the main draw of the $75K+H challenger in Granby Canada next week and he leaves this saturday for Canada .. Rohan and Sunil Kumar are now #2 and #4 in the Alternates list for main draw there at Granby, and at least Rohan would hopefully make it in directly.

IN other news, Shruti Dhawan was at the $10K Dusseldorf ITF women's event but had to withdraw due to a shoulder injury .. At the $10K in Tianjin, China, Jaco Mathew lost to the 7ths eed Tai0Wei Liu (TPE), 46 06  .. Ashutosh Singh was the second seed in thge qualies there and he lost 16 36 to Chang-Hoon Lee (KOR) in the Q2 after a Q1 bye .. Jaco and Ashtosuh were the top seeds in doubles but they were upset 63 57 16 by Woong-Sun Jun and Sun-Yong Kim, a very talented pair of Korean youngsters  .. So we went utterly winless out there too ..

What is up with everybody? .. Come on guys/ladies, get on court, practice, put in some physical training, build up some confidence that you have put in the work, and go after somebody, will you?

July 18 Notes

An eminently forgettable day, as HM lost a tough match, Rohan went down cheaply, Neha went down in the Q3, Prakash got injured.

Harsh Mankad said he was fine as far as the quadriceps injury was concerned, but made a couple of mistakes late in the third set to get broken at 3-4 (said baccanello played two passing shots very well)  .. So a nice comeback went wasted .. HM lost to Paul Baccanello (AUS,287), 46 63 36 .. Tough match .. He gave credito to Baccanello for coming up with the goods when HM had a couple of break points in the third, and for coming through in that fatal 7th game in the third ..  Due to a busy work schedule, neither Varma not I could get up there to watch the matches .. So I have no details on Rohan's match, but he went down to qualifier Kyu-Tae Im (KOR,430), 46 26 .. Both Harsh and Karan told me that the warm conditions out there seemed to make the ball fly and both were missing shots long and feeling a bit uncomfortable in their losses .. I guess it is one of those weeks.

The news got worse, as Prakash seems to have hurt himself in practice and is iced all over .. Not sure of the details, but he had to withdraw from the doubles draw - they were to play late in the evening today ..  His singles match against Lesley Joseph is set for Tuesday at 5.30 pm .. Hopefully he will get to shape somehow by then.

Early in the morning, Neha Uberoi (USA,287) went down in the final qualifying round at the Cincinnati WTA to the 3rd seed Sybille Bammer (AUT,103), 16 67(7) .. Neha is the first lucky loser, should there be any withdrawals or no shows .. In the final round of doubles qualifying, Shikha and Neha lost 7-9 in a pro-set against Sybille Bammer (AUT)/ Jewell Peterson (USA) .. So, I have only losses and injuries to report today ..

Sania is in the doubles draw also at the Cincinnati WTA .. Playing with Yuliana Fedak (UKR) .. They play the qualifiers, Bammer and Peterson, probably on wednesday .. SM will play her singles R1 against the 7th seed Groenefeld tomorrow .. Hope at least SM can give us some cheer this week.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on July 18 ..

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 playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan