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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Aug 22, 2005
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Aug 22 Notes

At the $585K "Pilot Pen" ATP in New Haven, the top seeds Leander Paes and Nenad Zimonjic were upset in the first round by the singles pair, Tommy Haas (GER) and Jurgen Melzer (AUT), 64 76(4) .. This was yet another close match where they just could not seem to get over the hump at some critical junctures .. Our pair fell behind early in the first set by one break, but they had a golden chance to even it at 0-40 with triple break points when the other guys were serving for the set at 5-4 .. LP-NZ lost 6 of the next 7 points to lose the set .. There were no breaks in the second set .. Nenad served 5 aces in the match and served at speeds as high as 131 mph, and LP's service games also seemed to go fine in the match .. In the tiebreaker, LP-NZ fell behind early by one minibreak and could not recover .. So, it wil be US Open next for them .. Mahesh and Martin Damm will play their first round on wednesday.

Sania Mirza gets back to court after a week off from the tour (actually two weeks of rest), at the $74.8K Tier-IV 16-draw Forest Hills WTA .. 50th ranked Sania is the 3rd seed and faces #59 Shahar Peer (ISR) in the first round, on wednesday there .. Shahar had beaten Sania in the final round of qualifying at the Stanford WTA 4 weeks back, 62 76(10) .. Hopefully Sania can pay back this time

The US Open Qualifying Draw came out tonight, and the qualies start tomorrow .. On the men's side, Harsh Mankad (IND,258) gets a wildcard, the talented junior Tim Smyczek (USA), who is #20 in the ITF junior ranks .. Prakash Amritraj (IND,272) jas a tough Q1 match, as he plays Nicolas Mahur (FRA,161) .. 18th seed Shikha Uberoi (IND,125) faces Yulia Beygelzimer (UKR,226) .. Neha Uberoi (USA,272) plays Shiho Hisamatsu (JPN,170) .. Sunitha Rao (USA,171) runs into Chia-Jung Chuang (TPE,222) .. Only Neha's match is on the schedule for Tuesday (at 11 am), and all the rest play on wednesday .. The Ubeoris did not get the best part of the draw though - if she wins two rounds, Shikha could run into the top seed Sybill Bammer .. Neha could run into the second seed if she gets past Hisamatsu ..

At the $25K+H Bukhara challenger (hard courts) in Uzbekistan, Rohan Bopanna won the first round and Karan Rastogi qualified into the main draw .. 344th ranked Rohan easily beat the wildcard Sobir Ochilov (UZB), 61 62 .. Karan also won by the same scoreline in his Q3 match against Abduhamid Makhamov (UZB) .. In the main draw on Tuesday, 575-ranked Karan will play a former top-75 player, Andrei Stoliarov (RUS,446) ..

At the Masters leg of the China satellites, Ashutosh Singh and Jaco Mathew won their first rounds, but Divij Sharan, who had won a playoff to make the main draw, could not advance

Aug 21 Notes

Prakash and Harsh have both reached New York early enough to get ready for the US Open qualies .. They had some nice hitting session together at the USO courts this weekend too .. The qualifying draw will be made by Monday night at New York and the first round singles will be on Tuesday .. I think Shikha and Neha have also reached NY.

There will be a pretty big contingent of Indians and Indian-origin players at the US Open this year - 10 of them .. Sania Mirza, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Shikha Uberoi, Harsh Mankad, Prakash Amritraj, Neha Uberoi (USA), Sunitha Rao (USA), Rajeev Ram (USA), Arvind Parmar (GBR) are the Indian names in various men's and women's draws, and three Indian juniors, Vivek Shokeen, Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, Sanam Singh are also confirmed (with Rupesh Roy with a good chance to make the junior qualies - he is just a frew spots out from the list) .. That is the largest contingent we have had at a grand slam in a very long time .. Would have been nicer if we had more than one Indian (Sania Mirza) and one Indian-American (wildcard Rajeev Ram) in the singles main draws though .. Hopefully HM, PA, SU and NU would come through ..

Shikha Uberoi would have been an absolute shoe-in for the main draw as a US wildcard had she not switched to India, in fact .. The lady has lost something due to her decision to pick the country where she was born, though I am not even sure if she gets the proper recongition for that - but then again, playing for your country is itself a big reward and Shikha got that when she led India at the Fed Cup a few months back and played some really good tennis for her country! .. Of course Shikha knows of all the Indians (a billion of them right?) who wish her well and cheer for her, even if the Indian sponsors haven't exactly queued up with a whole lot of money .. She will be one of the top-25 seeds (hopefully top-16 among the 32) in the qualifying rounds, and should have a good chance to make the main draw .. Having had a very good year and picked up a lot of points, she goes in with a lot less pressure to defend big points than we thought a little while earlier, because she picked up a lot of good points in the recent months.

#128 Shikha is the first out from the inititial main draw list and will surely make the draw without a wildcard for the $170K Tier-III "Sunfeast Open" WTA in 4 weeks in Kolkata (You can see the entry list posted in the thread - thanks, Sameer!) .. [edited -- I had some comments on the Sunfeast website here, but as I have just been told that the website is still only undr construction and has not been officially launched, I will wait and won't scoop them!!]

The entry list for the tournament does not include the Gold exempt wildcards etc who may still get added to the player list later .. There was an article in the Indian Express three days back that Mary Pierce is almost sure to be there, that Conchita Martnez also could come, and that the WB Chief minister, tournament director Jaideep Mukherjea, Akhtar Ali, Chuni Goswami etc were trying to do the needful for that .. That would add more color to the list currently topped by recent top-10 player Anastasia Myskina who was as high as #2 a few months back, and of course Sania .. Mahesh Bhupathi's Globosport is organizing and managing the event, and I am sure Hesh can still bring a couple more top players like the IE reported, if the Kolkata folks come up with the money .. The list probably would have been better had there not been three WTA events in the same week, especially the Tier-II in Beijing among them, which will take out all the top-75 Chinese players .. Tanasugran, Fujiwara, Angelique Widjaja etc are the other Asians coming to Kolkata .. According to the tournament website, 19 year old Neha Uberoi (USA) will also be there .. I assume #271 Neha would get one of the main draw wildcards .. Neha is one of the four players handled by Globosport (Sania Mirza, Shkha Uberoi and the Delhi boy Yuki Bhambri are the others) .. It is also nice to see Sunitha Rao (USA,172) in the qualifying entry list -- she will be one of the high seeds there.

As for weekend results, Karan Rastogi reached the final round of qualies at the $25K+H Samarkand (UZB) hard court challenger today, with a 75 62 win over Niko Karagiannis (GRE) today in the Q2, after a Q1 bye .. Karan plays Abuhamid Makhamov (UZB) in the final qualies monday .. In the main draw, Rohan Bopanna has a not-so-tough first round against an Uzbek wildcard, Sobil Ochilov, and could run into the 6th seed Pung Sun (CHN,329) in the second round .. In doubles, [R1] R.Bopanna/ Kyu-Tae Im (KOR) vs Kirill Ivanov-Smolenski (RUS)/ Evgueni Smirnov (RUS)  and [R1] K.Rasotgi/ Peng Sun (CHN) vs (2) Alexei Kedriouk (KAZ)/ Orest Tereschuk (UKR) ..

Aug 20 Notes

Both LP-NZ and MB-MD went down in the QFs in extremely close matches yesterday at the $2.45M Cincinnati Masters .. [QF] (5) L.Paes/ N.Zimonjic l. (4) W.Black/ K.Ullyett, 57 76(6) 67(5) .. [QF] (7) M.Bhupathi/ M.Damm l. (3) M.Knowles/ D.Nestor, 63 16 67(3) ... The Paes-Zimonjic match was one of the lonmgest three-setters you would see in doubles .. Threee hours, with each set going almost exactly to an hour each .. There was an early trade of two breaks each in the first set, and, after being up 4-2 in the set, LP-NZ dropped serve in the 7th and 11th games to lose the set .. There were no breaks in the second set, and one break each in the third set .. In fact when the match ended, the winning team had 134 points and our pair had 133 -- it was that close against the 4th seeds who won the title at Montreal last week and are playing very well .. It was almost a similar story in the 2 hour 10 minute fight in the Bhupathi-Zimonjic against the third seeds .. When the match went into the final set tiebreaker, our pair had won 87 pointsd and Knowles-Nestor 88 .. Man, what a tough day for our pairs out there .. On the other hand, they both played two very good top teams and know that they are in very good form to cause some damage in two weeks at the US Open .. Both LP-NZ and MB-MD will be at the New Haven ATP next week, probably as the fiurst and third seeds there ..

At the $25K+H challenger in Bukhara next week, Rohan Bopanna is in the main draw .. Karan Rastogi is the 4th seed in the qualies and has a Q1 bye .. The first two rounds are tomorrow, and the draw looks managable for Karan to make it to the main draw ..

Aug 19 Notes

LP and MB play the QFs at Cincinnati later today.

Roundup of the China and Indonesia results this week --At the $25K China satellites' third leg, [R1] Ashutosh Singh (IND) d. Benoit Bottero (FRA) 64 63 .. [R2] l. (2) Xin-Yuan Yu (CHN), 67(5) 36 .. Ashutosh did play well even against the second seed there .. But he is the only who won a round thouigh .. [R1] Amir Weintraub (ISR) d. Jaco Mathew (IND) 36 62 64 .. [R1] Patrice Atias (FRA) d. (q) Divij Sharan (IND) 64 61 .. Kamala Kannan was the 4th seed in the qualies and went down in the final round - so he missed a chance to add to the circuit points and make the masters leg .. Doubles - two teams reached the semifinals, with first round upsets of seeds though .. [R1] Jaco/ Ashutosh d. (3) Ming Li/Yu Wang, Jr. (CHN) 62 36 76(1) .. [QF] d. (wc) Shuang-Qiang Liang (CHN)/ Wei-Guang Yang (CHN) 67(5) 62 61 .. [SF] l. (1) Xin-Yuan Yu (CHN)/ Yu Zhang  (CHN), 67(3) 46 .. [R1] Divij Sharan/ David To (AUS) d. (4) Zhe Li (CHN)/ Yi-Ning Wang (CHN) 26 60 64 .. [QF] d. Lior Barbash/Ishay Hadash (ISR) 60 61 .. [SF] l. Norikazu Sugiyama/Adam Thompson (JPN/NZL), 36 46 .. Kamala Kannan and Patrick Briaud (FRA), seeded second on the basis of the first two legs' points, went down in the QF of doubles to Sugiyama-Thomspon afyer a 64 64 win in the R1 over Patrice Atias (FRA)/ Antoine Benneteau (FRA) 64 64 .. Looks like only Ashutosh will be in the masters leg in singles, getting any ATP points .. All of them will be in the masters of doubles and pick up doubles points, though .. $10K Indonesia futures in Makassar, only Gurmehar Singh reached the second round .. He beat Cheong-Eui Kim (KOR) 26 60 64 before losing the R2 to Oh-Hee Kwon (KOR), 26 16 .. Otyhers' results - [R1] Guilherme Ochiai (BRA) d. Tushar Liberhan, 62 60  .. [R1] Tasuku Iwami (JPN) d. Ravi-Shankar Pathanjali, 64 46 63 .. Tetsuya Chaen (JPN) d. N. Vijey Sundar Prashant, 62 62 .. So only Gurmehar got an ATP point there this week .. In doubles Vijay Sundar and VM Ranjeet reached the SF, beating Nick Lindahl (AUS)/ Patrick Tierro (PHI), 64 75, and Jemi Majampo (INA) / Ahmad Mu Tamir (INA), 61 63, before losing to the third seeds Suwandi Suwandi and Bonit Wiryawan of Indonesia, 36 46 .. In other matches, Faisal Aidil (INA) / Ayrton Wibowo (INA) d. Tushar/ Gurmehar 46 63 63, Wang-Cheng Hsieh (TPE)/ Hsin-Han Lee (TPE) d. P.Ravishankar/ Huai-En Chang (TPE), 61 76(0) - both in the first round.

Aug 18 Notes

The US Open qualifying entry cut fell about 13 spots over the last day - some due to some of the qualifying list players getting USTA wildcards to the main draw etc .. The good news is that both Harsh Mankad and Prakash Amritraj have made the US Open qualifying list now .. They were both outside the initial cut, but close enough .. This is the first time that both have made it into grand slam qualies ... For more good news, USTA gave a qualifying wildcard to Neha Uberoi (USA) who is still playing under USA colors .. With Shikha Uberoi expected a seed in the qualies and Sunitha Rao (USA) also in the qualies, there will be a large number of Indian names there next week .

At the $2.45M Cincinnati Masters, both Paes-Zimonjic and Bhupathi-Damm reached the quarterfinals; Both teams had fiurst round byes there .. [R2] (5) L.Paes/ N.Zimonjic d. F.Lopez/ M.Youzhny, 64 76(3) .. [R2] (7) M.Bhupathi/ M.Damm d. (wc) J.Morrison/ J.Thomas, 36 63 62 .. In the quarterfinals tomorrow, LP-NZ play the 4th seeds Black-Ullyett and MB-MD play the 3rd seeds Knowles-Nestor .. Both tough matches, but good to see both out teams doing alright for now,

At the $50K Bronx challenger today, Mustafa Ghouse and Scott Lipsky (USA) won the first round 64 64 over Mark Hilton and Jonathan Marray of Britain, but fell in the QF held in the evening, 67(3) 75 36 to wildcards Alex Boghomolov and Travis Rettenmaier of USA.

At the $25K Helsinki challenger, 17 year old Sanaa Bhambri (IND,457) reached the second round with a 61 63 win over Nadja Roma (SWE) but she lost today to Nuria Roig-Tost (ESP,504), 60 46 36  .. Nuria was in the top-300 late last year, and Sanaa seems to have played a good match for sure .. In the first round of doubles, the Bhambri sisters went down to Chvojkova and Andrea Hlavackova, 57 36 ..

At the $10K in Nottingham, UK, the top-seed Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND) lost to Lucy Fletcher (GBR,922) 26 62 26 .. Shruti Dhawan, seeded third but returning from a few weeks of injury break, was upset 61 60 by Svenja Weidemann (GER,853) .. Qualifier Radhika Tulpule lost 16 06 to the talented 15 year old Jade Curtis (GBR) .. So, not at all a good show there in the first round by the Indian ladies.

The AITA under-18 Championship Series event in Chennai this week had the girls' title going to Ashwarya Shrivastava, who seems to be a talented 13 year old coached by Nandan Bal at Pune .. She is #5 in the u14 rankings and beat the #5 in the u18 ranks, Bhavani Tirumurthi in the final .. The boys' title went to 16 year Allan Gomes from Gujarat, and the final was against a 14 year old listed under Delhi .. Venkat Iyer .. If I am not mistaken, he is Tara Iyer's younger brother who is also based in the US - probably visiting India now .. He played a u14 AITA talent series event last week in Chennai as a wildcard and reached that final also .. Impressive for the 14 year old to reach the u18 final, though Allan Gomes was too much for him there..

Aug 16 Notes

Quick updates .. Will give mostly forum links today for news, as I have to run .. Qualifier Shikha Uberoi's nice run ended at the Toronto Tier-I against #59 Dally Randriantefy in a strange match, where despite hitting 75% of her first serves and not making doubles faults etc, she still could not get over the hump to force break points, losing 36 26 in a match which was much closer than the scoreline, with Shikha winning 53 points to 66 by Dally .. Not a bad outing against a top-60 player, despite the scoreline - see the details in my posts in the forum .. Rohan and Karan were unable to upset their seeded opponents at the Samarkand challenger yesterday in the first round, but both have won their doubles R1 matches today; Karan with a big upset of the 3rd seeds (see the forum thread for details) .. Mustafa and Scott Lipsky play the doubles R1 today at the Bronx challenger .. Sanaa and Ankita won the doubles title at the $10K in London over the weekend .. They are at the Helsinki challenger this week .. Rushmi, Shruti and Radhika Tulpule are at the UK $10K (Radhika upset the 7th seed and qualified in! -- see the UK events news) .. Divij Sharan qualified into the third leg of the China satellites ..  Rupesh Roy won another grade-4 title last week, with another finals win over #103 Jurgen Strydom (NAM) - see the scores for his work the last two weeks, and also some discussion on how well he is coming along under the Bosse Foundation watch in Boston in the Rupesh thread ..

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Aug 15 ..

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