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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Sep 14, 1998

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Please read the newly-added page, a collection of notes, especially on the important topic of Indian players needing support .. We need responses and help from everybody ..

Sep 14 Notes

Forgot to keep up with Vijay Amritraj's performance at the US Open - on Sunday, Vijay and Jose Higueras of Spain won the 45s doubles title ! .. There were 12 teams in the draw divided into 4 groups (Red, Blue, Yellow, Green), with each team playing the other two in the group and one advancing to the semi from each group .. Here are the results for Vijay: [Round Robin] V.Amritraj/ J.Higueras d. Marty Riessen/ Sherwood Stewart 46, 63, 76(2) .. V.Amritraj/J.Higueras d. K.Roswall/F.Stolle 61, 62 .. [Semifinal] V.Amritraj/ J.Higueras d. Brian Gottfried/Sandy Mayer, 63, 76(3) .. [Final] V.Amritraj/ J.Higueras d. Tom Gullikson/ Dick Stockton, 64, 64 .. Good job, Vijay ! .. congrats ..

Sep 13 Notes

Not much news - will be the same for a few days - nobody playing much ..

The schedule for Leander and Mahesh for the rest of the year has been updated .. Check it out. Basically there is a full slate of tournaments after the Davis Cup, the weekend after next (Sep 25-27) .. Both will take a week off after Davis Cup and then play at Shanghai (Leander was in the semifinal there in 97, but that was in January and the tournament has been moved by several months to October now - so he has nothing to defend there, but will hopefully do well on the indoor carpet surface that he liked last time).. This will be followed by Singapore and then a challenger in Hong Kong .. The challenger is a new addition, because apparently the Beijing tournament is now cancelled because they lost the title sponsor or something like that. LP/MB have titles to defend in doubles from Beijing and Singapore (153 and 289 points), but will now try doubles at Shanghai and Singapore. I assume they will not play doubles at the Hong Kong challenger. After that it will be the European indoor carpet Super 9s - at Stuttgart and Paris. Those two Super 9s traditionally have the toughest singles draws to get into, closing around ATP 60 or 70 normally. That means LP will have to play qualifiers for singles entry (he is already in the draw at Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong). LP/MB only have about 100+ points to defend in doubles in those two, and will hopefully pick up a bunch of points there, as each Super 9 titles fetch around 400 to 450 total points. After the Super 9s, it will be a trip up to the Kremlin Cup at Moscow, where they planned to play last year, but dropped in favor of the Asia Cup non-ATP event in India - LP should make it in the singles draw there too, easily .. No idea who will be playing at Asia Cup this year, by the way .. Then the big event - The Hartford ATP doubles championship .. Then a week off, followed by two weeks at the Asiad in Japan .. I am told both LP and MB will be at the Asiad !! .. There are some assured Golds for India ! .. The year will end with the two challengers in India in late December. I would think LP may take those weeks off, if he has picked up enough singles points (say 200+) by then and is up inside the top 60 or so in ranking .. He will need a break to recharge the batteries for next year, by then.

Sep 12 Note-2

Some statistics - Mahesh Bhupathi's record in the last 6 grand slams: out of 12 mixed and doubles draws : In the semis or better in 8 of the 12, with four different partners (Title with Hiraki, Final with Lucic, 4 semis with LP, 1 semi with Lucic, 1 semi with Vis) .. one title, one final and 6 semifinal losses .. 4 of the semifinal losses to the eventual champions .. Not bad.

Another interesting stat - Leander has won or lost the last 14 singles matches in straight sets (10 wins and 4 losses) .. Add to that 16 of the last 18 doubles matches with MB  which were won or lost in straight sets (12 wins and 6 losses) .. Here is another - Leander has not allowed anybody to come back and beat him after he won the first set, in 24 straight doubles and singles matches .. The last one to come back and beat him in singles was Grant Stafford at Stella Artois .. The last team to come back and beat LP/MB after they won the first set was Gimelstob/MacPhie at Wimbleson - actually only two teams have beaten LP/MB after our guys won the first set this year, the previous being Eltingh/Bjorkman at the Australian Open in January ..

LP/MB started the year 27-3, then went through a 5-5 period, and are now 4-1 in the last five, for a 36-9 record for the year in 45 matches (80% winning rate) .. No team has beaten them twice this year and the 9 losses are to 9 different teams : Bjorkman/Eltingh at AO, Black/Grabb at Lipton, Elting/Haarhuis at Monte Carlo, Knowles/Nestor at FO, Bjorkman/Rafter at Queens, Gimelstob/Macphie at Wimbledon, Ferreira/Leach at Toronto, Arthurs/Tramacchi at New Haven and Stolle/Suk at USO .. Three of these teams have played the Indian Express twice and have 1-1 records in those matches (Stolle/Suk, Ferreira/Leach and Gimelstob/MacPhie) .. Bjorkman, Grabb, Knowles, Nestor, Rafter and Tramacchi are the only players whom our guys have played and do not have a win against in doubles this year, and *only* Bjorkman has played our guys more than once and have won both times .. How about that for some really crunched stats ?

Sep 12 Note-1

Nice break for a couple of days .. There was nothing happening to report either.

The doubles final at the US Open was yesterday, and it was won by, wouldn't you guess, Stolle/Suk, 4-6, 7-6(10-8), 6-2 .. Are you kidding me ? .. These guys beat the 2nd, 7th, 4th, and 6th seeds in a row to win the title ! .. They picked up a whopping 282 bonus pts to go with 750 tournament points .. and have added 1032 pts to the 873 they had for the whole year to come up from 17th to around 6th in this year's team ranking .. They now have a legitimate chance of qualifying into the Hartford draw, if they can pick up another 300 points or so from somewhere in the next few weeks. If they continue playing like they did here, they might pick up much more than that.

Knowles/Nestor had a chance to jump over Leander/Mahesh to the #3 spot next week, but failed to do so by not winning the title here. Leander/Mahesh now have 2699 points and remain as #3 with Knowles/Nestor at #4, a couple of hundred points behind.

Now, how well have things gone for Stolle/Suk ? .. Consider this - they had lost the first set, 4-6, and were facing a do-or-die second set tiebreaker .. Suk was serving at 4-5 and Nestor finished off the points with a smash volley from near the net. Everybody thought it would be 6-4 for Knowles/Nestor with 2 match points on their serve to come .. but wait a sec .. The point was disallowed and it was 5-5, because Nestor's racquet had gone and touched the net after the shot ! .. He will remember that for the rest of his life .. The match should have been basically over right there .. Then there was another match point where a terrific crosscourt from Knowles looked to be right at the left sideline .. We thought it was over again, but NO .. it was a centimeter out (that one cm caused them $160K, as it turned out in the end) .. McEnroe in the commentator booth thought it was a close call, but Knowles didn't seem to argue .. I guess the ball-Gods that somehow always made it fall the right way for Stolle/Suk had been at work again .. Then at 8-8, Suk hit one to the exact same spot, and it was half a centimeter in .. and so it went .. to the 3rd set, when the disheartened Knowles/Nestor never seemed to get into it after allowing a break in the very first game. I also remember another point in the second set when Stolle/Suk were facing a break point serving at 4-4 .. A passing shot from Nestor looked to be good but Suk let it go - great judgement from him, we can say, but I cannot believe he took a chance at that break point - and it fell just a centimeter behind the baseline. One could see in Suk's face how close he was to dropping the game and basically the match there ! .. I have to say I have never seen a team living such a charmed life and coming through in the end .. They were almost out in the 3rd set, down a break, against Damm/Grabb in the quarters, then were down triple points against LP/MB in the second set in the semis, and were facing two match points in the final .. but they are the winners .. As "Queen" sang, "We are the champions, my friend .. We keep on fighting, till the end .."

There were, by my unofficial count, about 25 break points against them in the semifinal and final and *only two* were converted ! .. That speaks volumes of how much grit they showed .. Fortune favors the brave, and the saying was never more true than in the case of Stolle/Suk.

Thought I should write that up, as I found their run to the final a classic and was truly fascinated by it, though it included another semifinal loss inflicted on our team. LP/MB have now lost 4 semis in the last five grandslam and three of the teams who beat them (Kafelnikov/Vacek, Eltingh/Bjorkman and Stolle/Suk) have gone on to win the final .. In each case, the team that beat them came up from below top-10 to basically inside the top-5, which points to them getting hot at the right time .. The only consistent team through all this, have been the Indian Express .. Nobody else have been in more than 3 semis in the last 5 .. So when will our team get the breaks going their way for a title ? .. will happen with time .. I refer everyone once again to the June 7 (note-4) that I wrote on the Woodies' early record .. There are some reasons why it is taking our guys a while to do it, I believe, and they are not that worrisome - will talk about that sometime.

Sep 9 Note-1

It all comes crashing down again.. can't believe how some damn team comes up all gung-ho to beat our guys in the semis .. 4 semi losses to 4 different teams in one year in grand slams .. Plus it had to rain and become very windy on court .. A few great lobs missing the line by 1 or 2 inches, a couple of volleys netted by LP, and a toss getting caught in the wind causing a doubles fault at the worst possible time form MB (serving 4-4 in the second set tiebreaker), and it was over .. LP/MB had something like 10 break points in the whole game and converted only one of those (they were being aggressive at the break points .. things just seemed to go an inch too long or too low, not to mention how Stolle/Suk hung on at everyone of those points) .. Stolle/Suk dominated the net in the first set causing problems for LP in his service games .. Got broken in the 4th game to fall back 1-3 .. They immediately got a break back to tie it at 3-3, but then LP lost serve again to fall back at 3-5 .. In the second set there were two games where LP/MB were close to breaks but that didn't happen .. Then the 12th game when LP/MB were up with triple break points .. one return from MB which was 2 inches wide and one volley from LP bouncing back from the unkind net and we were in a tiebreak .. MB started with a good srve .. Then, down a minibreak at 2-3 and facing serve, LP came up with some terrific net play to get it back and tie it at 3-3 .. It was tied at 4-4 with MB serving one more when the disastrous bad toss and double fault happened .. All in all, some things just simply went unlucky for our guys and some things were simple mess-ups by our our guys, but one thing is sure - Stolle/Suk played a terrific game and they did not let our guys ease out of the problems .. Final score 3-6, 6-7(4) .. That is the end of US Open for us .. There may not be any updates here for a couple of days, but we will, rewind, unwind, restart, reset and get primed up for Davis Cup soon !!!]

Sep 8 Note-5

The doubles semifinal is the first match on the main, huge, humongous Arthur Ashe court tomorrow (wednesday) .. Starts at 11 am there (8 PST, usa .. 8.30 pm , India) .. This match could be on USA Cable TV !! .. The morning coverage starts at 11 am, and there are no other big matches at that time to show .. So set your VCRs in the US and cross your fingers .. They might have to show one of those rare, very rare, doubles matches on TV ..

A win tomorrow would give them 599 points including 24 more bonus points (for 62 total bonus) and an extra $80K to add to the $80K they are sharing already .. Stolle/Suk are no easy team to beat, though, when both are playing well .. Mark Woodforde commented on how well Suk served the other day in their upset of the Woodies, which surprised the Woodies a bit .. Sandon Stolle is on a good roll too, having reached the semifinals of both the doubles and mixed doubles (that with Debbie Graham - they play Serena-Max later tomorrow) .. But then, nobody may be on as much of a roll as LP-MB has been in the last 2-3 matches, so if our guys can keep that up, it will be sweet ! GO Indian Express choo-choo !

Sep 8 Note-4

Here is a really excited Susan Thomas' onsite fanclub member report from the US Open courts:

This is Susan again reporting from NY ... It was a real busy day for indian supporters at the US open today...boy was I excited to see today's draw. It was unbelievable. So I started my day watching Manoj Mahadevan play...there were very few spectators on court. I have gotten into this nasty habit of approaching Indians whom I see wearing badges (I guess I am getting that nosy journalist attitude afterall :-)) .. So I was curious to know who the Indian girl wearing a badge, sitting next to me was .. So I introduced myself and guess what?? .. she was Manoj's sister who is visiting him this weekend from Nashville. So we gave each other good company during the match .. Sorry to say that Manoj just didn't give it his all today...he seemed a bit lethargic. He was not running after the ball - it seemed like his left leg was troubling him. He let his opponent dominate the entire match. He seemed to be getting into the match in the second set when he got a break but he lost the very next game. Vijay Kannan and S.Zaman, the junior from bengal, joined our group and we cheered Manoj on but I guess it didn't work much .. Vijay told me that they were all upset with the rain delaying play yesterday but that he was looking forward to today's match. I was hoping that Lee and Hesh would come to court to watch this match, but anyway I decided to sneak out to the practice courts during MM's match - I did find Lee and Hesh practicing with Sanjay Singh. Vijay Amritraj was sitting on a bench across the court watching them practice .. Going back to Manoj - though I didn't see the best from him today the kid does have a lot of potential .. He has a good serve - he just needs to take some tips from Lee about getting around the court and moving his legs faster.

Court 11 was where a lot of stuff was happening for us today. LP-MB doubles match was expected to be a good one. By the time reality struck me that I was actually seeing *The Indian Express* play, the match was over - I guess they were on the Rajdhani route today :-) .. They seemed to know exactly what they were doing - both served perfectly with not that many unforced errors....brought out the worst in Lobo all through the match...the poor guy was babbling to himself. The most intimidating thing our duo did was in the second game. They requested that the players' chairs be moved farther back - though it may be something silly, Lobo was upset :-) ... It was a good match but to be honest I wished it would be a close one, a three setter .. I wanted to see that Paes temper on court but I didn't get to see much of that today :-) .. They cruised through very easily. Vijay amritraj was waiting to take their interviews after the match was over.

Mahesh came back to play the mixed doubles on court 11. This match attracted a huge crowd - I dunno if williams had anything to do with it. What was suprising was to find a lot of locals especially kids rooting for Mahesh. I was not impressed with Lucic's game .. not much chemistry between the two. Too many errors....she was having problems with her serve and then the double fault to end the match. It was a close match the crowd loved it. Mirnyi was very intimidating at the net.. he even managed to get a smile out of Mahesh on one point. I had thought all along that MB/ML would win easily especially when they broke Serena's serve but they lost the very next game (3rd set). 6-5 with ML serving - it was going to a definite tie breaker but her serve caused a big problem then. There was a controversy on two points one which was argued by Mahesh and the other had Williams going nuts - something to do with an extra ball on court .. I assumed that the ball fell out of Mahesh's pocket during a serve game. I couldnt figure out what it was all about .. maybe Kim would know if he saw the match.

Mahesh told me after the match that they would be playing their semis match tommorrow. I wished him luck. I didn't get to watch Uzma Khan play coz her match was around the time our guys were playing. Something tells me that this grand slam is it...this has to be it .. now with Bjorkman and Rafter being the only threat - I think our guys are looking good. Funny that I heard people talking during the match and everyone had come to see the Indian sensations. The popular comments were "they might take the cup!!!!!" ..

Thanks Susan ! .. Susan is rather harsh on Mirjana Lucic .. Miki must have had a bad day .. can't be too critical of a team that went to the Wimbledon finals and USO quarters .. :-) .. If we hear from Kim Das, will report that too .. Hopefully he will be there for the doubles semis (Susan has to work, I am told)! .. Tomorrow's schedule isn't out yet.

Sep 8 Note-3

What a sad end to the day .. MB-ML were up in the 3rd game of the 3rd set, only to give it back in the 4th .. Then they went up again in the 9th game and were serving for the match at 5-4 .. both MB and ML got broken in successive games, and it was over at 6-3, 5-7, 5-7 .. Incredible ending .. Oh-so-similar to the wimbledon final .. Just as we were saying "that can't happen again, can it ?" .. it did .. right there ..

Earlier, another loss .. This time Vijay Kannan .. he was up well too, at first with 2 breaks at 4-1 and serving .. lost two breaks in a row to level at 5-4 when he came up with yet another break to take the set 6-3 .. From then on, Hippensteel seemd to play even .. Both of them were taking each other to deuces, but Hippensteel pulled off the breaks which Kannan couldn't make .. In the end it was a 6-4, 3-6, 2-6 loss ..

Oh well.. at least LP-MB are still there .. They will be playing the 15th seeds Sandon Stolle (AUS) and Cyril Suk (CZE) in the semifinals .. Stolle/Suk won over the 7th seeds Damm/Grabb, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 .. They were down a break late in the 3rd set, but made a last minute charge to advance .. Based on what Mark Woodforde said after their loss to Stolle/Suk, they are playing well .. He said, Cyril Suk whom one can normally break, has been serving well and Stolle of course is using all his experience too. The last time LP/MB played them was at the Italian Open in Rome where our guys won a rather easy match .. Hope this semi will be a repeat too .. Not sure when it is, perhaps on Thursday ..

Sep 8 Note-2

The Spaniards were beaten easily, 6-3, 6-3 .. no hassles .. Yet another grand slam semifinal !! .. 4th time in the last five .. The win gives our boys 363 pts and they have defended their points from last year.. They also share $80K for reaching the semis .. Opponent is undetermined as of now, but 15th seeds Stolle/Suk are up by a set on 7th seeds Damm/Grabb as I type..

Manoj Mahadevan had a 6-4, 6-4 loss in his first round doubles and Uzma Khan had a 0-6, 0-6 loss in her doubles match .. Now it's all left to Vijay Kannan to salvage something in the juniors .. He comes up for the second round singles later today

We will have reports from the courts later here ..

Sep 8 Note-1

If the rain stays away, here are the expected approximate start times for today's matches : .. LP/MB plays the doubles QF starting at about 12.45 pm (9.45 am PST, usa, 10.15pm India) against Lobo/Sanchez .. Manoj Mahadevan starts the day off with R1 junior-singles at 11 am .. Uzma Khan starts the junior doubles R1 at 1 pm, Vijay Kannan plays his R2 junior singles at about 5 pm, followed by Vijay Amritraj in invited seniors doubles at night .. MB and Lucic comes back to start the 3rd set of their postponed mx-D match against Serena and Mirnyi at about 5 pm .. A whole bunch of matches .. We have fanclub members down there today and will bring some match resports at the end of the day (we will have our usual "on-web-site match report" on how the breaks went, based on the US Open online scoreboard, first) ..

Lobo/Sanchez, as I said earlier, had a 3rd set tiebreaker loss against LP/MB at the Rome Super 9 semis (the only meeting between these two teams), and incidentally that is their best showing this year .. Red clay suits them best (big surprise for two spaniards, huh ?) .. Javier Sanchez and Julien Alonso did win the doubles title at the Long Island ATP tourney 2 weeks back ..

Vijay Kannan's opponent in round 2 today is unseeded KJ Hippensteel, a US kid who pulled a big upset over the 5th seed Guillermo Corria of Argentina .. KJ ended the last year as the 23rd ranked US junior in the 18-and-under category and this was a surprise win .. Let's hope it was a one-time affair and that this is indeed a good break for Vijay .. As for Manoj, if he can win his first round today, he also will face an unseeded boy next too, as the 3rd seed Andreas Vinciquerra of Sweden was upset yesterday by Bob Borella of Denmark .. Borella is no easy foe though - he beat Kannan at Wimbledon .. anyway, Manoj needs to win the first round today before looking ahead .. Go guys! ..

.. Previous notes at Weekly Notes, ending Sep 7 ..