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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Aug 16, 2004
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2004)

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Aug 16 Note-1

All set for the first match at Athens where the Express Indian Quest for Gold begins in just another three hours as I type this .. [R1] (5) M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes (IND) vs A.Roddick/ M.Fish (USA) .. It is scheduled as the second match on court 4 where the actions starts at 10 am .. So our boys' match is expected at around noon (5 am New York,
10 am London, 2.30 pm India) +/- 30 min .. Come to our chatroom for score updates  .. We will have a running commentary by the "Red_Indian" in the chatroom, provided the TV is covering it from that court (which is not very sure), but the score updates should be there in any event .. 

Aug 15 Notes

LP-MB vs Roddick-Fish will be tomorrow at Athens .. Allegro-Federer easily beat Fyrstenberg-Matkowsky and await the winner of our guys' match ..

Harsh Mankad had a pretty good match yesterday, but fell in the end, 74 26 46 to the 8th seed Takao Suzuki (JPN,195) in the Q1 of the $475K Legg-Mason ATP in Washington DC, USA .. There is a nice onsite fanclub member match report report by Arun in our forum .. Looks like the match was close except for the first part of the second set when HM became a bit error-prone .. Yet another tough match by Harsh, as he ran his record to 2-3 in his last five top-200 matches, all of them being close matches - the two losses against Mamiit and Suzuki coming down to just a few close points .. Pretty good indication that he himself is playing close to top-200 tennis now .. Harsh will proceed to the Long Island ATP qualies next weekend .. These are really not the easiest of the ATP qualies out there .. But it is good for him to play them, as he tests himself against the better players - he has a coach (Mohith Vijaykumar) with him for a couple of weeks to work closely with him for a short time now ..

The inevitable title for Sania Mirza, her 10th in the ITF $10K circuit, came today at the Hamstead (UK) event with a 46 61 60 win over Jaslyn Hewitt (AUS) .. She still has that occasional bad set, but seems to be able to raise her game up by several notches in a hurry .. Sania picked up 8 more points this week to add to 9 last week .. That raises her point total to 66.75 and the rank to inside #330 .. She has had an unusual type of $10K career, having played a bunch in late 2002 and then taking a break for school exams and juniors last year .. By the time all those points were falling off, she restarted late last year on the $10K circuit, but this time with much higher quality fields, taking titles in the USA, Italy, and UK .. She is now in a comfortable position as far as the ranking is concerned and can focus on the challenger level where she would now make quite a few of the main draws or would at least get seeded high for the qualies .. Up next is a week of break before the Delhi $25K starting on Aug 23rd.

At the second leg of the Pakistan $25K satellites in Lahore (grass courts), the qualifying rounds are done - Vikas Punna, Wrik Ganguly, Jeevan N., Gurmehar Singh, Siddharth Gulati, Varun Walia, Mutib-Ur-Rehman Pasha (PAK) Atsufumi Yoshikawa (JPN) and Yasir Bouyahya (MAR) made the main draw .. Last week's qualifiers, Vivek Shokken and Cheong-Eui Kim (KOR), got Special Exempt entries into the second leg main draw due to their SF run .. Young Vivek Shokeen is not too lucky though -- he is drawn in the first round against the top seed Aqeel Khan who had ended the youngster's run yesterday .. 3rd seed Vijay Kannan, 6th seed Vishal Punna, 8th seed Kamala Kannan, Jacco Mathew, Ashutosh Singh and Rahil Syed are the direct entries to the main draw.

Aug 14 Notes

The Sunday tennis schedule is out at Athens .. LP-MB are playing only on Monday .. Roddick and Fish are both playing the singles R1 on Sunday ..

Harsh Mankad is at the qualies for the $475K Legg-Mason ATP in Washington, DC .. He has a tough match against the 8th seed Takao Suzuki (JPN,195) this morning though .. Hope he can pull an upset in the first ATP event qualies he is trying abroad .. Suzuki won a challenger three weeks back in Brazil and raised his rank from near 250 to inside 200 again (he was near #100 a few years back, as you wouold remember) .. So, it will be a tough one for Harsh against the very experienced Japanese.

Not a bad draw for Sunil Kumar for the $25K+H at Samarkand (clay) challenger in Uzbekistan starting on Monday .. He plays Francisco Piccari (ITA,364) in the first round .. Piccari has been relatively hot lately, having raised his rank from below 500, by over 150 spots in some 5-6 weeks of nice results in the Italian futures circuit in the last two months .. Piccari has not done too well in the first couple of challengers he has played recently .. Will not be easy for Sunil, but it is so nice to see him get such good expeirence playing good players on this circuit - this will be his 4th week in a 5 week series ..

There was never much doubt about the news from UK today .. Sania Mirza reached yet another final and stretcher her win streak to 14 matches in the last three $10 events she has played - all in Europe; Campobasso (ITA), Wrexham (UK) and Hampstead (UK) .. She beat the 8th seed Hannah Collin (GBR,458), 62 63 today to make the final .. Sania and Rushmi had reached the doubles final yesterday with a 64 75 win over the Russians, Irina Boulikina (RUS)/ Alexandra Kulikova (RUS) .. The top seeds meet the 3rd seeds Anna Hawkins (GBR) and Nicole rencken (RSA) in the final ..

By the way, Sania just picked up 6 more points this week to add to 9 she had from last week .. That adds to her 49.75 points before that .. Enough to move her from #376 to just about #330 .. Also, 17 year old Sania has now become the #1 Indian woman tennis player (that is, after this week's points go into her list by Aug 23rd) .. No big deal, as many probably thought for a while that she was already the #1 .. If I am not mistaken, this is the first time that she would be the #1, as Isha and Rushmi have alternatively been ahead of her the past year or so .. )By the way, when will we hear something from the extremely talented Isha Lakhani again? .. After she got injured in January, no news at all .. Can somebody tell us what is up???)

Fourth seeded Vishal Uppal fell to the 8th seed Brad Weston (AUS,623), 46 26, at the $10K in Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA .. Mustafa Ghouse and  Nicolas Tourte (FRA) lost the doubles semis at the $15K in Hamstead to Richard Bloomfield and Ken Skupski of GBR, 57 26 .. That fiinishes the week for them both.

The fabulous five-upset run of the young qualifier Vivek Shokeen ended against the top seed Aqeel Khan in the semi of the first leg of the $25K Pakistan satellites .. 36 26 .. So great to see the run from Vivek .. He is ranked 8th in the domestic u-18 junior ranking (though he was just 16 till two weeks back) .. He seems to be on his way to crerating some news .. Hope the boy continues his nice show .. The next two weeks of the circuit are on grass courts at Lahore ..

Aug 13 Notes

Well, here is a picture from the draw ceremony .. It is like Roddick is saying "Oh crap, play those two guys in the first round itself? .. May as well take an aspirin .."

Roddick at the Athens Draw (courtesy: itftennis.com)

I had to post that one here just for fun! ... Go Indian Express .. Give Andy some more headaches! ..

In other news, Sunil Kumar Sipaeya made it into the main draw at the Samarkand challenger in Uzbekistan today! .. The qualies sign-in closes in a few hours today, but he can now get a couple more days of rest .. Cool!

Sania Mirza is still in fine form .. She had no problems in beating the British qualifier Holly Bagshaw today, 62 61, to reach the semifinal and extend her win streak to  8 matches .. The semifinal will be against the 8th seed Hannah Collin (GBR,458) tomorrow ..

Aug 12 Note-2

Sania keeps on rolling in UK .. At the $10K in Hampstead, London, she reached the QF with a good revenge win over 18 yr old Katie O'Brien (GBR,494), 64 61 today .. Actually an identical score as what Katie had in her win over Sania in June 2003 at the Roehampton grade-1 juniors, the only other time they have played .. Sania plays qualifier Holly Bagshaw (GBR,714) tomorrow .. Rushmi Chakravarthi can still not seem to get anything much going, as she lost to Rebecca Llewellyn (GBR,719), 67(2) 46 .. Rushmi and Sania reached the douibles SF with a 63 62 win over Katharine Baker and Laura Peterzan of GBR .. They had earlier beaten Lara Giltinan (AUS) and Megan Moulton-Levy (USA), 62 75 in the first round .. In the SF, it will be Irina Boulikina (RUS) and Alexandra Kulikova (RUS) ..

Mustafa Ghouse is also in the doubles semi at the $15K in Hampstead .. Had a first round bye, and today he and Nicolas Tourte (FRA) beat the British pair, Guy Thomas and Nathan Rooney, 26 64 61 .. In the SF, they plays another UK pair, Richard Bloomfield and Ken Skupski.

At the $10K USA F23 futures in Kenosha (Wisconsin),  the 4th seed Vishal Uppal reached the QF with an easy 64 63 win over unranked wildcard Paul Rose (USA) .. Up next is the 8th seed Brad Weston (AUS,623) .. Vishal and Matt Hanlin gave a QF walkover in doubles though - no idea what's up.

There was some serious news from the Pakistan satellites today as qualifier Vivek Shokeen, who turned 17 only a couple of weeks back, pulled off a major upset in a three hour comeback match against the 3rd seed Tomasso Sanna (ITA,734), 46 76(3) 63, in the first leg on clay at Islamabad .. To say that Vivek's run was unexpected is an understatement .. Vivek is ranked just inside 300 in the juniors (but to be fair, he may have been injured early this year during the subcontinental circuit, and has not had a chance to show much in the juniors yet) .. Could this be the emergence of another good one we should watch out for? .. I certainly hope so .. What impressed me most was that this was his 5th match including the qualies, and he still had enough in him to go for over three hours against the 3rd seed .. According to the Daily Times of Pakistan, Vivek won the 3rd set "easily over his exhausted rival" !! .. That is some tremendous job by the kid .. He gets the day off tomorrow, as they will do two QF matches only on Friday - he may run into the top seed Aqeel Khan next though .. Syed Rahil who was the other Indian in the QFs could not do much today in a 36 16 loss to Cheong-Eui Kim of Korea.

Aug 12 Note-1

The draw came out for our dudes this afternoon in Athens.  Here is the draw for the first three rounds till the SF ..

(5) M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes (IND) vs Andy Roddick/ Mardy Fish (USA)
Roger Federer/ Yves Allegro (SUI) vs Mariusz Fyrstenberg/ Marcin Matkowsky (POL)
Carlos Moya/ Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs Andre Sa/ Flavio Saretta (BRA)
(4) Wayne Black/ Kevin Ullyett (ZIM) vs Arnaud Clement/ Sebastien Grosjean (FRA)

They are in the bottom half of the draw with #2 Woodbridge-Arthurs and #8 Erlich-Ram in the other quarter .. Basically my eyes popped out when I saw that draw .. It is like EVERY tough non-traditional singles pair is bunched together in our guys' quarter .. In their old days, our guys never ever had any problems with the big singles guys, having beaten the Beckers and Samprases and Agassis and everybody else out there routinely .. They have not had any preparation playing these teams recently, that's all .. It is fair to say that their prep tour in Toronto and Cincinnati has not helped in playing the non-traditional teams .. But that would have been the case even if they played a few more events before Athens though, because I did not see any of these kinds of teams playing much; In fact, all of these singles guys are pretty much going in there cold for doubles ..  Again, the Indian Express knew once how to eat up such teams and spit them out, right from their earliest days in doubles .. They would have to remind themselves how they used to do it and play from memory .. I am sure they can .. On the other hand, all this brings in another monkey wrench of uncertainty .. Anything can happen, and our boys will need to focus on every point and fight for the first three matches .. Then count a Gold in! :-)

The crowd will be a factor in the first match -- the American supporters will be there because of Roddick's name, but then the rest of the world is surely going to be against the USA much more than they have ever been at an Olympics, so it evens out .. Fish and Roddick have not played together since Oct of 2003 .. Before that they had some decent success in a few occasional events, but they lost to all the good doubles pairs, like Knowles-Nestor, Damm-Suk, Cermak-Friedl, etc .. Roddick has had some success aginst our guys - He and Goldstein lost to LP-MB in 2001, but he pulled off a close win on LP-MB in 2002 at Memphis which started a three-game losing streak for our guys ending in their last split .. Shortly after he had a doubles win on grass over Leander and Huss .. Fish has had some good success with Blake this year, winning the Houston title, and later had a good two-tiebreaker win with Pavel on grass at Halle over Bjorkman-Woodbridge this june ..  Fish is 0-5 in the company of various partners, to LP and MB .. Two losses to Bhupathi-Mirnyi, one to Bhupathi-Lareau, one to Cibulec-Paes, and one to Bhupathi-Paes (LP-MB won 57 75 64 at Houston in 2001 when he played with O'Brien) .. LP-MB should be able to pull off the first round win withour too much problem if all goes well.

In other news, at the $10K in Hampstead, London, Sania Mirza advanced to the second round yesterday with a 61 75 win over Dubravca Cupac (ASUS,535) who had the misfortune of playing sania in back-to-back weeks (she had lost 06 06 last week) .. This time Sania did allow a 5 game streak to Cupac in the second set before slamming the door shut .. The 3rd seed Rishmi advanced with a 63 63 win over the  British qualifier Claire Peterzan (GBR,837) .. Shruti Dhawan fell to qualifier Rebecca LLewellyn (GBR,719), 16 26 .. Ruishmi plays Rebecca next and Sania plays Katie O'Brien (GBR,733) .. Katie, a 18 year old, has a win over sania in the past, 64 61 at the Roehampton grade-1 on grass in June 2003 - she is a good player ..

At the $15K being held also at the same club in Hampstead, Lucky loser Mustafa Ghouse (IND,530), who looked good in singles this week after a long period of futility, played another good match though he lost yesterday --  63 67(5) 36 to Richhard Bloomfield (GBR,522) ..

In the Pakistan satellites first leg, Vijay Kannan also fell yesterday, as our contingent has done pretty much a listless job so far on the first week on clay in Islamabad .. Would get better on the grass the next two weeks for Vishal Punna, Vijay Kannan and Kamala Kannan, I hope .. Here is the forum thread with the draws and scores ..

Aug 11 Notes

Update -- Here are the doubles seedings announced today at Athens!
1. Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA)
2. Wayne Arthurs/Todd Woodbridge (AUS)
3. Michael Llodra/Fabrice Santoro (FRA)
4. Wayne Black/Kevin Ullyett (ZIM)
5. Mahesh Bhupathi/Leander Paes (IND)
6. Gaston Etlis/Martin Rodriguez (ARG)
7. Martin Damm/Cyril Suk (CZE)
8. Jonathan Erlich/Andy Ram (ISR)
Well, they should have just said that they would strictly follow the ATP doubles ranks! .. Their published rules had left that all vague .. Could have saved me some time trying to project the seedings and all that! ..

One correction -- The draw is to be done tomorrow (thursday) at Athens .. Not today ..

Aug 10 Notes

The seedings and the draws for the Olympics tennis will be done tomorrow (wednesday) at Athens in the presence of ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti .. Leander and Mahesh reached Athens today .. All set for the conquest!

In other news, Sunil Kumar put up a good fight against a good player on clay at the St.Petersburg challenger .. After qualifying in with some good wins, Sunil went down in a 57 36 match to Michael Lammer (SUI,314) .. In doubles Sunil and Norikazu Sigiyama fell to the top seed Georgini and Vahnozzi, 46 46 .. He did pick up three more ATP points, enough to raise his ranking inside the top-375 next week .. More importantly, he has looked comfortable on the clay courts at the challenger level, which is good, because if you are willing to play on clay, a few more opportunities are there to plan for chaaper travel to some challenger circuits .. He now goes for one more clay challenger, at Samarkand in Uzbekistan .. He is 6th out from the main draw, and I hope he will make it in by the end ..

In other news, Mustafa Ghouse, who had fallen in the final qualies yesterday to Richard Wire (GBR) in a 36 46 match at the $15K futures in Hamstead, London, got lucky and made the draw as a lucky loser .. He then proceeded to reach the second round too, today! .. M.Ghouse d. (wc) Mathew Smith (GBR,694) 64 62 .. he now faces Richard Bloomfield (GBR,522) in the second round .. In doubles, Mustafa is seeded top with Nicolas Tourte (FRA) and they ahve an R1 bye .. Good going.

At the same Hampstead venue, Sania and Rushmi play their first round singles and doubles tomorrow in the $10K women's event .. Rushmi faces a qualifier - they had not placed the qualifiers in the draw when I saw last ..

Vishal Uppal advanced at the USA F23 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with a good win,  76(3) 62 ove Goran Dragicevic (USA,663) .. Next up is a qildcard, Paul Rose (USA) in the second round .. Vishal and Matt Hanlin won the first round doubles over the wildcard pair John and Rob Haywood, 26 63 62.

Tushar Liberhan did not make it to the Pakistan satellites, unfortunately, though his name was in the list at first .. A few indians have made the second round, Vijay Kannan being the prominent one .. Young Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan is there too -- ran in to a good player and lost today in singles, but he won the doubles match .. See the forum thread for all the scores.

Aug 9 Notes

Quick updates -- Sunil plays singles and doubles at St.Petersburg tomorrow .. Sania, Rushmi, Shruti all in the draw at the UK $10K, all playing wednesday .. Mustafa fell in the Q3 at the $15K there .. Sunitha Rao (USA) had a good run upetting a top-200 player to the final qualies of the Tier-IV WTA in Vancouver but she fell in three sets in the Q3 today .. Rajeev Ram (USA) won the doubles at the Denver challenger .. The Uberoi sisters had fallen in the semis of the Louisville challenger over the weekend .. At the Pakistan satellites, Vijay Kannan won, but Vishal Punna fell (results in our forum in the tournament area) .. More later .. Awaiting the draw from the USA F23 where Vishal Uppal is the 4th seed.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Aug 9 ..

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