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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Aug 13, 2001
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2001)

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Aug 13 Note-1

Leander has been bothered a bit by a hip problem he has had since Wmbledon, and seems to have decided not to push it .. So LP-MB are skipping the Indianapolis doubles this week .. LP has to be playing the next three weeks with the USO qualies and main draw, making it 5 weeks of continuous play if played Indi, which is dangerous .. So it sounds like a good decision to take rest this week .. MB does not have to play next week and so he is playing with Sebastien Lareau this week at the $800K Indianapolis ATP .. They are seeded 8th there, and play a wildcard team.

LP-MB moved up to #4 in the ATP doubles race this year .. More importantly, their 52-week doubles entry rankings are now #9 and #11, which should be enough to give them a #4 or #5 seeding at the US Open - hopefully #4, so that the way is clearer till the semis ..  MB has 2915 points and LP 2684 .. In team rank (doubles race), they have 471 race pts from this year's tournaments (2355 entry pts), which is behind Bjorkman-Woodbridge with 704, Novak-Rikl with 499, Johnson-Palmer with 496 .. Pala-Vizner is at #5 with 437, the Bryan twins at #6 with 420, and Hill-Tarango at #7 with 373 ..

LP-MB are 8-3 against the top-10 teams so far this year .. Two wins over #2 Novak-Rikl, two over #7 Hill/ Tarango, one over #1 Bjorkman/ Woodbridge, one over #3 Johnson-Palmer, one over #5 Pala-Vizner, and one over #6 Bryans .. Losses: one to #1 Bjorkman/ Woodbridge, one to the #6 Bryans, and one to #9 Eagle/ Florent ..  In other words, the Indian Express is basically doing stuff exactly like they were doing before the break-up .. Those are some impressive numbers!

I believe Nirupama is playing this week at the Bronx challenger .. No news yet.

15 yr old Rishi Behl and 14 yr old Karan Rastogi reached the final of doubles at the grade-5 ITF junior event in Syria .. They finished runner-up there - good show by them! .. According to The Hindu a couple of days back, Karan and Rishi had both reached the singles QF as well .. Not sure whther they fell in the QF or SF .. I will report the score details as soon as ITF publishes them.

Mustafa did not make the main draw this week at the UK futures, but is seeded 3rd in the qualies .. He had won the second round after a first round bye, when last reports came in .. The women are at the Thailand satellite (Sai, Rushmi, Sheetal, Liza) and the Koksijde satellite in Belgium (Sonal, Jyotsna, Karishma) ..

Completing some of last week's remaining events that I had forgotten to do: .. Jyotsna and her foreign partner went down to the 2nd seeds in the doubles semis at the Rebecq $10 satellite in Belgium .. Manoj Mahadevan and Marcio Torres (ARG) fell in the second round last week at the USA F21 futures, to Lee Radovanovich Daniel Willman of NZL, 16 46 .. Sania and Sasha had fallen in the first round of doubles at the grade-2 ITF juniors in Durban .. Sasha has hopefully recovered from her illness and both would be doing better this week at the more important grade-1 event, also in Durban .. Sania is again the top seed in singles.

At the AITA ranking junior national event at the Krishnan Tennis Center last week, there were two upsets in the boys u18 draw in the semis .. P. Ravikrishna (AP) beat top seed Vinod Sewa (WB) and Somdev Dev Varman (TN) upset second seed Rohan Gajjar (Mah) .. The latter upset was by a score of 16 16 - which is very surprising, if Rohan was not bothered by any physical problems ..  Ankita Bhambri and Nandita Chandrasekhar, the 2nd and 3rd seeds reached the singles final, as the top seed Lata Assudani had been upset in the early rounds by Geeta Manohar ..  There was one kid who pulled some upsets in the u14 section on the way to the final - M.Jeevan (TN) who beat the 2nd seeded M.Vinod and 3rd seeded Hariprashant, and was to meet the top seed Rupesh Roy (WB) for the title .. S.Preethi and Fathima Baig of TN were in the u14 girls final too .. The finals were on saturday, but I still have not seen the results reported by any online newspapers [source for these results: Chennai Online] .. If anybody has the results, do pass it on to me .. The bigger event, the junior hardcourt nationals starts today in Chennai at the Madras Cricket Club courts.

Aug 12 Note-2

Hello Title #20 !! .. Title #4 of the year  .. #5 since the "reunion" .. First Masters title since 1998 November .. 4th Masters title .. Moving up to #4 in ATP team ranking this year .. I was late returning from another engagement (no, not as important as our boys' final, but I kinda knew that the Indian Express would win without much problems and did not hurry back fast enough :-)) .. At the $2.95K Cincinnati Masters, [F] #6 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. M.Damm/ D.Prinosil, 76(3) 63 .. One terrific thing about our pair before the break-up was that they rarely lost a final .. That has not changed one bit still .. They have won 5 of 6 finals they have reached since their reunion almost a year back (the only loss was the world doubles final in bangalore) .. As for the match itself, it was pretty straight-forward .. Our pair did not face any break points, and converted one break point in the second set .. Our first serve percentage was decent at 55, and for the second successive match, our pair pretty much won all the pointe whenever they got the first serves in (30 of 37) .. Won 73 points to 62 by the opponents .. The match took an hour and 25 minutes .. Not the easiest match, but our pair never ran into any trouble either.

Aug 12 Note-1

Rain basically washed out all play last night at Mason, Ohio where the Cincinnati Masters is played .. So, LP-MB will need to wait for the 11 am semfinal today between Jeff Tarango/ Nicolas Lapentti and Martin Damm/ David Prinosil to get done, to find out whom they will play in the afternoon final .. The final is after the singles final which starts at 1 am (depending on the postponed Kuerten-Henman semi from 11.30 am getting done soon) .. The doubles final should be at around 3.30 pm (8.30 pm London .. 1 am Monday India), +/- 30 min, probably even later .. Let us party in the chatroom with live scores.

Aug 11 Note-2

Not much drama today; just another close match where LP-MB came up big in the tiebreakers .. It was a usual good day at work, except that it happened to be against the world's best team, and it placed them into their first final in a masters event since late 1998 .. [SF] #6 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. #1 J.Bjorkman/ T.Woodbridge, 76(5) 76(2) at the $2.95M Cincinnati masters .. In the first set, our pair started badly dropping serve at 15-40 in the second game .. They didn't stay down for too long though .. At 0-3, they went on a minor run, winning 8 of next 10 points and breaking BJ-TW on the second break pt at 15-40 in the 5th game .. Nothing much interesting from that point on, as it went with serve to a tiebreaker ..  Our guys were keeping a very low first serve peercentage, in the mid 40s right from the beginning, but were also picking up almost all the points whenever they hit the first serve ..  Their return game muct have been working pretty well .. In the tiebreaker, they traded minibreaks at first and then we went up to 3-1 .. Gave back two minibreaks to fall behind 3-4 soon, and LP-MB went on a 4 of 5 run with two minibreaks to close it out at 7-5 .. In the second set, LP-MB faced a break point at AD out on their serve in game 1 of the second set, but held serve .. They then had a golden chance in the 4th game with double break pts but the Wood-Tree pair won four points in a row to hold serve .. From then on it was a flurry of love games as neither side was taking even a point off the others' serve .. Tiebreaker time again .. Though they had not taken a point off BJ-TW in almost 4 service games, suddenly the Indian Express picked up two off them and went up two minibreaks to 3-0 .. Soon on their own serve to 4-0 .. Gave back one minibreak to 4-1 but again got one more minibreak from the other guys to go up 5-2 .. Served two to finish it off at 7-2 .. In the last couple of service games and the tiebreaker, our pair came through with their first serves, hitting 10 of 12 to raise their p[ercentage from 45 to 54% in the end .. This turned out to be the key .. LP-MB hit 5 aces and 4 double faults while the other pair hit 2 aces and 1 DF .. 80 points to our pair, 71 to the others ..  The match took an hour and 39 minutes.

They share over $80K for all the work so far .. 350 entry points too .. We wait to find out whom they play tomorrow in the final.

Aug 11 Note-1

Today's semifinal, #6 Bhupathi-Paes vs #1 J.Bjorkman/ T.Woodbridge, is set as the second match on center court, after the first singles semi that starts at 1 pm .. Our match should be at about 3.15 pm (12.45 am India .. 8.15 pm London), +/- 30 minutes .. The cheering squad will be assembling in the chatroom with live scores .. Hewitt gave the excuse of dehydration to skip the doubles semi last night in a walkover to the top seeds ..  The Indian Express will need to play at their very best today again -- the last time these two teams played, BJ-TW took out our guys in easy straight sets ..  There is anarticle in the Cincinnati Enquirer about Woodbridge's success with Bjorkman and how he hasn't missed a beat despite Woodforde's retirement ..  Bjorkman said that even the nickname "Woodies" needn't change much -- "In Swedish, "Bjork" is kind of a tree -- tree, wood, get it?" he said! .. The newspaper also had a short article on the Indian Express comeback titled "Doubles team survives 6 match pts" -- actually it was eight, but glad to see that the press noticed ..  Apparently Novak had a sitter for a winner on the 3rd match pt and he mishit a volley which Mahesh hit for a winner .. Leander said that they got a bit lucky on that mistake from Novak.

At the $10K Lebecq satellite in Belgium, Jyotsna Vasisht and Tania Miro Garcia (ESP) beat Sonal Phadke and Karishma Patel, 76(2) 61 in the QF yesterday .. They play the second seed Giulia Meruzzi (ITA) and Natasha Van der Merwe (RSA) in the semifinal [source: Gazette Van Antwerpen].

My question on whether we can "pull a Ruesdski" with Indian-American players like Rajeev Ram (Aug 8 Note-3), has touched off a bunch of posts in our forum .. Take a look and put your thoughts in .. I was only making a causal comment - some thought is needed before any such thing is attempted, as it does have some intricate pros and cons.

Aug 10 Note-3

Not sure if we will know today who the Indian Express' opponents will be, in the semifinal tomorrow at the Cincinnati masters .. The winners of #1 Bjorkman-Eltingh vs Hewitt-Florent .. Hewitt was finishing his singles QF at 8 pm just now and so I am not sure if they will make him play doubles tonight or tomorrow ..  The other SF in doubles is between Lapentti-Tarango and Damm-Prinosil .. The latter team came back from dropping the first set to beat the #5 team in the world, the Bryan twins, in a 3rd set tiebreaker at 8-6 in the QFs.

LP-MB get 225 pts for reaching the semifinal today .. It will move them up by one spot up in the team rankings to #6 .. A win tomorrow would move them up to #5, and a title will take them to #4 .. They share $42,300 for reaching the SF and can pick up another $40K more for a win tomorrow .. Actually a win tomorrow will put them in their first final in a masters event since October of 1998 when they won at Paris indoors, their 3rd masters title - they have basically had a lot of futility in over 10 or 12 masters events they have played since then.

At the $10K Rebecq satellite second round in Belgium, the 7th seeded Sonal Phadke was upset 60 36 61 by 16 year old Elke Clijsters (BEL) .. Elke is ranked only 148 in the world juniors, but has done decently in the senior events, with a top-600 ranking .. I expected a tough match, but also that Sonal would do a bit better .. I am frankly very puzzled at the collective troubles of all our women players abroad this year .. Simply too many upsets allowed by them all .. At the $10K Nonthaburi satellite in Thailand, Prariyawan Ratankrong and Suchanan Viratprasert upset the top seeded Rushmi Chakravarti and Sai Jayaramsai, 67(4) 63 61 yesterday in the doubles QF .. I have no idea how those two teenagers managed to do that to Sai and Rushmi who were beating such youngster teams with their eyes closed a year back .. Something has got to be bothering Sai and Rushmi .. They also may need a bit of rest ..  Sonal and Jyotsna Vasisht had reached the QF of doubles at Rebecq with their respective partners .. I don't have full doubles results yet from there.

Mustafa Ghouse and Guiseppe Menge lost to Benjamin Cassaigne and Julien Couly of France, 46 67(3) at the $15K futures QF in Bath, Britain .. I have not seen the results of Manoj Mahadevan's doubles QF in the USA F21 futures yet.

Aug 10 Note-2

Every once in a while we get a match that will remain etched in the memory for ever - like the win LP-MB had over Eltingh-Haarhuis at Paris, or the comeback from triple set pts in the first set in the FO final this year; even the meltdown they had against Agassi a few months back .. We got one more today to add to the memory-bank .. Monumental is the word to describe this one .. They were playing the hottest team currently .. The #3 ranked and #4 seeded Novak-Rikl who had just won 7 matches in a row including the Montreal masters title last week .. Our guys were facing elimination at 3-6 4-5 at match pt on the other guys' serve .. They started their comeback right there .. And kept fighting and fighting .. One match point .. Two .. Three .. It kept on going, untile they had played through EIGHT match points to send it to a 3rd set where they simply dismantled the Czech pair, to advance to the semifinal .. [QF] #6 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. #4 J.Novak/ D.Rikl, 36 76(12) 62 .. Here is the break sequence - [set1: LP-MB broken in games 4 and 8, JN-DR in game 7], [set2: LP-MB broken in game 9; JN-DR in game 10], [set3: JN-DR in game 3 and 5] .. The first set was a close affair, and the key was that Novak-Rikl converted both the break points they had .. LP-MB made a comeback in the 7th game to even things up, but immediately dropped serve at 30-40 .. In the second set, things tightened up even more, and the Indian Express had a couple more break chances early to go up, that they couldn't convert, falling to 1 of 4 in that category .. It all looked bleak, as we dropped serve at 30-40 in the 9th game at the most inopportune time - JN-DR had gone 3 of 3 in break pts .. Actually the match had been very close and it was exactly 55 points won by either team before that break .. Now the Indians had their back truly pasted to the wall, facing a match pt at 40-30 .. They sent it to deuce .. Then AD in .. Then another AD in .. 3 match pts there .. They hung on and converted their first break chance at AD out .. Blink, and they had served off a love game and gone up to 6-5 .. Novak-Rikl weren't ready to let go, and they did their part too .. Now it was a tiebreaker, which became a classic too .. JN-DR started the tiebreaker, and neither side gave up a minibreak till 8-8 when LP-MB dropped a point on their serve and faced serve on their 5th match pt at 8-9 .. Though they had not taken a point off the other's serve in the previous 13 serves, they did the job right there to even it at 9-9 .. No more minibreaks for the rest of the tiebreaker, till 12-12, when JN-DR gave one and we had a set pt .. LP-MB pounced on it and served off the set pt to send it to a 3rd set .. JN-DR started the set like true champions, holding serve at love - which is always tough after you let something like 8 match pts slip through .. That was only a deceptive show of grit from them, as the Indian Express had had them by then .. Broke them in the 3rd and 5th games, converting the first chance BPs both times and it was 5-1 .. Then it was a canter to the finish line ..  Boy, what a match!  It took almost exactly two hours .. So our guys have won their third three-setter in a row, and I am still breathless!

Sonal lost a three-setter in rebecq to Elke Clijsters .. That and doubles news about Mustafa, Manoj, Sai, Rushmi, etc, coming soon ..

Aug 10 Note-1

LP-MB play the QF today at the $2.95M Cincinnati Masters against the 4th seeds Jiri Novak and David Rikl at 12 noon (9.30 pm India .. 5 pm London) .. JN-DR is on a roll, having won the Montreal masters just the last week, and will be another tough match for LP-MB .. The Indian Express does have some psychological advantage though, as the last meeting between these two teams (in the 3rd round of the French Open) was a 63 61 cleanup job by our guys .. But this is a new day and a new match .. Let's follow the match ball-by-ball in our chatroom.

Aug 9 Note-2

This match became quite tense in the second set, and our guys had to pull out all the tricks I guess, but after a 2 hour 10 min fight at the Cincinnati Masters, the Indian Express made the quarterfinals, solving the Alex O'Brien conundrum this time - [R2] M.Bhupathi/ L/Paes d. J.Gimselstob/ A.O'Brien, 64 36 63 .. Our pair started well, breaking the other guys in the 3rd game at 15-40 .. Then both teams faced some deuces in the next couple of games, but they both held .. From then on it went with serve to the end of the set with neither team facing much trouble, except for JG-AO falling to 0-30 at 3-5 .. The second set also started with no trouble for either team in the first three service games .. In the 4th game, our guys quickly faced break points and were broken in the second one .. Then in game 6, the Indian Express faced 2 more break points and held on .. It has now become a tight match .. Our guys had an AD out break chance in the 7th game, but JG-AO held after 4 deuces .. In the 9th game, our guys again fought hard, taking the American pair to deuce after they served at a set pt .. They managed to even it up at one set apiece .. In the 3rd, there were a whole bunch of close games, but not too many break chances .. Our guys wasted on early in the set, but did not let go off the chance in the 8th game at the right time to go up 5-3 .. LP-MB served it off, and now await the winners of the match between the 3rd seeds Novak-Rikl and B.Black/ M.Hill .. The key stat was that our guys converted 2 of the 4 break chances, while giving away only one break in 6 chances to the other guys .. 100 points won by LP-MB, and 95 by JG-AO, which shows how close the match was.

Manoj Mahadevan and Marcio Torres, who had qualified in to the doubles draw, pulled off a nice comeback win over the wildcard pair, John Paul Frettero and Nathan Price at the USA F21 futures in Godfrey (Illinois) yesterday, 36 75 64 .. In the QF, they face Lee Radovanovich and Daniel Willman, who upset the top seeds Bohaboy and Root in the first round.

Sania went down in a tough fight, 46 62 46 to Taryn Routman of RSA in the second round at the grade-2 ITF junior event in Durban today .. She was down two breaks at 1-4 in the 3rd, fought back to make it 4-5 but fell .. It seems that Sasha was ill in her first round match yesterday that caused her to be upset 36 16 - she had requested for playing a day late due to illness, but that also did not help .. At 3-3 in the first she felt very week and the match was over from there on [source: Agency report at Rediff.com] .. Sania and Sasha are the top seeds in doubles with a bye to the QF .. I think Sania may be needing some rest too, after all the play in the last two weeks at Egypt .. If you are in the finals in successive weeks, it is a good thing to get some rest the next week - she is only a 14 yr old, you know! .. I hope they skip the doubles and take rest to get ready for the bigger event next week - that is a grade-1 ..

Awaiting news from Lebecq (Belgium) on Sonal - she was to play a tough one in the second round - Elke Clijsters.

Aug 9 Note-1

LP-MB play their second round match bright and early today at the $2.9M Cincinnati Masters .. At 11 am, against Justin Gimelstob and Alex O'Brien .. Come to the chatroom for score updates.

Here is the Kalamazoo Gazette writing on the "epic" win by Prakash over Rajeev yesterday at the US Nationals 18s - "Rajeev Ram, the top seed in Boys' 18s from Carmel, Ind., won't be winning back-to-back titles after cruising through the 16s last year. No. 9 Prakash Amritraj of Encino, Calif., was the first player in two years to win a set off Ram (at Kalamazoo), then went on to the 7-6 (2), 6-2 upset ... "He came up with good shots at the right time," Ram said. "He made all his passes and got a lot of mine." ... While Ram and Amritraj usually hang out together at tournaments and are good friends, it's the first time they've played against each other ... "He's real good and has a big shot when you don't expect it," Amritraj said. "I got lucky and played a pretty good tiebreak. Rajeev has such a big serve, I had trouble at first. Once I got used to it, the ball looked huge." ... The heat and humidity were brutal on the court ... "It was so hot you could cook eggs on the court," Amritraj said. "If we had gone to a third set, I was going to change my socks. I felt like I was walking in water."

Rajeev, who is a tall big guy at 6-4, has drawn a lot of comparison to Pete Sampras, due to his big serve and perhaps because of his smooth one-handed backhand .. He is among only a couple of top prospects in the US who play one-handed backhand these days .. Rajeev and Prakash are among only 3 or 4 players among the top-15 in the 16s and 18s in the US who list grass as their favorite surface, as I look at the USTA info on them .. Interesting how our grass tradition carries on into even the Indian-Americans, somehow ..  My question - has anybody found out if Rajeev has any interest in playing for his ancestral country .. Can we pull a Rusedski ? .. Give the guy a couple of wildcards for the Indian futures anyway, I say .. Prakash has already stated that India is in his plans, and I am pretty sure we will see him play for us if he turns out to be as good as expected in the pros.  Rajeev on the other hand is much more in the USTA plans, probably.

Aug 8 Note-3

One more result from the Rebecq (Belgium) satellite .. Jyotsna Vasisht lost 16 16 to the 5th seed Sylvia Hegedus (YUG) ..  At the Grade-2 junior ITF event in South Africa, the 7th seeded Sasha Abraham was upset today, 63 61 by Lizaan du Plessis of RSA - Sasha's bad streak this year continues .. Sania Mirza plays her PQF match tomorrow .. Nishank Mishra is not there for this week's event, but I believe he will be at the Grade-1 event next week in RSA.

Just had a long chat with Harsh Mankad - he was quite dejected in not doing better in the four weeks of US futures where he picked up only one ATP point, after 13 points in three weeks in Canada .. More so because he felt that he could have beaten the guys he played, playing a few three-setters, etc [except today's match against the collegiate top player Matias Boeker - he said he simply could not handle the guy's passing accuracy and the heavy groundies] .. The good thing was that Harsh seemed to have a pretty clear idea of exactly what all he needed to work on .. Didn't catch all the details he was saying, but basically he just has to play on clay or slow hardcourts and hit a lot with someone who is good, to improve the weight in his groundies and to handle the stuff from the strong grinders .. This is something he has not been able to do much at Minnesota, their courts being indoors and relatively fast with a flat response .. He has now pretty much decided to go down to Mexico after two weeks, and play on clay, if everything works fine with respect to academic units for the fall semester (there are some academic requirements needed to keep the collegiate player status; generally one can take a semester off and still manage; he has a pretty high GPA in the economics program there, and that helps) .. He should be playing at the Mexican $10K futures circuit in Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, starting on Aug 27th - I believe only the first week is on clay .. He will get back to North Carolina by the end of the week before the Davis Cup .. If all goes according to plan, he will be playing in India for three weeks in October after the Davis Cup too.

The big Adidas u14/u18 junior national AITA ranking tournament is going on at the Krishnan Tennis Center in Chennai .. Vinod Sewa is the top seed in the boys 18s draw, which surprised me - I thought it was time for him to move to the senior events .. Rohan Gajjar is the second seed - both are in the QFs .. Only one big upset to report so far (at least on paper) - the top seed in the girls 18s, Lata Assudani was ousted by Geeta Monohar .. Not too surprising, as Geeta is a talented player .. I am compiling some results, but the newspaper reports have been very patchy - I may have a page for the tournament results by later this week.

There was an important match today at the USTA Super Nationals 18s draw at Kalamazzo, Michigan, probably the most prestigious national junior ranking tournament in the US .. Top seeded Rajeev Ram faced the 9th seed Prakash Amritraj .. Prakash pulled off the upset over Rajeev who is a year younger, 76(2) 62 .. This is perhaps one of the best results in Prakash's junior career .. Despite being ranked below Prakash in the ITF world junior rankings due to having played much fewer ITF events, Rajeev has had better US national results, as shown by his under-18 ranking as the national #1 in the USA .. Rajeev has also had wins over those like Ytai Abouzgir, the highest ranked US player in the ITF world list, who was ranked as high as #2 .. Prakash has not had too many wins in the top-50 ranges of ITF junior rankings, and Rajeev is (in my view) the best quality player that Prakash has beaten .. Good job by Junior Amritraj .. Rajeev on the other hand has had a slightly disappointing summer when he played a few pro events at the satellite level and in the challenger and higher events' qualies, with USTA wildcards .. He did qualify into one of the US futures, and generally looked good in his losses too, but no fireworks from him this summer .. Prakash will be done with junior events soon and it seems he is pretty well set on playing college tennis at Univ of Southern California, and may play a few pro events if possible, as was reported earlier in the Indian press ..

The top seed in the 16s draw at Kalamazoo also went down today -- Sukhwa Young was upset by the 10th seed, Pramod Dabir in three sets .. I don't know anything about this kid Pramod (I think he's an Indian-American), except that he is from Saratoga in the bay area of California ..

Aug 8 Note-2

Our players have been completely incapable of beating any foreign player in a main draw over the last few days (most losses coming to lower ranked players, that too) .. Anyway, finally a win to report .. 7th seeded Sonal Phadke beat Nina Nittinger (GER), 63 64 today in the R1 at the $10K Rebecq satellite in Belgium .. Go Sonal.

Bad news today from the USA F21, as both Harsh Mankad and Vikrant Chadha went down .. Harsh Mankad lost to the top collegiate tennis player, Matias Boeker of Argentina, 16 36 in the first round, and Vikrant lost to qualifier Huntley Montgomery (USA), 26 62 63 .. I am sad to see that Harsh's great start in Canada (a title in the first week he came out for pro events after a year) did not lead to much good results in the US futures .. True that he kept running into some tough players, but I had hoped that he would go over the hump and pull an upset win somewhere .. He came close a couple of times but no breakthrough wins .. Oh well .. His last two matches were not that good though - perhaps suffering from a bit of disappointment and confidence problems .. Will talk to him and see .. Back to the drawing board for Harsh, I guess .. He will be taking a week or two off to decide whether to play more in the fall season or to go back to college .. At the UK futures, Mustafa went down 26 26 to Luke Bourgeois (AUS), who is also one ranked below him .. By my count there has been something like 10 or 12 upsets over the Indian players by foreigners abroad in the last couple of weeks .. Yikes .. We keep waiting for it to get better, and it keeps getting only worse and worse .. Despite the positive and encouraging tone I normally write in, I have to say that things are indeed quite bleak, still .. Somebody or other needs to show up and do something .. Harsh did it for a week or two this summer  - that and Manisha's good work in doubles is about all we have had as good news.

And, 6th seed Rushmi Chakravarti was upset by qualifier Chin-Wei Chan 26 62 57 in the R2 today in the $10K Nonthaburi satellite in Thailand ..

It's been a bad bad few weeks .. Need LP-MB to do something for our spirits to go up.

Aug 8 Note-1

a The Hindu has a bunch of scores today on our women abroad - that makes my job easier .. Sheetal Gautham went down to qualifier Donna McIntyre in Thailand, 26 06 .. This was Sheetal's first pro match abroad, and so I had expected her to take some time to adjust .. In the $10K satellite qualies in Rebecq, Belgium, the 8th seeded Karishma Patel, and the 15th seeded Jahnavi Sondararajan went down in the first round of qualies .. Sonal Phadke is seeded 7th in the main draw and faces Nina Nittinger of Germany in R1 .. Jyotsna Vasisht faces #5 seed Silvia Hegedis (YUG) .. In doubles, Sonal and Karishma are the fourth seeds and they play Martina D'Ettore of Italy and Jahnavi Sunderarajan .. Jyotsna and Tania Miro Garcia (ESP) play  Laura Bolet and Anna Font Estrada of Spain .. Somebody has to beat a foreign player ranked above them for a change .. By my count, in all the matches played so far abroad this summer, none of our girls (except Jahnavi Parekh in the US) has done that .. Hopefully it will get better soon, but this has been rather disappointing, to say the least .. But, hang in there, girls!

At the $15K USA F21 futures, Harsh Mankad and Vikrant Chadha once again went down in a tough three-setter to 4th seeded Chris Magyary and Peter Luczak, who beat them in the semis two weeks back .. This time the score was 67 76 46, I think .. Manoj Mahadevan went down 16 57 to Andres Pedroso yesterday .. I will confirm the scores later .. Harsh and Vikrant play their first round singles matches today.

Aug 7 Note-3

I am not sure what the heck the Indian Express were up to in the first set, but they woke up right after and took out the Jensen brothers in style today, to put a break to a three-match losing streak .. [R1] M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. (wc) L.Jensen/ M.Jensen, 67(3) 60 61 .. I could not follow the match, and so have no details on it .. Looks like they were cruising in good form after a bad start ..  They better keep the form into their second round match on thursday - that will not be an easy one, against Justin Gimelstob and Alex O'Brien .. They have a bunch of scores to settle with Alex, actually.

Megha Vakharia gave a big scare to the 6th seed Rushmi Chakravarti today but Rushmi held on, 67(7) 76(6) 64 in the first round at the $10K satellite in Nonthaburi, Thailand .. The bad news was that Sai's bad streak continued, as she was upset by Remi Tezuka of Japan, 63 67(6) 61 .. Sai was the 3rd seed .. Liza Pereira went down to the 7th seed Jin-Hee Kim of Korea, 16 57 .. [source: Bangkok Post]  .. Sheetal was drawn to play qualifier Donna McIntyre (AUS), but no news on that match yet ..

Aug 7 Note-2

LP-MB play the featured center court doubles match late at night at about 9 pm (6.30 am Wednesday India .. 6 pm Los Angeles) at the Cincinnati masters today .. We will have live scores in our chatroom, as usual, courtesy the tournament website.

Sania Mirza won the first round at the grade-2 ITF junior event in Durban, South Africa .. She beat Hayley St Leger of RSA easily, 61 62 .. Sasha is playing tomorrow (wednesday) ..

Still no news from Thailand about the Indians in the women's $10 satellite.

Aug 7 Note-1

LP-MB play the Jensen brothers this evening at Cincinnati .. The Jensens are the traveling freak show, of course, who no longer seem to play top-notch doubles like they used to a few years back when they were among the top-5 teams .. They probably still do all the clowning around that they are popular for, before and after the match ..  ..  If you haven't heard, Boris Becker (not that I really care for the guy, but that's an old story) makes a brief return to pro tennis, playing some doubles with Ivanisevic today afternoon .. They play the top seeds Bjorkman-Woodbridge, who have looked much more mortal lately than they did in the first 4 months of the year .. The Bryan twins upset the 3rd seeds Nestor-Stolle in a comeback after dropping the first set and facing a second set tiebreeaker, 26 76(7) 62, yesterday .. The Bryans have been really cooking lately, though they did not have a great week at Montral last week .. They had won the title the previous week at Los Angeles and had something like a 17-2 swin streak going .. LP-MB may get their toughest doubles matchup yet in Davis Cup next month if USA shows the guts to pick them for just doubles ..

Also, Andy Roddick hurt his ankle again today in his loss at Cincinnati in his loss to Kuerten, but it does not seem to be a serious injury .. By the way, calling Andy Roddick "A-Rod" (or not telling the press to stop dong that) was an idiotic move by ATP .. The original "A-Rod" is of course the baseball short stop par-excellence, Alex Rodriguez, now of the Texas Rangers .. Just like the totally inappropriate "Pistol Pete" to describe Sampras - shamelessly lifted from the nickname of the great basketball shooter "Pistol Pete Maravich" -- you know, you "shoot" in basketball, not in tennis! - Pistol means nothing in connection with tennis .. It has been a game that is happy to be an also-ran, with no originality coming from the tennis circles  - at least in the US .. Sad.

Some good news from the USA F21 futures at Godfrey, Illinois .. Vikrant Chadha qualified in, beating Tiago Ruffoni of Brazil 7-5 in the 3rd set, in the 4th qualifying round! .. I don't know whom he beat in the 3rd round .. Harsh Mankad is drawn to face Matias Boeker (ARG) in the main draw first round - Matias is the double crown US collegiate tennis champion this year .. Will be another tough match for Harsh .. But that's good; there's no way to get better without playing good players - and Harsh has got his share of them this summer .. He and Vikrant are playing doubles together and are drawn to face Chris Magyary and Peter Luczak, the same team they lost to in a 3rd set tiebreaker last week .. Vikrant has probably recovered from an injury he had last week though .. It's never easy to qualify in from the 100+ field of players in the US futures qualies .. By my count, Vikrant is qualifying in for about the 3rd time in the North American circuit (I remember him doing that once or twice a couple oif years back too) - frankly, despite not having picked up many points (he seems to have hardly played much in "easier" futures circuits and has had a lot of injury problems often), Vikrant has won more tough matches than many other Indians who have been ranked above him - I have some good respect for the guy .. He plays Huntley Montgomery (USA) in the first round .. Manoj Mahadevan plays Andres Pedroso (USA) .. Need to wait for USTA to publish the weekend scores and main draw tomorrow to know more details from there.

Like I guessed, #836 Mustafa Ghouse went to the UK F6 futures this week in Bath, Britain .. He faces #890 Luke Bourgeois of Australia in the first round .. The doubles draw is not published by LTA yet.

Sania Mirza, Sasha Abraham and Nishank Mishra are listed on the original entry list for for the grade-2 ITF junior event in South Africa this week .. Main draw starts today.

Aug 6 Notes

The Indian Express are at the Cincinnati Masters.  They are seeded 6th and face the wildcards Luke and Murphy Jensen in the first round .. They are drawn un the upper half with top seeds Bjorkman/ Woodbridge, in the same quarter of the draw as 3rd seeds Novak/ Rikl, who were the winners yesterday at the Montreal masters ..

I believe Niru is off this week as well .. Need to find out where Manisha is playing this week .. Her doubles partner Leanne Baker was listed in the qualifying original entry list at the $25K Rimini challenger in Italy, but Manisha had not entered there .. Sonal Phadke was listed as 7th and Jyotsna Vasisht as 12th when the entries closed for the $10K Rebecq satallite in Belgium for this week .. Karishma Patel was in the list for qualies .. News may be tough to get from Belgium, but I will try .. The other Indian women are mostly at the $10K Nonthaburi (Thailand) satellites .. Sai, Rushmi and Sheetal were in the original entry list for the main draw when I saw it a few weeks back, with Megha Vakharia and Liza Pereira also listed for qualies, if I remember correctly.

Harsh and Manoj Mahadevan will be in the main draw of the $15K USA F21 futures .. Draw should be coming out today .. Not sure where Mustafa is, this week  - he may have gone from France to UK for the $15K futures in Bath? ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Aug 6 ..

I am getting some enquiries 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 enquiring 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 enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.