Notes for week ending on Sept 8, 1997

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9/5/97 Morning Notes

Not much news.. Just some notes on Leander's schedule from now on.

Leander has 130 points to defend the rest of the year... 44 points for the finals at the Madras challenger during the week after the US Open last year (drops off at the end of next week; Madras challenger will be only in November this year, if at all.. more below on that), 13 points from Tanagura challenger (October 3rd week), 7 points from the Reunion challenger (November 3rd week), and 66 from the challenger title at Mauritius (grass, November 4th week)... There is a little bit of a scheduling problem for him now, as far as challengers are concerned.

The first thing is that his point total will drop from about 461 to about 417 next week, and he will be down to about 110 in the week after (on Sep 15), after moving just inside of 100 next week. His first chance to regain points will be 2 weeks later at Beijing, and then at Singapore. He didn't do well at both places last year, but it may be crucial for him to pick up at least 50-75 points from those two places in the first two weeks of October. Then comes a one week break when he could be back in India, or play in a challenger somewhere (Tanagura itself?). The 2 weeks after that are the Super 9 tournaments in Paris and Stuttgart both on Indoor Carpet. The problem is that both those 48-draw tournaments and direct entry may be tough for Leander (but there are also 32-draw clay tournaments those two weeks which would get some of the top-100 players, so it is tough to predict).

The challenger schedule in India is in a big mess, as many of you may have heard, due to the non-cooperativeness and misunderstandings between AITA and Mr. PL Reddy... Don't want to get into the details, but basically ATP alloted (or was ready to allot) tournaments, but who should organize them became the issue and now they are down to only a three week period (starting Nov 10, 17 and 24) when they can be held according to the latest stipulation from ATP. The guarantee money has to be paid next week for any of them to appear on the ATP schedule, or it's all too late.. it is still not at all clear which challengers will be there.. What we have heard last is that Bombay (hardcourt) and Ahemedabad (clay) should be starting on Nov 3rd and Nov 10th, and Madras (hardcourt) could be the next week. There were guarantee money problems for Madras, as well. It's quite possible that only 1 or 2 of those will be held. This is a pity, as far as the Indian players are concerned, as they will have to unnecessarily travel around to find places to play at. And there is an even bigger monkey wrench in this, as Leander/Mahesh are going to be in the year end top-8 ATP doubles championship at Hartford during the middle week of the 3 week period (Nov 17-23). Don't be surprised if he is not at any of the Indian challengers, and the people who messed up the challenger schedule will then pay with lost revenue if Leander isn't there (yeah, they will get Oleg Ogorodov and Eyal Ran for the challengers, but good as such players are, they ain't gonna bring out people to watch those challemgers).

Leander is currently scheduled to be at the Asia Cup (non-ATP) tournament in India, with Mahesh and players representing other Asian countries, during the Nov 3-9 week. He was originally scheduled to appear at the Reunion challenger (Nov 10-16) and then the Mauritius challenger (Nov 17-23), but may not be at either place. He and Mahesh *could* play at the Bombay challenger instead of Reunion and then fly out to Hartford to take part immediately in the doubles tourney, but chances are low for that. It would be really nice if there is a Madras challenger during the Nov 24-30 week for him to come back and play at, but it appears that the Madras challenger is the one that may be the least probable to materialize... We will know in a week or two. The following is how it all looks, for now. Will update this soon.

Sep  8 - 14  Getting back to India
    15 - 21  Davis Cup
    22 - 28  ??? (probably staying in India)
    29 -  5  ATP Beijing ?
Oct  6 - 12  ATP Singapore ?
    13 - 19  Challenger ? (Tanagura ?)
    20 - 26  ATP Stuttgart Super 9 (or challenger)
    27 -  2  ATP Paris Super 9 (or challanger)
Nov  3 -  9  Asia Cup (India)
    10 - 16  Challenger at Reunion/Bombay, or off to Hartford for practice. 
    17 - 23  ATP Doubles Hartford (most likely, or challenger Ahmedabad?/Mauritius?) 
    24 - 30  Challenger at Madras ?
Dec  1 -  9  Vacation
    10 - 12  Mandela tribute exhibition, South Africa
    12 - 31  Vacation

The bottom line is that there are only about Four ATP tournaments where he might play singles at (Beijing, Singapore, Stuttgart, Paris), as there are no ATP tournaments after November 1st week, and there are about 4 other weeks when he could play challengers. If he plays at Hartford and decides to practice doubles the week before, then he may be down to just 2 weeks when he could play singles at a challenger. It won't be easy to defend 130 points with that few tournaments.

He needs to pick up at least 80-100 points the rest of the year to get a direct entry at the Australian Open in Jan 98 (..but they may give him a wildcard as the #1 Asian player, as they were ready to do this year). Expect him to do at least that, though !

9/3/97 Evening Notes

Hard-played semifinal.. Final score 6-7(4-7), 6-7(2-7).. Tiebreakers are a funny thing. LP/MB went in there with a 13-3 record in the last 16 tie-breakers in ATP tournaments (excluding challengers). One of those tiebreaker losses were to the Woodies... They had taken care of a lot of top teams in tie-breakers, but today Kfelnikov/Vacek really dominated them in the tie-breakers. To some extent the tiebreakers are a test of nerves (LP/MB have shown their steely nerves time and again lately), but in general, the team that wins more points during the set wins the tiebreakers. Have not seen the match statistics, but Kafelnikov/Vacek probably had a slight edge in both sets. You just have to tip the hats to those two for finally conquering the real doubles-stars of the US summer hardcourt season, LP/MB. Leander/Mahesh reportedly played a great match, but Kaf/Vac did too !... This was the second US Open doubles semifinals for LP (he was in the semis, with Sebastien Lareau in 1993).. He likes the fast hardcourts at US Open. Count on him winning a doubles title there very soon, and I bet it will be with Mahesh.

LP/MB are pretty much assured of being in the year-end ATP top-8 doubles tournament at Hartford, even if they don't play any more doubles this year. I don't think there are enough big tournaments left for enough teams to enter the top-8 to push them out. They will both focus a bit more on singles the rest of the year (certainly Mahesh, who will be at a few challengers to bring up his ranking closer to top-100 or 150.. He missed a couple of qualifier rounds in the US because they kept winning the doubles and playing over the weekends for the titles). They both should be in India for the next three weeks. Their next tournament probably will be at Beijing and then at Singapore (expect them not to play doubles at Beijing, unless Bhupathi gets a wildcard at Singapore, so that he can reach Singapore early enough for qualifying during the weekend). Both the beijing and the Singapore tournament are on Indoor Carpet. Leander showed he can do well on this surface, earlier this year at Shanghai (Jan 97), where he reached the semifinals. With a top-100 rank, Leander should make it into the direct draw of pretty much any tournament, which is a very good thing.

Another interesting note: Leander said in the press interview after the loss to Pioline that he made a mistake in tinkering too much with the racket, changing it, and losing concentration at the end of the 4th set. He said before he realized he had gone from serving at 30-0 to a break and the set was over. Then he fell to too big a hole with two quick breaks in the 5th set, before he regained his focus and broke back for a last stand that fell a bit short...

Leander's total earning at the US Open: $ 64,000. Bhupathi made about $ 40,000. Leander has made about $ 190 K in the last 6 weeks. The whole of last year, he made about 2/3rd of that amount.. He has made $ 365 K in the 8 months this year.. He made less than 450K in the previous six years on the ATP tour.. this was a pretty successful year so far, I would say !

9/2/97 Evening Notes

Yes! Yes! They are in the Semifinals!!!

What was impressive in the match today was that LP/MB were down 4-6 in the second set tiebreaker, but won 5 of the next 6 points to win it at 9-7. Kim Das reports from USO about a 6-volley duel between Bhupathi and Adams, down a minibreak during that stretch which Mahesh won to extend the tiebreaker... WOW!!.. Final score: 6-4, 7-6(9-7) over Adams/Ferreira... Sorry I jinxed Wayne Ferreira with all the nice words about him this morning.. He lost both the singles and the doubles in straight sets today.

The doubles semifinals are: Black-Grabb vs Novak-Rikl and Bhupathi-Paes vs Kafelnikov-Vacek

With the QF win, LP/MB now have 347 points. The breakup calculation is as below, based on individual doubles ranks of the opponents and their team's rank-sum... (for educational purpose..:-))

Arthurs: 132, Kitinov: 56 --> team: 188   bonus --> 6
Kilderry:128, Lapentti:91 --> team: 227   bonus --> 4
Raoux:108,    Tarango:50  --> team: 158   bonus --> 6
Ferreira:141, Adams:22    --> team: 163   bonus --> 6

Total points: 325 for reaching the semis + 22 for bonus = 347

This means that, as of today, Bhupathi/Paes is the # 4 ranked team in the world with 1938 points. If they beat Kafelnikov(#8)/Vacek(#6), they are looking at 72 bonus points, and 537 points for reaching the finals, for a total of 631 points, which will push them up to the #3 spot above Lareau/Obrien .. If they lose the semifinals, they are still assured of a #5 ranking... Unfortunately, they cannot catch the Woodies and Eltingh/Haarhuis even if they win the title..but we can live with that !!

9/2/97 Morning Notes

The quarterfinal doubles matches are as below.

Wayne Ferreira is having a great run at the US Open, as he is in the final 16 of the singles and the quarterfinals of the doubles. Adams and Ferreira are unseeded and have not played in too many tournaments together, but have looked very good at the US Open so far.. Ferreira has a tough day today, as he plays singles against Magnus Larsson and has to comeback after 2 hours to play the doubles match against Leander/Mahesh. LP/MB will have some advantage from this.

By the way, LP/MB are the second highest seeded team remaining in the doubles draw. Does not mean much at this point, since all the 8 teams in the draw have been playing pretty darn well. Guys like Bjorkam, Vacek, and Ferreira have been having tremendous tournaments so far.

                                                       SF  F
Black-Grabb           vs Ivanisevik-Suk                \
Novak-Rikl            vs Bjorkman-Kulti   (11)         /   \
DeJager-Koenig        vs Kafelnikov-Vacek  (4)         \   /
Bhupathi/Paes  (10)   vs Adams-Ferreira                /

9/1/97 Evening Notes

The match against Raoux/Tarango was a "barn-burner", keeping the fans on the edge of their seats throughout. Our guys came through after losing the first set, to win it on a 7-3 tiebreaker in the 3rd. Final score: 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).. They showed once again what they are made of, by refusing to lose a match they could easily have lost. The shot of the match was reportedly a full dive return winner by Mahesh Bhupathi on a full-blooded overhead smash by Tarango. Go Mahesh! Leander was his usual form at the net. Tarango, as expected, went ballistic on some calls, got angry at a Leander shot that almost hit him, and refused to shake hands with Leander in the end. The crowd made sure they let Tarango know what a baby he is (reports by Kim Das from the US Open)... Leander has been getting great fan support there, from both the large Indian crowd and others who have become fans of his style of tennis...