Notes for the 3 weeks ending on Sep 9, 2002
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Sep 09 Notes
MB has now moved to the #4 spot in the doubles rankings, behind Knowles, Nestor and Mirnyi .. His highest ranking in over two years ..
No big surprises at Mysore today at the $10K ITF women's satellites, except for Wilawan Choptang upsetting the 8th seed Diana Costa of Portugal .. Rushmi, Sai and Radhika, the top three seeds, all advanced .. Shruti Dhawan, who has troubled Rushmi and beaten her in the past, could not do much today on the wet clay courts .. See the Mysore satellite page.
The unseeded Indian u16 girls faced the 4th seeds Russia and went down 0-3 today in the Junior Fed Cup finals round robin first tie at Le Baule, France .. Sania only got there last night from the US Open and only had an hour of practice on the wet clay courts before playing the tie this morning - that is tough .. There are a couple of other teams also having some travel troubles, due to the bad scheduling by ITF right after the US Open, and also because of the Air France strike which left some teams stranded/delayed. Russia was ready and so no such luck for us (:-)) .. Scores - #2 Ankita Bhambri l. Ektarina Kirianova 63 46 36, #1 Sania Mirza l. Elena Vesnina 57 46 and Sania/Ankita l. Elena/ Olga Panova 26 61 06 .. The matches were all close though .. We face the 6th seeds Germany tomorrow - an upset would be terrific, but difficult.
Sep 08 Notes
I was away most of the day, and just saw the news that MB's shoulder is not in the best conditiom and that he has emailed coach Ramesh Krishnan about possibly skipping the Davis Cup tie in Adelaide (Sep 20-22), choosing rather to rest the shoulder and focus on Asian Games which follows a couple of weeks later .. According to The Hindu, RK has suggested that he make the trip anyway and decide how the shoulder feels out there .. Yikes .. It's always bad news after good news for us .. I will try to find out more soon.
Anyway, how about that dude Pete Sampras? .. Amazing to see him look so crappy for so long and thencome back with a bang like he did with another GS title .. Wow, what a guy! .. If that has not inspired a lot of tennis players to never lose the fire, I don't know what will .. Age is all in the mind, often ..
Our under-16 girls team is
in France for the Junior Fed Cup world final sixteen .. The Indian
team under coach Sunil Yajaman is, 1. Sania Mirza
2. Ankita Bhambri, 3. Kartiki Bhat .. That is a pretty strong team .. The event is at the Tennis Country Club Barriere in the French coastal town of La Baule .. The usual format -- "matches will be conducted on a round robin basis for the first three days with the sixteen nations divided into four different groups. The top nation in each group will then advance to a knockout semifinal stage with the winners of Group 1 and 2 playing each other while the Group 3 and 4 winners will meet in the second semifinal," says ITF .. The seeds: (1) CZE, (2) TPE, (3) CAN, (4) RUS, (5) CHN, (6) GER, (7) USA, (8) BRA .. That two Asian teams are in the top 5 seeds (#2Taiwan and #5 China) shows what a tough regional it was that India advanced from, though not topping the list in the regionals .. Draw: Group (1) CZE, BRA, URU, RSA .. (2) CAN, CHN, FRA, HUN .. (3) RUS, GER, IND, KOR .. (4) TPE, USA, BEL, ARG .. So India gets the 4th seed and 6th seeds in our group .. Not bad, but it will be tough as hell to finish in the top 8 .. The ITF note says, "The Russians will be hard to stop in Group 3, although India, led by 36th ranked Sania Mirza may well prove tough to counter." .. I was surprised to see such respect to us, considering that Germany is the other seeded team in the group! .. The matches all start tomorrow, but I have not seen the match schedules yet.
There was a question in the forum about how high Sunil Kumar's new ranking will be tomorrow .. The 12 and 8 points he gained from the first two weeks of Indian futures will make the computer tomorrow and take his total to 36 points and his ranking up from 745 to just inside #550 .. The dude is going up and up ..
The $10K women's satellite in Mysore (Karnataka) starts tomorrow .. Rushmi, Sai and Radhika are the top three seeds .. I will start a page soon for the event .. M.Kamini, Preeti Rao, Rati Kumar, Anastasia Dvornikova (RUS), Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB), Hee-Sun Lyoo-Suh (KOR), Eue Hee Sung (KOR) and Diano Julianto (INA) are the qualifiers into the main draw .. I am surprised at the number of foreign players who showed up for qualies there .. Mysore, known for the magnificent palaces, is the hometown of Srinath Prahlad - a town with some tennis tradition, but conducting a satellite for the first time or after a very long time..
Megha Vakharia and Prariyawan Ratanakrong (THA) had reached their second consecutive final in doubles, at Lagos Nigeria, this week .. Have not seen the final score yet .. They had won the title last week and seem to be doing very well, even considering that the competition is pretty poor down there (these two were unseeded both weeks, though).
Sep 7 Notes
The highest ranked Indian right now, Rohan Bopanna has been knocking on the door for a "playing spot" in the Davis Cup for a while, and today he staked his final claim to it, with a match against the current #2 player, Harsh Mankad, at the Chennai futures final .. Harsh, playing his first successful event since turning a full-time pro three months back, was not going to let him take it away that easily either .. This seems to have been a classic today between the two 22 yr olds, and after 2 hour 15 minutes Rohan prevailed 76(5) 46 64 .. Harsh pinned him back for a lot of the match, but Rohan's big serve continued to bail him out of tight spots .. Having seen him play this Monday at Chennai, I feel that Rohan is still improving - once he gets a bit more consistent and patient (tends to be in a hurry at times), he has all the tools and abilities to go way up in rankings .. Congratulations go to him, and I say, let's throw the guy in against the Australians in two weeks in Adelaide! .. As for Harsh, I am glad to to see him finally come on his own with a few good matches this week .. The 8 points here would raise his points total to 11 and his ranking will go up about 400 spots to around #850, making it easier for him to get into the futures/satellites from now on .. As for Rohan, his points total will go by 12 to 74, and his ranking by about 60 spots to around #365, the highest ranking by anybody other than LP, MB and Srinath in quite a few years .. He will pretty much be playing chellenger events from now on, it would seem .. See the Chennai futures page.
Rohan completed a grand double at Chennai, also winning the doubles title with Vijay Kannan .. So, Sunil Kumar, Viktor Bruthans and Rohan Bopanna won the singles titles in the three events (with Vijay Kannan, Sunil Kumar and Harsh Mankad going runners up) .. The doubles titles went to Mankad-Ramaswami for the first two weeks and Bopanna-Kannan in the 3rd week .. All in all, a very successful series of futures for all the Indians ..
Here is an interview with Mahesh Bhupathi after the doubles title, by rediff.com .. Exceprts - "How does this compare with your earlier wins? ... A Grand Slam is a Grand Slam. So any time you win, it's a great feeling. Today, it was quite unbelievable. I was very happy, a little shocked too. I've won seven Grand Slams, but this is my first one here ... Will you be playing with Leander for the Davis Cup? ... Of course! We are India's doubles team, we will be playing. And besides the Davis Cup, we also have the Asian Games later this year where we will represent India. Playing for the country is always top priority ... Do you think it will be difficult playing with him again, especially after you've parted ways? ... No, it won't be difficult. We have played with each other before and we share a good understanding" .. That is good!
Here are a couple of pictures, courtesy the US Open official site:
That looks odd to see Mahesh about three inches shorter than his partner! .. The "Beast" is tall like a tree, but he is quite unusually athletic for someone that tall ..
Sep 6 Note-2
Grand slam title #4 for Mahesh! .. #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. #11 J.Novak/ R.Stepanek, 63 36 64 at the US Open .. MB has now won titles at three of the four grand slams, only Australian Open eluding him now, the closest being the final with LP there in 1999 .. I just returned from my trip abroad and don't have any details of the doubles final except for the article at the USO site .. According to them, "To say that Bhupathi hugged the net would be an understatement. The India native pounced on Novak and Stepanek's service returns with cat-like quickness" .. This is the first title for MB and Mirnyi together after a couple of futile finals - but they have now won a big one; the most lucrative one as well .. Congratulations! .. Lisa Raymond and Mike Bryan won the mixed doubles title there.
Sania and Isha went down from close to winning the match today in the girles doubles QF -- I.Lakhani/ S.Mirza l. Ivanna Isroilova (UZB)/ Eugenia Linetskaya (RUS), 76(5) 67(1) 06 .. Not sure what went wrong from late in the second set, but quite a creditable show by our girls, playing together in a grand slam for the first time (especially Isha, who is at her very first grand slam juniors), to win two rounds and almost make it to a semifinal .. Needless to say, both needs top-notch coaching and training from now on out.
At Chennai, Rohan Bopanna and Harsh Mankad reached the final today, beating Eliran Dooyev and Vinod Sridhar respectively .. A bit of lack of concentration from Harsh caused him to lose serve and the set from a winning position in the second set, but after a rain delay, he played well to win the 3rd set and reach the final, which will be a big showdown between our Davis Cuppers ..
Megha Vakharia lost in the QF to the top seed and her doubles partner Prariyawan Ratanakrong (THA), 16 36 .. She had beaten Noha Mohsen (EGY) in the R2, 64 46 63 earlier ..
Later with more ..
Sep 06 Note-1
Mahesh is in yet another grand slam final, his first with Max Mirnyi, at the US Open! .. Isha-Sania have reached the quarterfinals of the girls doubles as well, in a good day for Indians at New York yesterday .. [QF] #3 M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi d. #5 W.Black/ K.Ullyett 76(4) 57 76(4) .. [SF] d. #6 B.Bryan/ MK.Bryan 63 36 63 .. For the girls, I.Lakhani/ S.Mirza d. Jennifer Heinser (USA)/ Alex McGoodwin (USA), 63 75 ..
I had a chance to watch MB-MM for the first time, at Singapore, thanks to the Star Sports telecast of doubles, something we never get to see in the US .. The QF match was a real dog-fight, as the Zimbabwean pair was up to the task and went toe to toe with the big serving power-pair of Max and Hesh .. Max had played a very tough late night singles match on wednesday against Agassi and was back on court after less than 12 hours and bad sleep .. It showed a bit, as he was quite erratic occasionally, though his serve was working .. Mahesh on the other hand was on fire, and hardly made a mistake in the whole match, except for a couple of lazy points in the last game of the second set .. Mahesh's return game was top-notch as always, and I must say that he seemed to be playing even steadier tennis than I have ever seen him play in the past (I was seeing MB in action also after quite a long time) .. The key in the match was basically Mahesh's ability to get fired up and raise the game a tad bit at the big points in a long match that took 2 hours 50 minutes .. The semifinals against the Bryan twins was realtively easier, with Mirnyi playing much better at the net and showing much more of his hand skills and alertness ..
But really, more than the match, what impressed the heck out of me was Nirupama Vaidyanathan's commentary, which also I was watching for the first time, as it is telecast only in Asia by Star Sports .. Also saw her commentary in a women's doubles match .. To say I was shocked at how good Niru was, is an understatement .. The lady is an absolute natural at this .. She shows perfect timing and patience in her delivery, and she speaks with an absolutely clear accent with none of the sloppy style of the Americans, the haughtiness of the British or the fast-and-slow "sing-song" style of the urban Indian women .. And she was superb with with the "oh, that was on his butt" kind of candid cracks too (that was when Mirnyi hit one straight to Mahesh's you know what :-)) .. Niru shows the kind of wide knowledge of the world around tennis that one does not expect of a very young commentator who has not even been much at the top rungs of the tour as a player .. How much she knew about the men's tour was especially impressive .. She also had done her homework well, ready with comments on even things like Wayne Black's brother's (Byron's) new baby .. Having known how articulate Niru is, in person, I would have expected her to be good, but not this great! .. I am surprised that I have not seen more written about Niru as a broadcaster .. With due apologies I would say that her more accomplished mentor in the booth, Vijay Amritraj, whom she must have learnt a lot from, can probably now take a couple of lessons from her on voice modulation (Vijay has a tendency to go to a whisper mode at the end of his sentences, I think)!
Mahesh, who had no points to defend at the USO has now picked up 700 entry points and can move up into the top three in the douobles rankings .. MB and Max return on Friday for the doubles final at about 1 pm on Friday (10.30 pm India) .. They play the 11th seeds Jiri Novak and Radek Stepanek of CZE who upset the 2nd seeds Bjorkman-Woodbridge yesterday, 75 75 .. The chatroom will be open for the final, but I can't be around, as I will be in a plane somewhere over the Pacific!
Sania and Isha are one of only two seeds left in the girls' doubles draw .. They play the unseeded pair, Ivanna Isroilova (UZB) and Eugenia Linetskaya (RUS), who upset the 4th seeds easily yesterday .. Our girls are the only Asian kids left in the QF of any of the four junior draws, and I am sure that they are the first Indian girls pair to reach this far in grand slam juniors .. Their QF match is scheduled for late in the afternoon tomorrow.
At the Chennai futures, Rohan Bopanna was reportedly serving like a man possessed yesterday .. He had 19 aces in beating Ajay Ramaswami .. Rohan plays Dooyev in the semi today .. Harsh Mankad dropped the first set in the QF but turned it around easily after that to win a three-setter to reach the semi against Viniod Sridhar, who had a dramatic match against the 3rd seed Bruthans .. Vinod also pulled a three-set comeback, and basically fought hard till Bruthans repeatedly lost his composure and was slappd with point penalties, etc .. See the Chennai futures page for scores.
Sep 05 Notes
Here's another roundup of
news .. Mahesh has reached the doubles QF at the US Open, but MB's
mixed doubles and LP's doubles and MxD ended in the second rounds at the
US Open .. Both Sania and Isha went down in the first round of girls singles,
but seeded 6th together, they advanced to the second round of girls' doubles
.. MB-MM play the doubles QF against the 5th seeds Black-Ullyett on thursday
and if they win they will also play the doubles SF on thursday .. Isha-Sania
will play the doubles R2 also in thusday .. Here are th scores so far --
M.Bhupathi/ M.Mirnyi [R1] d. J.Knowle/ M.Kohlmann 64 60
[R2] d. P.Luczak/ D.Macpherson 61 76(2) .. [R3] d. W.Ferreira/ R.Leach 63 62 .. [QF] v. #5 W.Black/ K.Ullyett .. #3 E.Likhovtseva/ M.Bhupathi [R1] d. I.Tulyaganova/ C.Suk 46 63 10-7 .. [R2] l. C.Morariu/ J.Gimelstob 46 76(5) 4-10 .. #13 M.Hill/ L.Paes [R1] d. M.Bertolini/ C.Brandi 46 64 63 .. [R2] l. W.Arthurs/ A.Kratzmann 67(8) 64 67(5) .. M.Navratilova/ L.Paes [R1] d. #1 T.Woodbridge/ R.Stubbs 76(4) 75 ..[R2] l. E.Callens/ R.Koenig 67(5) 46 .. Isha Lakhani (IND,30) l. Chin-Wei Chan (TPE,53) 36 26 .. Sania Mirza (IND,36) l. Shadisha Robinson (USA,49) 61 26 46 .. #6 I.Lakhani/ S.Mirza [R1] d. Sarah Fansler (USA)/ Allesandra Jordon (USA) 46 76(5) 64 .. [R2] vs Jennifer Heinser (USA)/ Alex McGoodwin (USA)
The futures series is in the 3rd week in India, at Chennai .. Sunil Kumar's terrific run ended in the final last week against Viktor Bruthans (SVK) .. This week he was again drawn against Harsh Mankad, and Harsh exacted some revenge with a straight sets win on Sunil, as he had lost in straight sets last week .. Harsh, Bopanna, Ajay, etc have reached the QF but Vijay Kannan was upset in the second round .. Mustafa Ghouse is injured and had to pull out of this futures .. The second seed Nitin Kirtane was upset in the first round .. He has had a nightmare series so far with two first round exits and one R2 loss .. Nitin is always a fighter and has vowed not to stop - the guy can still play; he just needs to get his form back .. Good to see Harsh finally coming through .. Incidentally, I was at Chennai for one day on Monday and got to meet a lot of players who have corresponded with me in the past but I had never met .. I also got to see a very well-fought thee-set doubles match between Bopanna-Kannan and Gajjar-Sipaeya .. By the way, Rohan Gajjar may be the revelation of this series, as he has had some very good singles and doubles results .. He is set to join US colleges in January (at the Univ of Arkansas in the SEC conference, a very good choice) .. Also had a good time with Vijay Kannan's dad there .. I have added the score pages for all three events - see the Delhi, Gulbarga and Chennai futures pages.
Great news from Laos Nigeria last week, as young Megha Vakharia won the doubles crown in the $10K ITF satellite .. Seeded 6th, she beat the 4th and 5th seeds along the way to her first title abroad .. Scores: [R1] d. Milica Stamenic (CAN) 62 64 .. [R2] d. Noha Mohsen (EGY) 61 67(6) 63 .. [QF] d. #4 Yomna Farid (EGY) 36 75 60 .. [SF] d. #5 Carly Homewood (GBR) 63 36 62 .. [F] d. Michelle Snyman (RSA) 75 61 .. Mgha won the doubles title in the company of Prariyawan Ratanakrong of Thailand .. Unseeded, they upset the top seeds in the draw as well .. Coongrats to Megha .. She is seeded 8th and has reached the second round of singles this week in the Nigeria satellite which is again in Lagos.
Later, as time permits...
Aug 30 Notes
I said I would try to update some news while in India, and despite having occasional internet access, I was being lazy .. I decided to enjoy some Onam in Kerala .. This place is so ridiculously beautiful right now after the rains, that I forgot tennis a bit (:-)) .. Yeah, it really *is* God's own country .. Anyway, back to an update on what has been happening in the last 10 days .. Next one after a few days ..
At the US Open, MB has advanced to the R2 of doubles with an easy 60 64 win over J.Knowle and M.Kohlmann .. LP is seeded 13th with Michael Hill (AUS) and face Bertolini/ Brandi in the first round today .. Leander has an interesting partner this time for mixed doubles - Martina Navratilova! .. Lisa Raymond is playing with Mike Bryan .. MB-Likhovtseva and LP-navratilova are playing MD first round today .. In earlier matches, Prakash Amritraj went down rather easily againt Paradorn Srichaphan - no surprise, as Paradorn is one of the hottest players on the tour right now .. Prakash/Stephen went down in the first round of doubles, as did Rajeev Ram and Jonathan Stokke, who also had a wildcard .. Niru came back to court, but lost 06 46 to Marie-Eve Pelletier of Canada in the first round of qualies ..
The last two times MB won titles other than with LP, I was traveling and not reporting the news -- He did it a 3rd time last week as well (I really should just get the hell away when he is in a final :-)) .. Won his 3rd such title, this time with Mike Bryan (USA), at the $480K TD Waterhouse Cup ATP in Long Island, NY .. Their scores were, [R1] d. Younes El Aynaoui (MAR)/ Adrian Voinea (ROM) 62 57 61 .. [QF] d. Martin Rodriguez (ARG)/ Andre Sa (BRA) 61 62 .. [SF] d. Marius Barnard (RSA)/ Jim Thomas (USA) 46 64 64 .. [F] d. Petr Pala (CZE)/ Pavel Vizner (CZE) 63 64 .. Sme decent teams there .. Congratulation go to Mahesh ..
The story of the Indian futures series so far has been the Wonderful show by 19 yr old Sunil Kumarwho won his first title last week's India F3 futures at Delhi, and is in the semifinal this week (with a win over Harsh Mankad in the first round too) .. Gutsy work by Vijay Kannan to show everybody that he is still around and is not to be taken lightly - he beat Rohan Bopanna to reach the final last week .. Rohan Bopanna hasn't had the best time yet - after the SF loss last week, he had to give a walkover to Rohan Gajjar in the R2 this week .. 18 yr old Gajjar went on to upset Ajay Ramaswamy in the QF this week .. With an R2 loss to Mustafa last week and an R1 loss to Sunil this week, Harsh Mankad continues to be in a rather inexplicable slump in form .. Here are Kamesh Srinivasan's articles about last week's futures -- Preview .. Day 1 .. Day 2 .. Day 3 .. Day 4 .. Day 5 .. Day 6 .. Here are Kalyan Ashok's articles about this week's futures -- Preview .. Day 1 .. Day 2 .. Day 3 ..
The Asian Games team announced last week was: Men: Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Sunil Kumar, Mustafa Ghouse and Vishaal Uppal .. Women: Nirupama Vaidyanathan, Manisha Malhotra, Rushmi Chakravarti, Isha Lakhani, Sania Mirza and Ankita Bhambri .. LP-MB was announced to be India's #1 doubles team .. That is good news and I am pretty much counting one Gold at least in the kitty already .. I would have preferred Ajay-Harsh as India's #2 doubles team, than Ghouse-Uppal .. Mahesh-Manisha and LP-Sania are the mixed doubles teams .. Niru will be in the singles and also in doubles with Rushmi, with Ankita-Sania as team #2 .. Good to see the youngsters in there -- the experience will help .. Some rather strange doubles pairings there .. I don't know why Niru-Manisha as a team is not considered, but I am not sure if these announced combinations are necessarily final .. Harsh gets left out of the team - it is fine, as he needs to first get his career back in order and can use the weeks to perhaps stay in Australia after the Davis Cup and play some events or something like that.
The Davis Cup team for Adelaide (Sep 20 to 22) is Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna, Sunil Kumar and Harsh Mankad .. Sunil has respeonded to his selection in the team early last week by going into an 8 match win streak in the futures - heck, it may be time to throw the guy in there? .. Actually Rohan may be a better bet with a bit more experience .. I guess that is under the assumption that Harsh' form continues to be like it is now - otherwise his experience counts somewhat too .. One never knows -- it is still unclear who Australia will throw for the #2 spot .. Anyway, on paper only a 3-win miracle by LP would help us move to world group, though.
In other news, Sandeep Kirtane was selected for an Arjuna Award, which was somewhat of a surprise .. Thos like Zeeshan Ali are still without an Arjuna .. Congratulations to Sandeep .. Megha Vakharaia has reached the QF of the $10K satellite in Lagos, Nigeria .. Tara Iyer reached the R2 at the grade-1 Canadian Open, but fell to the 7th seed there ..
Aug 20 Note-1
Quick update from the Changi airport, Singapore (:-)) ... LP-Cibulec lost 36 57 to Gambill-Oliver at the Long Island ATP .. MB-Mirnyi haven't played yet .. Nirupama Vaidyanathan is back in action again! ... She is playing the USO qualies against Marie-Eve Pelletier, the talented young Canadian, in the Q1 today afternoon .. Good to see Niru back out there again .. At the India F3 futures in Delhi, Harsh Mankad, Rohan Bopanna, Mustafa Ghouse, Sunil Kumar, Vijay Kannan, etc, won yesterday, the only upset being Ajay Ramaswamy losing (actually retired; hope his injury is OK) to Rishi Sridhar .. Harsh struggled but came through 46 64 64 against Jaco Mathew (Mankad is actually troubled by an ankle injury - I heard about that after his loss a couple of weeks back in the Baltics but did not report it as he asked me not to make the injury an excuse, but The Hindu reports that he was troubled by it) .. Rohan had no troubles in his match .. Harsh-Mustafa match in the second round should be fun .. See the report in The Hindu .. Next update whenever I can manage it :-)..
I'm traveling for three weeks .. Regular updates will start from Sep 7th onwards ..
Aug 19 Notes
3rd time in the final was still not successful for MB-Mirnyi who put up a great fight before going dowb to quite possibly the best team out there - and the only one active from even before the Indian Express .. They went down to Knowles-Nestor, 67(2) 76(5) 46 last evening at the $800K Indi final .. Oh well ..
Dr Vece Paes confirmed yesterday, according to The Hindu, that LP will be playing Asiad .. Good news .. No further details.
I have updated the calendar and also updated the AITA rank list after some 8 months - all linked from the tournament/ranking/calendar page.
Delhi futures starts monday with Rohan top seed and Mustafa second .. Harsh, Sunil, Ajay and the whole gumbal is there .. Should be fun! -- Not sure if I will have a scores page. May be later on in the week if at all .. Check out http://www.stevegtennis.com, the mother of all sites for scores (also The Hindu newspaper, normally the most reliable in terms of complete scores.
.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Aug 19 ..
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 player, let me know .. I would like to have a mailing list where I can post general announcements and inquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.