Notes for week ending on Sept 15, 1997

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Sept 14 /97 Notes

The India vs Chile Davis Cup draw looks like this: Bhupathi vs. Rios and Paes vs. Silberstein on day 1; Doubles on day 2; Reverse singles on day 3.

Leander is at New Delhi. The practice for the Davis Cup has started. Rain had prevented the use of the uncovered grass practice courts in the last couple of days (the Chilean team was less than happy about it), but some practice was finally possible on the soft practice courts on Saturday. The main grass court at the R K Khanna stadium is covered, but not available for practice.

Leander talked about the differences in him this year in interviews. ``I'm 24 and not getting any younger,'' Paes said after his first session on the DTA hard courts here. ``There is a more professional approach during practice sessions and I cut out on stupid shots during practice. Of course, once in a while I'll be flashy but that's how I am. I go out once in a while and mostly it is the routine I have to follow, have dinner, take in the fluids and hit the bed as early as possible. Every week is important to me, day by day. Dropping down the rankings shouldn't disappoint me now. I have more tournaments coming up. And, as far as I am concerned, sky is the limit.'' One of the major factors that contributed to his success has been the improvement of his first serve percentage. Paes attributes it to the slight change in his toss, which is slightly higher, and staying lot closer to the service line. (courtesy: Indian Express)

About doubles with Mahesh, Leander said, ``Not many people believed what we were capable of. I have never doubted it. The biggest factor is the way we communicate, even if leave out other things like our contrasting playing styles, temperament etc. We tend to help each other, and Mahesh has proved that he really is a top class doubles player'', said Leander as he once again emphasised the strong bond. He also highlighted the fact that each was keeping the other in check on and off the court, which was important in the Indian Davis Cup pair growing together as a team. He was naturally all praise for his partner, whose singles record despite improving considerably was hampered by the doubles. ``Mahesh has improved a lot overall. He is faster and better in all what he does, though there is room for improvement''. As far as his own game went, Leander said that he was getting stronger, especially with his baseline game and serve. He said that he owed the solidity and consistency in his game to hard physical training. Attributing his success to a more professional work ethic, Leander said that he was ``not doing stupid things in practice anymore. Like trying to play flashy shots''. He said that it all came down to ``using the day much better''. (courtesy: The Hindu)

Mr. Varad Pande reports from New Delhi about the Chilean cpatin and team being a little worried about Marcelo Rios not reaching there for practice yet (He had an exhibition event in Santiago, Chile, and some commercial obligations through his agency. He is expected to get there by Tuesday and put in only 3 days of practice on grass). The #2 Chilean player, Gabriel Silbersteain, is also getting to New Delhi only early in the coming week. Meanwhile Paes is quoted to have said,"We have to do our homework well. Grass is quite new to us all. Both of us peaked at the US Open and hopefully the form should hold".. The 4th member of the Chilean team, Hermes Gamonal, is playing on grass for the first time in his life !!.. and that says a lot about how much they like that surface... Another tidbit (forgot to mention earlier): Nicolas Massu (the big upcoming talent, 18 year old Chilean) won the junior doubles at the US Open with Gonzalo Fernandes of Chile.

Sept 12 /97 Notes

Started getting reports from our on-site representative at the Davis Cup, Mr. Varad Pande, at New Delhi. Hope to have match results and reports available as soon as possible after the matches are completed at the Davis Cup next weekend. (No match-time updates due to technical constraints :-)).

Mahesh Bhupathi had a press interview at Bangalore this week and said the indian team was confident of beating Chile. He says he had been looking forward to his match against Marcelo Rios ever since "playing into his hands" and losing at the Wimbledon. He hinted that an upset of Rios by Leander or himself is not impossible, but he is really pumped up about his match against Gabriel Silberstein.

Asked about how he felt about narrowly losing the doubles with Leander at the U.S.Open semifinals, he said, "No different. Just more confident" !!.. Got to agree with Varad's comment about it ("That's the way to go, Mahesh!").. Such professionalism is a big reason for the success of the "Dynamic Duo", LP/MB... He said playing with Paes had helped him work hard as both found out the weaknesses and strengths of their games from each other.

Good news on the Indian ATP Challenger tournaments: Looks like the Bombay and Ahmedabad challengers (starting Nov 10th and Nov 17th respectively) are going to happen. AGETA (Ahmedabad Govt Employees Tennis Association) should be hosting the Ahmedabad tourney. Mr. A. Prasad (president of AGETA and vice-president of the Gujarat Tennis Association) has deposited the guarantee money after ATP washed its hands off the PLReddy/RKKhanna/AITA confusion and said whoever sends the money first, and on time, will get the tournament. The Bombay tournaments' guarantee money also has been deposited. No final word yet on the guarantee deposit for the Madras challenger (Nov 24th), but PL Reddy had given the tourney allotted to him to ITPA (Indian Tennis Players Association) to host, and Mr. Kartik Chidambaram is heading the effort. ATP should be updating its Calendar soon with most probably all three challengers (courtesy: Indian Express)

Sept 9 /97 Notes

Here is some information on the Chile Davis Cup team.

Team:

Captain: Patricio Cornejo, Trainer: Manuel Astorga.

Marcelo Rios is of course well-known and is in the ATP top-10.. He is known as an emotional player and how much fire he comes out with on any given day is very unpredictable. Slow clay is his favorite surface, but he has done well on hardcourts and grass occasionally. Grass (as in Delhi) is his least favorite surface. Gabriel Silberstein is a very good player who has been in the ATP #175-225 range for a while now (his match with Mahesh might be the ultimate decider in the Davis Cup tie if everything goes according to ranking!.. but we all know that Mahesh's ranking would be much higher had he been concentrating on singles as much as Gabriel has been). Keep an eye out for Nicolas Massu, if he gets to play. He is one of the outstanding upcoming talent from South America (along with another Chilean player Fernando Gonzales). In the world Junior rankings, as of mid-July, Massu is ranked #4 in singles and #1 in doubles. As we can see none of the Chilean players have done much in ATP doubles. Rios has played some, but has not played with any of the Chilean players in ATP tournaments this year. Either Hermes Gamonal or Nicolas Massu has played with him in the past and should be expected to play with him in the Davis Cup doubles. Rios teamed up with Ulihrach in doubles at the Prague ATP tournament this year and lost in straight sets to Paes/Bhupathi. Rios has beaten both Leander (at New Haven Pilot Pen, Round 2, 1996) and Mahesh (Wimbledon, Round 1, 1997) the last time he played them, and both were straight sets wins. In a press interview this week, Rios mentioned how these things don't matter much in Davis Cup and pointed out Bhupathi's performance against Ivanisevik in Davis Cup as an example (of course, Leander's heroics are all too well-known!)

Here are pictures of Rios, Massu and Gamonal, and "Pato" Cornejo, Massu, and Gamonal (Photos courtesy La Tercera News, Chile) just before leaving to India this week.

Rios, Massu, and Gamonalcornejo, massu, gamonal

9/8/97 Evening Notes

OK, Got updated schedule information directly from Leander today (he is at Orlando today, and is leaving for India in a couple of days). Leander thanks all the fans for the support he gets. He is going all out during the Asian and European indoor carpet season, as in the schedule below. Notice the Ostrava tourney. That will be his 3rd trip to Czech republic this year (played Davis Cup there, returned for a challenger and then the Prague Open in successive weeks later, and now will go there once more). Interesting point: Paes/Bhupathi are undefeted in 9 doubles matches in the Czech Rep this year (won the Davis Cup doubles and then won both the challenger and the Prague Open.. All on clay.. The dudes seem to like it up there!). Apparently there is some chance that the Asia Cup event in the first week of November in India may not happen; if so, he will be at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Nothing definite yet on the Indian challengers either (see last week's notes for more..); so the last 3 weeks of November are uncertain, except for the Hartford Doubles tourney in the 3rd week. Mahesh will be with Leander for doubles at the two Super 9s, but may focus on singles at other times. The schedule is:

Sep  8 - 18  Getting back to India and practice for Davis Cup
    19 - 21  Davis Cup
    22 - 28  Vacation in India
    29 -  5  ATP Beijing                     (indoor carpet)
Oct  6 - 12  ATP Singapore                   (indoor carpet)
    13 - 19  ATP Czech Rep (Ostrava)         (indoor carpet)
    20 - 26  ATP Stuttgart Super 9           (indoor carpet)
    27 -  2  ATP Paris Super 9               (indoor carpet)
Nov  3 -  9  Asia Cup (India) or ATP Moscow  (indoor carpet)
    10 - 16  Challenger at Reunion/Bombay, or off to Hartford for practice
    17 - 23  ATP Doubles Top-8, Hartford, CT, USA 
    24 - 30  Challenger at Madras (if it happens)
Dec  1 -  9  Vacation
    10 - 12  Mandela Children's fund event, South Africa
    12 - 31  Vacation

For those following Leander's ranking: In singles, 44 points for the finals at the Madras challenger during the week after the US Open last year drop off at the end of next week; His point total will drop from 461 to about 418 next week, and he will be down to about 110 next week (on Sep 15). Based on the above schedule, he seems to have enough opportunities to pick up some points again, soon..