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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the weeks ending on Sep 25, 2006
(Previous notes - from July) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2006)

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Sep 25 Note-1

At the Mumbai Open,  Rohan and Akash are expected to play their first round singles matches tomorrow (Tuesday) ..  Sania's first round match against Korean wildcard Ye-Ra Lee at the Hansol Open Tier-IV WTA in Seoul is not in the schedule for tomorrow either .. As she is set to run into Hingis in the second round if both win, and both were playing in Kolkata Sunday, they may have got to Korea only late today .. Their two matches are the only remaining first round matches set for wednesday .. Sania is not in the doubles draw at Seoul, as she is concentrating on singles for the remaining few events this year.

As for today's singles matches at Mumbai, there was nothing much Karan could do, as he lost 06 36 to the sixth seed Bjorn Phau (GER,66) .. Wish he could put up a better fight than that, but it is always tough when you have not played a whole lot of top-75 players in the past .. There was some fantastic news late in the night though, as Rohan and Mustafa, the last direct entries in the main draw, upset the top seeds Alexander Peya (AUT) and Bjorn Phau (GER), 63 64 .. Wow! .. Rohan and Prakash, if you remember had reached the doubles final at the Chennai Open with an upset run, and now Rohan is up to his tricks with Mustafa it seems .. See our "Kingfisher Airlines" Mumbai ATP page for all the scores.

At the $50K Tulsa challenger in the USA, Harsh Mankad made up for a bit of his disappointment in somehow ending up missing the Mumbai chances, as he qualified into yet another US challenger (the third consecutive challenger qualifying rounds that he has won in the US following Bonx an Lubbock - that itself is noteworthy) .. IN the Q3 he rolled over Stephen Mitchell (RSA,680) 61 60 .. In the main draw, he faces Nathan Healey (AUS,200) tomorrow .. In two UK challengers last year, HM had split it against Healey - a 46 75 loss and then a 63 36 61 win .. Hope he can upset the guy once more tomorrow  they play in the afternoon.

Sep 24 Note-2

Sania and Liezel Huber made it a trifecta of doubles titles together! -- They won the doubles final easily, 64 61 over Yulia Beygelzimer and Yuliana Fedak of Ukraine at the Kolkata Sunfeast Open WTA ..

Sep 24 Note-1
 
Pretty bad draw for everybody at the Mumbai Open, as all three Indian wildcards face seeded players .. Rohan Bopanna (IND,273) got 8th seed Wesley Moodie (RSA,73), Karan Rastogi (IND,361) got 6th seed Bjorn Phau (GER,66) and the surprise last-minute wildcard Akash Wagh (IND) got the 4th seed Dmitryi Tursunov (RUS,22) - all tough matches, and we can only hope that they have it in them to pull an upset or two - which would be monumental, I guess .. By the way, though Jeevan and Sanam have reasons to complain, I like it that the young 16 year old Akash Wagh got a wildcard .. I think Akash could well be the best among our 15-16 year old talents, based on some results he had in the tough European u16 circuit that I mentioned earlier ..  He is from Maharashtra, he is now under Globosport watch and this is kind of enouragement that could get him to think big enough about himself and that everyone is expecting him to do his hard work to justify thiskind of faith in him ..

It seems like our sports-india.com site is hacked or something yet again .. Yeek, this is terrible .. But I will keep the news going here.

The qualies started yesterday at the inaugural Mumbai Open .. I have now started a results page .. See our "Kingfisher Airlines" Mumbai ATP page for all the scores .. Nice to see that Sanam, Mustafa and Aditya have made use of the easy draws to get to the final round where they now get some tugh players ..

The easiest qualifying draw that one could have expected at an ATP event, and it is absolutely discouraging and disappointing to see the number of Indians missing it .. Sunil Kumar, Vivek Shokeen, Divij Sharan, Vijay Kannan, etc etc .. Sunil Kumar has been in the US on a very ill-advised tour for nearly 2-3 months at various challenger qualies where he has failed to hardly get many wins and has hardly picked up many points .. Divij Sharan took a good decision to make use of the fantastic job he did in the Indian satellites last month (winning it!) and decided to start earnestly with futures in Australia for three weeks .. I liked that, even if he missed an opportunity at Mumbai (he will get more chances later - right now he needs to get into the tour grind and get his game all solid .. Not sure what is up with Vivek Shokeen though .. P.Ravishankar, Vishal Uppal, etc were all missing too, at the qualies.

Then there is Harsh Mankad, the guy for whom nothing ever goes right, due mostly to others' fault and sometimes a bit due to how he himsefl is .. The un- or under-appreciated, unwanted, outsider in Indian tennis for ever .. If people aren't trying to deliberately set him up for failure (as the Chennai Open did once), the circumstances still conspire to his disadvantage - as seems to be the case this time .. It is the inaugural Mumbai Open, and the best tennis player in decades that Mumbai has produced, is not there .. It turns out, after talking to Harsh recently, that Mahesh/Globosport had been in touch with him .. They were considering him for a wildcard (frankly, he should have been automatic if you ask me - but at least they considered him, unlike the Chennai guys) .. This was about three weeks back .. HM was in two minds then - he certainly wanted to go to Mumbai and had to take a tough tough decision, but there was something else too .. As some of this is hinted at in out forum, I may as well spill the beans on it, as the newspapers are writing some half-cooked items that could be misleading .. As some may know here, Harsh is engaged to Ms. Anjali Gandhi ("a15" of our forum), his long-time girlfriend, supporter and biggest fan (well, after me!) .. So Harsh is setting up his base in the US - he has a future life, and a future career connected to tennis too, you know! .. Certain US visa matters required a 60 day stay in the US before filing paperwork and then an additional month or more before he can leave the country .. As you can guess, it is nearly impossible to be in the US that long when you are on the tour, as one would need to leave if you want to kee the ranking and get into events - tough to make a living with just the US circuit which is, to put it mildly, impossibly competitive .. As it turned out, Mankad does have about 60 days right now .. But he had told me earlier that he was still going to go to Mumbai if there was any type of confirmation of a wildcard, though it would cause him to probably postpone his life-plans for several months or till next summer .. He was OK about playing the qualies too, though I personally felt it would be quite a bit of an insult to him to make him play qualies right there in his home town, his being, as I said, the best that Mumbai has produced for decades.  He is anyway #2 in India and had once again shown recently that he continues to be a top quality player like when he was #1 in India for over a year .. He had just become the first Indian, other than Leander, in over a dozen years to win a challenger in the west - when he won the UK challenger recently .. But, it seems Mahesh Bhupathi's hands were tied in this matter too .. He had RB (automatic for WC; he is the Indian #1) and Prakash (not automatic, or at least, shouldn't be, over HM -- but he was under Globosport) and then he also had to think of Leander possibly wanting to get a wildcard - I believe there were indication he would play ..  I wish Prakash had known that he would be unable to play - or had simply said he would  forego the wildcard and rather play qualies, as he is out of match play for months now and needed some matches first .. Well, none of that happened, and Mahesh was unable to confirm a wildcard .. As all the fans in our forum immediately said, Harsh should just move on -- as this is getting really old .. Every time, something or other is there, and Harsh Mankad is the only one who is asked to wait till the last day .. What is this? -- how long will we keep telling this talented player that he is "rather unwelcome" -- it is like, "yeah, may be .. we would like to consider you .. but, you see .. there is this thing .. well, can you wait?" .. So, Harsh just decided to move on with his plans, as the had to look after his life, his fiancee, etc .. He told Mahesh that he will skip this "for personal reasons" .. This is what the Indan press reported at first as "HM skips Mumbai", as though everything was set for him and that he didn't care .. They then changed it to "HM skips because the wildcard was not confirmed" .. True but that would make it sound as thugh Globosport tried not to give it to him - which is also not true .. The fact is that HM's decision was based on so many experiences in the past when he just could not do much when he had to wait till the last minute and went somewhere feeling unwanted .. Not exactly in protest to Mahesh this time, because HM knows that MB did try to do something .. But Mankad decided it this way, in response to the "cumulatve effect" of how discouraging the Indian tennis establishment has always been to him - all because they kept waiting for him to be 5 inches taller and have a Roddick serve - constantly underestimating what he can do with his plain tennis talent, as his record would show.  Anyway, what is done is done .. Let us move on ..

For good measure, HM won two tough rounds yesterday to reach the final round of qualies at the Tulsa challenger in the landthieves' state (Oklahoma :)) in the USA .. Seeded 5th in the qualies, [Q1] Mankad d. Roman Borvanov (MDA,501), 61 67(12) 63 .. [Q2] d. Pierre Ludovic-Duclos (CAN,632), 64 36 64 .. He plays Stephen Mitchell (RSA,680) today in the Q3 .. Sunil Kumar's futile tour of the USA continues, as he lost in the Q1 to Greg Ouellette (USA) 36 26 ..

Sep 23 Notes

Sania had probably the worst loss of her career today at the Kolkata Open, as the 70th ranked top-Indian went down 16 06 to the top seed Martina Hingis (SUI,9) .. Hingis must have been in sublime form to be able to beat Sania so summarily, SM giving any sort of a fight only in one game in the second set when she had 5 break points that she could not convert .. I am sure most people expected a loss, as Hingis is exactly the kind of player,  the best of that kind, who give Sania jitters - but the lop-sided scoreline is very unusual for a Mirza match .. Hingis is too tactically perfect, too talented, and too solid .. "I am sorry; I too wanted to win," said Hingis to the crowd - probably indeed feeling bad for beating Sania so badly .. Anyway, it is one more indicator that Sania really must do the needful to get up to what she is capable of .. Too much of focus on all the deficiencies in her game, too haphazard in fixing those, and too little planning to properly utilize the strengths she has - which were amply displayed from last year .. Time to really go and get a top coach, because nothing else will work.  It is as simple as that .. Yes, it needs to be done more carefully than in the case of many players, because of certain unusual "imbalances" in her game and the way she developed over the years -- also because of the need for the coach to fully understand Sania .. Much as everybody in India likes Mr. Narendranath as a real gentleman and a good tennis mind, he probably does not have the kind of experience (of coaching top-25 payers) that Sania's coach needs.  Time to really make a call on this, Team Sania (Sania, Mahesh and Imran!) ..

For good news, Sania and Liezel Huber has reached the doubles final with an easy 63 62 win over the 4th seeds, Hana Sromova (CZE) and Angelique Widjaja (INA) .. They will play the third seeded Yulia Beygelzimer and Yuliana Fedak (UKR) in the final tomorrow.

Sep 22 Notes

Very good win by Sania in a minor upset over the 4th seed Arevane Rezai (FRA) by a  64 75 scoreline .. Arevane is one of the strong upcoming players right now, who is said to have probably the best backhand shot in the business, etc .. Sania was down 1-4 in the second set but was once again able to kick it to high hear and win 6 of the next 7 games to finish the match.  That brings up the much-awaited semifinal tomorrow against the Swiss Miss -- Martina Hingis ..

Unfortunately, Shikha Uberoi and Melinda Czink, who had been playing well in doubles with an excellent 76(4) 36 64 upset of the second seeds Pratt/Rodionova earlier, had to concede the semifinal today after a 3-6 first set against the 3rd seeds Beygelzimer/ Fedak, as Czink was down with some sort of viral fever.

The top doubles seeds, Sania and Liezel Huber had no trouble in the QF against  Casey Dell'Acqua and Sunitha Rao - 61 64 win for them .. They face the 4th seeds Hana Sromova (CZE) and Angelique Widjaja (INA) in the semis tomorrow.

By the way, if you have not seen the news, Sunitha Rao is again back in the picture in India .. I am sure you remember all the bad "negotiations" between AITA and her dad Manohar Rao a couple of years back, where both sides seemed to have reasons to be unhappy .. I believe she is no longer closely managed by her dad, though - and Sunitha on her side had never said anything negative about India and had mentioned a few times about her interest in still playing for India ..  Now Mahesh Bhupathi's Globosport has picked her up for managing and has firmed up the chances of her playing for India .. She had applied for this - and I think AITA needs to make a move on that ..  She will be 3rd highst ranked Indian behind Sania and Shikha now .. She has mostly had a ranking inside the top-200 for the last three years or so .. She is currently ranked #221 .. Her fighting 62 36 36 match against the 7th seed Nicole Pratt (AUS,80) in the first round must have showed everybody that she is quite talented .. Soewhat different than Sania and Shikha in her style .. A bit more of a baseline player than Shikha, but she has lately been going up a bit more and showing that she has some nice net-game too .. Very strong and solid in her ground strokes, as she has gone through the standard coaching schemes in the US from a young age (which in my mind dumbs down some talented ones and brings up some less talented ones - but just a personal opinion!) ..

Sep 21 Notes

I must apologize for yet another long delay in daily updates and for the many breaks this year, after near-continuous news coverage for eight  years.  But all the news was there at sports-india.com though .. I have been globe-trotting a bit lately, but am getting ready to restart the news updates yet again.  I am currently in Korea, on an academic sabbatical at a University till december .. How convenient -- I will be covering the Hansol Open WTA next week, where Sania is playing.  Hope you saw all the updates at sports-india.com where all our friendsand I have been covering the events for the last few months.  Florian Beuchting had stories from the US Open last month; he had TennisIndia press credentials there and did a great job .. Of course, Leander made us proud by picking up his 4th grand slam doubles title with Martin Damm there.

Sania is in the QF at the ongoing Kolkata Open WTA - check out the Kolkata Open thread for all the news .. The big Mumbai Open ATP is next week.  There will be about four top-25 players there (#7 Robredo, #11 Ancic, #13 Berdych, #22 Tursunov), as three top-25 players withdrew this week (Stepanek, Gonzales and Kiefer), which is pretty good .. Rohan Bopanna and Karan Rastogi got two of the three wildcards .. Unfortunately Prakash and Harsh are unable to use the third wildcard, it seems.

More coming soon .. Hopefully we will also get around to doing a roundup of important news for the last few weeks such as Rohan reaching a challenger final, some good work by some of our juniors etc .. Very nice job by Rushmi and Sanaa Bhambri in qualifying into the Kolkata main draw this weekend, though both went down in the main draw ..

The site was on vacation for about two months before this, as I was extremely busy :( :( ..


.. Previous notes are at Notes for the month of July, 2006 ..

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