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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Aug 24, 1998

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Please read the newly-added page, a collection of notes, especially on the important topic of Indian players needing support .. We need responses and help from everybody ..

Aug 24 Note-2

Leander is at #73 according to the latest ATP rankings. Mahesh moved up a few spots to #352 ( New Haven was a championship series event where you can keep the points from even a round of win in the qualifiers - so Mahesh got 4 points at New Haven). Nirupama is down a few spots to #166 this week from #158, as she lost some points from the Bronx challenger last year. All the other Indian rankings remain basically the same. Gaurav Natekar has lost a few points and that places Harsh Mankad with 5 points as the Indian #5 behind LP, MB, Srinath and Fazal.

In other news, Indian Express has the PTI report today that Vijay Kannan, Manoj Mahadevan, Sanzaruz Zaman and Uzma Khan are all in the direct entry for at the US Open juniors. The press release from the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association says that Manoj and Vijay will form a doubles team. That would be wonderful to see these two playing together (and hopefully doing well) at the USO .. The report is not clear on whether all four are in th singles draw or if some are only four doubles. The latest ITF rankings we heard of had Vijay and Uzma at around 60, but Zaman and Manoj near 100 .. The first two would almost certainly make the singles draws, but I didn't expect the other two to make it .. We will wait till the draws come out the weekend after next, to see if the latter two have entries only for the qualies or something. Manoj had a much higher ranking last year but has fallen a bit this year as he played much fewer tournaments.

I believe the US Open qualifiers are starting tomorrow (Tuesday). Will try to find some info on the women's draw and on whom Nirupama will be playing .. News on qualifier draws and results are normally the toughest to find, though.

Aug 24 Note-1

Not much news over the last couple of days .. All quiet ..

How about this ? .. If anybody wants consolation about LP/MB's first-match loss to Wayne Arthurs and Peter Tramacchi, here it is - They went on to win the darn title .. On the way they beat LP/MB, Delaitre/Tarango, Kafelnikov/Vacek (in the semis), and then Lareau/O'brien (finals) .. So, it is not just the Indian Express who bit the dust here ! .. By the way, the Woodies had lost to Lareau/O'Brien too .. A similar story as last year when our dudes beat #2 Eltingh/Haarhuis, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 early and went on to win the title beating the same Lareau/O'Brien in the final !

I have only seen the top ten doubles rankings so far. No change up at the top 4 spots, and our guys stay at #3 .. Knowles/Nestor are at #5 now, with another good performance, reaching the finfals of the Indianapolis tournament (they lost to Novak/Rikl). Mahesh and Leander stay at the current individual doubles rankings of 7 and 8 respectively. These rankings will be used for seeding at the US Open, and this means that LP/MB are pretty sure of being one of the top 4 seeds (The sum ranks for the possible top 5 teams - Eltingh/Haarhuis - 1+2=3, Woodies - 4+5=9, Bjorkman/Rafter - 3+12=15, Lp/Mb - 7+8=15, Ferreira/Leach - 6+9=15 .. Based on number of tournament played, I think LP/MB will be a #4 seed over Ferreira/Leach who should be the 5th seed). It doesn't matter a whole lot, but it's always fun to predict these things ..

Later, with new rankings, etc .. Nirupama should be playing the US Open qualifiers, starting tomorrow (Tuesday) .. No draw or schedule for the qualies yet. LP/MB will be playing the fun-and-relax "Huggy Bear" invitational doubles at Long Island starting on wednesday ..

Aug 22 Notes

I guess everyone knows that Leander lost yesterday to Goaran Ivanisevic ? .. Since the match was not on TV and I did not receive any match reports from any fans, I didn't know what happened, so I had nothing to report. Here is the report from the New Haven Register today:

Looks like LP was missing his first serves a bit, and was getting those scorching letf-handed returns from Ivo. Of course, if Ivo comes ready to play, he is awfully tough to beat.

Aug 21 Notes

Here is a piece from the New Haven Register on the upsets yesterday:

The tournament people are really sad about this .. boo hoo .. :-) ..

In the post match interview Leander said he had asked Lleyton Hewitt who lost to Sampras the day before, for tips and he said "just guess one way or other on his serves and go for it" .. LP said, "I must have guessed right" .. LP also said that while this may not have been the best tennis he has played, it's the best win of his career. He also said Sampras was a hero for him for the tennis he plays, and that the win was "fantastic" .. He went on to say how he had decided to come in and attack Sampras .. "If you stay back and let Sampras dictate terms, you are going to lose" .. Anyway, LP is one of the few players who have a career win record over Pete .. 1-0 lifetime.

Both Leander and Mahesh realize that they need to get back on groove in doubles though. They need to get a couple of wins under their belt at US Open before they can start feeling that winning confidence .. At least that is the impression I get. I am sure they will get back to their chest-butts soon !

Aug 20 Note-2

Bad news in doubles .. LP/MB lost 3-6, 3-6 .. Not sure if LP was still a bit overwhelmed by the win earlier. LP said that "he was a bit down" as he didn't want to have a letdown with a doubles loss .. These are all new for LP, and it requires some experience in keeping the fire going in singles and doubles simultaneously .. So, once again, when LP/MB and the Woodies are paired to meet in a final, one of them lost early. Funny that the #1 seeds in singles and doubles fell one after another. LP/MB have some work to do in doubles now. They have not defended two titles in a row. They have more points to defend at US Open, and the next two tournaments they play after that (Singapore and Beijing) are places where they have titles to defend too. Things will all be fine if they win that US Open title this time, though !

I hadn't given the draw from quarterfinals onward earlier, thinking Pete wouldn't let LP get past him.. How silly of me ! .. So, here it is:

8-Goran Ivanisevic   (16,CRO) vs  Q-Leander Paes   (100,IND)  \
5-Yevgeny Kafelnikov (12,RUS) vs 13-Bohdan Ulihrach (37,CZE)  / \
4-Richard Krajicek   ( 6,NED) vs  6-Tim Henman      (10,GBR)  \ /
7-Karol Kucera       (13,SLV) vs 16-Guillaume Raoux (48,FRA)  /

The 1, 2, and 3 seeds got knocked out today .. Sampras to LP, Rafter to Raoux and Korda to Ulihrach .. seeds 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are all alive.

Ivanisevic and Leander have played two matches in the past and they are tied 1-1 .. The first was the 5-set battle in Davis Cup in 1995, when LP beat Goran in a massive comeback, 6-7, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 .. The next was a 7-6, 6-3 win by Goran in 1997 at Queens .. Both were on grass. It ain't gonna be easy, but Leander can certainly beat Goran tomorrow. The match is scheduled as the second one on stadium court, with the first match starting at 11 am EST .. Once again, the published ESPN live telecast is for 11 to 1 pm, in the US, but they *might* stay on and show the second match if the first match gets done fast, as they did today .. There is a 3.5 hour tape-delay telecast on ESPN2 as well, at 7.30 pm-11pm tomorrow.. We will see if we get any of the match on TV.

Davis Cup (British player) watch: Greg Rusedski is playing the first tournament after the Queens injury before wimbledon, this week. He was a seed with a first round bye, and has won 2 rounds at the RCA championship, Indianapolis, to reach the quarterfinals there. So it looks like Rusedski is doing alright, after the injury and a rather strange break-up with his old coach (he has a new coach now) .. Tim Henman has quietly reached the quarterfinal at New Haven too ..

Aug 20 Note-2

As of now, LP/MB are behind 3-6, 0-0 in the doubles match against Arthurs/Tramacchi .. That's not good .. Forget what happened earlier and win this damn game, guys !

To add to the earlier match notes, Paes out-aced Sampras 7 to 4 in the match.

Aug 20 Note-1

Oh man oh man .. Leander took out #2 Pete sampras, 6-3, 6-4, as all of you know by now. LP had his inside-out forehand working lethally in the first set, and the running forehand working in the second set .. The service, as LP had said earlier, has been on for the whole week. He broke his service speed record with a 120 mph one down the middle today (as far as I know, the previous best was 118 mph against Pioline at US Open last year) .. He constantly troubled Pete with his quickness and placements .. He broke Pete in the 6th game of the first set to go up 4-2, and was down 3 break pts at 0-40 in the next game .. No problems .. He served it out and the first set was done at 6-3 .. In the second set, he took Sampras to deuces at 1-1 and 2-2, and then faced break points on his own serve at 2-3 .. Evened that up at 3-3 .. he faced break pt again on his serve at 3-4 but took care of that too. Then came the all-out attack and he broke Pete for a 5-4 lead. Pete had no chance in the next game, as LP came up with 3 aces in a row to ice the game, set, and match .. Wow, what a finish. Do all those people who talk of Indians not having "killer instinct" stop that crap now ??

Pete was hassled by a reversed call by the ump at deuce on LP's serve in th 7th game of the first set, and it didn't help, as he kept muttering at the umpire, etc and lost focus a bit. Sampras just did not seem to have the speed in his legs after that, though he wasn't giving up either. LP just did not let him dictate terms, and that was the reason for the win.  If LP keeps doing this with the flu, let us try to buy that dusty carpet from Binghamton that started his sneezing and ask him to try and get the flu a bit more often :-)

The win gives Leander 26 more tournament points and 45 bonus for beating the #2 player .. The 71 points brings up his total here to 119 points, and brings his point total to 611 points !! .. That will place him at about #70 through #72 in the ATP rankings. Wow. This man was ranked #162 in March with 2/3rds of his 280 points to be defended over summer .. Man, what a tear Leander has been on ! .. Hope he keeps it up. Next up is Goran Ivanisevic, the #8 seed, ranked #16 this week. Some may remember LP's match against Goran in Davis Cup .. Time for another upset. heck, why not ? .. he has scalped the #15 and the #2 seeds now, both in straight sets. Goran, better watch out !

LP and Mahesh will come out soon for the doubles match against Wayne Arthurs and Peter Tramacchi .. LP should focus his mind down and shouldn't forget the business at hand in doubles.. They have a title to defend here !

Aug 19 Note-3

Leander still has that flu .. says it's not getting better fast enough, but it doesn't seem to show on court. He humiliated Sergi Bruguera, 6-1, 6-2 today .. LP served something like 15 aces today !! .. When he is serving that well, he is very hard to beat .. He has got 48 total points so far that brings his total to 544 .. Now the match we have all been waiting for - Leander vs Pete Sampras .. I am told it will be the second match on center court tomorrow (starting at about 3 pm), which means it won't be on TV .. They showed Sampras vs Hewitt today in the 1 - 3 pm telecast slot, and are planning to show the Rafter match tomorrow at that time. If that match is over really fast, we might get to see some bonus coverage of the beginning of the LP-PS match, on ESPN in the US.

LP and Sampras have never met in an ATP match, though they have played practice matches very occasionally, as both practice at the same place in Orlando. Incidentally, Leander's coach, Bob "Nails" Carmichael, has recently started coaching the 17 year old Aussis, Lleyton Hewitt .. Nails was watching the Sampras match today against Hewitt and will be onhand tomorrow again .. It would have been funny had Hewitt pulled the big upset and had to play LP next .. No tips from the coach to either player ;-)

Aug 19 Note-2

LP and Bruguera have played one match in the past, at the tokyo indoors in 1995, on carpet, where Bruguera beat LP, 6-3, 6-0 .. Sergei has had an even tougher year than Marc Rosset, without any titles or even semifinals in a year .. he started the year at #8 but has been on a freefall ever since, and fell out of the top-100 for the first time in a long long time, this week .. he too had a streak of first round matches going, which started with the injury retirement at the Rome Super 9 .. He had recently lost at Stuttgart,Umag, San Marino, etc in the first round .. Last night's tough win against Pat McEnroe was the first in a long time. He too is hungry for some wins and points, as he is in danger of falling below 150 after he loses the few points he had at US Open .. Let us see how LP handles him .. The Atlanta Olympics silver medalist is certainly capable of taking out LP, if his injury problems have gone away.

Aug 19 Note-1

Leander is scheduled to play Sergei Bruguera (#107, ESP) at 1.30 pm today at New Haven .. Bruguera had a surprisingly tough match yesterday against wildcard Pat McEnroe (yes, the same one who is normally a TV commentator .. they like him up at New Haven - he had a wildcard there last year too) .. 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 was the score of Sergei's late night win. A correction on the points for LP's win yesterday .. it gave him 12 bonus points, not 18, for beating a 30-50 ranked player. So it is 33 total so far .. I should think before typing while excited after LP's wins .. one gets 18 in doubles (for beating a 40-60 sum-rank pair), not in singles, and hence my confusion .. or, may be I am just getting old. Thanks to Vas Param of the fanclub for pointing out the mistake. Anyway, it brings LP's point total to 529, which will plave him at a career-high ranking just outside top-90 .. up up and up he goes .. he can get 13 more tournament points and 2 more bonus for a win over Bruguera today. The match is at around the same time as the Sampras-Hewitt match, which is at the TV broadcast slot starting at 1 pm, on ESPN .. Perhaps they would have a camera in court 1 and show some clips of the LP match ? ..

The chat with Mahesh was a grand success last night at the chatroom here. We broke our attendance record and had 21 people in the room at a time. By unofficial count, about 40 to 50 people came in and chatted with MB last night. We will have the chat transcript put up pretty soon, in a day or two. MB was in a good mood and answered the barrage of questions patiently. My pick as his best answer was for a question "where do you see yourself in 2000 ?" - the answer came fast - "On the podium at Sydney winning the medal" ..

A note on the lp/mb schedule. Next week, LP and MB will be at the "Huggy Bear" pro-am invitational doubles at Long Island, NY (the same place where the $300K ATP tourney will also be simultaneously taking place - Commack, NY) .. The entries closed for the next week's tournaments a week before LP's Newport title, and he didn't make it based on his older ranking. Since neither Boston nor Long Island has come up with a wildcard for LP yet (their loss .. a lot of these tourney folks have no clue how popular LP is), he chose to relax and have fun at the pro-am .. As for MB, his ranking at around 350 is not high enough to get him an entry in the US Open qualies next week .. So the buddies will face each other in different doubles teams .. LP in Anand Amritraj's company, and MB with Vijay Amritraj !! .. lots of fun, if you NewYork fans want to drive up and watch them. There is some pretty solid prize money also involved in that pro-am, one of the bigger ones around.

So, only Nirupama will be there at the US Open qualies next week. She is among the top 50 players in the 128-draw for women's qualies.

Aug 18 Notes

Don't forget : Mahesh will be online in our chatroom,Tuesday night at 10pm EST (that is 7 pm PST, USA, and 7.30 am Wednesday, India) .. That is in a few hours ! .. See you all there !

Leander added to the list of straight sets losses for Marc Rosset .. This one must have stung badly .. Leander took out Marc Rosset, 6-3, 6-0 today ! .. That is 14 tournament points and 18 bonus points to add to the 7 qualifier points, for a total of 39 points so far here. LP next faces the winner of Bruguera vs Pat McEnroe, to be played at night there today .. Lleyton Hewitt beat Sargis Sargsian to earn the right to face Pete Sampras in round 2 ..

Nirupama is not playing at the Bronx. She is at New York now .. Will try to find out why she decided not to play. More later, inclduing some more on latest newspaper interviews with AITA etc.

Aug 17 Notes

Leander has cracked the top-100 again ! .. He is at #100 this week. In doubles, the team ranks remain at #3 but the individual ranks for MB and LP have fallen to #7 and #8, as the points from New Haven last year fell off. They can pick the rankings right back up by defending the title here. The complete singles rankings are not online yet - we will wait to see MB's rank.

On the women' side, as we predicted here, Manisha Malhotra made the big jump this week - all the way up from #987 to #676 after the runner-up performance at the Southsea futures in UK a week back (her points went up from 2.25 to 8.50). She is now the #3 Indian in the list, behind Nirupama at #158 and Archana Venkataraman at #653. Archana picked up 0.50 points from somewhere and went up from #669 to #653 ..  In doubles, Nirupama had 30 points fall off from last year's Salt-Lake city semis, replaced by 18 from the finals at Lexington (.. my calculations showed 23 points .. must have made a mistake somewhere). Anyway, that leaves her a few spots down at #218 .. She now has 8 more doubles points falling off next week after which she does not have much doubles points to defend for a while, I believe. Niru has 16 points to defend this week in singles too (semis at Bronx last year). In the meanwhile a press friend from India had told me that Sai Jailakshmi was in Germany for a couple of weeks, but I have not found much info on where she was playing. She did pick up 1 point and has moved up from #685 to #649 in doubles.

Kind of busy for a day or two here, so updates from the men/women challengers at Bronx, NY, on Niru, Fazal and Prahlad (Fazal and Prahlad may have had to play qualies) may be pretty late ..

Aug 16 Note-2

The NewHaven draws are out. LP plays #41-ranked Marc Rosset of Switzerland in the first round .. The match is not on the schedule for Monday, which is great news, as it gives LP one more day to take rest and wait for the flu to go away. He was feeling better, but he still had to play very carefully in today's qualifier match against Bastl .. Anyway, he was up 5-0 in a hurry, gave a break back but won the set at 6-3; then he had a quick early break in the second set and could coast along .. He still needs more rest, and it looks like he will get it tomorrow .. LP had a strange match, going back and forth .. He was down 1-4 and then 2-5 in the 3rd set, made it 4-5 and then got broken .. LP watched the end of the match and says Mahesh "should have had this match", for the kind of "fabulous tennis he played to get back in the set" .. Here is the immediate draw for LP (It's 56-strong with 8 byes):

1-Pete Sampras (USA)         Bye                    \
  Sargis Sargsian (ARM) vs W-Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)   / \
  Sergei Bruguera (ESP) vs W-Patrick McEnroe (USA)  \ /
  Marc Rosset (SUI)     vs Q-Leander Paes (IND)     /

Oh, for Pete's sake, don't tell me you want me to give you the draw beyond final 16 for now ! :-) .. Once LP gets there with tons of bonus points, I will give the rest !

Marc Rosset (#41), perhaps the tallest player on the tour at 6 ft 7 inches, last played LP in those fabulous grasscourts in Calcutta in 1993 (Davis Cup), when LP lost 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 .. (that was the wonderful year when the barely 20-yr old LP beat Hlasek as part of the 3-2 win over the Swiss, and followed it with the miracle at Frejus, France, in Ramesh Krishnan's company). Rosset was in the top-10 in early 96, and has been in the top-20 till mid 97 .. After that he has had quite a bad year except for St. Petersberg and Antwerp, both on carpet, this year in March when he lost finals to Krajicek and Rusedski - but he picked up over half of his 900-odd points in that two-week period. After that, he has had a string of early losses, except for the upset of Pioline in the first round at Wimbledon, which was followed by a loss to Chris Wilkinson .. Then he lost to Rios in straight sets at Gstaad (first round), lost to Corretja and Moya in straight sets in Davis Cup in Spain, and lost to Slava Dosedel in straight sets at Stuttgart (first round) .. He has not played any tournaments for 3 weeks .. He must be hungry for a win, and LP hopefully won't allow that. A win would give Leander 18 bonus points to go with 14 tournament points for 32 total. This would be a very good win, if LP does it.

Here is the doubles draw:

1-Mahesh Bhupathi/Leander Paes         Bye                                \
  Wayne Arthurs/Peter Tramacchi   vs   Daniel Orsanic/Jan Siemerink       /\
  Olivier Delaitre/Jeff Tarango   vs   Marius Barnard/Byron Talbot        \/\
7-Julian Alonso/Javier Sanchez    vs   Neville Godwin/Vincenzo Santopadre /  \_
3-Yevgeny Kafelnikov/Daniel Vacek      Bye                                \  / |
  Jamie Holmes/Tomas Zdrazilla    vs   Qualifier/Qualifier                /\/  |
  Gabor Koves/Eric Taino          vs   Stephen Noteboom/Fernon Wibier     \/   |
6-Justin Gimelstob/Jonathan Stark vs W-Scott Humphries/Jeff Salzenstein   /    |_
5-Marc-K. Goellner/David Prinosil vs   Mark Keil/T.J.Middleton            \    |
  Gustavo Kuerten/Max Mirnyi      vs   Devin Bowen/Mariano Hood           /\   |
  Lucas Arnold/Luis Lobo          vs W-Slava Dosedel/Sargis Sargsian      \/\  |
4-Sebastien Lareau/Alex O’Brien        Bye                                /  \_|
8-Pablo Albano/Nicolas Lapentti   vs W-James Blake/Thomas Blake           \  /
  Guillaume Raoux/Fabrice Santoro vs   Qualifier/Qualifier                /\/
  Goran Ivanisevic/G. Van Emburgh vs W-Geoff Grant/Patrick McEnroe        \/
2-Todd Woodbridge/Mark Woodforde       Bye

Reasonably easy early on, but gets pretty tough in the later rounds .. LP/MB had 372 pts for their title there last year. Those points will fall off tomorrow, but hopefully our dudes can gain that back (and more, if they get a sweet victory over the Woodies in a final .. But, if the usual pattern continues, one of the two teams will lose early! .. Since the 97 Cincinnati Super 9, these two teams have been in at least 15 or more tournaments, but have never met).

.. Previous notes at Weekly Notes, ending Aug 17 ..