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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Sep 6, 2004
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Sep 6 Notes

Martina and Leander advanced to the QF yesterday with another easy 63 64 win yesterday aover Els Callens and Martin Damm, but Mahesh and Lisa Raymond went down in the R2 to the Australians, Alicia Molik and Todd Woodbridge, 67(1) 67(3)  .. In the juniors, Divij Sharan held up pretty well till 5-5 in the first set against the talented 10 yr old  Scoville Jenkins, but then he just could not seem to get over the hump though he kept taking a lot of points in many of the games in a 57 16 loss ..

Today, we have Mahesh and Max in the doubles R3, playing a relatively tough team, Rafael Nadal and Tommie Robredo of Spain .. The match is at 1 pm there, in about  half an hour as I type .. Earlier today, Tushar Liberhan went down without much to show, 26 26 against Evgeniy Kirillov (RUS) .. Navdeep Singh, playing very well at the US Open so far, is playing Phillip Symmonds (USA) right now .. Neha and Karan are playing their first round matches tomorrow - late start for them, probably because neither is playing junior doubles .. Tushar and Divij are in the doubles draw, as is Navdeep Singh, who is playing with Eric Chvojka (CAN) .. Nacdeep comes back later today for doubles against the 4th seeded American pair, Scoville Jenkins and Mykyta Kryvonos.

Sep 5 Note-2

How about that? ... The top seeds are history after meeting the Czech-Inde-Mail .. Paes-Rikl into the quarterfinals now, after a trmendous comeback where they were 2 points away from losing the match in straight sets and were down 1-4 in the 3rd also .. [R3] (13) L.Paes/ D.Rikl d. (1) J.Bjorkman/ T.Woodbridge, 26 75 64 .. No online stats from that court, so we only know how the games went .. Whoever served second on our side (Rikl?) seemed to run into trouble in the first set, as LP-DR dropped serve in the 4th and 8th games to lose the set .. Generally they were not getting any points on the top seeds' serve either .. It all changed in the second set as our guys tightened up the match .. LP-DR had break points in the 5th game but the other guys held .. Then at 4-5, LP-DR were a couple of points away from dropping the match but they held tough .. At 5-5 our guys went to work, forcing a double break point and converting the second one to go ahead 6-5 .. They served off the next game to even it up at one set apiece!! ... In the 3rd set, LP-DR were again in trouble after dropping serve in the 4th game, where they were 40-0, lost 4 points in a row, then saved three BPs, and finally dropped serve .. It was soon down to 1-4 .. Then Hurricane Lee hit hard! :-) .. We blinked and ourt pair had run up 5 games in a row with 2 breaks and won the set at 6-4 ... Not before facing a final break point at 5-4, 30-40 and saving it .. Fantastic win .. The quarterfinal is against the winners of the match between Aspelin-Perry and Lopez-Verdasco .. Hopefully they will win that and face Bhupathi-Mirnyi who will also hopefully win the next two rounds.

Very even match so far from Divij Sharan against the highly thought of youngster, 10th seeded Scoville Jenkins .. Divij is down 4-6 1-1 but is playing a very even match.

Sep 5 Note-1

Well, I am running late in a lot of web site updates (still have not posted the women's events results from Delhi at the archives) .. Will do all soon ..  But the Suynday matches are on at the US Open .. LP-DR are in the 3rd round in a big match starting in a few minutes, against Bjorkman-Woodbridge .. Bhupathi-Mirnyi got a walkover from Schuettler-Youzhnyi and are in the 3rd round too (they play tomorrow) ..Lee-Martina play an evening match in the MxD R2 against Callens-Damm .. Bhupathi-Raymond play MxD R2 against Molik-Woodbridge, also in the evening Divij Sharan plays the 10th seed Scoville Jenkins in the boys R1 later today .. Navdeep Singh qualified into the boys' draw (good job)! .. Karan Rastogi is the 13th seed, and Tushar Liberhan also is in the boys' draw .. Neha Uberoi (USA) is in the girls' draw - unseeded, but she is really a contendor even for the title.

Harsh Mankad and Parakash Amritraj are at the $75K+H Seoul challenger.  Both have tough draws .. Harsh faces the 3rd seed Jene-Rene Lisnard (FRA,127) and Prakash runs into the 7th seed Danai Udomchoke (THA,182) .. A big contingent is at the Uzbekistan Asian Championships .. Sania Mirza, Rushmi Chakravarthi, sai Jayalakshmy and Ankita Bhambri on the women's side and Sunil Kumar and Vishal Uppal on the men's side .. The winner gets a wildcard to the Australian Open main draw! .. The main draw matches start by Tuesday at Tashkent.  Same at Seoul .. The other event we will follow this week is the $10K ITF futures in Hyderabad -Aqeel Khan (PAK), Vinod Sridhar, Mustafa Ghouse, Ajay Ramaswami, Vijay Kannan, Vishal Punna, etc are the top players there .. By the way, a few  Indians were at the $10K in Colombo this week - the best show was by Ravishankar Pathajali who upset the 2nd seed Mustafa in the QF and made the semis where he fell.

Shikha Uberoi next plays at the Bali WTA qualies next weekend ..

.. I was traveling in the DC and NY area till this weekend .. Hence the lack of updates for about 10 days .. Hope you have been reading the updates in the forums by fanclub folks ..

Sep 2 Notes

Well, just got back from watching the Shikha Uberoi R2 match at the great Arthur Ashe stadium, in the press area - I was on press credentials there, representing the great media outlet called TennisIndia.Org :-) .. As it was THE evening prime time match on TV, and was televised in Asia, most of you must have seen it.  So I will skip the match details .. Shikha showed clearly why she is destined to go to the top-100 or top-50 pretty soon - she has the game for that and more .. The match started with SU breaking in the 4th game to lead 3-1 and then holding to go 4-1 .. She was broken back in the 7th game and again in the 11th game .. The 11th game brought the crowd to their feet as Shikha showed what she was made of, saving SIX break points before falling, after 10 deuces .. What was most impressive was her consistently high speed on the first serve - over 110mph every time except for perhaps a couple of first serves - and goinjg as high as 117 mph .. Only ver few on the women's circuit can get that kind of speed and rarely does anyone do that this consistently, though her first serve percentage was onl at about 50% .. Aggressive game, and she never reall gave up - and she took a lot of points in the second set as well - she just did not seem to know how to get ahead of Venus .. All she seemed to lack was experience at that level and of course she was playing V.Williams! .. The match took an hour and 21 minutes .. As I need to go to sleep, I will just copy my write-up just now in the fan forum thread -

I have never seen that kind of a standing ovation for a girl who lost 57 16 .. It was not the scoreline that impressed people, but the way she played. She made a lot of fans out there. A big reason was also her oncourt demeanour, and the nice smile she has often after rallies even if she lost a point - which shows a sporting spirit. The crowd did respond to her because of that and for the way she played aggressively all through.
India Today's Arun Padmanabhan, India Abroad's Tanmoy Nanda, and myself (of TennisIndia.Org :-)) were the Indians in the press area. Very few other press guys there - all expecting her to lose 06 06 and staying in the media room rather than coming to the court. One said they were betting on whether she would take more than 2 games on Venus. And I said, "don't be surprised if Shikha even pulls an upset" .. Some more media guys rushed up from the media room once she was up a break.

The bad news was that they brought Shikha to the media room immediately and so I had to go there, thus missing all of LP's MxD match (I went to the top of Ashe stadium for 5 minutes during the match to look over to the other court -- I wanted to see Martina and LP together on court live at least for that long!).

Lots of media guys in the interview room (they were watching it on TV once Shikha showed she wouldn't be just rolling over). Too many surprised questions. One of the first ones was - "Shikha, where have you been all this while? - we didn't know about you" ... Some comments from her on how she was at Princeton, injured, working on a long-term plan with dad (which is true - the more I talked to Mahesh Ubeori, the more I feel that the man has analyzed a lot of what needed to be done and put them through some long term grind).. She said, "My sisters and I lost a lot of matches badly in the senior tour, as I didn't play much juniors after the 14s. But I believed in my coach, dad and my sister. I am glad it is working now" ....

Other coments:

(the usual Q): How did it feel walking out on Ashe court?

A: "It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen or felt"

Q: Most qualifiers lose to the Williams sisters 06 16 in 35 minutes. How did you do something like this?

"I felt I have put in the hours, put in the work, and that I was moving in the right direction. I did feel I could do it, but it did not work out"

Q: What did you think of Venus game?

"She is a great player. I idolized her as I was putting in all the hard work, taking my game to the direction where modern tennis is going. I have seen a lot of Venus matches and knew what to expect"

Q: (by the guy from the unknown media outlet, TennisIndia.Org :-)): Shikha, you may not be that known here, but you do have a big following in India. Three of us from the Indian media are here. By our records, your win in the first round was the biggest win by an Indian-born lady in the open era. Do you have any comments to your Indian fans?

A: A BIG HELLO TO ALL OF THE INDIAN FANS!! .. I am very glad that I could play well here. As long as I could help inspire any more girls to start playing well, that would be very satisfying. I had an Indian American gentleman come up to me after the last win and tell me that he would be showing my picture to his daughter and get her to play tennis more seriously - those are fantastic experiences.

Qn (by some US press guy who did not know what else to ask ) -- I am not even sure I can say the name of the cities in India, Allahabad or something (sic) where you played. How does playing in India on the futures(sic) circuit compare to playing in places like Edmonds, OKlahoma?

A: Paying in India is tough. The court surface is different and it is quite hot. I feel though, that playing there did make me tougher.

Q: What are the kind of courts they have out there?

A: They have the usual hard, clay and some grass .. Or may be even cow.. (poor girl fell for the bait! ... cowdung, some correspondent finished it, with an immediate retort from a pesky tennisindia correspondent who said that it does not exist anymore! :-)) ...

Q: We know of great players from India like the Amritrajs and now Paes, but have not heard of too many women players. Is it unusual for you to be playing tennis?

A: Not really. Indian women do take academics more seriously than sports but they are not the subservient types, though the society is male-dominated just as anywhere else. There are players like Sania Mirza doing very well from India now ... Also I believe the players are beginning to be marketed well too now, with companies like Mahesh Bhupathi's Globosport doing a lot of work in tennis.

There were some questions on her princeton days and all, but not too interesting .. We ended with the India-related discussion above. The press guys seemed quite happy at the nice and frank way she talked. Down-to-earth, and that the press guys are not used to. I thought Shikha did very well for her first big press conference in a big interview hall...
Shikha picked up a whopping $25K from the USO show, easily more than all her career earnings so far .. Add $10K that the sisters earned for a doubles match too, to that .. Shikha will be playing next at the Bali WTA after a week off.  She will play qualies there.  Her rank will now go up to inside 180 (as she picked up 86 more points to add to the 89 she had!) and will easily make all challengers and also WTA qualies.  Neha will also join her at Bali, but she first plays the US Open juniors, which will be her last junior event - watch out for Neha next week and don't be surprised if Neha pulls off a title or something.

In other news, Leander and Martina won the mixed doubles match 61 76 - I couldn't see it as it was during SU's match .. LP-Rikl won the R1 yesterday, as did Mahesh and Max earlier .. Karan Rastogi who has been lying low for a while, I think practising after a so-so period in the juniors till a couple of months back, is doing well in the Canadian Open grade-1, reaching the QF with a win over the Wimbledon junior semifinalist .. Sai, Rushmi and Ankita are in the semis at the delhi $10K .. 17 yr old Vivek Shokeen finished with 28 circuit points (10 ATP points) and Vijay Kannan with 24 pts (8 ATP pts) in the Pakistan satellites, but everybody else did nothing much, except for the young kid Jeevan who played well in a lot of matches .. Harsh Mankad is off to Seoul for the challenger next week - he squeezed into the entry list this week .. Prakash also is going there but was a couple of spots out when I saw last .. Sunil Kumar will be at the Delhi $10K+H, but not at the $10K in Hyderabad next week .. The top seed Vinod Sridhar and second seed Mustafa Ghouse got upset in the QFs at the $10K in Colombo today - the latter was upset by the 8th seed Pathanjali Ravishankar .. More later after I get back to California tomorrow.

Aug 31 Notes

Wow!! ..What a show!! .. Shikha Uberoi (USA/IND,275) beat Saori Obata (JPN,56) 63 36 75 to advance to the second round at the US Open tonight .. I was there to see the biggest win ever by an Indian-born player (if I am not mistaken Niru's win over #66 Pizziccini at the AO in 1998 is the biggest in the open era before this) .. She went ahead 3-1 in the first set but got broken back at 3-2 .. broke again to 4-2 and made that hold up .. In the second, she dropped serve in the 4th game to fall 1-3 .. Had a few deuces and break points in the next game but Saori held there .. In the 3rd set it all looked lost at 0-3 when SU dropped serve twice .. But then an incredible comeback where she played out of his skin and pulled off three breaks on the world #56 in 5 service games .. Amazing .. 2 hour 20 minutes match .. This girl is for real in every which way .. She has power, height, athleticism, and a complete all court game .. She likes to move up all the time but has the ground game to win almost every one of the 20+ shot rallies in the match .. Amazingly accurate, she pays an extremely enjoyable brand of tennis .. OK, it is 1 am out here in NY, and I have to sleep .. Take a look at some more stuff I posted in the forum US Open thread ..

Forgot to mention that Mahesh and Max won the first round 46 64 76(3) in a really good high-quality doubles match, over Martin Garcia and Sebastien Prieto .. That was expected though .. LP and Rikl play only Thursday I believe ..

Vivek Shokeen and Vijay Kannan are in the QF in the Pakistan satellite masters .. Other news later, if I manage to find time and internet.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Aug 30 ..

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