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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Sep 13, 2004
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2004)

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Sep 13 Notes

Prakash Amritraj had a pretty good start againt the top seed in the Beijing ATP qualies final round, but could not sustain it afterwards .. [Q3] Peter Luczak (AUS,139) d. Prakash Amritraj (IND,308), 67 62 62 .. Prakash is the first in line for a lucky loser spot, if there is any last minute withdrawals from the main draw.

The $10K+H futures has started in Delhi .. There were only 4 R1 singles matches today .. Talented young wildcard Vivek Shokeen put up a big fight in a close 36 75 46 loss to the 7th seed Toshiaki Sakai (JPN,656) .. We have to be impressed by how much improvemen 17 year old Vivek has shown recently .. Rupesh Roy, Vishnu Vardhan, Shivang Mishara, Gurmehar Singh, and Arjun Goutham are the five Indians qho qualified into the main draw, along with three foreigners .. Pretty decent draw, with an intriguing first round match between 3rd seed Mustafa and unseeded Vijay Kannan - not at all easy for Mustafa to get past Vijay, one would think .. The top seed is Norikazu Sugiyama of Japan, and Sunil Kumar is the second seed .. The focused and consistent Pakistani performer, Aqeel Khan, is the 4th seed .. See the results in the Delhi futures page.

I have compiled and posted the results from the $10K last week, in the Hyderabad futures page .. Ajay and Mustafa won the doubles on saturday, with Aqeel Khan (PAK) taking the title ..

Sep 12 Notes

Leander seems to be excited about playing every week these days - why not, he is playing his best tennis these days anyway (and this is the man who laughed at me when I told him in early 2000 that I expected to see him play at least 6 years from then - well it is 4.5 years Lee, and you are still there, as good as ever! :-)) ... Leander is playing this week at the Del Ray Beach ATP in Florida .. Probably also because it is nearer his home base in Orlando, Florida .. He is playing with Radek Stepanek of Czech republic .. They are seeded 2nd and play the American wildcard pair, James Blake and Jeff Morrison in the first round.

Sania probably had one of her worst matches this year - and she picked a bad time to do it, at the Tashekent Asian Championship final .. 26 16 loss to the second seed Nai Li (CHN,192) .. To be fair though, it seems Na Li simply played a very good matrch and was very well prepared for the kind of game Sania plays .. Sania admitted that Na Li hit very hard and also disguised her shots very well, not allowing Sania to figure out where she would hit .. Oh well, a good run by Sania there, inlcuding a big top-200 upset of the top seed - can't complain .. Pakistan's Aisam Qureshi also could not close the deal for an Australian Open wildcard, as he lost 67 36 to Yeu-Tzuoo Wang (TPE) in the final ..

Prakash Amritraj has had a good time at the Beijing ATP qualies, drawing a couple of easy unranked player so far .. He beat Hui Zhang (CHN,NR), 63 61 .. It gets much tougher now in the Q3, against the top seed Peter Luczak (AUS,144) .. PA has a decent chance to be the first or second lucky loser for main draw even in a loss .. The Q3 match on Monday may already be underway there.

Sep 11 Notes

Great news today as 7th seed Sania repeated her win over 8th seeded Napaporn Tongsalee (THA,337) a couple of weeks back in India, with another 62 64 win in the semi at the Asian Championships .. She is one win away from making it to the Australian Open, but her next opponent Na Li (CHN,192), the second seed, is not an easy one to get past .. Hope she comes through.

Prakash Amritraj is at the qualies for the Beijing Open ATP .. Quite a good draw for two rounds with relatively lesser known Chinese players, though he could run into the top seed in the final round .. He has beaten Wan Gao (CHN) 62 60 in the Q1 and faces Hui Zhang of China in the Q2 ..

Harsh Mankad is in Southern California, and would be playing three $15K futures here over the next 4 weeks .. At the Claremont futures starting Tuesday (he is expected as the top seed), followed by a week of break and two more at Irvine and Laguna Niguel ..  Somedev Dev Varman, who has just started his college at the University of Virginia is also in the main draw list for the Claremont futures .. Sunil Kumar plays at the $10K+H futures in Delhi this coming week..

Sep 10 Note-2

Well, are you kidding me? .. I just watched two guys play probably the best doubles I have ever seen anybody play ... Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor have been together for 10 years and have 27 titles together .. They are the active team with the most titles and they showed why, today .. Let me first give all the kudos to them for playing an incredible match, though it ended up with our guys Leander and David abaolutely unable to do anything against their barrage .. [F] (3) M.Knowles/ D.Nestor d. (13) L.Paes/ D.Rikl, 63 63 .. The breaks came in the 5th game of the first set off Rikl's serve and in the 3rd and 9th games of the second off LP's and DR's serve .. It wasn't that LP and DR played particularly badly, but there was nothing they could do against Knowles and Nestor who seemed to be unbelievably at the right place for every shot, and able to stand up to anything from the other side and turn it around to a winning point .. Those two made a sum total of probably 4 unforced errors in the whole match .. The cross court dig volley shot Knowles played to create the break point in the second set off LP now goes as the second best shot I have ever seen in doubles (after the famous "Egyptian Magician" shot by LP at Hartford in 1997) .. There was one point where Nestor did a drop shot that Leander, about 10 feet away decided not to go for ..  When have we ever seen somebody able to do that to LP - the shot was THAT good .. The very final point of the match itself says the story .. A terrific top spin lob lob that fell 1 inch inside the back chalk ("that raced away off the court - stunning" as PK Basu commented in our chatroom!) ... Lee ran back and could not catch up to it -- Patrick McEnroe said on CBS TV - "even the fastest guy on tour, Leander, could not make it - it is a fiiting end" ... Hats off to Nestor and Knowles who had everything working today - and they deserved it for all the heartbreaks over the years (they are 2-7 in grand slam finals, I believe) .. Perhaps Rikl could have done a bit more in killing quite a few points at the net rather than keeping it in play and giving the advantage to the other guys; perhaps a few more cracking returns from LP could have fallen in for winners, but I don't know if anything would have mattered today, the way Mark and Daniel played.

LP and Rikl would be happy that they did have their best tournament together - for 700 points, which places them at #7 and in good position to qualify soon to the year end World Doubles Championships .. Hopefully this would be the last grand slam Leander plays with somebody else other than Mahesh .. Time to get back together next year, but glad to see leander and david having a very good year with all these nice results .. They had a fantastic tournament at Flushing Meadows .. Congratulation guys.

Sep 10 Note-1

I almost forgot that Leander's final is set for early morning 11 am today (why can't they do it later in the day - well, I suppose this is the time CBS TV picked .. As long as it gets on TV, I won't complain -- but one never knows about any doubles match and I only believe it when I see it on TV :) ...

Anyway, the match is in about 15 minutes ... That is 11 am New York, 4 pm London .. 8.30 pm India .. Come to our chatroom, as we will have some running commentary ..

Sep 10 Note-1

Great news from Tashkent .. Sania Mirza pulled of the biggest win of her career, upsetting the top seed Mi-Ra Jeon (KOR,164), 76(2) 60 to reach the semifinal of the Asian Championships .. This thing shocked  the folks out there so much that the Tournament media office even sent out a mid-day one line press release saying "Sania upset the Top seed" with the score ..

Here are the details from Tashkent - "Mirza outclassed top seed Mi-Ra Jeon of Korea in straight sets 7-6(2), 6-0 .. Whacking the ball with tremendous power and authority, Sania served up a delectable display of attacking tennis. Watched by her mother and team coach Chandrashekhar, Mirza blazed to a 5-3 lead in the first set and let go a whole bunch of set points to let the patient and composed Jeon back to level 5-5. But after that, it became a match of sheer physical domination and Jeon was no match for the much stronger and younger Mirza. For Mirza, beating the much higher ranked Jeon (WTA 168) is one of her best wins this season. With this, Mirza also avenged her defeat to Jeon in the Fed Cup earlier this year. Mirza, who has been training under Boris Becker’s former coach Bob Brett in, says she now feels in great physical form. “I’m serving really well after I began training with Brett. And, he trains so hard that I don’t ever feel tired during a match,” she said. “This girl is gifted. She has it in her to crack the top 100 in a year. She hits much harder than the boys,’’ team coach Chandrashekhar said after the match. Mirza now runs into Napaporn Tongsalee of Thailand. Mirza has beaten Tongsalee barely two weeks ago in a $ 25,000 Challenger in Delhi. In the bottom half, second seeded Na Li of China plays fourth seeded Ryoko Fuda of Japan for a place in the final.

Sania has come a long way .. For comparison, Mi-Ra had beaten Sania 64 62 about three months back at the Fed Cup .. The same Korean had beaten Neha last month at the Louisville challenger 76 75 before losing to Shikha 46 60 36 .. Mi-Ra is no slouch at all, but Sania when she gets into her game can be unstobbale for most players .. The way she completely dismantled Mi-Ra and packed her off from the first set tiebreaker onwards, is quite amazing.  But that is Sania !! ... Go girl, take the title - we luv ya!!

At the Hyderbad $10K, though 5 Indians were in the QF, only Ajay made it to the semi and he went down today to the 5th seed Tai-Wei Liu in a 46 64 26 match .. Pakistan's Aqeel Khan faces Liu in the final .. Aqeel has been playing with incredible consistency and seems all set to crack into top-375 after barely two satellites and a futures! - hard to believe that the 24 yr old was unranked coming into India a couple of months back .. See the forum thread on the Hyderabad futures for the scores .. (No, I have not stopped archiving the scores at this site - just that I need a little time to edit out the scores in my usual format, for the last three Indian events)

Sep 9 Notes

Update 3 -- LP-MN lost the mixed doubles semifinal in a dandy match to Woodbridge and Alicia Molik, 64 36 (3-10) in the evening [edit later - forgot to add my usual complaint -- SUPER TIEBREAKERS SUCK!! .. It has no place in tennis, let alone in a grand slam semifinal .. Television people in the US suck more for insisting on it and USTA swallows for meekly agreeing to it.]

Update 2 -- Yeah!!! ... First grand slam (men's) doubles final for Leander in 5 years (since the final at the USO in 1999)  [correction -- first since 2001 FO title -- how could I forget that?] !!! ... [SF] (13) L.paes/ D.Rikl d. Rafael Nadal (ESP)/ Tommie Robredo (ESP), 63 63 .. Pretty easy match for our pair .. Actually they broke the Spaniards twice in a row from 3-3 to finish off the match in the second set .. 4 points straight of their serve in the final game - it was that easy! .. Both LP and Rikl are playing top-notch doubles at the USO -- Let us hope for a big title in 2 days! .. The final is against the 3rd seeds and old enemies, Knowles/ Nestor .. LP-DR picked up 700 entry pts (140 race pts), which will move them up to the #7 spot in team rankings with 337 pts, just behind MB-Mirnyi with 257 pts .. LP will also move up a few spots, to inside the top-15 with over 2600 pts pts as well.

.....

Still struggling a bit with time this week .. Quick updates -- LP-Rikl are playing the semifinal right now and are up 63 22 right now .. They beat Lopez-Verdasco 76 64 on Tuesday in the QF .. Sania is in the QF at tge Asian championship, playing  the top seed Mira-Ra Jeon (KOR,164) next .. Prakash and Harshd went down in the first round of singles at the Seoul challenger.  All the top Indian seeds (Vinod, Ajay, Vijay, etc) except Mustafa had reached the QF at the Hyderabad $10K yesterday .. All Indian juniors lost in their first round singles and doubles matches at USO (what else to say? -- not even a set won by anybody, sadly) ..  More later.

Sep 7 Notes

Leander must be really "feeling it" .. He said as much to me at the US Open last week - "feeling the strongest I have ever felt in my career," he said .. He has won three rounds each now in doubles and mixed doubles, as he and Martina were on the Ashe court, beating Sharapova and Mirnyi in a 64 64 match last night .. Not much of a problem at all, as Lee was incredible at the net and Martina showed her uncanny ability to place the ball where it should be placed - this match was on TV .. They are in the semifinal against Woodbridge and Alcia Molik .. Leander gets the day off today .. The news was not good for Mahesh, as he and Max mirnyi went down 46 46 to Rafael Nadal and Tommie Robredo of Spain - soimehow our pair just never seemed to be in the match all through - hardly troubling the other guys on their serve, and reportedly making too many uncharacteric mistakes as well .. So, Hesh is done with the US Open this time.  On the junior side, navdeep Singh did put up a good fight, leading 3-1 in both sets against Philipp Symonds, but falling late in the sets in a 46 57 loss .. Navdeep Singh and Eric Chvojka lost 46 16 to the 4th seeded Scoville jenkins and Mykyta Kryvonos of USA.

Karan and Neha play early in the day today in the juniors first round at the USO .. Divij and Tushar play their jjunior R1 doubles also today.

At the $75K+H Seoul challenger, Harsh Mankad plays Jean-Rene Lisnard and Prakash Amritraj plays Danai Udomchoke tomorrow (wednesday), when all 16 first round matches are scheduled .. In doubles Prakash plays with Kevin Kim (USA), facing Jamie Delgado (GBR) and John-Paul Fruttero (USA)  .. Harsh is playing with Goichi Motomura (JPN) and they face Hyung-Taik Lee and Kyu-Tae Im of Korea - the doubles matche will only be on Thursday.

Bad news from the $100K+H Asian championships today - "Three Indians crashed out," as the headline of the press release from there said (yikes, I hate it when we make such headlines!) .. 7th seed Sania Mirza won 60 60 over Huynh Huynh of Vietnam, but the 3rd seed Sunil Kumar was upset in a close match, 76(14) 75 by Muhammen Al Ghareeb of Kuwait .. Ghareeb is a good player, but SKS should have won this .. Rushmi Chakravarthi whose problems abroad have strangely only worsened through her career, ran in to a talented player in Ivanna Isroilova (UZXB) in a 26 36 loss .. Isroilova was a runner up a couple of years back there, but RC was unfortunatley not able to mount a more srious challenge .. Also falling was Vishal Uppal who lost 36 16 to Dennis Istomin (UZB)  .. I don't know what went wrong for Vishal in that match!

It has been all rain in Hyderabad at the $10K futures .. Only one final round qualiying match was done (Sanam Singh qualified in!) monday .. Hopefully more got done today.

Sep 6 Notes

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

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

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Sep 6 ..

I am getting some inquiries from US college coaches who are interested in Indian junior players .. I would like to be able to contact Indian players (some of the coaches are inquiring about specific names) .. If any of the junior players are reading this, please contact me .. Or if any of the other readers know the contact emails/address for any junior playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan