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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Aug 15, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2005)

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Aug 15 Notes

This was a tough weekend at first till Shikha Uberoi (IND,130) came up with a big top-100 upset to qualify into the $1.3M Tier-I  "Rogers Cup" WTA in Toronto last evening .. Shikha, who took a break last week and skipped the Los Angeles WTA because she felt she was getting a bit jaded and needed a break to relax and work on her game, came to Toronto with recharged batteries, it seems .. In the second and final round of qualifying, the 23rd seeded Shikha upset the 11th seed Stephanie Cohen Aloro (FRA,92), 64 16 64 .. Shikha was up 2-0 in the final set before she got broken back at 5-3 after serving at 40-0, losing 5 straight points with some mistakes .. This is where she really came through, holding her nerves .. She immediately broke Stephanie once more to lead 5-4 and serve off the match, surviving a deuce point .. After a couple of tough losses by Mankad the last couple of days where nothing went right for him at match points, I probably could not have taken a match from Shikha also in the same way .. So glad that Shikha came though here .. It is her third top-100 win this year .. She had beaten the curent #41 Akiko Nakamura at the Indian Wells in February and had beaten #59 Jill Craybas three  weeks back at the Stanford WTA qualies .. At the Stanford qualies and then the San Diego qualies, Shikha had come to the final round, but both times fell a bit short against higher seeds; so this comes as a nice relief that she was able to pull off a good upset and make it to the main draw .. In the first round of qualifying on Saturday, Shikha had a very good Q1 win over Carly Gullickson (USA,184), 61 75 .. There again Shikha was down in the second set facing set points at 3-5 40-0 and showed her mental strength by winning 9 of the next 10 points and 18 of the final 23 to force two breaks to take the set at 7-5 .. In the main draw, she faces the 53rd ranked Dally Randirantefy (MAD) today (Monday) at  about 2 pm .. Fabulous work, Shikha!!!! ...

In the middle of all the Sania-mania, I think the Indian fans constantly forget about the great year the Mumbai-born Shikha has had since this time last year when she was ranked somewhere near #300 .. Her ranking two weeks back at #125 is the highest-ever by anybody playing under Indian colors, other than Sania .. That is higher than even Nirupama Sanjeev's career high of #134 (I believe Laxmi Poruri who played for the USA had a #110 in 1996, which is the only other case of an Indian-born being in the top-150) .. Shikha got 16.5 more points for qualifying in at Toronto .. She has picked up a lot of good WTA points recently, in fact - after a few months of relatively slow results .. Even if she does not defend the 75 odd points that came from the incredible run she had as a qualifying wildcard to the main draw second round at the US Open last year, she will still have about 215 points out of her current 290+ and be ranked right inside top-160 for the work over the last 11 months .. That ranking itself is better than the ranking that the trailblazer Nirupama had for most of her nice career as the lone flag-bearer for Indian women's tennis from 1996 through 2001 .. Indeed, we are truly lucky to have two players like Sania and Shikha now.

Also in the qualies at Toronto was younger sister Neha Uberoi (USA,271) who also had a pretty good outing, though she could not get past Jie Zheng (CHN,70) in a 16 61 26 loss in the Q1 .. Neha, who in my view is still working at developing more consistency in her aggressive game and shots, showed in the second set what she is really capable of .. It is not easy to win a set like that against a top-70 player like Zheng who was even ranked just inside the top-50 within the past year .. In fact, Neha won 67 points to 75 by Zheng in the match where some mistakes at some key points in the first and third sets were what did her in .. That is a very nice show by Neha too.

At the $25K+H Samarkand clay challenger in Uzbekistan, wildcard Karan Rastogi (IND,583) plays the 4th seed Andreas Beck (GER,293) at 10 am and Rohan Bopanna (IND,350) plays the 7th seed Giancarlo Petrazzuolo (ITA,367) at 12 noon today .. Not a great draw for either player; it is never too easy to play these Europeans on clay .. In doubles, Rohan and Evgueni Smirnov (RUS) are drawn against Niko Karagiannis and Vassili Mazarakis of Greece in the first round.

Aug 14 Notes

Some sobering news -- Harsh Mankad (IND,256) went down in the second round of the Bronx challenger qualies today  .. I am sure Harsh was still reeling from a tough match he lost on thursday at the Binghamton R2 to Andy Murray (GBR,145) where he had match points at 75 65 and then at 75 66 .. Murray went on to win three more rounds in easy straight sets and take the title there today, by the way [and it was not even funny how easily he beat some really good players there - running into trouble only against Harsh] .. Anyway, Harsh won the Q1 at the Bronx challenger today over a wildcard Ronald Mckenzie (USA) 60 60 and then had all kinds of mental demons affecting him later in the day in a 46 63 67(10) loss in the Q2 to Jonathan Chu (USA), a recent top-20 college player .. Harsh admitted to me that he was unable to trust his own game at times yesterday after the uncharacteristic type of meltdown he had against Murray .. Sometimes a loss like that can linger in your mind and cause havoc even to the best of players out there .. I remember Leander being unable to win a top-100 match for months on end after his loss against Agassi at the US Open in 1996 when he was up a set and a break and then lost 15 of the next 16 games in a meltdown where he lost three sets in a row .. But don't worry; I don't think HM has turned into a basket case or anything like that! .. To the contrary, given a little time, I know that a player like him would use it to improve himself like he has always done .. He said he will just a take a week of break to clear his mind and do some hitting at his coach Happy Bhalla's center in Long Island .. Then he will be there ready for the US Open qualifying next week.

Mahesh and Martin Damm could not get past the 4th seeds Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe in the QF at the Montreal masters, in a 36 67(3) match .. Off to the Cincinnati masters for  MB-MD and LP-NZ ..

At the $10K UK futures in Hampstead, the 7th seed Sanaa Bhambri went down today in the semifinal against the 5th seed Julie Coin (FRA,456), 06 26 yesterday .. Coin had upset the top seed Rushmi in a close 3-setter yesterday and seems to have had Sanaa's number yesterday ..

Aug 13 Note-1

 .. Apologies! Apologies! .. I was uploading the notes to the wrong file (typo in the filename!) for the last three days and did not realize that none of you could get to it to read them! .. Sorry about that.

Mahesh and Martin play the doubles QF today at Montreal .. Harsh is the 6th seed in the Brinx challenger qualies in NY today .. Neha and Shikha are in the qualies for the Toronto Rogers Cup WTA this wekend .. Results later today .. Rohan is in the draw for the challenger at Samarkand, UZB .. Karan Rastogi, who would have ben a 4th seed in the qualies, was given a wildcard to the main draw!! - actually I would have preferred to see him play the qualies to get matches on the clay though ..

Forgot to do a roundup of the men's results from the China satellite and the Indonesia futures ..

$25K China satellite week-2 (Tianjin) results -- [R1] (8) Jaco Mathew (IND,848) d. Ashutosh Singh (IND,1020), 26 63 64 .. [R1] Varun Walia (IND,1306) l. (1) Norikazu Sugiyama (JPN,522) 26 26 .. [R1] Kamala Kannan (IND,869) l. (4) Adam Thompson (NZL,708), 46 44 Ret.Med .. [R1] Divij Sharan (IND,1215) l. (Q) Gabriell Montilla (PUR,1366) 36 36 .. In the second round, JHaco went down to Benoit Bottero (FRA,1038), 57 16 .. Oh boy .. I think some of our players seem totally not ready to face any player from Europe .. It is not a talent issue, as much as it is the mental and physical issues .. Hope it gets better in the next weeks .. In doubles, [R1] (1) J.Mathew/ A.Singh d. (wc) Bin Cui (VHN)/ Wan Gao (CHN), 06 46 .. [R1] K.Kannan/ Patrick Briaud (USA) d. (Q) Mao-Xin Gong (CHN)/ Xiang Li Sr. (CHN) 76(1) 62 .. [R1] V.Walia/ Wei-Guang Yang (CHN) l. (3) N.Sugiyama/ A.Thompson, 46 46 .. [R1] D.Sharan/ David Galic (AUS) l. Zhe Li (CHN)/ Yu Wang Jr. (CHN), 16 06 .. In the doubles QFs, Jaco and Ashutosh went down to Lior Barbash (ISR)/ Ishay Hadash (ISR), 6-7(6) Retired .. Hope there is not serious injury or anything .. Kamala and Patrick are in the doubles finals!! .. [QF] K.Kannan/ Patrick Briaud (USA) d. (4) Xin-Yuan Yu (CHN)/ Yu Zhang (CHN), 3-2 Ret. .. [SF] d. Zhe Li (CHN)/ Yu Wang, Jr. (CHN) 63 26 63 ..

$10K Indonesia F2 (Semarang) results -- Qualifying .. [Q1] (4) Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan (IND,1281) d. Enrico Satria (INA,NR) 62 61 .. [Q2] d. Seno Hartano (INA,NR) 26 64 61 .. [Q3] l. (13) Satoshi Yoshino (JPN,1469), 46 16 .. [Q1] (2) Tushar Liberhan (IND,1141) d. Ganang Surya Atmaja (INA,NR) 60 63 .. [Q2] l. Hoh-Kong So (USA,NR), 26 46 .. So, both the Indians failed to qualify despite being seeded highly .. Oh well .. In the main draw, [R1] Ravishankar Pathanjali (IND,788) d. Sunu-Wahyu Trijati (INA,1054), 76(4) 62 .. [R2] l. (5) Dong-Hyun Kim (KOR), 67(4) 26 .. [R1] Gurmehar Singh (IND,914) l. (Q) Huai-En Chang (TPE,1469), 36 46 .. [R1] Vijay Sundar Prasanth (IND,1141) l. (2) Atsuo Ogawa (JPN,593), 06 36 .. In doubles, Nick Lindahl (AUS)/ Patrick Tierro (PHI) beat V.S.Prashanth and VM Ranjeet, 16 76(4) 61 and wildcards Sebastian da Costa aznd Sandy Purnomo of Indoensia defeated Tushar and Gurmehar 64 62  .. So, nothing much to talk about in singles there either, as only Ravishankar managed to pick up an ATP point .. Hope the boys do not lose heart .. Good results will come soon guys; keep working hard!

Aug 12 Notes

Mahesh and Martin only played a couple of games in their QF match today against the 4th seeds Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett before it was postponed to tomorrow at noon .. If they advance, to the semifinal, they will play the top seeds Bjorkman-Mirnyi in the SF later in the day after 4 pm.

At the $10K Hampstead ITF, only Sanaa reached the SF among the three Indians .. [QF] (5) Julie Coin (FRA,456) d. (1) Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND,371) 67(7) 63 75 .. Again a very very tough match from Rushmi - unfortunate she  lost .. After a long string of relatively poor performances abroad (many affcted by injuries, etc too), Rushmi has had some very good matches in UK .. She is trouper and a determined warrior in her career, and I am sure we are all glad to see her do well .. [QF] (7) Sanaa Bhambri (IND,363) d. (Q) Paula Marama (NZL), 6-0 Ret. .. Eighth seeded Ankita Bhmabri (IND,369) went down to the 3rd seed Ekaterina Kozhokina (RUS,414), 16 46 .. In doubles, the second seeds Rushmi and Svenja Weidemann (GER) went down in a tough semi against the 4th seeded British team, Sarah Coles and Elizabeth Thomas, 64 46 26 .. The top seeded Bhambri sisters are in the finals against Sarah and Elizabeth, after a walkover from the third seeds Anna Hawkins (GBR) and Paula Marama (NZL) ..

Florian Beuchting, back in Germany, has written a touching note about the problems faced by the Indian ladies, in his report today from Hampstead in our forum .. Take a look .. I wish we could find a way to support those like Ankita and Sanaa .. We need to try to do something, but I have never had contacts with the Bhambris, like I have had with many other Indian players ..

Aug 11 Notes

Ooh, a tough, tough, day to be Harsh Mankad today .. He was up ag ainst somebody who many consider to be among the four or five most talented youngsters to emerge in the last year or so - the second seed Andy Murray (GBR,145) - at the $50K Binghampton challenger .. Murray had reached the Wimbledon third round and had also recently won the tough Aptos challenger in the US without even dropping a set, against some really good players like Levy, Rynolds, Rajeev Ram etc .. He is clearly somebody who will be in the top-50 fairly soon, and we expected him to be playing top-100 quality tennis already .. Harsh Mankad had him literally on the ropes for two sets, before he let his own inner demons get to him .. Mankad went up in the 3rd game with a break, but was then broken back in the 8th game .. He went ahead again at the right time by breaking Murray in the 11th game and serving out the first set at 7-5 .. In the second set, Murray was ahead 2-0, but Mankad broke back to get even in the 3rd game .. The problems started after he played some tremendous tennis late in the set to pick up a timely break again in the 11th game .. With Harsh serving for the match at 7-5 6-5, Andy Murray came up with some big returns and a couple of mistakes from Harsh sent it to the tiebreaker .. Now, again Harsh was in full flow, and Murray seemed to be fighting his own problems , complaining about the fluffy balls and all that .. But the British boys is certainly a fighter too .. Mankad went ahead to 5-1 in the tiebreaker before Murray again made a move .. HM still had three match points in that tiebreaker (a couple of them on Murray's serve I believe) .. It turned out to be a tremendous back and forth fight, with Murray prevailing at 12-10 in the tiebreaker .. This is when Harsh really lost himself .. That is unusual for Mankad, who is generally calm and stays strong mentally in such matches .. But the fact that all his work to earn a break late in the second set went tyo naught in the 12 game, and then for a second time, all the work to go ahead in the tiebreaker also went to naught with just a couple of mistales (against a charged up Murray) really got to him .. If I were to imagine, instead of thinking  "heck, I have got ahead three or four times on this guy and has converted my chances earlier too", he perhaps asked the question - "damn, what to I have to do against this guy?" .. Knowing Mankad, I am sure he did not consciously think that way -- but he does have a tendency to get negative and dwell on the technical details of the mistakes he makes .. At this point in his career, Mankad should trust his game which many think is technically very sound .. He should just play his game and not let his own mistakes affect him .. He only does that rarely, but today was one such case .. Anyway, the bottomline is that a golden chance slipped through Mankad's hands today .. It was a tough loss, and for some reason, I have probably not felt as bad about any match since Leander lost to Agassi at the US Open in 1996 after being up a set and a break .. What is important in both cases is that LP and HM in these matches fell apart in uncharacteristic ways - of course in the face of some really good tennis from across the net ..  But hey that is tennis .. You will have days like this ..

For positives, it is yet another example (like the match against Carlsen a few weeks back) of HM taking a top-100 player to the brink .. This is about the 4th three-setter in recent times that he has played against top-125 quality opponents, I believe (he has a couple of wins too) .. In his case, he gets convinced of what he can do only with enough evidence .. I hope he believes now that he is playing top-150 if not top-100 quality tennis .. We all expect him to get there in the next few months, if he keps his determinatiomn .. After talking to him today after the match, I felt that he is ready to now say, "Yeah, enough is enough -- time for me to stop messing around worrying about my game and just do what I am capable of" .. Let us hope that is how it will go.

Harsh goes to Bronx tomorrow to play the qualifying for the challenger there .. He has really been tryingonly the tough tough challengers ..  With a ranking inside top-275 for quite some time now, he could easily go to some of the easier challengers with cuts in the 300s, but he has stuck to his plan .. Right now he would like to stay in the US and try to peak as far as he can, till the US Open qualies is done .. All the best, Harsh!

At the $10K ITF in Hamstead, London, all three Indians have taken their appointed places in the QFs .. Nice wins today -- [R2] (1) Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND,371) d. (Q) Laura Peterzan (GBR,1040) 63 76(9) .. Very good win by Rushmi against Laura who had upset her last week on the way to winning the title! .. Also, [R2] (8) Ankita Bhambri (IND,469) d. (Q) Elizabeth Thomas (GBR,1089) 76(2) 62 and [R2] (7) Sanaa Bhambri (IND,463) d. Bianca Acquistapace (AUS,778) 61 21 Ret.... In doubles, [QF] (1) Ankita/ Sanaa d. Birgit Ritschka (AUT)/ Radhika Tulpule 62 62 .. [QF] (2) Rushmi/ Svenja Weidemann (GER) d. Anna De Bruyn (RSA)/ Branka Savic (AUS), 60 62 .. I believe Radhika and Birgit had a first round walkover, and the other two Indians' teams had byes .. You can find the excellent onsite match reports from Florian here .. Florian, well-known here for his "my passport is German, but my heart is Indian" spirit, is incredible!

Aug 10 Notes

At the big Montreal Masters, the 7th seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Martin Damm won the R2 match against Cyril Suk and Pavel Vizner of CZE, 63 76(4), to reach the QF .. They seem to have got on track in their doubles partnership .. Lander Paes and Nenad Zimonjic, back on court after 6 weeks, found it tough to play their best I suppose - thouigh they played well in the match .. The 5th seeds went down 62 36 67(3) to the never-too-easy Israeli pair, Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram who had beaten the Wimbledon champs Huss and Moodie in a third set tiebreaker yesterday too.  MB-MD await their opponenets for the QF, which will be on Friday.

Nice work at the $10K ITF women's in London by the three Indians in the main draw .. The top seed Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND,371) beat Katherine Baker (GBR,713), 26 62 60, the 7th seed Sanaa Bhambri (IND,463) defeated Melissa Berry (GBR,638), 64 46 61 and the 8th seeded Ankita Bhambri (IND,469) beat Irena Pavlovic (FRA,674) 62 64 .. You can find Florian's onsite fanclub reports on all three matches here .. In doubles, the top seeds Sanaa and Ankita and the second seeds Rushmi and Svenja Weidemann (GER) have first round byes.

Aug 9 Note-2

Sania was not at her best, quite evidently because of the troubling stomach strain, today .. After calling the trainer for some pain spray and taping late in the firt set, she did display her best tennis for abouit a set but then was found unable to build enough of a cushion with breaks to stay ahead .. She sometimes needs that becaus of the low percentage shots she plays which sometimes ends up in errors, especially while injury hampers her a bit .. So, it was a 36 61 46 loss for Sania against #51 Iveta Benesova .. You can find my onsite fanclub correspondent report here .. I was actually not too disappointed be cause I had a chance to see at least for a pasrt of the match what makes Sania so good .. A legitimate top-50 player, Iveta, simply had no answers to Sania when she was playing he "A" game in the second set .. She needs to get healthy though .. She has withdrawn from next week's Toronto WTA, and will take a two weeks break before playing a smaller Tier-V event at Forest Hills (with a 4-round draw and hopefully a late start) week after next, just to get some match practice before the US Open .. Sania can really use a two-week break right now.

Some good news though - our men's #1, Harsh Mankad (IND,263) picked up an impressive 62 63 win over Marcus Sarstrand (SWE,277) at the $50K Binghamton challenger in upstate New York .. Sarstrand has been ranked as high as #240 this year, and the scoreline suggests that Harsh played very well today .. In the second round, Harsh runs into one of the most talented upcoming youngsters on the tour - the second seed Andy Murray (GBR,145) .. In doubles today, Harsh and Mustafa gave it a very good ride over the tough top seeds, Huntley Mongomery (USA,101) and Tripp Phillips (USA,102), probably among the highest ranked players you would ever find in a $50K challenger doubles draw. It was a 67(7) 64 57 loss - but quite a good match for Harsh and Mustafa, ranked 275 and 190 .. HM gets the day off tomorrow and plays the R2 on thursday.

Aug 9 Note-1

Sania's match at LA is scheduled for about 1 pm (9 pm London .. 1.30 am WED India) .. There is no online score updates from the tournament but I will be there and will be stransmitting score updates to Varma who will do the updates at the forum thread on the tournament (scroll forward a page or two if needed) .. You can meet in the chat room to cheer her on too.

Harsh Mankad plays by about 2 pm at the Binghamton challenger, first round ..

At the $10K London women's ITF, Radhika Tulpule went down in a the second round of qualies today, 16 16 to the top seed Julie Coin (FRA,455), after a gritty win yesterday in the Q1 against Birgit Ritschka (AUT,1081), 26 64 63 .. You can find the great match reports from our onsite fanclub member, the great Florian Beuchting, in the forum - on the Q1 match  and the Q2 match .. Though she lost today, it was nice to see 23 year old Radhikha Tulpule back on court .. She is talented and can hopefully come up the ranks again .. Florian will be covering the matches with Rushmi, Sanaa and Ankita also - the main draw matches were postponed to wednesday there.

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)

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Aug 08 ..

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