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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Aug 08, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's nots) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2005)

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Aug 8 Notes

At the Tier-II Los Angeles WTA, Sania Mirza (IND,48) is drawn to face Iveta Benesova (CZE,51) in the first round .. She is not in the schedule for Monday, and so gets an extra day more of rest which helps that stomach strain .. 22 year old Benesova has some good wins this year, over those like Jankovic (#18), Vaidisova (#27), Peng (#32), Llagostera-Vives (#44), etc .. Not a bad player at all, and any win in the top-50 range is always tough to pull off .. Let us hope Sania is ready for Tuesday.

At the Montreal Masters, Leander and Zimonjic are the 5th seeds with an R1 bye .. They have a tough second round, against the Wimbledon champions Stephen Huss (AUS) and Wesley Moodie (RSA) or the tough Israeli pair, Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram .. Mahesh and Damm are the 7th seeds - they get the Czech pair Cyril Suk/ Pavel Vizner or Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) and Jiri Novak (CZE) in the second round .. Both teams should be in action wednesday or as late as thursday.

At the $50K Binghamton challenger, Harsh Mankad (IND,263) faces Marcus Sarstrand (SWE,277) in the first round .. In doubles, Mustafa and Mankad just cannot seem to get an easy team to play .. They are drawn to face the very tough top seeds Huntly Montgomery ( USA,101) and Tripp Phillips (USA,102) .. Mankad is also not in the draw for Monday .. So, Monday is off for all the top Indian singles and doubles players ..

Prakash, Rohan, Sunil, etc are all off this week .. Rohan will next be at the $25K+H Samarkand challenger in Uzbekistan after a week (Aug 15), where Karan Rastogi will be playing qualifying .. Rushmi, Sanaa and Ankita are at the $10K in London .. Jaco, Divij, Ashutosh and Kamala play the 2nd week of the China satellite circuit and Gurmehar, Ravishankar and Tushar continue at the $10K Indonesia F2 futures ..

The new rankings show Sania cracking into the top-50 as expected, at #48, with 706.5 points .. Akiko Morigami won the next round after beating Sania and went ahead of her - so Sania is one spot below the #47 that I expected after her upset of Petrova .. Sania is the 6th highest ranked Asian with three Japanese and 2 Chinese ahead of her - #26 Sugiyama (JPN), #29 Asagoe (JPN), #32 Peng (CHN), #42 Morigami (JPN) and #43 Na Li (CHN) .. Shikha Uberoi (IND,128) is ranked 12th in Asia now (5 Japanese, 3 Chinese, one Korean, one Thai and Sania ahead of her) ..

On the men's side, Mankad regained the top ranking at #263 with 138 points, with Prakash at #270 with 134 points .. Mankad is 9th in Asia and Amritraj 10th, behind #41 Srichaphan (THA), #64 H-T.Lee (KOR), #122 Y-T.Wang (TPE), #130 Udomchoke (THA), #133 Y-H.Lu (TPE), #219 Suzuki (JPN), #258 Iwabuchi (JPN)

Aug 7 Notes

Not a whole lot happening for the last couple of days, except MB-MD's semi and a qualfiying match by Neha at the LA WTA - so I was goofing off for a couple of days, which means, actually doing some of the regular work I am supposed to do, not the important things like tennis! :-)

Mahesh and Martin Damm lost the semifinals at the Washington ATP yesterday to the top seeds Mike and Bob Bryan, 67(3) 67(4) .. Despite the loss that was a good match, finally, from Mahesh and Martin, as they had had a cou ple of tame losses previously .. This shows that they are fully cpaable of playing top-notch tennis together, and we can look forwrad to some good results, starting from the Montreal Masters coming up now .. The Bryans won the title today beating the second seeds Black-Ullyett easily, 64 62.

At the $585K Tier-II "JP Morgan Chase" WTA at Los Angeles, the qualifying rounds were held this weekend at the Seal Beach Tennis Club .. Neha Uberoi (USA, 272) was there, as Shikha needed a couple of weeks to recharge and get ready for the US Open qualies (she was beginning to get a bit jaded/tired in her tennis, after a few weeks of continuous play) .. Neha was a wildcard there - as she has not fully announced her intention to play for India, and nothing official has been done about it, and it being not yet time possibly for her to be inducted into the Indian team if she is interested, I suppose USTA is not considering her gone to India just yet ..  Since the time she played the Orange Bowl at the end of 2003 and then won the Luxilon Cup invitational in Miami last April, where she beat the likes of Nicole Vaidisova who has now gone to the WTA top-30, people have known of 19 year old Neha's quality and potential ..But an untimely injury with a small rib cage fracture last year set her back for several months when she could not win enough matches in a row .. Sh was picking up some good wins but following that up with some losses, for a while .. She has been playing 100% healthy for only the last 2 to 3 months though .. In both the last two events she played, the Stanford WTA qualies and the Cincinnati WTA qualies, she had reached the final rounds with two top-150 upsets and a top-250 upset .. So she is beginning to really play well .. I saw Neha's match yesterday in the first round of the LA WTA qualies .. She was up against a trough player in Bethanie Mattek (USA,162) who is right now playing much better than her ranking suggests -- she had qualified in and pulled two top-50 upsets to reach the semifinal of the Cinci WTA two weeks back .. Neha played some superb tennis in patches, and clearly showed her abilities in the ground strokes, strong serves, athleticism and aggressiveness .. In her aggressivenes, she is somewhat similar to Sania; she too constantly looks for winners and is not too interested in just sparring from the baseline, but she looks to construct quick points by moving up if she can, and is not the type who finishes the points fast from superhuman forehands and backhands like Sania .. Neha has a strong forehand too, though she needs to get more accurate and needs to hit that deeper more consistently .. She had several aces and service winners in this game, but her undoing was the ungodly number of errors she made, a lot of them simply unforced .. A lot of hard shots hit the net or went too long/wide - I guess that is the price to pay for aggressivenes .. It was still a pretty close match, endiung in a 46 36 loss .. She dropped serve too many times due to errors .. In both sets she made very spirited comebacks after being down 2 breaks, by breaking back and holding serves, but Bethanie was playing well and she took care of business in some long-drawn late game on her serve in both sets .. In fact I would say that even 5 or 6 fewer errors from Neha could have turned this match around completely .. See my detailed onsite fanclub member report in the forum thread ..  All Neha has to do is to play injury-free with rhythm in a few challengers, pick up a few good wins, try out her shots consistently against good players and add accuracy to cut down the errors .. She is going to create some noise soon.

In other scores of the week, at the $10K women's event in Wrexham, UK, 6th seed Sanaa Bhambri's run ended in the QF to a qualifier who became the eventual champion (with two more upsets!) .. [R2] (6) Sanaa Bhambri d. Anastasia Revzina (RUS,1046), 63 60 .. [QF] l. (Q) Laura Peterzen (GBR), 06 36 .. In doubles there, Rushmi Chakravarthi had a ncie run with Paula Marama (NZL), with an upset of the 2nd seeds in the semis, but they fell in the final to the same team that upset the top seeded Bhambri sisters .. [R1] (4) R. Chakravarthi/ Paula Marama (NZL) d. Katherine Fall (GBR)/ Samatha Murray (GBR), 63 64 .. [QF] d. Natasha Khan (GBR)/ Rachael Dillon (GBR), 62 60 .. [SF] d. (2) Anna Hawkins (GBR)/ Karen Paterson (GBR), 61 75 ..[F] l. Rebecca Llewellyn (GBR)/ Anna Smith (GBR), 36 57 .. The Bhambri sisters went down in the doubles SF .. [QF] (1) A.Bhambri/ S.Bhambri d. Sarah Coles (GBR)/ Rebecca Fong (GBR), 63 64 .. [SF] l. Llewellyn/ Smith, 26 36 [earlier results below, Aug 3] .. The girls now go to the $10K in London .. Shruti Dhawan, who was initially in the list for both these events, has had to withdraw from London also, due to an injury which is probably not healed yet.

In the first leg of the $25K China satellites in Tianjin, Ashutosh Singh (IND,1020) had an upset of the third seed Hao Lu (CHN,608) in the second round, though he fell in the QF .. Hao Lu has a win last year over even Prakash Amritraj (at the Beijing ATP qualies) - so this was a good upset win for Ashutosh, especially as it was done in China .. [QF] Ashutosh Singh l. Adam Thompson (NZL) 36 61 36 .. [R2] Jaco Mathew/ Ashutosh Singh d. Lior Barbash / Ishay Hadash ( ISR.) 64 62 .. [SF] l. (WC) Zhe li / Yu Wang Jr., 57 36 .. Kamala Kannan/Divij Sharan lost in the QF to the second seeds, Xin-Yuan Yu and Yu Zhang of China, 26 36 [Earlier results below - Aug 3rd] ..

Three Indians were at the  $10K Indonesia F1 satellites this week .. Gurmehar Singh beat the lucky loser Yeu-Ming Si (MAS), 76(4) 60 but fell in the  second round to Hiroyasu Sato (JPN) 26 63 26 .. Ravishankar Pathanjali was the 8th seed, but was upset by qualifier Surya Wijaya (INA) in the first round 62 36 46 .. Tushar Liberhan lost to another qualifier, NMMick Lindahl (AUS), 26 16 .. In doubles Ravishankar and Sunu Wahya Trijati (INA) beat the wildcard Indons, Arief Darmawan and Muhammad Syahid 75 63, befgore falling 26 46 to the 3rd seed Korean pair, Hee-Seok Chung and Hee-Sung Chung, who beaten Tushar and Gurmehar Singh 64 64 in the first round ..

Aug 5 Notes

Just got information that Sania Mirza has made the main draw list on the last day, at the $585K Tier-II "JP Morgan Chase" Los Angeles WTA, satrting at the USTA tennis center at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles .. As Varma and I live just 40 miles south, we will be covering the event .. I have not seen the qualifying draw yet, but Shikha Uberoi should be playing qualies as well  [edit -- it turns out that Shikha is not in the qualifying draw; I will find out if she is not well or anything; she was a bit out of sorts last week itself in her qualifying matches .. The good news is that Neha has got a wildcard and plays Bethania Mattek in the Q1 of the 2-round qualies].

I will be back later with scores of a few other Indians matches around the world this week - in UK, China, Indonesia etc..

Aug 4 Notes

Sorry for a very late update .. I could not go and cover Sania's final-16 match at the Acura Classic in San Diego, as I had some work commitments .. With Varma Alluri having to be out of town as well, w could not be there in person when Sania played a tough three setter .. Ended up with a loss to #61 Akiko Morigami (JPN), 26 64 46 .. Sania made a very nice comeback in the match after dropping the first set, losing the final four games .. Sania pulled off a timely break in the 9th game of the second set to even the match and actyually led by a break at 3-2 in the third set, before immediately dropping serve and then running into trouble in the 9th game on serve again .. Her problem seemed to be a couple of untimely double faults which led to break points .. Morigami is an talented and athletic player with a lot of experience, and she has now given Sania all she can handle in two matches, after losing to Sania at Wimbledon ..

The press folks at Acura Classic faxed me the scoresheets and stats .. I have posted the stats in the forum - here .. You can also find some eyewitness comments from Rajiv in our forum.

At the $600K Washington DC ATP, Mahesh Bhupathi and Martin Damm, the 3rd seeds, have got back on track this week .. They have reached the semifinal .. In the first round the took a set off Wesley Moodie and Tomas Zib, 6-4, before the opponents conceded .. MB-MD then won the QF over Karol Beck and Tomas Berdych, 64 64 .. They will pllay the semifinal on Saturday, probably against the top seeds Bryan brothers who play their QF tomorrow.

At the $100K Vancouver challenger, Harsh Mankad and Mustafa Ghouse put up a pretty good fight in the QF against the 2nd seeds, Huntley Montgomery and Rajeev Ram of USA, but fell 67(4) 46 .. Mankad and Mustafa would be leaving for Binghamton to play a $50K challenger next week.

Sanaa Bhambri has reached the QF at the $10K in Wrexham, UK .. More later.

Aug 3 Notes

Can you say top-50 ?? .. I know you can .. For the first time since the days of Ramesh Krishnan, we have a top-50 player, baybee!!!! .. Big, huge, humongous, humanoidisticasswhippicacious win for Sania Mirchi Masala No Mercy Mirza !!!! .. At the $1.3M "Acura Classic" Tier-I WTA at the La Costa resort in Carlsbad near San Diego, Sania picked up the second top-10 win of her career, this time making a top-10 Russian girl cry (reportedly - I was there but did not check and see what Petrova was doing after the match; I was too excited for that) .. [R2] (Q) Sania Mirza (IND,59) d. (4) Nadia Petrova (RUS,9), 62 61 .. This match was such a scorched earth bomb blitzkrieg from Sania that it was not even funny .. See my onsite fanclub member match report posted in the forum for all the game by game details .. Quick summary - Sania was up immediately to 3-0 in the first set .. Though she dropped serve once in the 4th game, she broke the Russian once more and served off the first set, her first ace coming at set point - angled to the right corner at 107 mph .. With Sania's less known backhand now threatening to become an even more potent weapon than her forehand which is already being widely accepted as possibly even the very best and fastest on the WTA tour, Petrova was totally out of ideas by the third game of the second set .. The Russian had a couple of break chances in the second game of the second set, but with Sania serving her second ace right there at deuce to douse any hopes of a fight from Petrova, the end looked near .. Sania won the final 5 games with three successive breaks of the French Open semifinalist and Wimbledon quarterfinalist .. The best game was the very final one where Sania came up with two thunderous backhand service return winners, the final one at match point ..

The win gives Sania 43 quality points for beating someone ranked in the 6-10 range, in addition to 42 circuit points for reaching the final 16 .. Adding on the 4 quality points for beating Garbin, 2 each for the qualifying wins and 10.5 for the qualifying circuit points, she has 103.5 total points so far from this event, enough to take her point total to just over 705 and her ranking from 59 to about #47 next week .. At the press conference she was asked about what her goals were, for the year, she said, "I only set short-term goals .. It was top-50 till now .. Anything over this is gravy .. I will wait and see" ..

Sania's opponent in the round of 16 is the 25 year old Akiko Morigami (JPN,61)  .. The match is scheduled for about the same time tomorrow .. 2 pm Thursday (10 pm London .. 2.30 am Friday India) +/- 30 min ..  Morigami is no easy foe, as she reached the final two weeks back at the Cincinnati WTA , where she beat Sania 64 63 in the QF ..

In other news, Harsh Mankad and Mustafa Ghouse had a fairly big doubles win today at the big $100K vancouver challenger .. 63 64 over Jan-Michel Gambill (UA) and Chris Guccione (AUS) .. In the quarterfinals, they face the 2nd seeds Rajeev Ram (USA) and Huntley Montgomery (USA) tomorrow (thursday) at about 1 pm ..

At the $10K women's event at Wrexham, UK, two Indian seeds went cown today in the first round .. [R1] (Q) Laura Peterzan (GBR,1046) d. (1) Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND,336) 75 75 ..[R1] Anna Smith (GBR,915) d. (7) Ankita Bhambri (IND,478) 61 63 .. Yesterday, [R1] (6) Sanaa Bhambri (IND,470) d. Claire Ricketts (GBR,740), 64 61 ..

At the $25K China satellite week-1 in Tianjin, Ashutosh Singh (IND) defeated qualifier Jorge Rangel (PUR) 64 63 to reach the second round .. He faces (3) Hao Lu (CHN) next .. Three other Indians went down in the R1 though .. Jing-Yi Li (CHN) d. Kamala Kannan (IND) 64 63 .. (Q) Amir Weintraub (ISR) d. Divij Sharan (IND) 75 64 .. (4) Ishay Hadash (ISR) d. Varun Walia (IND) 62 61 .. In doubles, the top seeds Jaco Mathew and Ashutosh Singh (IND) beat Mao-Xin Gong and Xiang Li of China, 61 64 and faces Lior Barbash and Ishay Hadash of Israel next .. Kamala Kannan and Divij Sharan (IND) beat wildcards Peng Gao and Shuang-Qiang Liang (CHN) 16 62 63 and now runs into the second seeds Xin-Yuan Yu and Yu Zhang of China .. 

Aug 2 Note-2

Quick updates -- Easy win, 62 62 for Sania at the Acura Classic R1 .. .. Please see my Mirza vs Garbin Courtside Match Report in our forum for all details .. Harsh Mankad put up a big fight but fell in three sets, 46 75 16 to the top seed Lu (#141) at the 4100K in Vancouver .. Sanaa won her first round at the $10K in Wrexham .. Rushmi, Ankita play tomorrow .. A lot of Indians are at the China men's satellite circuit that just started .. Later with more detailed news ..

Aug 2 Note-1

Sania plays the first round of the main draw at the $1.3M "Acura Classic" Tier-I WTA at the La Costa resort north of San Diego, California, this morning at 11 am (11.30 pm India .. 7 pm London) .. Come to our chat room for point-by-point score updates by the fanclub friends .. I will be down there at La Costa and will have a match report a few hours after the match ..

At the $600K "Legg Mason" ATP in Washington DC, Mahesh Bhupathi and Martin Damm are the third seeds .. They are drawn against Wesley Moodie (RSA) and Tomas Zib (CZE) in the first round match, which should probably be tomorrow .. MB-MD are reeling a littl right now, after two straight sets losses, and are probably a little anxious to get their new partnership on track .. I am sure they will start doing well soon - like hopefully this week! .. Leander and Zimonjic gets back on court after a good 6 weeks break, next week at the Montreal masters.

At the big $100K challenger in Vancouver, Harsh Mankad (IND,259) plays his first round this morning at 11 am .. By the way this is the first time since the Leander days many years back that an Indian has made the direct entry at a $100K challenger .. HM has a very tough match against the top seed Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE,136), as HM and PA have shown great penchant to draw the top seeds in most events these days ..

Incidentally, Harsh has temporarily lost the India #1 (and the South and west Asia #1) spot to Prakash Amritraj this week, as PA is at #253 .. Harsh will come back to the top spot next week, however .. Pretty cool to see these two right next to each other in the rank list .. A little bit of friendly competition between Harry Potter and P.Diddy for the #1 spot is good -- anything that motivates the players to look for something extra is always good ..

Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND,366), Sanaa Bhambri (IND,470) and her older sister Ankita Bhambri (IND,478) are seeded first, 6th and 7th in the main draw this week at the $10K Womens ITF at Wrexham, UK .. Rushmi plas a qualifier, Laura Peterzan (GBR,1046), Sanaa plays Claire Ricketts (GBR,740) and Ankita plays wildcard Anna Smith (GBR,915) in the first round .. In doubles, the Bhambri sisters are the top seed with an R1 bye, and Rashmi is seeded 4th with Paula Marama (NZL), playing the British pair, Catherine Fall and Samantha Murray .. Sanaa plays singles today and the others get to court tomorrow.

Aug 1 Note-2

Good news today -- World #9 Anastassia Myskina (RUS) has just confirmed her participation for the $170K Tier-III Sunfeast Open WTA, Kolkata coming up next month !!! .. You can read the whole press release from Globosport here in our forum .. She is the highest ranked player to come to India .. Let us get charged up for the Kolkata WTA! .. I posted the news, and it only took about an hour for Nate to predict in the forum that Sania will now pick up a lot of quality points there! :) :) ....

Aug 1 Note-1

Yesterday was good and bad at the San Diego Acura Classic .. Sania Mirza, now up to #59 in WTA, held on for a win in a match that was closer than expected, 64 76(2) against Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR,195) to advance to the main draw in the second and final round of qualifying .. Shikha Uberoi, who moved up today to a career-high of #125 in WTA, was just not in the Q2 match, as she went down 16 06 against the 4th seed Aiko Nakamura (JPN,82) -- I need to find out what exactly was wrong with Shikha, but she could not hold serve even once in the match and except for several deuces in one game late in the second set and an early break in the first set, she just could not do much at any time .. Hope Shikha gets better (she was struggling yesterday itself, apparently physically, though I was not sure exactly what the problem was) ..

As for Sania's match, they traded serves twice in the firt set but at 3-3 Sania went ahead with a break of Bondarenko and took the set soon after .. In the seocnd set, again Sania broke firstr in the 7th game but dropped serve in the next game and they coasted to a tiebreaker where sania won the final four points, finishing the match at the first match point with a powerfull backhand cross court winner .. Sania was a quite error-prone yesterday, but that is normal for her game, as she sticks to her style of going for her shots all the time .. She is also still a little bothered by a stoimach strain which requires taping, but reportedly it is not affecting her game and the soreness is not getting worse or anything .. In the first round of the 56-draw event with 8 seeds getting byes, Sania is drawn to face another qualifier, Tathiana Garbin (ITA,81) who was the scond seed in the qualifying behind Sania .. The Italian is a former top-40 player who is 28 year old .. She was the winner of the very first women's challenger in India in late 1998 at New Delhi (and was a runner up next year too) .. She is a very experienced player and Sania needs to make sure that she does not give the veteran player any openings to take advantage of .. Sania gets today off, which will help the stomach strain heal a bit .. Her match against Garbin will be tomorrow (Tuesday).

Here is an extremely detailed match report from our onsite fanclub member correspondent, Mr. Varma .. Varma notes the tremendous backhand cross courts shots Sania was playing, and comments on how her backhand weapon is not getting enough attention, while everybody now knows that her forehand is among the most powerful an toughest on the WTA tour .. UI too felt yesterday that Sania was coming up with som incredibly angled BH shots ("angles that would put Euclid to shame", as Varma writes eloquently!) ..

As for a break summary, here is how it went -- First set ---- Game 1 - KB broken at AD out first BP .. Game 4 - SM broken .. Down 0-40 and first BP break .. Game 5 - KB broken. Saved two BPs from 15-40, but SM breaks on AD out .. Game 6 - SM broken after saving a 30-40 BP .. Game 7 - KB broken after saving two BPs from 0-40 .. Second set ---- Game 4 - Sania down 0-30 but wins 4 to take the game .. Game 6 - Sania down 0-30 and then had 2 deuces (no BPs), holds .. Game 7 - KB saves one BP at 30-40 but broken at first AD out .. Game 8 - SM down 15-40, saves 2 BPs, but broken at first AD out .. Game 11 - KB saves two AD out break points and holds .. Game 12 - Tough game. three deuces (no BPs), but SM holds .. Second set tiebreaker ---- SM up a mini to 1-0, gives it back at 2-0, gets it again at 2-1, and wins 4 points from 3-2, with 2 more minibreaks off KB ..

At the $100K Vancouver challenger, Harsh Mankad gets a day off today and will start his campaign against the top seed Lu tomorrow ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Aug 01 ..

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