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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Sep 10, 2001
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See next week for Sep 11 notes ..

Sep 10 Notes

At the Delhi $10K satellites, there were no surprises today, and all the seeds moved on as expected .. See the Delhi satellite page .. Top seed Sai Jayalakshmi finally showed some good form with a 60 60 win, though not over a highly-ranked player .. 2nd seed Rushmi, 3rd seed Shruti, etc, mobed on .. I am interesting in seeing how Sania Mirza does against Radhika Mandke on Tuesday .. Radhika Tulpule plays on Tuesday as well .. All the construction work there for the Afro-Asian games seems to be causing the players a lot of distraction.

Sunil Kumar, Amanjot Singh and Tara Iyer are at the grade-1 ITF Kentucky International Junior Tennis Derby .. Sunil is the 13th seed and has a first round bye into the round of 32 there .. Amanjot Singh plays Ferrick Bauer of USA in the first round .. Tara Iyer is in the girls draw and faces Alexandria Liles of USA in the first round.

By the way, if you didn't notice, Gilles Muller (LUX) who beat Sunil Kumar in the 3rd round at the US Open juniors, went on to win the title there beating Yeu-Tzuoo Wang of Taiwan in straight sets in the final, in the process moving up to the world #1 ranking from #2 .. It is also interesting to see that he dropped only one set in the whole tournament - and that was to, who else, Sunil .. Sunil had won the first set 7-5, and had held service 10 times in a row before Muller hung on to break him late in the second set of a 57 64 62 comeback in which Sunil went toe-to-toe with him even in the 3rd set where he was broken twice .. I wish Sunil would show that kind of game and focus in all his matches .. He is getting ready to finish off his junior career soon [Thanks, Piyush Desai, for alerting me to mention the fact that Muller had not even dropped a set against anybody else at the USO] ..

Sep 9 Notes

Terrific news from the $50K Tarzana challenger today, and we finally have an Indian qualify into a challenger outside India in at least 4-5 years, may be more .. Fazaluddin Syed made it into the main draw with a blood-and-guts win today in a 2.5 hour match that ended with Fazal pulling off his first challenger qualifying deed .. He had come close a few times - a couple of times at the Binghamton challenger in New York a couple of years back, and he had also done well this year at a couple of ATP events qualies (Dubai and Rosmalen), but each time he had gone down in the final round - a couple of times in extremely close matches too .. At Dubai he had upset #279 Burrieza 63 64 before losing 75 46 67(5) in a  heartbreaker against Behrend ranked at #157 .. He finally came through today, and he had to upset the 4th seed in the qualies, ranked about 150 spots above him, in a big comeback rollercoaster match - [Q3] F.Syed d. L.Holland (AUS,467), 57 63 76(4) .. Here is a very detailed onsite fanclub member match report .. It is actually almost a running commentary ..  [and some really long babble from me follows after that .. so grab some chai and read on!]

[Set-1]: The match started with Fazal getting the Australian on the wrong foot with some serve and volley .. An excellent lob to the baseline chalk and a backhand passing shot got him the break at 30-40 in the 4th game to go up 3-1 .. Fazal kept the pressure up wih an ace in the next game, and had Holland in trouble in game 7 as well with two more break points which he could not convert, as the Australian seemed to be getting a measure of Fazal's intentions to attack the net and coming up with a couple of excellent passing shots .. At 4-2, Holland continued this and before Fazal also adjusted and showed his willingness to stay back and grind  (this he did incrdibly well today!), he had been broken back .. In fact a bit of an aggressive rush on his serve, moving up twice on his second serves was what proved to be Fazal's mistake in that game .. Rightaway in the next game Fazal started the baseline duel with Holland, winning an 18-shot rally, the first of many more to come .. Fazal was fired up and was murmuring to himself in 3rd person - "yeah, do it more, you!" .. Holland held there however for 4-4 .. Fazal was throwing in some aces and service winners with strong heat, but also had relatively low first serve percentage at just about 50% .. Then at 5-5 in the 11th game off his own serve, Fazal got a surprise as Holland started moving up to the net all of a sudden - this caused a couple of unforced errors from Fazal and it was 30-40 .. At break point, after a near-ace, Holland put a delicate spin on a second serve return - Fazal hit it two inches too long, and he was behind 5-6 .. I am sure Fazal's self-doubt ghosts (made worse by press and a lot of people who have advised him - more on that later) returned to haunt him a bit at this point but to his credit he fought back with grit in the 12th game to save triple set points at 40-0 winning three baseline rallies of 22, 16 and 20 shots each (if you are wondering, I have a "gift" for counting this automatically in my mind, coming from some music background I have, as a drummer! :-)) .. He also had a break point he could not convert as Holland came up with two excellent service winners that Fazal couldn't have done anything on .. 5-7 down .. Now started Fazal's comeback  ..

[Set-2]:  Fazal started with a couple of aces down the middle .. He was now doing a terrific job of not committing to the serve and volley and engaging the Aussie in baseline duels - winning most of the time, even to his own surprise, as Holland was clearly a damn good grinder and Faz is not known as one .. 16, 12 and 25 shot rallies in the first two games that went Fazal's way, as his topspin backhand was working to perfection today .. In the second game at break point, Fazal actually made a bit of a mistake with a chip-and-charge on return (one of the very few times he tried that - stay away from that, dude!) but he got away with that as LH hit an easy passing shot wide .. Fazal was up 2-0, and it was 3-0 and 4-1 soon .. Off LH's serve next, Fazal had another break point where Holland pulled off a delicate drop shot on Fazal, when he least expected it - 4-2 .. Now Holland was fired up and had Fazal on the run, winning a couple of baseline rallies .. In yet another 16-shot rally at break point, Fazal got a bit unlucky, as Holland got a minor netchord that messed up Fazal's timing .. It was all back on serve at 4-3 .. Fazal knew he had no time to waste to get that break back - he was shouting in 3rd person now - "come on, do the job, damnit!" .. Sure enough he had LH down 0-40 in no time, with a couple of nice returns and an incredible volley winner from midcourt on a lob he should have waited to bounce to kill .. I closed my eyes - "Noooo!, Don't" ..  Could not believe that winner - I went "Yeah!" .. At 15-40 he won yet another 12-shot exchange and it was 5-3 up again .. But it wasn't over .. The drama was only just starting .. Holland was determined to break Fazal, as he came up with a great passing shot from what looked to be a sure volley winner from Fazal .. Fazal threw in two aces too, but it was deuce .. Fazal nets a backhand and it was break point for LH .. No problem - as he pulled out a 3rd ace in that game followed by strong heat on a service winner that LH returned long .. Another set point for Fazal and we had yet another rally there - now came one of the worst calls I have ever seen, as an LH forehand shot fell about 9 inches wide and was simply not called out .. That too at set point, and it goes against someone trying to stay in the match! .. The line judge simply must not have been looking .. Fazal goes bonkers and asks the ref - "come on, what are you seeing?" .. The referee just says, "it's far side, I can't over-rule" .. The crowd of about 30 people including myself and Prakash Amritraj (who had joined by mid-match) all groan in disbelief .. I thought Fazal was going to let his nerves and emotion get the better off him, as he lost the next point to face BP again - but no, the guy has more ice water in his veins than people give him credit for .. The rally of the match, for 32 shots (!), followed with Fazal's backhand top-spin shots continuing to work very accurately .. Deuce .. Actually we went through 6 deuces and two break points and finally Fazal pulled it off on a very timely foray to the net following a strong serve .. The set was his, and we were all even at 57 63 ..

[Set-3]:  Fazal was now totally fired up and broke Holland on the first chance in the second game at 30-40 to go up immediately .. The best was when he moved up to the net and won a point with three great volleys - Fazal does an "I've got this guy" laugh after winning the point - not exactly in-your-face, but precisly what was needed to get inside the Aussie's head .. The match was almost 2 hours already and Faz needed some PowerBars (good to have the fanclub to run and get some, eh? :-)) .. He then bangs in two more aces for a love-game to go up 2-0 .. The fighter that Holland is, he wasn't giving up as he held serve twice .. At 3-2 Fazal must have lost focus for a split second, as he tried the "lazy" serve and volley twice, only to get caught on the wrong foot - he was down 0-30 .. He had an ace there, but it was 15-40 .. He saved one break point with a service winner to make it 30-40 .. A crosscourt shot went 2 inches wide and Fazal was broken .. 3-3 .. Fazal got his focus back in a hurry as he had LH down 15-40 with exquisite passing shots when Aussie thought he could try to serve and volley to surprise Fazal like at the end of the first set .. Not this time, as Faz was ready .. He converted his 5th break (out of 11 chances) and he was up again 4-3 and serving .. Fazal kept up his aggressive serve and was up 5-3 quickly with a love game .. It all looked to be his for the taking, but the Aussie hung in there to make it 5-4 .. With both the tired players taking a lot of time for towels and all that, the ref calls time violation warning on both in successive service games .. That seemed to take away a bit of Fazal's concentration as he missed his first serves thrice while serving for the match (what a time for a warning call - come on!) .. Plus he lost a 33-shot rally (yes, it was that long) on a shot an inch wide, after making what seemed to be about 6 or 7 shots at the right spots to the corners .. It was triple break point for the Aussie all of a sudden .. Fazal wouldn't give up either, winning a 24-shot rally (jesus, there were a whole truckload of baseline stuff also in this match which had everything it seems - the crowd were really just shaking their heads at the fantastic match!) .. He saved two break attempts but fell at the 3rd .. It was 5-5 .. Now LH pulls out his second ace (Fazal had 9 aces in the match), wins the game and was up .. At 5-6 the pressure was again on Fazal as he was ahead twice in the set and had lost the advantage each time .. This is again another point where I thought Fazal's mind would become his enemy, but absolutely not - he was cool as a cucumber and won the next game at love to send it to a tiebreaker ..  [Tiebreaker]  LH starts 1-0 .. Fazal serve and volley, but volley error - down a minibreak 0-2 .. Now 1-3 after LH passes him charging the net .. Once again I thought the much talked-about "weak-mind" might be in play .. Once again, Faz showed it wasn't so .. From then on it was all Fazal as he kept up the aggression and played error-free tennis to win 6 of the next 7 points to win it 7-4 .. There was a great sure-handed overhead winner on a strong serve which LH returned with a lob, and there was also a a 16 shot baseline rally which Faz won .. When LH finally hit it an inch wide at match point, the 2 hour 30 minute barn-burner was over.

Fazal gets 4 ATP points and now plays James Sekulov, a 3rd Aussie in a row, in the first round ..  He has been given a day off and will be playing on Tuesday .. He is also in doubles main draw, as the 4th seed, with Cedric Kauffmann (FRA) - they play wildcards Kristian Capalik and Alex Kim in the R1 .. Prakash Amritraj has a wildcard into the main draw (Vijay is actually the tournament director for this event!) of singles - he has a tough match against the 8th seed Jack Brasington .. Prakash and Anand of USA are in the main draw of doubles as wildcards too .. They play Robert Kendrick and Anthony Ross in the R1 ..

It is very nice to see Fazal very healthy and in good form .. With LP not having played singles in 3 months, Harsh in 5-6 weeks, and MB not since the Japan Davis Cup - it's good to have at least Fazal with some good practice and good form going into the Davis Cup next week ..

Now some important comments I have to get off my chest -- First of all, this was the first time I was seeing Fazal play live .. I had always thought, based on all the newspaper reports which seemed to never have a good word to say about Fazal, that he has such "silky nerves" (a word that one newspaper used last year that somehow sticks in my mind), is not a fighter, doesn't have groundies, can't do baseline grind, can't play big points, yadda, yadda, yadda .. Either Fazal simply played a match that was way beyond what he normally does, or I would say that the press has been extremely unkind to this guy .. I saw someone who was playing his heart out and had a lot of tools and mental strength to do it .. He was playing a guy who is a quintessential baseline grinder (they all are, these days, it seems) and he was more than up to the challenge .. By my stats, Fazal won about 10 out of about 14 or 15 rallies of 15 or more shots in this match - and not once did I see him make a less-than solid shot .. Pretty good "stuff", if you ask me, but I am not a tennis expert, and I have not seen him enough .. And he had come so close to qualifying a few times in the past and could easily have let his mind be his enemy if he was that "weak-minded" .. As for his "silky nerves" part, I would like to know where the heck this kind of silk comes from .. He seemed to occasionally lose a bit of focus while ahead but always got it back fast, and not once did I see him become nervous while behind or facing break attempts .. That talks about a pretty strong mind in my book .. On the other hand, Fazal himself admitted that he was surprised that he did so well from the baseline, and perhaps some work he has put in lately has paid off (he did some training down in Florida, recently) .. Also, he has changed his racket to Babolot and this is the first tournament with that - he says he likes it a lot and that it seems to give him a bit more power ..

In a lighter vein, it may be all my coaching and advice when he was with me for two days! :-) .. He actually said that he appreciated my fanclub advice (whatever it is worth! :-)) that he should just stop thinking about those who are negative about him and just go out and play his game looking at himself as a critic, but not letting anybody else's criticism affect him .. Not that he has achieved nirvana by qualifying into a challenger, but it is indeed the first time that any Indian has qualified into a challenger in at least 4 years .. Not sure when LP or MB tried qualies at a challenger last - but Harsh making it in as a lucky loser into the Tijuana (Mexico) challenger in 98 was the last time anyone made a challenger draw through qualies outside India (Hey, I was with Harsh down there for that too .. I should be given a dronacharya, no ? :-)) .. Goo job, Fazal !!

Again, seriously, I think a lot of our players can use a bit of positive reinforcement -- Lord knows that these guys like Sri, Fazal and Harsh have done a lot of work and had to struggle to get to where they have got - in Fazal's case it was just below #400 in ATP a couple of years back .. Ever since that he has only heard people badmouthing him, I am sure .. We have a lot of people in India who start complaining why he is not becoming a Pete Sampras (or even a Jamie Delgado :-)) .. "At 24 he is done; he should have made it by now; look what Hewitt is doing at 20" -- that's the kind of stuff we tennis experts like to say, thinking that is oh-so-profound to say! .. We somehow seem to think that we deserve to magically get top-100 players in tennis and have a birthright to be in the Davis Cup world group, just because we are a big country and because we have had some good ones in the past .. Every mistake by our current players gets so over-amplified and every good match (which for somebody like Fazal is a win over a top-400 player, not a win in a grand slam, mind you) goes unnoticed .. We have a country that expects miracles constantly from our sportsmen, without ever giving them the support needed to develop .. Look at the years that Fazal and Srinath had to waste due to lack of support, and people forget that though he is 26, he has only played as many matches as many top-400 players play by 21 .. Sure, Fazal has made mistakes in not playing some satellites and futures he should have, at times feeling self-pity and wasting some time and all that, but do people have a right to go after the guy for not becoming a Sampras? .. Precious few in India have actually given him proper advice with heart  - the "heart" part is important - there are many in India who give all kinds of advice - words are easy you know .. There are no managers who took up and started planning his development or schedules either .. When everybody wonders why our players do not seem to do things that we knowledgable tennis fans find very obvious that they should have done, consider that a lot of foreign players receive proper advices on constantly taking care of traveling, entering the proper tournaments and planning their development with some definite goals .. Guys like Fazal have hardly got that from "tennis experts" in India .. Our country has given very little to our sportsmen in general, and it's to their credit that they still feel that they owe something to the country - and it's only because India is a great country, despite it .. But we would all benefit from remembering that the pressure we put on our players by being ultra critical and surrounding them with negative energy is not helping ..

Then there is the issue of the whole country having some sort of complex about our "mental-strength" and aggressiveness in sports -- every time a player loses a big point we all seem to collectively hyper-ventilate and go "here we go again - choking" .. The newspaper reports on Fazal at Bastad doubles and against China is a case in point .. This is why I focused on these issues in my match report above, also - to show that Fazal showed none of those problems today .. We put tremendus pressure on our players to constantly prove that they are not "choking" and that they are big-point players (our cricket team suffers terribly from this national pressure, but that is another story) .. These sportsmen can do without the extra pressure of feeling the country's collective complexes on their shoulders .. I also wonder if this is why Fazal for instance has done better lately in a few places away from India .. Look, there is nothing that is particularly different about Indians on this count .. Most close matches are won because of the better player playing the big points and pressure points well on that day .. If you look closely at Indian sports records, I doubt we would come out as a choking nation, unless we assume we deserves to win in all those cases, because we are some sort of sports powerhouse - which we surely seems to think we are, just because we are a big country .. I doubt the Japanese now consider Suzuki a choker just because LP beat him in a 5-setter in Davis Cup .. But imagine say Mahesh was ranked in the top-100 and lost to a Suzuki ranked 200 in a 5-setter - and imagine how the tennis fans and media would label him a choker for ever and will carefully add one more case where the "country choked" .. There are a lot of people in India who say, "Vijay choked in QF matches at Wimbledon" -- but there are not too many who remembers Vijay for the 19 titles or whatever he had and think about his reaching the Wimbledon final-8 when he was not ranked in the top-8 as an achievement  .. THAT is the point .. Remember what some of the people were saying when LP-MB lost 4 grand slam semis in a row before their first final .. They pretty much got that "comes close and chokes" label .. Did anybody in Australia call the Woodies that, when they lost their first 4 grand slam semis too - I doubt it, and I think the tennis experts knew that what they had done was a good achievement and that there was no reason for better results not to happen down the line .. In India, we worry too much .. That is what I am talking about and I feel it is a serious problem we need to do something about .. Everybody having a good dose of reality on where we are, and having a bit more of confidence in themselves and their sportsmen would be a good start .. If the media would stop focusing on this, that would help too.

I could go on and on about all this, but I have typed a whole bunch today already, in one of those preaching moods after seeing the nice Fazal show today .. The drive back from Tarzana made me think about some of this again .. Anyway, I hope I make some points above, through all the babble.

Sep 8 Note-2

Good news from the $50K Tarzana challenger -- Fazaluddin is in the final round of qualies with a pretty good win today, over a pretty tough guy - Grant Doyle (AUS), a 27 yr old who was ranked in the top 200 for quite a while and was in the 300s just about a year back .. Fazal beat Doyle 63 64 - in the postmatch interview with me (:-)) Fazal said that he was trying to pay without thinking too much, but focusing on just winning -- one of the problems he himself admits he has had in the past .. God job, Fazal! .. The dude has a pretty good game and really can do much better with some minor adjustments on the mental side and in planning his tour schedule .. Due to a very important fuction that I could not wriggle out of, I couldn't go to watch him today, or I could have given a match report .. Actually he had told me that he was sure he will be playing tomorrow, and so not to worry if I missed the match today!  :-) .. Will try my best tomorrow to drive up to Tarzana to wach him .. Fazal plays another Australian, Leigh Holland (#478) tomorrow in the final qualies .. I believe he will be in the main draw of doubles with one of his better partners - Cedric Kauffman of France.

Sep 8 Note-1

Sorry for a late update on yesterday's news .. Davis Cup team-member Syed Fazaluddin was with me here;  actually we went up to the $50K Tarzana challenger, just north of Los Angeles, and he has signed in for qualifying today .. Fazal plays Grant Doyle (AUS) in the first round .. I am not sure what the story is, on Grant Doyle - he has not been playing much singles and seems to be unranked right now, though he weas ranked in the top-200 a couple of years and in the 300 late last year .. He seems to be doing some coaching and all that already though he is not that old.  Both Fazal and Doyle had first round byes .. Hopefully Fazal can win a couple and qualify in to get some good match practice ahead of Davis Cup coming up soon .. Fazal seemed to be in a good form, in practice .. Vijay Amritraj is the tournament director for this challenger and Prakash has a wildcard into the main draw .. Vijay was not there last evening, as he was playing some senior events at the US Open, I think .. By the way. Stephen Amritraj (USA) and KC Corkery (USA) went down in the semifinals of doubles at the US Open .. Great job going that far, by Stephen.

Radhika Tulpule has been in great form at the Chennai $10K satellite, winning her 10th consecutive match and second title in a row in Indian ITF tournaments .. She had won the Pune title in late April, after a QF loss at Chandigarh the previous week .. She had upset Sonal Phadke (2nd seed) at Chandigarh .. She then beat Sheetal Gautham, upset Andrea Nathan (#3 seed, USA), upset Sai Jayalakshmi (#1 seed), and beaten Archana Venkatraman (#7 seed), at Pune, and has now beaten Nandita Chandrasekhar, Rushmi Chakravarti (#2 seed), Archana (#8 seed) and Senoglu (Turkey) in this event too .. That is a pretty impressive streak of wins for Radhika .. In fact she had also beaten Arti Venkatraman, Sonal Phadke, Sheetal Gautham and Radhika Mandke on the way to a title in the 3rd leg of the March satellite circuit as well .. She had beaten Nina Wennerstrom (SWE), Jordanna Seymore (AUS) and Liza pereira before giving a walkover to Sonal in the SF in the first leg of that satellite and then missing the second leg .. She had not played in the June satellite circuit, I believe due to an injury .. Basically she has taken out every domestic top player (except Shruti whom she has not played in a long time, I think) and only has a loss to Sheetal in the March satellite masters and a loss to seeded Jyotsna Vasisht in the Chandigarh $10K as blemishes this year .. Is Radhika Tulpule already be the #3 player behind Niru and Manisha ? .. I hope I am not speaking too soon, but she is at least getting close to going past Sai and Rushmi based on recent form .. Radhika is 19 years old .. And I am happy that she was picked into the Afro-Asian games 6-member team .. I would think the women's coach Enrico Piperno is following closely what Radhika has been doing .. She did not play too many weeks in Europe, but did have a win or two in Portugal in the couple of weeks of satellite she played ..  She may need to get a bit more of foreign exposure though.

Anyway, 5th seed Radhika Tulpule beat Ipok Senoglu of Turkey today, 61 76(2) to win the title and $1600 at Chennai .. Top seeds Rushmi and Sai won the doubles title with a 60 76(2) win over a team that had a bit of a surprising run to the finals - Samrita Sekar and Shubha Srinivasan .. Shubha Srinivasan had actually done well in the qualies too, making the main draw with a couple of good wins .. She was playing some college tennis in the US in the east coast (Philadelphia?) I believe - but not ranked too highly in collegiate tennis.

AITA has announced the wildcards for next week's $10 satellite - Sania Mirza, Olexandra Verkhyatska (UKR), and Shubha Srinivasen .. Good to see Sania mixing it up with some senior event .. Don't forget - this 14 yr old had reached the PQF and QF in the two April $10K events in (with even an upset of 6th seed Jyotsna Vasisht at Pune) .. Go Sania!

Sep 6 Note-3

It was close, but the other team probably played a tad bit better today in the mixed doubles final .. For a long time this match did not live up to the level of doubles play we expected from four players who have 28 grand slam doubles titles together (Todd with 18 himself!) .. Actually the play picked up only after some crowd showed up by late second set, anticipating the men's singles QF that was to follow .. [Final] #2 L.Raymond/ L.Paes l. #1 R.Stubbs/ T.Woodbridge, 46 75 (9-11) .. They had announced that it would be a two setter with, if needed, a supertiebreaker (first team to 10 with 2 difference wins) .. This was apparently done to get it on prime time on TV at night, and they wanted to start the men's featured match at least by 8.30 pm .. Bad idea - especially, as the announcers kept on ripping the whole concept of mixed doubles and how there were "33 people in the stands when the match started - this is a grand slam championship?", etc, etc .. Heck if you are going to badmouth it anyway, why must you put it on TV? .. If you put it on TV, can't the tennis guys make sure that the commentators don't defeat the purpose .. I am also a believer that mixed doubles is an unnecessary distraction as long as doubles is there .. But it was disgusting for these guys to keep harping on the point - and it was quite unprofessional, I should say .. Another case where USTA and the tennis folks have done something, probably with good intentions but with no media savvy to pull it off - or perhaps they had no easy way to get someone like McEnroe to shut up (much as I like his candid speaking and truthful as he is about the how the doubles situation is, he is absolutely not helping in solving it) ..  Yikes!

Anyway, here is how the match went - [set1] LP faced a break point in the first game but held .. Rennae was serving and returning very strongly with our pair not getting any points off them .. Just 2 points off their serve in the whole set, actually .. Lisa went through about 4 break points in game 7, mostly due to some terrific ripping returns from Rennae, and dropped serve to fall 3-4 .. LP went through a couple of decues and a BP in the 9th game as well .. After saving one set point in the next game, they lost the set at 30-40 on a good placement in no-man's land by Todd Woodbridge .. Basically, by the time LP-LR adjusted a bit to Rennae's super form today, the set was over .. [set2] LP seemed to be getting into trouble in the 5th game with a lazy lob mistake to go 30-30, but he came back strongly there with two pretty hot serves down the middle with Lisa in I-formation; one an ace at 115 mph .. It went with serve with some superb play from all four players after about 2-2 in the second set .. One particular 10-shot exchange among all four players, which our team won with Rennae slipping and falling was a beauty for highlight reels .. The action had been pretty so-so before that  .. Rennae had incredibly lost just TWO points off her four service games till then in the match (prompting McEnroe to comment that "Leander has to be taking it personally that she has been blowing it past him all day") .. I guess he was .. And just like that, in the12th game she lost 4 points to lose serve at 30-40 and lose the set 5-7 .. And LP pumped his fists .. It was a supertiebreaker .. Our team went up a minibreak at 2-1, but LP getting jammed at the net made it even at 2-2 .. LP was playing pretty well by now, but he probably made a little mistake at 6-6, staying too far to the left on Lisa' AD serve allowing Todd to return it down the line easily .. Our team was behind 6-7 and facing serve .. A great return down the line from Lisa paid them back, however, and it was even again .. At 9-8, LR-LP had a match point off Todd's serve - actually LP almost made the point on a pretty good second return which clipped the net .. At 9-10, with Lisa serving, Todd returned one strongly, Lisa hit it long and that ended the match .. Too close, but overall I think Todd and Rennae made fewer mistakes and probably deserved to win for that .. In the post match oncourt TV interview LP was asked what problems they faced - his answer was quick - "Rennae and Todd are two great players .. They were our problem today!" :-)

Sep 6 Note-2

It does seem like the USA Network cable will show the mixed doubles final live today on TV in the US .. 7 pm .. So check it out, but stay in the chatroom and we will have fun.

USA has announced the Davis Cup team today - Here is the news from the USO website (thanks, Gautam):

The United States Tennis Association and U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe today announced a squad of six players who will represent the United States against India in the 2001 Davis Cup by NEC Qualifying Round to be held Sept. 21-23 at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C. Named to the squad are Andy Roddick of Boca Raton, Fla., Todd Martin of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., James Blake of Fairfield, Conn., Rob Ginepri of Marietta, Ga., Jared Palmer of Palo Alto, Calif., and Don Johnson of Chapel Hill, N.C. In accordance with International Tennis Federation (ITF) rules, McEnroe must officially nominate four players for play against India by a Sept. 11 deadline. However, McEnroe has until one hour before the tie's draw ceremony scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 20 at 11 am to replace up to two of the four originally nominated players.

"We have a great group of committed players - both young guns and veterans - and we will have to be in top form to beat a talented Indian team," said McEnroe. "We will name four players to the ITF on Tuesday as a technicality and will submit our four-man team one hour before Thursday's draw as dictated by Davis Cup rules."

Roddick, 19, has burst onto the men's tennis scene this year - winning the first three ATP singles titles of his career in Atlanta, Houston and Washington, D.C. He made his Davis Cup debut in February against Switzerland, defeating George Bastl in a dead-rubber singles match in the 3-2 U.S. loss to the Swiss. Martin, 31, has represented the United States in Davis Cup play every year since he made his Davis Cup debut against India in the first round of the 1994 competition. Martin holds a 14-14 Davis Cup record (11-8 in singles) and was a singles finalist at the 1994 Australian Open and 1999 US Open. Blake, 21, is fresh off an impressive summer run where he reached his first ATP semifinal in Newport, R.I. and defeated Arnaud Clement en route to the third round of Cincinnati. Blake was an NCAA singles finalist at Harvard University in 1999. His only previous Davis Cup experience came in serving as a practice partner for the U.S. teams that played against Australia in 1999 and against Switzerland earlier this year .. Ginepri, 18, moved up 911 spots in the ATP Entry System rankings since March to his current ranking of No. 327. A finalist at the 2000 US Open junior championships, Ginepri turned professional last year and reached the second round of the 2001 US Open, defeating Harel Levy in the first round.  Palmer, 30, is a three-year veteran of the U.S. Davis Cup team, competing in 1994, 1995 and 2000 and holding a 3-3 career Davis Cup record (2-3 in doubles). Palmer won the Australian Open doubles title in 1994 with Richey Reneberg and the Wimbledon doubles title in 2001 with Johnson.  Johnson, who will turn 33 on Sept. 9, will be making his Davis Cup debut in this tie and will be the second-oldest man to make a Davis Cup debut for the United States, behind Francis Hunter, who made his Davis Cup debut in 1927 at the age of 33 years, 2 months, 12 days. Johnson, a former standout player at the University of North Carolina, has won six doubles titles this year - including his first Grand Slam men's doubles title at Wimbledon with Palmer.

India, one of just 18 competing Davis Cup nations to ever reach a Davis Cup final, is led by 1996 Olympic bronze medalist Leander Paes and teammate Mahesh Bhupathi. The pair, arguably the world's best doubles team, were the first team in over 45 years to reach all four Grand Slam doubles finals in a calendar year, winning the 1999 Wimbledon and French Open doubles titles and losing in the final of the Australian and US Opens.

The U.S. will have to win this tie in order to stay in the Davis Cup World Group in 2002 and be eligible to win the 2002 Davis Cup championship. Earlier this year, the United States was defeated by Switzerland 3-2 in the first round of the 2001 Davis Cup in Basel, Switzerland. Joel Coliseum, the home of the Wake Forest University basketball team, will be configured for 6,400 seats for the weekend.


So that is the team -- something tells me that we will be seeing Roddick and Blake on the first day, not Roddick and Martin .. We will see .. By the way, Gambil was originally expected in the team, but he had a tough injury at the US Open and is not in the team due to uncertainty on how soon he will recover .. I did not report much about the Gambil news, as I didn't want to sound like I was happy at the guy's misery .. Somehow I also was happy to see Johnson-Palmer rather than the Bryan twins, despite those two being highly talented and ranked very high .. Anyway, folks, don't be surprised if India pulls a Frejus (I am always the positive guy!) ..

At the Chennai satellite today, Radhika Tulpule showed that she is probably a steop ahead of those in her group such as Sonal, Sheetal, Shruti, etc, with a win over the second seed Rushmi Chanravarti, 64 63 to reach the semi .. The Turkish girl, Ipok Senoglu continued her run .. Karishma Patel is also in the semifinal .. Archana Venkatraman turned out to be too tough for Sonal today .. IN doubles the qualifier kids Ankita Bhambri and Isha Lakhani had a good win over Radhika Mandke and Sonal Phadke to reach semi too .. See the Chennai satellite page.

Sep 6 Note-1

The mixed doubles final is at 7 pm tonight (Thursday) on Arthur Ashe stadium at the US Open .. 2nd seeds Lisa Raymond/ Leander Paes facing the top seeds Rennae Stubbs and Todd Woodbridge .. That is 12 midnight in London and 4.30 am FRIDAY in India .. I know it is not the best time for people outside the US, but come to the chatroom to follow the match .. These four are among the very best in doubles .. Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs form the top ranked women's doubles pair in the world (they are in the doubles semis together) .. And we all know all about Leander and Woodbridge .. By the way, no ATP/WTA points for mixed doubles wins, but some pretty good money is at stake for the latter rounds .. LP and Lisa have made $63K to share, so far .. They can make it $126K with a title today .. This actually turned out to be a good idea for LP to play mixed, to keep him in some playing shape going into the practice period for Davis Cup the next two weeks.

At the $10K women's satellite at Chennai yesterday, Karishma Patel took out the 7th seed Sheetal Gautham .. I think Karishma has so far been the "surprise player" in the last couple of months (no, not any incredible results or anything - she did look good in a couple of matches in Europe and I had commented earlier on that) .. 18 yr old Nischella Reddy also surprised a bit with a win over Radhika Mandke yesterday .. Now there are no seeds in the upper half and all four seeds are alive in the bottom half going to the QFs today .. See the Chennai satallite page.

Sep 5 Note-2

Good win by Lisa-Lee, and they are in their first final together, since the Wimbledon 1999 .. [MxD SF] - #2 L.Raymond/ L.Paes vs #3 K.Po/ D.Johnson, 76(3) 64 .. Relatively close game, but our pair seemed to stay ahead most of the time .. [set1] They immediately had KP-DJ at 15-40 break points in the second game and they converted the second BP to up 2-0 and then to 3-1 .. LP was then down 0-30 with a couple of double faults in his second service game at 3-1, but served a 111 mph ace followed by a 117 mph ace there .. Still LR-LP were broken at AD out and it was one serve at 3-2 .. They then fell behind again in the 9th game but put things back in order quickly with 4 straight points off Johnson in the 10th game .. In the tiebreaker they won 4 points in a row from 3-3 .. In the 7th game of the second set, they went ahead with a break off Kimberly's serve, and cruised to a win from there ..

The more interesting match was from Sunil Kumar who gave every indication that he might be able to pull off a shocking upset against the top seed .. He unfortunatley fell a bit short, but not before he gave us even more reason to have some hope for the future .. [Boys PQF] Sunil K. Sipaeya (IND) l. #1 Gilles Muller (LUX), 75 46 26 .. Sunil seemed to be running into some trouble early in the first three service games including some 3 or 4 break points but he avoided getting broken .. Then at 5-5 he went after the top seed at the right time, winning three points in a row from 40-30 to go ahead .. He comfortably served off the next game to win the first set 7-5 .. In the second set, he again had a 30-40 break point in the first game but Muller took care of that .. Sunil showed his temparament by coolly holding serve each time to take it to 3-3 .. he also went ahead 0-30 on Muller's serve there but once again the top seed came up big and avoided break points .. Muller stayed tough, and actually neither player had got more than a couple of points off the other for some 8 games in a row .. Sunil on his part was holding serve well till 4-5 .. Then Muller pulled out something extra to pay back Sunil for what he did in the first set - this time the tables were turned as Muller went up 0-30 on sunil's serve and broke him at 15-40 at the right time to even it at one set apiece .. In the 3rd set, Muller seemed to beigin to dominate and was putting Sunil under pressure .. He forced three break points in the 4th game, Sunil saving them all and holding serve after 5 deuces .. 2-2 .. But that was the end of his resistence, as the top seed established who he was and finished off the match, winning the next 4 games ..  Sunil can take heart that he was easily able to hang with a player of that caliber and can also learn from the match in understanding what he needs to improve on, in staying longer into such matches .. The fact that he was not broken even once in his first 10 service games by the top player is itself quite impressive .. But a loss is a loss .. Don't lose heart Sunil ! -- You will get these guys in the pro tour, OK ? ..

There was also Sania's doubles match today .. Sania and Dominic Van Boekel were clearly overmatched against the 6th seed Kanepi and Voracova, two very talented top singles players .. 16 16 was the score there, as they did not win any games after 1-1 in either set - our girls only held serve once and only broke the other pair ince (in the first game of the second set).

Sep 5 Note-1

Here are the approximate start times (+/- 30 min) for all the afternoon matches -
[MxD SF] - #2 L.Raymond/ L.Paes vs #3 K.Po/ D.Johnson - 4 pm  .. [9 pm London .. 1.30 am Thursday India]
[Girls PQF] - S.Mirza/ D.VanBoekel vs #6 K.Kanepi/ R.Voracova - 3.15 pm
[Boys PQF] - Sunil K. Sipaeya (IND) -vs- #1 Gilles Muller (LUX) - 5.00 pm ..
The chatroom will be open as usual.

Stephen Amritraj (USA) and KC Corkery reached the doubles QF upsetting the 5th seeds Rynamn Henry and Todd Reid (AUS) .. Rajeev Ram (USA) went down 26 62 26 to the 13th seed Stephane Bohli (SUI) in the second round today .. With Sunitha Rao (USA) having lost to the 9th seed Kuznetsova (RUS) 67 16 yesterday in the second round as well, Sunil Kumar is the only Indian name in the singles PQF of either draw.

Sep 4 Note-4

Lisa-Lee, Sunil, Sania-Dominic, Rajeev Ram, Ram-Stokke, Stephen-Corkery, etc, all will bein action tomorrow (wednesday) at the USO

Two more results from today -- and two more wins at the USO by our juniors! .. First. Sunil Kumar pulled off yet another top-50 win, against #50 Komlavo Loglo of Togo, 64 64 (Loglo had upset the 14th seed Lionel Noviski of Argentina 63 62 in the first round) .. This match was delayed almost 3-4 hours due to intermittent rain today .. I thought it might get postponed and did not follow it, till it was at 4-4 in the second with Sunil going up to 40-15 and forcing the break .. He finished it off in the next game after being taken to a deuce .. This is his second consecutive junior grand slam final-16 apperance, following the Wimbledon work .. Not bad for someone who is ranked #69 .. Sunil seems to play a bit better at some of the bigger stages, though he loses a lot in smaller events .. In fact one of his best early wins was while representing India at the Commonwealth junior games last year when he beat a top-50 South African player .. Of course his show at the two DSCL national senior championships, winning the title and runner-up trophies in the last two years also points to his ability to come good on the bigger stage (so was his very impressive 46 46 loss to Agenor at Chennai) .. Today's was the 4th or 5th top-50 win for him, and no other Indian kid has done that in years .. The more top-50 junior matches he plays, the more ready he will be, to face the tough grind in the pro tour soon .. He will get a very good one to play against next - the top seed and world junior #2 Gilles Muller (LUX) !! .. Muller was the Wimbledon runner-up this year .. Go Sunil - go for it, you have nothing to lose!

Then in a late evening match, Sania Mirza (IND,72) picked up her first grand slam doubles win - in a do-or-die match, 57 76(4) 64 - she did that in that in the company of Dominic van Boekel (NED,110) against a talented US wildcard team of 16 yr olds, Theresa Logar and Tory Zawacky - Logar is the #1 singles players in the US 16s;  Zawacky was in the 16s top-5 last year and is already ranked #13 in the 18s [They were also the singles finalists at the US international hardcourts ITF event in New Jersey two weeks back] .. So, they were two pretty good players though they needed wildcards as they haven't played much ITF events to be ranked highly enough .. Anyway, our pair fell behind after a close first set, and started the comeback immediately, going up 4-0 in the second, only to see that lead evaporate to 4-4 .. They had break chances in the 9th game, but the Americans stayed tough forcing our pair to win a tiebreaker to send it to 3rd .. Now it was a break-fest from 2-2 onwards in the 3rd set as Sania-Dominic went up 3-2, only to be broken back to 3-3, broke again for 4-3, only to be pulled back to 4-4 .. Our pair forced a 3rd break in a row to go up 5-4 and this time held serve to win the match in a marathon comeback .. Good job once again by Sania .. She and Dominic go up against the 6th seeds, Kaia Kanepi (EST) and Renata Voracova (CZE) next.

Sep 4 Note-3

Holy Cow! .. Sania Mirza just played a heck of a match against someone against whom I thought she did not stand a snowball's chance in hell .. She was up against the #9 ranked player in the world, Vera Zvonareva (RUS) .. 17 yr old Vera was coming off a title win at the prestigious grade-1 Canadian Open just last week (in fact that was the reason why Sania's R1 match was this delayed, I believe) .. If you are wondering how good Vera is - she is one who even has a WTA tour event win .. She is ranked #266 in WTA, higher than any Indian woman other than Niru has ever been ranked .. She was the winner of the grade-A Orange Bowl last year in Florida too .. At the Moscow WTA last October, she beat WTA #50 Elena Bovina and then lost to Kournikova in a 67(6) 46 match .. So, this was a heavy-duty player that she was up against and I thought Sania was burned toast (or up the creek without a paddle)! ..  Well, it turned out to be a loss, as expected - [R1] #12 V.Zvonareva d. S.Mirza, 62 64 - but that scoreline is very deceptive, and does not give the story about what a nice fight the little girl from Hyderabad put up!  Here is how the match went -

Sania dropped serve after a deuce in the 3rd game, but she immediately went to work .. At 1-2, she was up 15-40 on Zvonareva .. Had 4 break points there, but she could not convert .. Then she was broken again after a deuce in the next game to fall behind 1-4 and it looked like she would be down and out soon .. She did not give up and had the Russian at yet another break point in the next game at 30-40 and at AD out .. And this time she pulled it off to get one break back .. I think Zvonareva raised her game a bit there, and had Sania down 0-40 immediately .. Sania fought there again, saving two of those BPs, but she dropped serve at the 3rd point to fall to 2-5 .. Then she also saved a couple of set points off the Russian's serve next game but lost the set .. In the second set, she was broken in the very first game again .. It looked like Zvonareva was about to finish it off fast, as she went up to 3-1 with two relatively easy service games too .. But "not so fast, my friend", as Lee Corso of ESPN football would say .. Sania kept fighting and broke the Russian back in the 8th game to even it at 4-4 !! .. But she then faced a break point at 30-40 in the next game and was broken to fall behind again at 4-5 .. She still wouldn't give up .. With Zvonareva two points away from a win, serving at 30-0, Sania won three points in a row to find herself a break point .. The Russian made it deuce .. Sania then had a second break point and once again could not convert it, and the match as over soon after .. It took 1 hour and 13 minutes to complete, which is proof that the 62 64 scoreline was indeed deceptive ..  Zvonareva probably had a weapon or two more to convert break points or to stay alive at break points - otherwise Sania was in this match all the way, to my great surprise .. In all but one of Zvonareva's nine service games, Sania picked up at least two points each - forcing about 10 break points and converting two of those ..  If one were to lose 26 46, this is the way to do it, so to say .. And I have never been more impressed with a player after such loss ..

Once again, folks - if you ever had any doubts about Sania, get rid of it right now! .. This girls something special and I repeat that she is every bit as good as advertized at her age .. The danger is that she may not develop in the power department and in machine-like accuracy and winning temperament like some of her foreign counterparts - that is just a matter of doing the proper training, diet and coaching .. Her winning attitude and hunger for success is not at all in doubt .. Look, she is among the highest rated among any athlete India has ever produced at that age (that is #1 among 14 and under in the world) .. If we can't do something to make sure she gets the best of everything that a country with India's resources can provide, there is something very very seriously wrong! .. I am hopeful that things will go well in her case.

Sep 4 Note-2

I have updated today's results from the Chennai $10K satellite .. 3rd seed Shruti Dhawan got upset by qualifier Radhika Mandke, who is of course an experienced and talented player having done well in satellites in India .. 19 yr old Shruti, on the other hand, talented as she is, is rarely in her best form - I don't know why .. 6th seed Keiko Tameishi (JPN) conceded the match at 67 24 against Geeta Manohar .. The top half of the draw is now clear for 7th seed Sheetal Gautham, as the top seed Sai was already upset yesterday .. In doubles, there was an upset by the 16 yr old pair Ankita Bhambri and Isha Lakhani - over the 2nd seeds Shruti and Radhika Tulpule .. 16 yr old Ankita keeps on coming up with the wins, and may need to be taken more seriously, if she keeps this up .. She also had a tough three-set upset over Megha Vakharia in singles today .. See the Chennai satellite results.

Today's schedule at the USO has Sania Mirza playing singles and doubles first round, and Sunil playing the singles second round .. Sania starts off the action at 11 am (4 pm London, 8.30 pm India) against the 12th seed Vera Zvonareva (RUS) .. Come to our chatroom to follow the 14 yr old's match .. Sunil Kumar plays at about 2 pm .. Sania returns later for doubles at 4 pm as well .. Stephen Amritraj (USA) and KC Korcery are in the schedule for doubles as well ..  By the way, Sunil's opponent Komlavi Loglo is ranked #50 in ITF juniors and is among the three talented African players this year, along with Lamine Ouahab of Algeria and Henry Adjei-Darko of Ghana .. Loglo was the one who beat Amanjot Singh in the semifinal on the way to a title at the Eravis Epitok Cup grade-3 in Hungary a couple of months back ..  Sunil has a tough match against him.

Sep 4 Note-1

Lisa-Lee get the day off at US Open, as the mixed doubles semifinals are set for tomorrow ..

Here is the mixed doubles semifinal line-up, as the top teams have done well so far -
[1] Rennae Stubbs/ Todd Woodbridge (AUS/AUS) -vs- [5] Ai Sugiyama/ Ellis Ferreira JPN/RSA
[2] Lisa Raymond/ Leander Paes (USA/IND) -vs- [3] Kimberly Po/ Donald Johnson USA/USA

Sunil Kumar Sipaeya and Jacob Olsen played well in the doubles first round yesterday evening, but went down to the Austrian pair, Daniel Kollerer and Stefan Wiespeiner - 63 36 36 .. Here is how it went - JS-SS dropped serve in the 5th game but they broke back in the 6th game .. They then went ahead by a break in the 8th game and served off the set .. In the second set, our boys fell behind 2-4 in the 6th game, and faced a set pt off their serve in the 8th game .. They saved that and then had a break chance to even it in the next game - they couldn't convert it and lost the set at 3-6 .. In the 3rd set, Sunil-Olsen fell behind quickly in the first game .. They again got back in it in the 4th game to make it 2-2, but that was only to drop serve in the 7th and 9th games to lose the match ..

Great news from Chennai -- According to The Hindu, the ATP Chennai Open (starting Dec 31st) has found a new title sponsor - the Tata Group .. There were some reports on this being on the anvil sometime back, but it is nice to know that it is final and thatChennai Open will remain in the ATP calendar for at least 3 more years with a proper title sponsor .. The Tata group will be there for at least three years, it seems .. There was grave concern about the tournament's future, when the tobacco legislation going through the Indian parliament forced the ITC (Goldflake) to pull out of sports sponsorship .. Damn, I can no longer call it the Gold "Flaky" Tournament like I used to when IMG was giving wildcards to foreigners :-) ..

Here is a late roundup of a very good tournament last week - the AITA Men's National Ranking tournament at Besantnagar, Chennai - the big story there was the great run by the 5th seed Rohan Bopanna, especially the final, where he totally aced the heck out of Nitin Kirtane .. See the article from The Hindu on Sunday .. Bopanna's power talents are rather well-known, but it's matches like this that makes one wonder why some of our talentedtennis players do not do it consistently enough .. Rohan perhaps played his best tennis in the final two sets while dismantling Nitin 57 61 61 .. On the way to the title, he beat top seed Vinod Sridhar, #3 Rishi Sridhar and then #2 Nitin .. Another match of note was Manoj Mahadevan's win over Ajay Ramaswami, who probably was quite lacking in match practice, as he has only played one competitive match since finishing his college career in the US in May .. I would have liked to see at least one teenager reaching the QF, and was hoping that someone like Somdev Varman of BAT who had done very well in the junior events would do some damage .. Not so .. I have added all the results I could gather from various patchy newspaper reports in the Chennai AITA page .. Nitin and Ajay Ramaswamy won the doubles title there.

Sep 3 Note-2

Leander and Lisa Raymond reached their first mixed doubles semifinal in a long time today (perhaps the first since the title at Wimbledon in 1999? - I need to check that) .. [QF] #5 L.Raymond/ L.Paes d. E.Tatarkova/ M.Knowles, 62 63 .. Set-1: LR-LP went up a break immediately in the 3rd game, winning 4 straight points off Tatarkova's serve .. They went up further in the 7th game again off Tatarkova's serve, this time converting the second break point after a few deuces .. Set-2:  LP faced trouble in the second game, at 15-40 .. He served his first ace to save one BP, but got broken at the next point .. Lisa-Lee quickly put things back in order with yet another break off ET's serve in the next game .. The next game saw the last bit of resistence from the other pair, as Lisa faced four break attempts and held serve after 8 deuces, holding serve in the end .. Our pair then followed that up with break off Knowles in the 5th and 9th games as well to finish it off .. LR-LP won 69 points to the others' 49 .. 5 of 6 in break point conversion by our pair, 1 of 6 by the others.

Sep 3 Note-1

In the mixed doubles QF at the US Open, the second seeds Leander and Lisa raymond face Elena Tatarkova and Mark Knowles tomorrow (Monday) at about 2.30 pm (7.30 pm London .. 12 midnight India), plus/minus 30 min .. I missed their last two matches - OK, I am going to do some cheering today in the chatroom!

Sunil Kumar advanced to the second round of the boys' draw today at the US Open, in that process also making a bit of a statement too .. Sunil Kumar Sipaeya (IND) d. Stephen Amritraj (USA), 75 63 .. Here is how the match went .. It was close for a while in the first set, but then Sunil Kumar seemed to take control .. Sunil had Stephen at deuces at 4-4 trying for a crucial break, and stephen held .. Then after he was broken in the 11 the game, stephen had sunil having to go through dueces, trying to close out the set .. Sunil converted his 3rd set point to go up 7-5 .. In the second set Sunil had Stephen down 0-40 in game 3 and broke him immediately .. Sunil then faced a 30-40 break attempt, serving at 4-3, but he saved it and went up to 5-3 .. That was the end of Stephen's resistence, as he fell to 15-40 on serve in the next game and was broken for a 3rd time to lose the match .. Stephen does not get any main draw points but he did well qualifying into the draw, etc .. Rajeev ram (USA) advanced in a tough match today to the second round .. He won 36 62 75 over Marcus Egger of Austria.

Forgot to mention earlier that the ITF $10K satallite in Chennai is this week .. Most top Indian players are there except Niru, Manisha and Jyotsna Vasisht .. I have added today's first round results and the qualifying results at the Chennai satellite page .. Bad news once again about Sai Jayalakshmi, whose utterly poor form is really puzzling .. The top seed went down in straight sets today to a Turkish player in the first round itself .. 2nd seed Sonal, 4th seed Sonal, 5th seed Radhika Tulpule and 7th seed Sheetal advanced easily .. Wildcard Karishma Patel, who looks to have improved a bit in the last few months had a pretty good win against a talented Isha Lakhani in three sets.

Jyotsna Vasisht lost in the first round of qualies at the $50K Denain challenger in France, to Evgenia Subbotina (BLR), 76 46 46 this weekend ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Sep 3 ..

I am getting some enquiries 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 enquiring 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 enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.