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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Aug 29, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 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, though ..

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 [24] Michal Mertinak (SVK,146)
[Q2] Sunitha Rao (USA,171) vs [25] Viktoriya Kutuzova (UKR,133)
[Q2] (18) Shikha Uberoi (IND,125) vs Ekaterina Makarova (RUS,256)
[Q2] Harsh Mankad (IND,258) vs [25] 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 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

.. Previous notes are at Notes 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