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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the month of July, 2006
(Previous week's notes - March) (Next week's notes - September) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2006)

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.. The site was again on vacation for about 2 months, as I was extremely busy with work :( :(  ..

July 28 Notes

This week was not as great as the last one for the Indian pros, except Rohan Bopanna who pulled a nice upset of the third seed at the $50K+H Granby challenger, and Harsh Mankad who finally had his 7 natch win streak snapped in the second round of the Nottingham challenger ..  Sania Mirza had one of her more forgettable days at the Stanford WTA in the first round .. Also going down in challenger first rounds were Prakash, Karan and Sunil.

$50K+H Granby Hardcourt Challenger, Canada
[R1] Rohan Bopanna (IND,298) d. Jakub Hasek (CZE,492), 76(5) 76(6)
[R2] Rohan Bopanna (IND,298) d. (3) Richard Bloomfield (GBR,226), 63 63
[QF] Rohan Bopanna (IND,298) l. (5) Harel Levy (ISR,247), 36 63 16

$25K+H Nottingham Grasscourt Challenger, UK
[R1] Harsh Mankad (IND,287) d. Nicolas Tourte (FRA)  76(5) 67(5) 61
[R2] Harsh Mankad (IND,287) l. (8) Arvind Parmar (GBR,258)  36 36

So, decent performance by the top two Indian men this week, though no fireworks like last week when Harsh won the whole enchilada, including that fabulous upset of a true grasscourt payer in #182 Anthony Dupuis who by the way is in the Nottingham final this week.. As both were defending 6 points each from last year's R1 wins at the Granby challenger, Rohan will raise his point total by 8 points to 127 and Harsh will lose one point to be at 125.  Rohan regains his India #1 spot now.  These two are clearly playing the best tennis among Indian men right now.  Nice work by Bops to raise his rank - now he also has an outside chance to make it into the qualies of the US Open .. Both HM and RB will be at least some 20 spots off the cut there which is normally not lower than 260 or so.  We will see if they manage to squeeze in, in the end.

As for the other results, at the $50K Lexington (Kentucky) challenger, [R1] (Q) Tigran Martirosyan (ARM,1374) d. Karan Rastogi (IND,344) 06 75 62 and [R1] Lesley Joseph (USA,317) d. Sunil Kumar Sipaeya (IND,516) 76(1) 63 .. At Granby, [R1] (8) Noam Okun (ISR,301) d. Prakash Amritraj (IND,350) 76(8) 75 ..

Sania was at the $600K Tier-II Bank of the West Open WTA in Stanford, California .. Nothing great this week, as she went down 36 26 to Vasilisa Bardina (RUS,98), 36 26 .. Sania and Bethanie Mattek are unseeded in doubles but have reached the semifinal there with a 61 63 win over Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) and Tetiana Luzhanska (UKR) and then a 62 62 win ove Jelena Jankovic and Shikha Uberoi .. Shikha and Jelea had had a great first round upset over the top seeds Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) and Ai Sugiyama (JPN) by a score of 63 64 .. Sania and Bethanie play the 4th seeds Maria Elena Camerin (ITA) and Gisela Dulko (ARG) in the semis.

July 24 Notes

Fantastic news to report today .. We have a challenger winner !!!!! ... And it is Harsh Mankad, who pulled off the first challenger title in the western hemisphere by an Indian in over 12 years when he won the Manchester challenger in UK today!! .. The last and only other challenger title in the west by an Indian was by Leander Paes in 1994 at Binghampton, New York .. The last title by an Indian was by LP at Mumbai in 2000 .. As they announced at Manchester today, Harsh is the first Indian to win the old Manchester Trophy, since Ramanthan Krishnan in 1958!!! .. Oh what a show by the Mumbaikar!

In fact Mankad is the only Indian to win a challenger in over 12 years, other than of course LP (who has about 10 such titles, all but one in Asia if I remember correctly) .. MB had one challenger title in Jakarta in 1994 .. Ramesh Krishnan's last challenger title was in Apr 90 in Nagoya, Japan - and it has been a long wait for anybody but LP to do the job .. It came from totally out of the blie from Harsh Mankad, who has been bothered with some knee problems and has been off and on lately, though his form has been quite good for the last couple of months after some 7-8 months when he was down in the dumps in his tennis .. That saw his ranking fall all the way to #396, and he had become #4 in India, after having gone all the way to #222 a few months back and having stayed as the India #1 for a whole year or so .. Now, with this incredible week in Manchester, Harsh has moved up all the way to India #1 again with a rank at #287 in the list coming out tomorrow.
HM file picture (courtesy: The Hindu)

OK, I will cheat a bit and put up an old picture for now, as I await pictures from Manchester.  Go Harsh!!

Here are ths scores this week for Mankad, who was actually the last direct entry in the initial list for Manchester and thus had to pull upsets every round this week -

[R1] Harsh Mankad (IND,396) d. (7) Luke Bourgeois (AUS,286), 64 62
[R2] Harsh Mankad (IND,396) d. Jean-Francois Bachelot (FRA,332), 63 64
[QF] Harsh Mankad (IND,396) d. Jaroslav Pospisil (CZE,362), 64 67(6) 64
[SF] Harsh Mankad (IND,396) d. (2) Anthony Dupuis (FRA,189), 26 76(4) 63
[F] Harsh Mankad (IND,396) d. Joshua Goodall (GBR,368), 76(1) 76(4)

The fighting qualities of Harsh was very evident this week, best being that fabulous upset win over Anthony Dupuis, who is a terrific grass court player himself .. I hope this run puts to rest the canard that many people have spread for quite some time, that Mankad cannot play on grass courts, blah blah ..

This was not the only good news today .. As though a singles title was not enough, our upcoming top-notch doubles pair, Kash-Bops went and pulled off a doubles title at the Aptos challenger as well, today!!! .. These two are really terrific together, and gives us a very legitimate replacement for LP and MB as and when the venerable pair decides to call it a day (and there was some good news on that front too this week, rather unexpectedly -- MB hinting that he and LP might get back together for a final hurrah on the pro tour, perhaps after this year .. Won't that be great?) .. Back to Prakash and Bopanna - they won the $75K Aptos challenger in California, upsetting the 2nd and 3rd seeds in the final two matches .. Their scores this week - [R1] (4) Prakash Amritraj/ Rohan Bopanna d. (WC) Kevin Kaiser (USA)/ Pablo Pires de Almieda (USA) 63 62 .. [QF] d. Alex Kuznetsov (USA)/ Horia Tecau (ROM) 64 64 .. [SF] d. (2) Jamie Murray (GBR)/ Mirko Pehar (USA) 63 67(4) (10-1) .. [F] d. (3) Rajeev Ram (USA)/ Todd Widom (USA) 36 62 (10-6)  .. Their ability to pull off those supertiebreaks itself is some evidence of how good these two are, together.   Keep going fellas!!!

The guys are all in challengers starting tomorrow .. At the $25K+H at Nottingham, [R1] Harsh Mankad (IND,287) vs Nicolas Tourte (FRA,336) .. At the $50K+H Granby challenger, [R1] Rohan Bopanna (IND,298) vs Jakub Hasek (CZE,492) and [R1] Prakash Amritraj (IND,350) vs (8) Noam Okun (ISR,301) .. At the $25K+H at Lexington, Kentucky, USA, [R1] Sunil Kumar Sipaeya (IND,516) vs Lesley Joseph (USA,317) and  [R1] Karan Rastogi (IND,344) vs (Q) Tigran Martirosyan (ARM,1374) ..

Sania lost in the doubles final at the Cincinnati Open in three sets to the top seeds today .. The rest of the news tomorrow ..

July 21 Notes

A one-week update here (was travelling last weekend and then was in and out this week to sit down and round up news)

The big news is that Harsh Mankad, the last direct entry initially in the list, pulling three upstes including upsets of good ones like 7th seed Bourgeois and then Jean-Francois Bachelot to reach the semifinal of the Manchester grasscourt challenger .. Once again, as I havs asked in the past - who said that grass is not HM's best surface? .. Tomorrow, Harsh plays a very tough second seed, Anthony Dupuis, the 33 yr old veteran with a lot of good grass results in his life (anyone remembers his exploits in the Indian grass challengers in 1998?)  ..

The other nice news is that we seem to be seeing a slow emergence of an excellent doubles pair -- Prakash and Rohan are in the final of the $50K Aptos challenger this week in California .. These two are terrific together, as their run to the final of the Chennai Open this year would show .. They have not played a whole lot together, but it is time that they match their singles schedules and play exclusive doubles together .. They have the quality to become an ATP top tour level doubles pair, though their singles ranks need to come up a lot for them to pay that tour.  Can't suggest that they turn into doubles specialists or anything now though (not yet!).  By the way, Prakash, Rohan and Karan all went down in the first round of singles at Aptos ..

Sania Mirza played a pretty good match in a 67(7) 57 loss to the top seed #8 Patty Schnyder today at the Tier-III Cincinnati WTA .. Sania looked solid in her matches this week and seems to have got her hardcourt form back, from last year .. She has also now gone back to her old coach, Narendranath, for the time being .. I don't like this frequent changing of coacches, but I think right now this may be a good move because Narendranath knows her game and her development from a long time back .. Sania has come up with a very unusual development pattern in her stroke pay and aggression .. The usual coaches on tour could mess up her confidence and rhythm with too much corrections in her game.  Not that she does not need improvements and corrections .. I still believe she would need to get a lot better in some aspects of her game, but she will not successfully make those changes if she is being deliberate about it .. She needs to contiue to work on deliberate things off court and continue to play carefree tennis on court - the changes will be slow but she will be doing it her own way .. Only that will work - otherwise she loses her rhythm easily .. Narendranath may well understand all this and help get her stabilize at the 25-40 range of tennis for a few months and play consistently, rarely losing to player below top-50, which she is fully capable of doing if she stops overthinking on court and putting pressure on herself.  I guess down the line she may still need a top-10 type coach to get to top-10, but she is not ready to be coached by them yet.

I must mention two names here .. One is 17 year old Sandhya Nagraj who has come up rapidly in the pro rankings in the last few months since she left the junior ranks .. She qualified into the main draw of the $25K clay challenger in Rome this week and reached the QF before losing to the #187 second seed Margit Ruutel on Thursday .. Sandhya is still eligible for junior status this year and played a few .. She was a bit of a late-bloomer (at least in terms of good results) in the juniors, and reached #91 at the highest junior rank .. She has been playing week in and week out for the last couple of months and has one something hardly any Indian girl has been able to do before except Sania - that is to raise the rank significantly from tournaments in Europe .. She won a $10K title in spain  last month, has qualified into to successive challenger, pulled off some nice wins this week etc.   Pretty impressive for a 17 year old .. She may not have created a whole lot of news in the past , but seeing the tenacity of this girl, the way she has pulled off some wins, the focus in her work and schedule so far, etc, I think she may be going places .  Definitely keep an eye on Sandhya!! ..

The other name you need to remember is Adnya .. There was some nice news (finally!) on the junior girls side, as 14 year old Adnya Naik went abroad to Syria and won the very first ITF junior event she ever played last week, beating those like top-150 Victoria Brook in the final (in a third set tiebreaker! - are you kidding me???) .. I will write a lot more on Adnya later, but please note that she did something even Sania could not do in her first ITF junior event .. Really, beating top-150 players and winning a title in the first ITF junior event at just age 14 is a very very rare event indeed.

July 14 Notes

Pretty bad day for our pros yesterday .. At the $15K Felixstowe grass futures, 5th seed Harsh Mankad (IND,381) was upset Andrew Kennaugh (GBR,780), 64 76(6) .. See the onsite fanclub member report in our forum .. In the $25K challenger at Felixstowe, Ankita and Sanaa Bhambri lost the QF to a wildcard British pair, Deborah Armstrong and Yasmin Clarke, 16 76(5) 36 .. At the $10K Peoria futures in the US, Sunil Kumar and Porus Jetli lost the doubles QF to Kevin Anderson (RSA) and Ryler DeHeart (USA), 26 26 ..

At the $10K Romania F11 on clay, Divij Sharan (IND,896) went down in the R2 to the 3rd seed Adrian Cruciat (ROM,336) 26 26 .. He had beaten a qualifier, unranked Piotr Zielinski (POL) 62 62 earlier .. Divij and Bogdan Leonte (ROM) are the 3rd seeds in doubles and have reached the SF .. [R1] d. Rares Cuzdriorean/ Alexandru Lazar (ROM) 62 61 .. [QF] d. Alexandru Carpen (ROM)/ Danilo Zivanovic (AUS), 76(7) 76(1) .. They play Laurentiu Erlic (ROM)/ Mihai Stoian (ROM) in the SF there .. [Thanks go to Sameer in ur forum for alerting us to Divij showing up in Eastern Europe, a place where our players rarely go to]

16-year old Akash Wagh keeps on pulling upsets .. Following his PQF upset of the 4th seed, the 14th seed upset the 6th seed in the QF at the grade-4 juniors in Bangkok today .. He defeated Sang-Gyun Kim of Korea 64 62 and now faces the second seed Peerakit Siributwong of Thailand in the semis tomorrow.

July 13 Notes

The big news yesterday was that Mahesh Bhupathi and Globosport have managed to get world #13 "Swiss Miss" Martina Hingis to commit to the $175K Tier-III Sunfeast Open in Kolkata (starting Sep 18) .. Ever since Mahesh and Martina won the Australian MxD title, we were expecting that MB would be able to talk her into coming - and he came through as always .. Good stuff .. Time to start getting excited about the Sunfest Open .. Come on down and enjoy some rasagulla, Martina!

At the $25K Felixstowe challenger, qualifier #571 Sanaa Bhambr played a close set but could not get past the 4th seed Katie O'Brien (GBR,237) - a 57 36 loss in the last first round match played last evening .. Ankita and Sanaa play Deborah Armstrong and Yasmin Clarke of Britian in the doubles QF there.

Harsh Mankad and Mathew Smith (GBR) retired at 46 12 in the doubles R1 yesterday against the 4th seeds Neil Bamford (GBR) and Olivier Charroin (FRA) .. Let us hope that it was not because of any injury flare-up for Harsh .. He is set to play the singles R1 today against a young British guy, Andrew Kennaugh ..

At the $10K in Peoria, IL, the second seed Sunil Kumar (IND,497) had a poor upset loss, 46 57 aganist unranked Lance Vodicka (USA) yesterday .. He too has been often bothered by some nagging injuries (he had given a walkver in the final qualifying match before making the draw as a lucky loser) - hope SKS is fine .. He had won the doubles R1 on Tuesday in the company of Porus Jetli (USA), 63 76(1) over the American pair, Conner Brown and Chris Wettengel .. The second seeds Kevin Anderson (RSA) and Ryler DeHeart (USA) await them in the QF ..

Terrifric work today by 16 year old 14th seed Akash Wagh (IND,453) at the ITF grade-4 Mercedes Cup junior tourney in Bangkok, where he reached the 4th round (Quarterfinals) .. He administered a 62 62 shellacking to the 4th seed Xiao-Long Yin of China, ranked 211 and about 18 months older .. Anytime one of our players beats the living daylights out of a player from our naighbour country like that, I get very happy! :) .. I think we should watch out for this kid, Akash - now ranked 3rd in AITA's u16 ranks and also the youngest in the u18 top-15 list at #15 .. In late May, on a trip to Europe for the u16 circuit, Akash had pulled off a bit of a shocking run at Montecatini in Italy, a European Tenis Association grade-1 (highest grade) event .. He qualified in with upsets and then won three rounds including straight upset of seeds etc .. All of that on red clay on which he was playing for the first time I believe .. In my memory no Indian boy has recently done stuff like that in the u16 circuit over there on clay ..  

By the way, I was very glad to see, FINALLY, a good group of Indian kids (mostly sent by academies from Maharashtra and Karnataka, if I am not mistaken) showing up in the European u16 clay circuit .. Akash is the only one who had anything significant to show from there, though talented kids like Ashwarya Shrivasta etc got a taste of where the talent level is, in the u14/u16 levels over there .. Those who have been reading these notes regularly know that I have been asking (literally begging) for years that our u14/u16 kids should be sent or that they should somehow find a way to go to the European circuit before they set out on the wider u18 ITF circuit .. Only one or two who get picked by ITF as part of their touring team have gone there every year (like Sweta Solanki who went last month) .. Hope things have started to change.  It may look like a waste of money when they come back empty, as everybody else except Akash did this time - but the experience in invaluable nonetheless.

Back to the Thailand ITF juniors, Akash now plays the 8th seed Sang-Gyun Kim (KOR) who beat the 10th seed Agnel Gladwin in a 76(8) 64 PQF match today .. Also noteworthy was a fighting loss 63 26 57 by wildcard KarunUday Singh against the top seed Hyun-Soo Lin (KOR,159) .. 15 yr old KarunUday came into the national scene only recently I think, but he too has shown a bit of a spark .. Winning 2 main draw rounds including an upset of the 13th seed and then putting up a good show against the top seed shows he too may have a bit of the proverbial "fire in the belly" like Akash ..

July 12 Notes

Good and bad news from the $25K Felixstowe women's challenger yesterday - Ankita Bhambri started well in the first round but then lost control of the match in a 16 64 61 upset by Julia Bone (GBR,850) .. Sanaa Bhambri qualified in with an easy 62 60 win over Jenna Webster (GBR,NR) and is slated to play the R1 today against the 4th seed Katie O'Brien (GBR,237) .. Some very good work by the Bhambri sisters in the doubles main draw though, as they upset the third seeds Alberta Brianti (ITA) and Kelly Liggan (IRL) by a 64 75 score yesterday .. Their QF opponents are yet to be determined.

On the men's side, in the $15K at Felixstowe, Harsh Mankad continued his recent penchant to play threesetters against anybody he plays, as he won 62 46 64 against a young British wildcard, Daniel Cox (GBR,1528) .. I hope the second set problems were only because of rust in his game after a few weeks off and as this is his first pro circuit grass event in over a year. .. He plays the first round of doubles in a late evening match today.

Haven't seen the Tuesday results from Peoria yet, for Sunil Kumar.  I believe he was to play only doubles yesterday; his singles R1 is set for today.

At the ITF junior grade-4 in Bangkok 10th seed Peter Agnel Gladwin, 14th seed Akash Wagh (he has been paying quite well lately) and unseeded wildcard 15 yr old KarunUday Singh, reached the round of 16 (third round) at the grade-4 ITF juniors in Thailand.  KarunUday, quite a telented kid I believe, upset the 13th seed Akash Gujarati .. Quite a lot of Indians went down in the first two rounds though .. No great work from those like Kinshuk Sharma, Christopher Marquis, Allan Gomes etc there .. It was even a bit worse on the girls side, as 8th seed Bhavani Tirumurthi was upset in the R1, Last week's runnerup GS Janaki withdrew, qualifier Kyra Shroff lost to the 5th seed and Sonya Dayal also lost in the R1.

July 11 Notes

At the $25K Felixstowe grass challenger in UK on monday, Sanaa Bhambri (IND,571) reached the final qualifying round after a bye and a bit of early struggle in the Q2 in a 67(4) 63 60 win over unranked Lindsay Rawling of Britain. She next faces Jenna Webster of UK who had a Q2 upset of a 16th seed .. In the main draw first round 347 ranked Ankita Bhambri gets a British wildcard, Julia Bone, ranked 850 .. In the doubles main draw, the Bhambri sisters run into the third seeds Alberta Brianti and Kelly Liggan(IRL).

In the $15K men's futures at Felixstowe, Harsh Mankad (IND,391) is seeded 5th and plays a 15 year old wildcard Daniel Cox of Britian .. Harsh is drawn in the same quarter as the second seed Luke Bourgeois (AUS,281) .. In doubles, HM is playing with Mathew Smith (GBR) and they play the 4th seeds Neil Bamford (GBR) and Olivier Charroin (FRA) .. After several months of slump and then injuries, HM had looked good in a couple of US futures a few weeks back before he took another injury break .. He could really use some points from this 4 week swing in UK, as his ranking has fallen about 150 spots below where he was late last year.

Prakash Amritraj is another player whose ranking has now dropped a lot, as he lost the points from the Forest Hills grass court challenger final from last year .. PA is down to #339 now .. Incidentally, that puts 19 year old Karan Rastogi at #334 now as the Indian #2 behind Rohan Bopanna who is also down a bit to #280 this week as he only replaced 14 points from the Winnetka challenger QF, while 35 points dropped off from the 52 week point total, the points being from his good run at last year's Indian satellites, soon after he he returned from shoulder surgery .. All four of the top Indian payers can use some good results in the remaining part of the summer.

The 5th Indian player in the top-500, Sunil Kumar Sipaeya (IND,497), is at the $10K USA F17 futures in Peoria, Illinois .. I did not know he would be playing at Peoria, as he had not put his name in the entry list 2 weeks ahead .. So he became the top seed in the qualies that just got done, where he beat Joe Bates (USA,NR) 64 61, and Nick Hegarty (USA,NR) 64 62, before giving a medical walkover in the Q3 to John Valenti (USA,NR) .. SKS however did make the main draw as a lucky loser and ended up as the second seed there too .. Hope he is not in any serious injury trouble and that the Q3 withdrawal was mostly because he knew he was making the main draw and wanted to conserve energy .. He plays Lance Vodicka (USA,NR) in the first round .. Sunil is playing doubles with Porus Jetli (USA) and they lock horns with the American pair, Connor Brown and Chris Wettengel.

July 10 Notes

Sania, Lee and Hesh are all off this week from the tour .. Kash and Bops went down in the Q1 at Newport and so they are off too .. Karan is off till next week .. The Uberoi sisters are also off .. So, pretty much a light week .. The only action is at Felixstowe, Britain, where Ankita Bhambri is in the main draw of a $25K challenger, Sanaa Bhambri the 4th seed in the qualies (with a Q1 bye; so no results yet) .. Harsh Mankad is in the $15K men's futures at the same place, where he is among the seeds .. Main draws are awaited.

There is a grade-4 junior event this week in Bangkok, Thailand, where a good number of Indian kids, many just getting into the ITF junior circuit at age 14 to 16, have gone .. There was another grade-4 in Bangkok last week, where 12th seeded Janaki Gunuganti had reached the final .. Janaki, from Andhra Pradesh, has been playing domestically for quite a while, but she is only 15 right now .. 9th seed Bhavani Tirumurthi also reached SF, losing to Janaki .. On the boys' side, only top seed Akshay Bajoria reached even the QF, but he was upset there .. There are a few other talented youngsters out there, like Akash Wagh, Sudanwa Sitaram, Ashvarya Shrivastava, Kyra Shroff, etc.

July 8 Notes

As our forum page is down right now (Dhruv is testing a new forum software) I decided to stop being lazy to restart the daily news page .. Can't leave all you tennis fans without any source for daily tennis news! .. So, after four months, I am back! .. Hopefully I will find time to keep it going like before!

OK, the Wimbledon is over for us with Leander and Martin Damm going down in the semis yesterday (excellent 8 match win streak with a sHertogenbosch ATP title before Wimbledon by them!), and Rupesh Roy and his Taiwanese partner Hsin-Han Lee in the boys doubles semifinal today to the 2nd seeds .. Hope you had followed the earlier matches in our forum

We are on to the next week already, though it started inauspiciously, with both Bops and Kash falling today in the Q1 round of the Newport Hall Of Fame ATP .. Prakash Amritraj (IND,288) fell 67(3) 46 to 8th seed Michael Russell (USA,202) and Rohan Bopanna (IND,252) went down 67(3) 76(5) 26 to Noam Okun (ISR,222) today .. Harsh Mankad has just gone to England for a 4-week grass circuit with two futures .. The $15K Felixstowe futures starts monday, with $25K+H challengers following at Mancheseter and Nottingham. Prakash, Rohan and the current India #3 ahead of Harsh, #338 Karan Rastogi, will all be at the Aptos challenger after a week next.

Ankita Bhambri is in the main draw list and Sanaa Bhambri in the qualifying list for a grass court challenger ($25K) starting this monday at the same place where the men grass futures is - Felixstowe, UK .. Will update other women's news such as on Sania and the Uberoi sisters later

Good to be back! .. I wonder if Dhruv took the forum down to get me off my lazy behind :) ..

.. The site was on vacation for the past 4 months, as I was extremely busy with work :( :(  ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Mar 6, 2006 ..

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