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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Aug 23, 1999

(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 99)

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Aug 23 Note-1

Had a short email last night from Mahesh, whom I couldn't get hold of at Indianapolis at all .. He has gone to Long Island for the $325K Hamlet Cup this week .. He said he is playing doubles there, but no other info yet .. I assume he felt he might not make it into the USO qualy draw, or he wanted to give the stomach injury a bit more time before playing singles again ..  Will find out soon about who MB is playing with this week, and also if he or Srinath tried the singles qualifiers at Long Island .. As for Leander, he left for New York immediately after the final at Indi yesterday - he will be at the USO qualies, and wanted to get a couple of days of practice before the matches start on Wednesday ..

Aug 22 Note-3

Actually Haarhuis had lost 4 matches in a  row to LP, not two as I mentioned below - I looked more closely later .. After losing to LP-MB in the company of Eltingh, Haarhuis had lost in the company of Galbraith to LP-MB at Indian Wells, with Nestor to LP and Siemerink at Hertogenbosch, and then with Palmer to LP-MB at Wimbledon .. Today the doubles great was up to the task and finally beat Leander in the 5th attempt .. P.Haarhuis - J.Palmer -d.- O.Delaitre - L.Paes, 6-3, 6-4 .. A rare loss in a final for Leander .. Based on the commentary with the webcast, Delaitre was having trouble all day with his serve, and Leander also was not as sharp as yesterday, especially in his service towards Haarhuis in the second set .. Once again, I am sure he missed his trusted partner Mahesh in the end.

Here is what I typed while listening to the match - Haarhuis started serve and quickly found himself down 0-40 after a double fault and some hard volleys from Delaitre .. But they fought off three break points in a row and PH served an ace down the middle to hold serve .. After LP held serve at love, Palmer was down 0-30 following aggressive returns from LP and OD, who then had a 4th break chance at 30-40 .. A great top spin lob from Delaitre got them the break in that 3rd game .. In game 4, a couple of neat defensive lobs from PH forced Delaitre to a break point at 30-40 .. After 2 deuces, PH and OD had a great volley exchange which PH won, and they were all even at 2-2 .. A jammed shot from the net by LP forced PH to a deuce .. "Leander Paes is amazing .. It is incredible what he can sometimes do with his racquet - it's magical!" says the announcer .. PH held serve though .. At 3-4, with OD serving, two volleys from Palmer and a cross-over shot by Haarhuis found our pair down 0-40 .. OD seemed to be having trouble with his first serve and they were broken at 30-40 .. Then at 3-5, Delaitre grilled a powerful backhand down the line to make it 30-30 off Paul's serve .. After Palmer missed a reaction volley, LP-OD had a break chance .. OD mis-hit a second serve return and it was deuce .. Paes took over in the next point and grilled two forehands at Palmer to force AD out with a chance to turn it around .. A volley netted by LP and then an ace to LP's backhand and it was AD in .. Then OD hit a return wide, and the set was gone at 3-6 ..

In game 1 of the second set, LP was upset about a bad call on a volley by OD which put them down at 15-40 .. They fought back to deuce and held after a nice wide serve from LP for an ace and some good work at the net by OD .. After Haarhuis held serve, Delaitre once again was having trouble with his first serve, especially as he was under pressure from Haarhuis' strong returns .. He did hold serve, however .. Then LP once again came up big, on Palmer's serve, with a terrific return at his feet followed by a strong winner off a half-volley pick up from Palmer .. Suddenly it was 3-1 in our favor .. Despite two aces by LP in succession in the next game, they were down a break point after a great lob behind a rushing LP-OD by Palmer .. At deuce, LP double-fauled, but that was follwed by a Palmer mishit for deuce #2 .. After a backhand overhead from Haarhuis it was a 3rd break point on LP, and this time LP double-faulted once more, though Delaitre argued the call on the second serve .. It was all on serve again at 3-2 .. After Haarhuis held at 40-30 to go 3-3, Delaitre was down at 30-40 facing a break (once again after a call that OD argued) .. OD was quite upset by now, and threw down two good serves to hold and go up 4-3 .. It continued to be a struggle through for Olivier every time he had to serve to Haarhuis, whose low returns were probably the difference today .. LP seemed to be making a few mistakes by this time too, as he missed a couple of makable volleys at 4-4 and then had to serve at Haarhuis at 30-40 .. LP missed the first kick serve wide and knew it was the worst kind of trouble .. He threw down a good serve down the middle but Haarhuis still sent a return to LP's feet to force the break .. it was 4-5, and the set was over quickly thereafter at 4-6 ..

Though the scoreline makes it look as though it was an easy match, it wasn't .. It took about 90 minutes to complete, as many of the games were very competitive between the two teams.  The established teams normally have an edge in such situations, and PH-JP is one now .. They look dangerous, going into the US Open.

Aug 22 Note-2

Leander and Delaitre play the second seeds and the #7 team in the world, Paul Haarhuis (NED,5) and Jared Palmer (USA,7) in the final today .. The final is scheduled for about 2.30 pm central time (12.30 pm PST, USA .. 1 am Monday India) as the second match on center court, after the singles final which starts at 12 noon .. Haarhuis Palmer beat the 3rd seeds Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor yesterday, 6-4, 7-6(0) .. The doubles final will also be webcast live at http://www.rcatennis.com  .. Even if the live pictures may be too small on realplayer, the audio commentary will be clear over slow modem lines .. Check out our chatroom - there may be folks following the match .. A win today will give Leander-Delaitre $47.7K to share and 347 total points including 87 bonus points .. LP is facing Haarhuis-Palmer for the first time since the Wimbledon final .. This is the 7th final of the year for Leander - 4 with Mahesh, and one each with Jan Siemerink, Wayne Arthurs and Olivier Delaitre - only one loss so far, which was against Bjorkman-Rafter at the Aust Open final ..  Including the mixed doubles final, it is the 8th final .. Counting the Shanghai, Singapore, Stuttgart and Paris finals from last year, it is the 12th final in 12 months for LP (8 with Mahesh) .. That shows why he is at over 5000 points now .. The only losses were against the Woodies at Singapore, Lareau-O'Brien at Stuttgart Super 9 and the AO final .. The best wins were all in Mahesh's comapny - over Woodies at Shanghai, over Eltingh-Haarhuis at the Paris final (the last loss of the career for them), and over Haarhuis-Palmer at Wimbledon this year .. Can LP get to Haarhuis for a 3rd time ? ..

Here is an article from the Indanapolis Star News on yesterday's doubles semifinal .. Always a surprise to find an article on a doubles match  -- the presence of the great Woodies must have made some reporters watch it .. Also, the word seems to be spreading a bit these days that Leander and Mahesh are two guys worth watching for all they do in doubles! ..

Aug 22 Note-1

Some more on our young girls making noise in the international junior circuit - 15 yr old Liza Pereira was with 17 yr old Sonal Phadke in the African circuit recently and had some good results too .. In doubles, Liza and Sonal have come up to a tie at #221, which is 4th among Indian girls, behind Radhika Tulpule (#88), Sheetal Gautam (#117) and Radhika Mandke (#193) .. Liza also did well in singles, and is now the 4th highest ITF-ranked Indian girl at #221 in singles also (C Nandita is another 15 yr old who is looking very good, but she has not played many ITF events) .. Here is an article with their complete results published in The Hindu, which did not make their online edition - Sonal and Liza perform well : New Delhi, Aug 18 ...  Sonal Phadke and Liza Pereira affixed the Indian stamp of class on the ITF junior Southern African circuit over the last three weeks. The 17-year-old Sonal won two titles from three  finals, and with the younger Liza made two finals apart from a semifinals in doubles.  Sonal and Liza toppled the top seeds Patricia Osedumme of Nigeria and Alima Mohammed of Ghana in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively in the first two weeks in Malawi and Zimbabwe. But on both occasions, lost to Anat Elazari of Israel and Angela Piedrahita of the U.S ... The Indian duo could not make the maximum of the absence of the Israeli-US pair in the third week, and lost a thrilling three-set final to the top seeds Patricia and Alima after winning the first set in the final, in Zambia.  Liza also did well to make the quarterfinals in singles inn all the three weeks, and lost only to the higher ranked players, twice to the second seeded Alima Mohammed, and the third-seeded Anat Elazari of  Israel. Incidentally, the Israelite had a good time winning a singles title apart from two doubles titles. However, it could have been three singles titles for Sonal, but for her losing way in the second set tie-breaker against Elazari, after having won the first set, in the final of the second week. Sonal had beaten Elazari 6-0, 7-5 in the final of the first week. The results (featuring Indian players) :  ITF junior Souther African circuit : Zambia (Aug. 9 to 14) : Singles (final) : Sonal  bt A.Mohammed (Gha) 63 67(4) 75; [SF] Sonal bt P.Osedumme (Nig) 61 63; [QF] Sonal bt Tsitsi Masviba (Zim) 63 60; A.Mohammed bt Liza Pereira 46 63 62;  [PQF] Sonal bt Lukmondo Chongo (Zam) 63 62; Liza bt Tamando Gadama (Malawi) 60 60.  Doubles (final) : P.Osedumme / A.Mohammed bt Sonal/ Liza 57 62 61; [SF] Sonal/ Liza bt Lyle Cupido/ Mandy Septoe (RSA) 63 62; [QF] Sonal/Liza bt Ntswaki Mawela/ Razalia Phethu (Bot) 61 64 .. Harare (Aug.2 to 7) : Singles (final) A.Elazari (Isr) bt Sonal Phadke 26 76(2) 75; [SF] Sonal bt A.Piedrahita (US) 64 46 61; [QF] Sonal bt Luzia Chiri (Ang) 61 60; A.Mohammed bt Liza 64 62; [PQF] Sonal bt Fungi Chambane (Zim) 60 61; Liza bt T.Masviba 63 64; [R1] Liza bt Shireen Khan (Mri) 60 60.  Doubles (final) : A.Elazari/ A.Piedrahita  bt P.Osedumme/ A.Mohammed 62, 63; [SF] P.Osedumme/ A.Mohammed bt Sonal/ Liza; [QF] Sonal/ Liza bt Kim Christian (Zim)/ Liela Dias (Moz) 60 61; [PQF] Sonal/ Liza bt Monalisa Madondo (Zim)/ L.Chiri 62 62 ... Malawi (July 26 to 31) : Singles (final) : Sonal bt A.Elazari 60 75; [SF] Sonal bt A.Piedrahita 61 61; [QF] Sonal bt Stephanie Leung Chee Hang (Mauritius) 64 60; A.Elazari bt Liza 61 62; [PQF] Sonal bt Tadiwa Kambarami (Zim) 63 62; Liza bt T.Masviba 64 36 61. Doubles (final) : A.Elazari/ A.Piedrahita bt Sonal/ Liza 63 64; [SF] Sonal/ Liza bt Tadiwa Kambarami (Zim)/ L.Dias 63 61; [QF] Sonal/ Liza bt P.Osedumme/ A.Mohammed 64 60; [PQF] Sonal/ Liza bt Ntswaki Malewa/Razalia Phethu (Bot) 60 60 ..

If our kids do well, we will all notice! .. Waiting for some similar work by our boys too - but nothing much in a while ..

Aug 21 Note-2

Another final for Leander, and this comes after a very nice win over the legends, Woodies .. LP and Olivier Delaitre d. Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge, 6-4, 6-3 .. The following is what I typed while listening to the Webcast of the game ..

The first set started with a quick trade of serves, but then it went with serve till 4-4, when LP kicked it into high gear .. A superb volley and beautiful forehand down the line from LP, and they had two break chances off Woodforde's serve .. They converted the second one to go up 5-4 and then OD served it out for a 6-4 set .. In the second set, Woodbridge was quickly down 15-40 in the first game .. Woodbridge even threw the ball in anger once, but then came up with two great serves to make it deuce .. Then a mistake from Woodforde follwed by a run-around-forehand by LP and it was break chance again at AD out .. OD missed a backhand and it was deuce #3 .. After a nice serve from Todd, LP came up with another forehand down the line to force duece .. Yet another ace down the line, and an impossibly angled volley from LP and it was deuce #5 .. After all that, Woodbridge held serve though .. Then LP was down at 30-40 following a Woodforde volley .. LP served a 111 mph ace down the middle for deuce .. Then LP missed a forehand down the middle and it was another break chance .. Then a volley at Todd's feet from LP and it was deuce again .. An error by Woodbridge and LP held serve .. Woodforde had already thrown the racquet twice and now Woodbridge threw it once! .. In the 3rd game, as the announcer's said "LP and OD were much more relaxed than the Woodies" .. A great cross-court forehand from LP and it was deuces for a 3rd game in a row .. "Paes with all sorts of impossible shots - no hesitation in his shots at all", say the announcers .. Again the Woodies held, though .. Delaitre seemed to be solid and not doing anything flashy or making any mistakes .. "Delaitre holding up very well in the middle of three great doubles players", "Leander dominating the touch angle shots", etc, etc, they say .. At 3-3, terrific hands at the net by LP followed by a wonderful run-around shot by Delaitre and Mark was down 0-30 .. at 15-40, LP made an aggressive move up following his return and Woodbridge hit the forehand too long to give LP-OD the break .. After Olivier and Todd held serve, it was up to LP to close it out .. A double fault, a misjudged lob that fell in behind LP, and another mistake on a volley by LP at match point, and it was deuce .. Delaitre nailed a volley between the Woodies, LP followed with one of his own, and it was over ..

$25K to share and 234 total pts (51 bonus) for the win .. So LP goes over 5000 points for the first time (he is at 5038) - a very rare accomplishment .. Congrats ! .. Now he goes for yet another title tomorrow .. The other semi yet to be done .. Spadea vs Lapentti in singles final tomorrow.

At the AITA national ranking tournament in  Chennai today, Kamala Kannan came up big in the end against Sunil Kumar, for his 3rd title in the last few weeks .. The three-setter was a dandy between these two talented youngsters .. Let's hope for a lot more from them .. See the Chennai juniors page for results

Aug 21 Note-2

If you have RealPlayer and a good enough connection (at least 28.8 modem, preferably faster), you should be able to watch today's semifinal (LP-OD vs Woodies) on the internet ! .. They have a LIVE WebCast of the center court matches at the tournament site, http://www.rcatennis.com .. The first semifinal match is on, as I type .. They promise to show all four matches, at the website, though only the semis are covered for TV .. The doubles match is at about 4.30 pm there (1.30 pm PST .. 2 am India), the 3rd match after the two dingles semis, on the center court .. Check it out.

Aug 21 Note-1

At the $745K RCA Championship in Indianapolis, the semifinals are set among the top four seeds - Leander-Delaitre play the Woodies today at about 4 pm .. This is the first time Leander is facing the Woodies since the Singapore doubles final last October .. The Woodies are playing better lately, though they lost a final last week at the Cincinnati Super 9 .. After winning the San Jose and Memphis finals at the beginning of the year, the Woodies have lost three finals in a row (Atlanta, Queens and Cincinnati), which is quite uncharacteristic for the great team who had close to 80% success rate in finals over their illustrious career ..  Here are the results from the quarterfinals yesterday:

1 O.Delaitre(FRA)/ L.Paes(IND)   bt   N.Broad(GBR)/ P.Trammachi(AUS) 64 16 63    \
4 T.Woodbridge/ M.Woodforde(AUS) bt 5 E.Ferreira(RSA)/ R.Leach(USA)  67(4) 61 75 /
3 M.Knowles(CAN)/ D.Nestor(BAH)  bt   J.Grabb(USA)/ J.Stark(USA)     63 64       \
2 P.Haarhuis(NED)/ J.Palmer(USA) bt   L.Bale(RSA)/ G.Stafford(RSA)   61 75       /
Those are some good teams in the semifinals today .. Paes-Delaitre can pick up 36 extra bonus points for 234 total points (51 bonus) with a win today.

Sampras withdrew due to a hip flexor injury against Spadea yesterday .. With 4th seed Moya losing to Lapentti, 3rd seed Kuerten losing to Grosjean, and 2nd seed Rafter giving a walkover in the QF to Siemerink due to arm tendinitis, all the top seeds are gone from the semis all of a sudden .. As for Sampras, he has nothing much to defend this week - he lost in the 3rd round at New Haven last year this week; one of his worst losses, in straight sets, to a 100th ranked player  :-) .. Sampras had a 24 match win-streak in the last 10 weeks (Queens, Wimbledon, LA, Cincinnati titles) .. Though he had 4 weeks off during the period and had had quite a bit of rest during the earlier part of the year, it is still quite tough to stay healthy when you play that much .. Same with Rafter .. Rafter's coach Tony Roche called for his withdrawal from Davis Cup, as he is playing a lot - Rafter being the figher he is, he will probably not take that advice when it comes to playing for his country ..  It is not just LP and MB who come down with injuries and have to take long rest periods, if you are wondering (though doubles matches are less strenuous than singles matches) ! .. I still consider it a miracle that LP did not come down with an injury after playing 8 matches in 3 days at Wimbledon, and it's not that much of a surprise that MB had the injury trouble after  playing 26 matches over 7 weeks starting at the French Open ..

Aug 20 Note-3

After I wrote those comments below in today's note-1, I remembered that there was an article by Nirmal Shekhar right after the last Davis Cup win, in early April in The Hindu .. Just searched and found that article .. Take a look at this - It's a time for introspection, not celebration .. He brings up a lot of interesting angles, and though this was written with a bit of anxiety about the relationship between LP and MB (just before their title at Chennai, and before all the grand slam heroics), some of his comments are probably still interesting to read .. The article gives quite a bit of food for thought .. I can't say how correct he is in his observations and opinions, but this was the only press article I could find, that talked about where we are, with respect to Davis Cup .. He made a cryptic comment out there, that if Jaideep is the captain, LP may have played his last Davis Cup already - that does not sound like something LP would say or do, though.

Aug 20 Note-2

Leander and Delaitre took care of Neil Broad and Peter Tramacchi, after sputtering a bit in the second set - 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 .. The win gives them 118 total points (including 15 bonus points), and $13,300 to share .. They will be playing the semifinal tomorrow against either the 4th seeds Woodies, or the 5th seeds Ellis Ferreira and Rick Leach - they are playing right now .. A win tomorrow will be worth $25K to share, and over 200 total points which will be enough to push Leander's point tally above 5000 points, a rare achievement, for the first time.

At Chennai, the girls final and the boys doubles final were completed in the India Pistons AITA junior ranking tournament .. Sandhya Kanury got her first big title, as she beat C Nandita in straight sets .. Sandhya trains at the Krishnan Tennis Center .. The doubles title went to Kedar Shah and Abhijit Mazumdar .. See the results at the Chennai juniors page .. Some doubles results are still missing .. The boys singles final between Sunil Kumar and Kamala Kannan, as well as the girls doubles final will be tomorrow (I believe Sandhya can get a double crown, as she is in the finals of doubles too - with Samrita Shekhar).

Aug 20 Note-1

Paes-Delaitre play the quarterfinal at 1 pm today against Neil Broad (GBR,41) and Peter Tramacchi (AUS,54) at the $745K RCA championships at Indianapolis .. Scores later - There should be a couple of some updates on the Leandert page during the match, but there is no online ball-by-ball updates available from Indi.

No news yet on the AITA junior ranking tourney finals today at Chennai.

There were a couple of good articles in the Indian Express earlier this week .. See this piece on Manisha Malhotra - Manisha sets the trend for women .. The title is probably a bit incorrect as the trends were already set by Nirupama - but that still does not take anything away from Manisha's achievements lately, especially the title in a US tournament .. The newspaper also carried an article about Sonal Phadke's terrific run in Africa - see Sonal breaks into top 100 ..

Here is another interesting article - by Akshay Sawai in the Mid-day - Shooting from the skip .. Not sure if that article link is permanent  .. Here are some excerpts from the article, which has an interview with our Davis Cup captain, Jaideep Mukherjea -  (Qn): You do not show the same kind of involvement, passion or communication with the team as your predecessor, Naresh Kumar ... (Ans):  It does not mean one is not involved just because he does not jump or demonstrate his keenness. The players know how I work, you should ask them. They are the best judges. During a match the captain has to be cool and collected. He has to think. And I am basically a laidback person ......  (Qn): What is the problem between you and Leander? ... (Ans): I do not have any problem with Leander. If at all he has, he has not told me anything. I have known him even before he started playing. I am one of the people who taught him tennis. I was his coach when he won the Olympic bronze in Atlanta, but no one ever mentions that ..... Qn: Paes and Bhupathi have about five good years ahead. What about the future? ... (Ans): Unfortunately there is no one of their standard though Prahlad Srinath and Syed Fazaluddin are working hard. India has often had the same problem in tennis. There are only two or three players. Unless someone comes out of the blue like Mahesh did, we have to work at the grass root level. That is what I have thought of concentrating on when I am no longer non-playing captain ..  No comments from me on those answers (as I am not one qualified to make any!) .. except that Jaideep was not excatly LP's coach (i.e., his personal coach) during the Olympics - Mr. Mukherjea was the coach of the Indian team at Atlanta  for those two weeks .. LP did not have a coach at that time - within a few months after that he hired coach "Nails" .. Some credit should go to Jaideep for LP's show at Olympics, naturally, though.

By the way, since it looks like Jaideep is not in any mood to stand down as the Davis Cup captain, I wonder what the dynamics is, behind AITA's announcement last week that the captain's appointment will be made "after discussing with LP and MB" .. Am I reading it right that AITA wants to put the blame on them, if they want to keep Jaideep or find another captain (not sure what they prefer) ? .. Federations like AITA should take the decisions themselves on coach and captain appointments - not the players .. It automatically takes away from the authority of the new captain if the appointment was suggested by the players, doesn't it ? .. And it causes unnecessary washing of dirty laundry in public .. It is also not necessary that the players prefer somebody unanimously either - a sure way to cause factions in the team ..  I wish AITA had not talked about making the "decision" after talking to LP and MB .. They can (and should) take the players' opinions into consideration, but do that confidentially and make the decision themselves ..  I hope they will still do that, and not make an announcement right after LP and MB gets to India and make scapegoats of them .. Jaideep has been a good captain and has won quite a few ties some of which we shouldn't have (despite the zero-win record abroad in 6 years - Korea tie this year was the only one where India should have been favored) .. At the same time, he has certainly not been the miracle worker that Naresh Kumar was, and I don't think our chances would be worse with somebody like a Ramesh Krishnan or Vijay Amritraj, who could also command the players' respect .. So, here is to AITA - bite the bullet and make the decision and keep the players' opinions to yourselves.

Aug 19 Note-2

Paes-Delaitre will face Broad-Tramacchi tomorrow in the quarterfinal .. A correction from earlier - actually Broad-Tramacchi beat Albano-Ivanisevic, not Mirnyi-Vacek as I said earlier .. B-T won the match 4-6, 7-6(8-6), 7-6(15-13) today, over A-I ! ..

Aug 19 Note-1

The QF opponents tomorrow for LP-Delaitre will be the winners of the match today between Peter Tramacchi - Neil Broad, and Max Mirnyi - Daniel Vacek .. Both those teams are made up of good doubles players .. Leander said that the match against Mahesh and Pavel was not easy at all, yesterday .. He felt Mahesh was serving well, though his movement after the serve was probably a bit hampered still .. Actually Hesh and Pavel were up a break at 2-0 in the 3rd set at one point .. I am glad that there was no reaggravation of the injury or anything for Hesh, and so it was probably fine to get some match practice.

At Chennai, Sunil Kumar had a surprisingly easy 62 62 win over the talented Ravikiran Bhat, who is actually 2 yrs senior to him .. Sunil seems to be playing some pretty good tennis - just as advertised .. I have been hearing from many people about how talented he is .. He will run up against a tough one to beat, in the final tomorrow - Kamala Kannan, who has 3 wins in 4 matches against Sunil, according to the Indian Express .. The PTI report today said that one of Kannan's 8 aces today in the win against Kedar Shah caused Ramanathan Krishnan to exclaim, "what a serve!" .. Kedar Shah did very well though he lost in three sets against Kannan .. On the girls' side, C Nandita continued her run, this time beating Nischella Reddy, to reach the final against Sandhya Kanury, who has looked good all week too - she had an easy win against Samrita Shekhar, not a bad player herself .. See the results in the Chennai Juniors page.

Aug 18 Note-2

They seem to have played a good match against each other - the top seeds, Leander and Delaitre pulled out a three-set win against unseeded Mahesh and Pavel, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 .. A couple of good days of practice for MB, which hopefully will help in bringing him back to playing shape slowly. Next action for Mahesh should be a week later at the US Open qualies, where I think he will squeeze into the draw .. The quarterfinal opponents for LP-Delaitre are yet to be determined .. The QF match will be on Friday.

Aug 18 Note-1

The battle of the titans is scheduled for today at about 4.30 pm at the $870K Indianapolis RCA championships .. Paes - Delaitre -vs- Bhupathi - Pavel .. This is the 3rd time this year that LP and MB will be on the opposite sides of the net, the other two being in the singles finals at the Calcutta and Delhi challengers .. I dont' know when they faced each other in doubles - perhaps never? .. I am going to make a huge prediction today - I think there will be an Indian in the doubles quarterfinals at Indi ! :-)

Finally saw the doubles draw at the Bronx challenger, and Fazal is not playing doubles there.  Same for Nirupama at the Bronx women's challenger.

At the India-Pistons AITA under-18 junior ranking junior tournament in Chennai, 16 yr old Sunil Kumar continued his run - into the semis with a 60 61 win .. The top-seed Kedar Tembe lost to Ravikiran Bhat, but despite the rankings, I wouldn't call it an upset .. Tembe has not been that consistent in winning against talented players, though he has shown that he is capable of that - he seems to have had a pretty bad day .. Kamala Kannan and Kedar Shah reached the semis too and play each other on Thrusday ..  On the girls's side, the top seed Sandhya Kanury picked up a quality win, over the Indian-American girl, K.Italia, in straight sets .. One of the girls to keep an eye on, 8th seed C.Nandita of Tamil Nadu, upset the 2nd seed  T Yamini .. See the results at the Chennai juniors page.

Aug 17 Note-3

Mahesh and Pavel beat Burrieza and Canas, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 this evening at Indianapolis .. So, the unexpected battle between our dudes is on .. Not sure if it will be tomorrow or thursday.

At the India Pistons AITA junior ranking (u-18) tournament in Chennai today, the match I was looking forward to, between two of the more talented 16 year olds turned out to be a dandy .. 4th seed Sunil Kumar beat the finalist at the u18 nationals 2 weeks back, Benjamin Xavier, 63 16 64 .. Sunil was down 2-4 in the 3rd before he started chasing everything to win this match, according to the report in tomorrow's Indian Express .. Jai Arora's upset of the 3rd seed N.Mukundan was noteworthy too .. Top seed Kedar Tembe and 2nd seed Kedar Shah have not been tested yet, and are in the QFs .. On the girls' side, qualifier Priyanka Parekh upset the 5th seed V.Kameshwari, and C.Nandita had yet another win over Nandini Perumal .. See the results in the Chennai juniors page.

Aug 17 Note-2

The African safari continues for Sonal Phadke, who is on a tear! .. She won her second ITF junior international title this Sunday in Zambia .. She beat Alima Mohammed of Ghana (ranked 110 in the world), 63 67(4) 75 in the final of the Grade-4 event .. This is her 3rd final in three weeks (she beat the Israeli girl, 89th ranked Anat Elazari, at the Malawi final and then lost to her in the Zimbabwe final) .. Sonal turned 17 two months back .. She now has 180 ranking points, which places her right behind Sheetal Gautam at #88 with 185 points and ahead of Radhika Tulpule at #109 with 160 points .. Both Radhika and Sonal are probably ahead in ranking and points than even Uzma Khan was at that age .. Next year looks good for both, if they continue to mix enough junior events with senior events, and play grand slam and higher grade tournaments (such as the grade 3 and grade 2 events in the Far East) .. There is no replacement for playing tournaments .. I still wonder why Shruti Dhawan, at the same age and considered as talented or better has really not played enough tournaments .. Anyway, I am excited with the promise shown by all these young girls .. This week's African ITF junior tournament is at Cairo, Egypt - not sure if Sonal is there.

No news yet from the Chennai junior AITA tournament .. That and Mahesh's doubles result from Indianapolis, later.

Aug 17 Note-1

Mahesh and Pavel play doubles this afternoon at 2 pm at Indianapolis, against qualifiers, Oscar Burrieza of Spain and Guillermo Canas of Argentina.  There is no online scores available from Indi, but we will report the results after the match is over.

Here is the doubles draw there (upper half; 2nd seeds Haarhuis-Palmer and 3rd seeds Knowles-Nestor are in the bottom half):

1 O.Delaitre (FRA)/ L.Paes (IND)        Bye                                \
  M.Bhupathi (IND)/ A.Pavel (ROM)  vs   Q O.Burrieza (ESP)/ G.Canas (ARG)  / \
  N.Broad (GBR)/ P.Trammachi (AUS) vs   F.Meligeni (BRA)/ D.Orsanic (ARG)  \ / \
8 M.Mirnyi (BLR)/ D.Vacek (CZE)    vs   P.Albano (ARG)/ G.Ivanisevic (CRO) /    \_ Final
4 T.Woodbridge/ M.Woodforde (AUS)       Bye                                \    /
  S.Schalken/ J.Siemerink (NED)    vs   B.Bryan (USA)/ M.Bryan (USA)       / \ /
  A.Kitinov (MAC)/ J.Waite (USA)   vs W R.Reneberg (USA)/ C.Woodruff (USA) \ /
5 E.Ferreira (RSA)/ R.Leach (USA)  vs   B.Haygarth (RSA)/ M.Tebbutt (AUS)  /
See Aug 15 Note-4 if you are wondering how LP and MB ended up with the predicament of possibly having to play each other! ..

The new rankings show Leander at #128 and Mahesh at #298 .. MB could potentially miss the qualifiers at the US Open which sometimes closes inside the top-275 .. Srinath is at 323, Fazal at 426 and Harsh is at 605 .. It looks like LP will be down to just inside the 180 next week .. I have not seen the new women's rankings yet.

Aug 16 Note-3

Not a good day for anybody today, it seems - Leander lost to Albert Costa (ESP,22), 6-7(3), 6-4 .. Actually it was a closer match than I had expected considering the form Leander has shown in singles lately - but a loss nonetheless .. He will lose 119 points from last year, when he won three rounds at New Haven including a win over Sampras .. Leander needs a nice long break to work on things, before making a comeback from the lowest ranking in over 5 years that he will fall to, next week - to about #185 ..

Nirupama went down in straight sets to the top seeds in the qualies, to Julia Abe (#141) today at the Bronx challenger (not sure of the score) .. The tournament office had not received the full scorecards yet, but based on Pequery being in the schedule for main draw tomorrow, it appears that Fazal lost to him today in the final round of qualies for the men's challenger, also at Bronx .. So, as I always say, that's that for that, this week, in singles!

There were no big upsets today in the first round of the India Pistons AITA junior ranking tournament at Chennai .. Sunil Kumar had a good win .. The girls draw looks a bit weak, with Sheetal, Radhika, Shruti, and Sonal, all missing .. See the results at the Chennai juniors page.

Aug 16 Note-2

Some notes on Albert Costa, the 22nd ranked 12th seed that Leander plays this afternoon (about 4.30 pm) at Indianapolis .. Albert is a 24 year old who has been up there in the top rankings for the last 3-4 years; he was ranked as high as #9 in late 97 .. 5 ft 11 inch, and a great claycourter .. In fact he finished 1996 at age 21 as the highest ranked Spaniard, which is an accomplishment considering the talent in that country - but I think it's fair to say that his less-than-steallar performances in the grand slam tournaments has kept him away from reaching the very top in ATP ranking .. He has generally not done all that well in the US hardcourt season too .. Last week he lost to Jiri Novak (#42) at Cincinnati in the second round .. At Indianapolis, he was bounced by 263rd ranked David Wheaton last summer .. He has 11 titles in his career, including three this year (Estoril, Gstaad, Kitzbuhel) .. Leander will have to play his best to do anything in this match .. These two have never faced each other in any ATP main draws.

Fazal is playing the final round of qualies at the $50K Bronx challenger right now, against Jan Michel Pequery (FRA,391) .. Nirupama plays this afternoon.

The India Pistons junior AITA ranking tournament has started today at the KTC courts in Chennai .. Will have some news soon.

Here are a couple of snaps from Cincinnati last week (courtesy and copyright: Suresh Ramachandran of the fanclub - Thank you!) .. You may be able to right-click and view the pictures bigger:

.. 

Aug 16 Note-1

Here is the singles draw for Leander at the $745K RCA Championships at Indianapolis (it is in the bottom half, with 2nd seed Rafter and 5th seed Philippoussis .. Sampras is the top seed, in the upper half):

 3 Gusatavo Kuerten (BRA)         BYE                    \
   Sjeng Schalken (NED)     vs  Q Noam Okun (ISR)        / \
   Chris Woodruff (USA)     vs    Andrei Pavel (ROM)     \ / \
13 Mariano Zabaleta (ARG)   vs    Magnus Norman (SWE)    /    \ __ SF
12 Albert Costa (ESP)       vs    Leander Paes (IND)     \    /
   Sebastien Grosjean (FRA) vs WC Richey Reneberg (USA)  / \ /
   Jiri Novak (CZE)         vs  Q Harel Levy (ISR)       \ /
 6 Marcelo Rios (CHI)             BYE                    /
I am quite uncertain about what form Leander is in, for now, in singles .. Let us hope for him to surprise us here!  .. Leander is scheduled to play his match against Albert Costa today (MOnday) on court 3, at about 4.30 pm (1.30 pm EST, usa .. 2 am Tuesday India) .. No doubles for either MB or LP today.

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending Aug 16 ..