Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Aug 29, 2005
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Aug 29 Notes
By now you know that Sania has won the first round at the US Open in
a match that most viewers agree wholeheratedly was not the best-quality match
they had ever seen (putting it very midly!), in terms of the errors from
both sides .. Basically Sania kept her cool and came through when it mattered
in the end [R1] Sania Mirza (IND,42) d. Mashona Washington (USA,65), 76(6) 67(6) 64
.. The match progress is in the US Open thread in the forum (and our onsite
correspondent, Mr. Ashish "Gurvinder" Malhotra will have his reprt there
soon .. Sania came up with a crucial break at 4-4 in the third helped by
a couple of double faults from Mashona .. Then, while serving for the match,
SM again showed her mental strengths, saving four break points from 15-40
down, and then converting the first match point she had there .. The match
took 2 hours and 12 minutes .. Sania actually won two points less than Mashona
in the match, but came through when it mattered .. Reportedly she was only
trying to do just enough and not straining too much, especially on her serve
- that stomach strain is just not going away, I assume .. We have to be happy
when she can win a match against a top-75 player even on a bad day, I suppose
.. She picked up 48 points for the win, including 16 bonus .. Her next round
opponent is Maria Elena Camerin (ITA,81) who upset the 21st seed in three
sets. Sania gets a day off tomorrow.
At the $50K+H Kiev challenger, Harsh Mankad had a good 75 62 win over Mikhail
Filima of Ukraine .. Good win, considering the switch to clay courts .. Harsh
continues to show that he is one of those rare players (especially from India)
who can always play at least adequately, and mostly very well, on all the
surfaces .. His R2 opponent is not decided yet .. HM and Mustafa play doubles
at noon on Tuesday.
Thanks go to Mr. PV Iyer (Tara's and Venkat's grandfather) who took the trouble
to confirm the correct spelling of the talented youngster I was asking about
yesterday - it is Ashwarya Shrivasta, once and for all! :-) .. He
got it confirmed from her coach Nandan Bal .. So, now I can stop losing sleep
over the name and start losing sleep over how well the young girl will turn
out to be, later .. Hopefully Mr. Iyer and I aren't wasting time, and she
will turn into something special .. Go Ashwarya .. We need the next Sania!
Shruti Dhawan and Sunil Kumar are at the $10K ITF events being held at the
same venue in Nottingham, UK. Sunil is the 7th seed and Shruti the
4th .. Both play the first round tomorrow ..
In other news, Prakash Amritraj, probably resting his feet which has been
giving him some pain lately, has now withdrawn from the Donetsk challenger
next week in Ukraine .. So it will be just HM and Mustafa there.
OK, see you later, as soon as I can find some internet connection in Barcelona
.. At least I have the comfort when I disappear these days that, though with
the trouble of having to wade through 100s of posts, you *will* find most
of the news in the forum from the crazy tennis nuts there .. Man, who is
the nutty professor they learn this craze from, I wonder :))
Aug 28 Notes
Sania went down in a very close final yesterday at the Forest Hills,
but now gets ready for a big first round US Open main draw match tomorrow
(monday) against Mashona Washington (USA,65) .. Sania has a pretty
difficult draw to navigate at the USO .. The first round itself is tough,
against 29 year old Mashona, who is having the best couple of years of her
career .. If she advances, she could run into the 21st seed Safina, 14th
seed Molik, top seed Sharapova etc .. Can't look past thyat first round yet,
Sania has moved up to #42 in the latest rankings released today, with her
Forest Hills WTA final .. She fell 63 57 46 in the final yesterday against
Lucie Safarova (CZE,66) - You can see our onsite TennisIndia correspondent, Ashish "gvhvhg" Malhotra's match reports here - --1--, --2--
.. Eighteen year old Safarova, just like Sania, is one of the 3 or 4 players
who have made the biggest moves up the ranks this year, with a clay WTA title,
a grass WTA final (Rosmalen) and now a hardocurt WTA title .. It came down
to a couple of mistakes here and there in the second and third sets .. Nothing
to worry about, but Sania needs to get her serve a little bit more reliable
.. The serve power is very much there (she is among the faster servers out
there at a peak speed near 115 mph) but variations, kick, etc need to be
worked on .. The second serve also needs some technical work, from all reports
.. As for her playing style and shots - nothing to worry at all .. She is
going stright to top-25 or top-20 soon .. Once we are there, we will talk
more about how much higher .. Sania picked up 67 points for reaching the
final and 17 more as bonus for beating two top-75 players and one top-500
player .. That has taken her ranking to #42 which now places her at the 5th
spot among Asian players, behind #25 Asagoe, #33 Sigiyama, #35 Peng and #40
Li, and ahead of Morigami at #47 .. The prize money was not a whole lot at
Forest Hills (though the field had mostly only top-75 players), but Sania
made $12,000 - more than enough to treat her parents and coach to a nice
biryani dinner I guess .. She herself is now on pasta and biryani is
totally off the menu under the strict watch of coach John Farrington!
In other news, Harsh Mankad is drawn to face Ukrainian Davis Cupper Mikhail
Filima .. Wildcard Filima is ranked 963 but was arond 500 last year before
some injury time off .. He has wins over top-350 players this year and so
this may not be an easy match for HM as he is switching for oe week to clay
court, though he should come through .. In doubles Harsh and Mustafa are
seeded third and face the Argentinian pair, Diego Junqueira and Martin Vassalo
Aruello in the R1 .. Mustafa could hardly do much in the singles qualies,
going down 16 06 against Llia Marchenko of Ukraine in the Q1 yesterday ..
The junior national claycourts just got done in Chennai .. 12 year old Yuki Bhambri
(DLI) "stamped his class" (or whatever the newspapers would say :)) with
the u14 boys title over Menta Gopinath of AP .. The girls u14 title went,
as expected, to Aishwarya Shrivastava .. The u18 level is a bit less
exciting for me personally, as the players are more of known quantities and
none of the pro and ITF junior ranked players were there (Sanaa, Tara, Vivek,
Jeevan, Sanam etc) .. But I was happy to see Swetha G Kakhandki of
Karnataka back there, winning the title over the top seed Madura Ranganathan
.. I had kept an eye on GK for a while but she had not been in the news (she
was at the National Tennis Aacedmy, Gurgaon, last year, but things got confusing
with her having to return to Bijapur for practice after the NTA closed its
girls wing according to The Hindu -- I guess that news escaped
me, and I am not sure if AITA ever talked about that either) .. Anyway, good
to see GKS back .. She is very talanted and should get back on the ITF junior
circuit pronto - wthout ANY delay .. The boys u18 were the least exciting
but 18 year old Saketh Sai of AP, 6-4 with a big serve, was too much
for everybody else it seems.. National selector Akhtar Ali was on hand in
Chennai and was reportedly to select a small group of players for a camp
.. That is good to hear .. I have complied the results from Chennai, and
will post it soon in the tournamnt archives.
A request to anybody who is reading this who may know the exact spelling
of Aishwarya's name - please email me .. That seems to be the name
with most variations I have seen in Indian tennis .. Every draw and every
newspaper reports writes a different name .. AITA's rank list and entry lists
show all kinds of forms too .. So far I have seen Aiswarya Srivastava, Aishwarya
Shreevastava, Ashwarya Srivastav, Ashwarya Shrivastava, and even Aiswarya
Sreevatsan(!) and many many more .. Somebody from Pune (she trains
under Nandan Bal there) please let me know at least if the first name is Aiswarya or Aswarya or Aishvarya ..
We all need to learn to be a bit more thorough in these things.
Aug 26 Notes
Quick updates -- Sania made the SF with an easy 62 61 win, and Shikha
made the Q3 with a great three set fight .. But Prakash, Sunitha, Neha and
Harsh lost in the Q2 at the US Open, the first two in pretty one-sided straight
sets .. Neha and Harsh put up serious three set fights but could not get
past their opponents .. Harsh's match against the 25th seed Benneteau was
the last match to finish there at 9 pm .. Benneteau was ranked as high as
#61 a few months back this year (now #147) and HM made a huge comeback after
taking just 1 points off the first 4 service games from the big-server ..
HM even led by a break early in the third set, but fell in a couple of close
breaks in the set .. In other news, at the claycourt nationals, Yuki Bhambri
stopped Venkat Iyer's run in the u14 QF in straight sets.
Today's news - Bopanna lost 46 16 to Istomin at the Bukhara semifinal and also went down in a 3-set doubles final ..
I am traveling today and will update Sania's and Shikha's scores only a little
later .. Shikha plays the top seed Bammer in the Q3 and Sania pays the surprising
giant-killer, 15 yar old Alexa Glatch (USA) who has beaten two top-100 players
Aug 25 Note-2
The day has started well with a fantastic upset by Rohan "Bofors" Bopanna
at the $25K+H Samarkand challenger, 63 62 (WOW!) over the top seed Boris
Pashanski (SCG,135) who has been a red hot player with several challenger
titles in the last 4-5 months .. This goes as one of the very best wins by
Rohan, who seems fully back to what he was - actually probably better than
what he was - before his shoulder surgery last year .. He picked up 22 points
for reaching his first challenger semifinal (believe it or not, he has actually
never gone past the first round in a challenger in his career!) .. That is
enough to move him up to around #310, pretty much at a career-high rank,
and he has done all of that in about 6 months since his return .. How about
that? .. RB is in the doubles final as well .. He and Kyu-Tae Im (KOR) won
the SF today over the Russian pair, Sergei Krotiouk and Andrei Stoliarov,
36 76(5) 75 .. Nice comeback .. They play the final on Friday against the
second seeds Alexei Kedriouk (RUS) and Orest Tereschuk (UKR).
Forgot to mention that Sania Mirza was selected for the Arjuna Award
yesterday!! .. That is a great honor for her - and truly deserved .. If I
am not mistaken, she is only the second Indian woman tennis player to ever
receive the award - the first being of course Nirpama Mankad, mother of Harsh
Mankad, around 1980 .. A case could be made for Niruapama Sanjeev to get
the same award, when one considers that those like Asif Ismael, Gaurav Natekar
and Sandeep Kirtane of very marginal impact in Indian tenis got the award,
but anyway, I am glad that Sania has got one, and she joins a list of eminent
Indian tennis players like Ramanathn Krishanan, Naresh Kumar, Premijit Lall,
Jaideep Mukherjea, Akhtar Ali, Nirupama Mankad, Vijay Amritraj, Ramesh Krishnan,
Leander Paes, and Mahesh Bhupathi .. I think that is a complete list (I should
check this), and except for the other three somewhat arguabl cases I mentioned,
the past awardees unarguably deserved it .. It is nice to see Sania at age
18 join that group! .. I believe Leander at age 17 in 1990 will remain as
the youngest Arjuna awardee in tenis though.
Sania's QF match is underway at Forest Hills, and she is up 62 00 over Vinci! .. Back later with more!
Aug 25 Note-1
Thursday's matches at the US Open are
[Q2] Neha Uberoi (USA,272) vs Jennifer Hopkins (USA,212)
[Q2] Prakash Amritraj (IND,272) vs  Michal Mertinak (SVK,146)
[Q2] Sunitha Rao (USA,171) vs  Viktoriya Kutuzova (UKR,133)
[Q2] (18) Shikha Uberoi (IND,125) vs Ekaterina Makarova (RUS,256)
[Q2] Harsh Mankad (IND,258) vs  Julien Benneteau (FRA,147)
Rohan plays Pashanski at Samarkand earlier in the day, and Sania plays Vinci at
Forest Hills in the afternoon ..
By the way, I can't believe that I forgot to mention Mahesh's doubles match
yesterday at the New Haven ATP .. After a good start, MB-MD could not sustain
it, as the second seeds were upset 16 61 64 by the Israeli pair, Jonathan
Erlich and Andy Ram .. So, both LP-NZ seeded first and MB-MD seeded second
failed to advance there .. Off to US Open for them both.
Aug 24 Notes
This was what we should call a Red-Letter Day in Indian tennis singles ..
7 Indians including an Indian-American played at challenger or higher levels
today and we went 6-1 today in those matches, including 2 upsets .. None
got upset either .. The last time Indians had that many good wins in one
day was ... was ... well .. like I know! .. Not in the modern era, as far
as I can imagine (Of course, 4 Indians were in the wimbledon main draw second
round in 1973 and all that -- but that was 32 years back, and all I remember
is Vijay Amritraj's picture in The Hindu newspaper and some names like Mukherjea!
:-)) .. Here are the scores of today matches, in the order they happened:
At the $25K+H Samarkand Challenger,
[R2] Karan Rastogi (IND,575) l. Dennis Istomin (UZB,243) 57 67(5)
[R2] Rohan Bopanna (IND,328) d. (6) Peng Sun (CHN,328) 64 16 64
At the US Open Qualies,
[Q1] (18) Shikha Uberoi (IND,125) d. Yulia Beygelzimer (UKR,226), 06 75 63
[Q1] Sunitha Rao (USA,171) d. Chia-Jung Chuang (TPE,222), 46 64 61
[Q1] Harsh Mankad (IND,258) d. (WC) Tim Snyczek (USA), 63 62
[Q1] Prakash Amritraj (IND,272) d. Nicolas Mahut (FRA,161), 76(4) 64
At the $74.8K (16-draw) Tier-IV Forest Hills WTA,
[R1] (3) Sania Mirza (IND,50) d. Shahr Peer (ISR,59), 76(4) 61
In fact we had a poll at the forum to predict the record in the 7 matches
and three of the 16 who voted actually even picked the 6-1 record, though
most went for 5-2 or 4-3 like me :) .. Really, a very impressive show by
the Indians today ..
Karan "Stogi" Rastogi started it off with a very solid outing at the Samarkand
challenger, where he already had picked up one upset win earlier .. Istomin
is undoubtedly the fastest rising tennis player in Asia, and to take him
to his wits' end in two sets was good work from "Stogi" [By the way, an American
friend of Karan's, whom we call "super-agent", asked me to popularize that
name he has given Karan, though I am not sure KR likes it .. I think it is
a coool name!] .. Then came the nice win by Rohan "Bofors" Bopanna who beat
Peng Sun in a mild upset .. Sun, the Chinese #1, has now lost to Harsh, Prakash
and Rohan this year .. Karan next runs into the hot top seed, Boris Pashanski
(SCG,135) .. Bops had an excellent upset in doubles too today, with Kyu-Tae
Im (KOR) - they beat the top seeds Aisam Qureshi (PAK) and Lovro Zovko (CRO),
46 76(4) 63 .. They play the Russian pair Sergei Krotiouk and Andrei Stoliarov
tomorrow in the SFs .. Karan and Peng Sun couldn't get past the second seeds
Alexei Kedriouk (KAZ) and Orest Tereschuk (UKR) in the QF - 26 26 ..
The day picked up steam with a fabulous comeback win from Shikha Uberoi,
who makes a living from playing these 2.5 hour barnburners .. Shik is up,
Shik is down, Shik is up, down, up, she wins/loses is a pattern in many of
her matches - the only constant being that she has the abilities to turn
things around any time. It was only totally down, and then totally up today
though - she was fixing to lose the match at 0-6 3-5, but the girl did not
like how the bottom of the barrel looked .. Out came the Shikha we all love
.. Won 10 of the next 13 games breaking the Ukrainian Beygelzimer in 4 of
the next 6 games to win the match .. Wow! ..
Sunitha Rao (USA) continued the "we won't lose today" pattern, as she also
pulled a nice comeback, 46 64 61 where she won going away in the end...
Harsh's turn -- He had the easiest opponenet today, but a talented 17 year
old who was not ready to lie down and gift the match to Harsh .. HM went
up immediately to 2-0 in the first set and 2-0 in the second set and stayed
ahead .. But not without some anxious moments when he was down 0-40 in one
service game each in either set .. Both times he showed that he was in no
mood to mess up the indians' show today by holding serve .. Easy win in the
end for Harsh, who picked up $5650 which is the biggest paycheck he has ever
got in tennis.
Then it was down to Prakash, who actually had the toughest opponent, ranking-wise.
Not a problem .. He too kept his nose ahead, going up 3-0 with a break in
the second game .. Though he was broken back to 3-3, he stayed tough to reach
a tiebreaker which he took .. PA was up at 3-1 in the second set and held
serve easily every time from there to cruise to the most impressive upset
win of the day, over a top-175 player.
Well, I guess the pressure was all on Sania to keep pace with the rest of
them, and she was facing somebody who had beaten her last month. Sania was
broken in the 5th game, but in typical fashion, when Shahar was serving for
the set, she broke her to even it at 5-5 .. But, somewhat predictably she
lost serve to 5-6, and again quite as expected she went for another break
to even it at 6-6 and send it to a tiebreaker. From then on, it was basically
all Sania .. She was asked not to exert much and look at this only as match
practice, to not push the stomach strain .. Somewhere in the middle of the
match she forgot that ands just went ahead with her game to win the match,
as reported by our onsite fanclub member, Gautam Belday, in the forum thread
on Sania .. Sania now plays Roberta Vinci (ITA,61) in the QF on Thursday
at about 2 pm.
Harsh, Prakash, Rohan, Sania, Shikha, Neha, Sunitha - all play tomorrow ..
Can we have a 7-0 day, guys?
Aug 23 Notes
The day started with a very good upset by Karan Rastogi at the Uzbek
challenger and got better when Neha Uberoi did a blitzkrieg in the Q1
at the US Open qualies ..
At the $25K+H Bukhara challenger, [R1] (Q) Karan Rastogi (IND,575) d. Andrei
Stoliarov (RUS,446) 64 46 76(5) .. Though Stoliarov is not playing
like he used to when he was in the top-75 a few years back, he is by no means
an easy player .. To come through in a gritty third set tiebreaker against
player of such experience, is commendable from the 18 year old Karan .. Go
dude, go .. He faces the 3rd seed Dennis Istomin (UZB,243) in the second
round .. Istomin is probably the best "breakout" player of the year so far
in Asia - and this will not be an easy match .. Rohan Bopanna (IND,344),
who had won the R1 yesterday, plays the 6th seed Peng Sun (CHN,328) in the
R2 .. Both the second round matches are scheduled for wednesday at about
12 noon .. In doubles there today, Rohan and Kyu-Tae Im (KOR) beat
Joao Cunha-Silva and Goncalo Nicau, 64 64 and now play the top seeds Aisam
Qureshi (PAK) and Lovro Zovko (CRO) - the QF i sscheduled for wednesday evening
.. Karan and Peng Sun (CHN), the last entry in the doubles field, could not
do much against the second seeds Alexei Kedriouk (KAZ) and Orest Tereschuk
(UKR), as they went down 26 26 ..
At the US Open qualifying, wildcard Neha Uberoi (USA,272) did not give any
breathing room at all to her Japanese opponent, Shiho Hisamatsu (JPN,170)
in a 61 61 shellacking! .. Neha was up 3-0 quickly, and won the first set
with breaks in the 2nd and 6th games .. In the second, Neha was up 4-0 and
cruised to a win, breaking Shiho three more times in games 1, 3, and 7 ..
This was an utter no-contest, as Neha faced any semblence of trouble only
once, in the 5th game of the first set when she had to save one break point
.. In dad Mahesh Uberoi's words, she played "nearly flawless" tennis today
.. In the second round of qualies, Neha pays Jennifer Hopkins (USA,212) who
upset the 2nd seed Lourdes Dominguez-Lino (ESP,94) ..
Shikha Uberoi, Sunitha Rao (USA), Harsh Mankad and Prakash Amritraj play
on wednesday, pretty much in back to back matches, timing-wise .. Wednesday
looks to be a lot of fun in New York, with Sania Mirza set to play the
first round at the Tier-IV WTA at Forest Hills, against Shahar Peer ..
I don't remember a day when we had Sania, Shikha, Harsh, Prakash, Rohan and
Karan (and Sunitha) ALL playing singles in some big matches. This is
cool .. Exciting!! .. Looking forward to a 7-0 day .. Gi guys!!!!!!
The first junior nationals of the year is underway in Chennai ayt the Krishnan Tennis Center .. u14 and u18 draws .. Venkat Iyer
of Delhi, Tara's brother who is currently in the US, who is playing as a
wildcard, started well again - promptly upsetting the top seed and the India
u14 #1, Mansigh Athere (MAH) in the first round in the u14 .. He has won
two rounds to reach the final 16, and seems to be on a collision course with
Yuki Bhambri .. Ashwarya Shrivastava (somebody that I am keeping an
eye on) has qualified into the u18 draw and is alive in both u14 and u18
..I may compliele all the results and put them in the archive soon.
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
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
.. Previous notes are at
for the weeks ending on Aug 22 ..
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