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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the week ending on Sep 26, 2005
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2005)

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Sep 26 Notes

LP-MB recreated their magic once again in a close match (in terms of points) where their abilities to still come up big at the crucial points helped them waltz to a 36 63 64 63 win to get the first live rubber point from Sweden in some decades! .. Well done, Indian Express .. Sandly, I feel that may be the last time I may be saying those words .. Prakash could not do a whole lot against Johansson in a 46 36 26 loss where by the end Johansson was reading Prakash's game very well .. PA did play a lot of good points in patches, but against a top-20 player, that was not enough .. So a 1-3 loss for us against Swden, as they decided not to play the final dead-rubber match because the Swedish players needed to get going to Bangkok, Hoc Chi Minh, etc for the ATP tour events this week ..

Big congratulations go to Sweden who did their homework and came ready to play and win, even if they themselves had their problems with their #2 player (Joaquim Johansson) being unavailable, and with India throwing the Delhi heat and an equalizing surface at them  .. I was surprised to find that the Swedes were even aware of our forum discussion - see this - on a possible alternate surface, whioch really only we in the forum talked about! .. They really did their homework .. From all I have heard, they had a team that was in perfect team spirit and despite all the trouble with the heat, they came through.

All in all, the results were as expected, but despite a lot of acrimonious episoides and discussions, we end with some huge positive, in my view, from this tie .. The first is of course that Rohan once again showed what he is capable of .. I would put his show against Johansson as more impressive than what he did against Verkerk in NED because Verkerk was on a bad loising streak on hard courts at that point .. This recent work was against an inform player who knows how to play on grass courts (upset as he was, about the uneven quality of it) .. Bofors has nbbow shown his abilty to play his best, and he has done that on two different surfaces .. Fabulous .. The other positives will be poisitives if everybody calmly looks at what all happened before and during this tie and learns from it .. A lot of issues about how Davis Cup is done, have come out in the open, and evberyone knows that things cannot be just pushed under the rug for ever .. I am happy that everyone got along in the end and I hope that everyone has learnbed a thing or two and are wiser thanks to this tie .. Back to the Asian regionals again next year but with renewed spirit.

Sep 25 Notes

India is 0-2 against Sweden after Rohan played yet another smashing set (though no cigar) in the match postponed from friday to sunday due to rain .. RB lost 67(3) 67(2) 67(4) .. He did not face any break points in the third set but had three BPs on Johansson, including one at set point, but TJ came through in the crunch once again .. Rohan clearly came through well here .. If he was showing this kind of form in practice, it may have even made sense to have him play Bjorkman on the first day, which would have required Leander to play singles to make RB the #1 player .. Then we had some options had he pulled an upset on Bjorkman (which, in my view, he *could* have done) .. Anyway, LKP had decided that PA had to play Bjorkman on day-1 right off the bat much before the practices were finished, and I don;t know if he considered such an option .. In the doubles match, LP-MB ar behind but doing better in the second set at 36 31 .. Postponed to Monday due to poor light .. It looks like there will be three matches on Monday to finish the tie.

At Kolkata, the Ubeori sisters could not do a whole lot in an 06 16 final against the top seeds Myskina-Lkhovtseva who had earlier beaten Sania and Ruano-Pascual in a very tight doubles final, 46 63 75 .. A great run for Neha and Shikha to their first WTA final .. Shikha goes to Guangzhou (China) for the Tier-III next week .. Shge is in the main draw .. Neha would have been one of the top seeds in the qualies (actually she was in the draw for qualies today against Janet Lee), but had to give a walkover as she was playing Kolkata.

Great news from the first leg final of the $25K+H India satellites at Gurgaon .. The 6th seed Karan Rastogi won the final in a very close match with a nice comeback, 36 75 75 where the final point ended on a point penalty to the third seed Kedriouk for arguing with the umpire .. Ghouse-Uppal won the doubles title ..
See the see the Gurgaon results page ..

Sep 24 Notes

Total rainout at the Davis Cup today .. The postponed second singles match and the originally scheduled Saturday doubles match are all on hold .. It looks like it may not be possible to play even on Sunday or even monday .. I wonder if the whole tie would need to be done at a later date now .. Let us see what transpires.

Terrific doubles win by Neha and Shikha today, and they have reached the final of doubles at the $170K Sunfeast Open WTA Tier-III with a smashing 76 16 63 win today in the semis !!! .. Great job, ladies .. They picked up over 80 points each, doubling Shikha's point total and tripling Neha's .. They will go  up in their doubles rank from just inside 300 and 400 to inside 200 and 240 respectively .. That means they have done themselves a huge favor making it easy to enter all kinds of WTA doubles draws from now on .. Sania and Virginia Runo Pascual are on court for the other semi right now.

Sep 23 Note-2

The day went somewhat better than expected at the Davis Cup with Prakash doing fine in his match though he was unable to do much to threaten the experienced and steady Bjorkman in a 46 46 46 loss .. Then came Rohan Bopanna who is simply amazing .. The dude has served over 15 aces in two sets though he is down 67(3) 67 (0-5) when play was suspended due to rain .. The guy served an average of 130 mph (211 kph) and served as fast as 141 mph today .. He has become an even bigger server than before his surgery .. To some extent I can see why some may have thought he had to be put into the team immediately (if any of them actually saw him play recently and decided that he is really ready to cook like this) 0 though iot was all done in a wrong manner .. Holy crap! .. Anyway, I hope Bofors can somehow get back in the match - because a little bit of hurry before the rain came down, caused him to place himself in a deep hole for now ..  As for Prakash, he played to his ability (as he always does - I think Kash comes ready and has not played below his level in any DC matches) - but some have commented in our forum that it is not very clear why PA should necessarily have an unquestioned place in the team (as his spot was basically fixed by Monday itself and he was given a day off while Bofors and Harsh had to prove themselves longer, etyc)  .. Perhaps with a longer-term idea, we need to give some chances to Kash to keep doing this without pressure till he finds a match where he raises his game a few notches to pull off an upset for us .. He is capable of it, for sure, in my view - but he neds to become more of an all-court player and we need to start thinking beyond doing just this grass thing all the time .. Anyway, more on all that later.

If we can get the doubles point and then Bofors can do an encore of how he was playing today, against Bjorkman in reverse singles, we are in the vicinity of a huge upset if some breaks go our way in that remaining match .. Go India !!!

Shikha Uberoi could not get p[ast the in-form top seed Myskina at Kolkata today, but she showd once again that her abilities are for sure real, and that she can hang with anybody .. 46 26 loss, where many of the 5 breaks Myskina had were after long long games (Shikha broke Myskina twice too) .. Shikha played a much better match than her scoreline would show, really.  Now, Shikha-Neha and Sania remain in the doubles semis on Saturday .. See the Kolkata WTA page for all results.

Karan has reached the final at Gurgaon .. See the see the Gurgaon results page ..

Sep 23 Note-1

I had to travel again, rather unexpectedly, and so missed my updates for three more days .. I will round up later, but Sania and Sunitha went down in the second round, as you would know by now, at Kolkata, but Shikha Uberoi pulled a big upset (yet another top-100 win for her) against the 8th seed Rika Fujiwara (JPN,94) to reach her first WTA Quarterfinal!!! .. Go Shikha! .. The Uberoi sisters also reached the doubles SF, a first for them in a WTA event, with 4th seed Sania and Ruano-Pascual also doing that .. See the Kolkata WTA page for all results .. Karan has reached the SF at the Gurgaoin satellites, as did Vishal Uppal with a big upset of the top seed Clarke -- see the Gurgaon results page ..

But the immediate item is that the Davis Cup is about to start as I type .. Harsh did not get picked in the playing team .. Prakash plays Bjorkman and Bopanna plays Johansson in the first singles matches today, starting at 10 am .. Come to the chat room to cheer  with ball-by-ball updates, courtesy ITF .. We also expect commentary in the chatroom based on the DD coverage .. GO INDIA!!!!

Sep 20 Note-2

Well, the sania match has started a f ew minutes back and promptly the Sunfeast Open website went down - as we could easily expect, because of too many hits to the website .. More importantly, as frequently happens, when a match is on TV in India, not a single friend comes into our chatroom to tell the world what is going on .. Would a kind soul just walk from the TV to the next room, dial up your internet and put in a score update in our chatroom at least once a few minutes? .. Please?  Pretty please?

Update --- OK  We have commentary in our chatroom from InsideOut  --- and .. Sania wins 62 62!  (Three Indians, Sa Su and Shi in the second round! :)) 

Sep 20 Note-1

The Kolkata WTA is truly exciting with all these Indian players in the main draw .. By the way, I should also mention that Sunitha Rao (USA,161) was reported in the newspapers a couple of days back to have clearly indicated her intention to play for India if it is possible (also that she has sorta cut ties with her dad, who had all those problems earlier with AITA with regard to her matters) .. Also reported was the fact that Neha Uberoi (USA,251) is appearing for the first time with (IND) next to her name in an official WTA draw .. Her paperwork for switching to India is being handled now .. Of course, Neha is playing Sunitha right now on Tuesday, as aI type, in the main draw first round (Sunitha squeezed out a tough win, 75 46 64 over Neha just now).

The nice win yesterday was by Shikha Uberoi (IND,152) who beat Ryoko Fuda (JPN,181) in a dominating 61 63 match .. Go Shikha! .. Qualifier Ankita Bhambri (IND,525) again showed that she can play at a fairly high level against top-200 players, as she went neck and neck against Kaia Kanepi (EST,174) in a 67(3) 26 loss where she could not capitalize on a few of the break chances in the second sets after some back and forth breaks in the first .. Earlier today, Rushmi Chakravarthi (IND,444), who had that fabulous upset win to make the main draw, ran out of options in her R1 match against Maria Elena Camerin (ITA,100), 26 06 .. The third seed Sania Mirza (IND,34) plays later today against qualifier Junri Namigata (JPN,283) ..

In doubles at Kolkata, Rushmi and Namigata  lost in a competitive doubles match, 67(8) 46 to Melinda Czink (HUN) and Yuliana fedak (UKR) .. Also in the doubles draw, the Bhambri sisters play the top seeds Likhovtseva and Myskina (tough match!), the Uberoi sisters play Edina Gallovitz and Kaia Kanepi, and the third seeds Sania Mirza and Virginia Ruano-Pascual play Punam Reddy and Ragini Vimal .. Lots of Indians in action at Kolkata ..

The reports now are about the tournament being reasonably well-organized .. The herculean effort was really in getting that totally run down place, the Netaji indoor stadium to an acceptable level with a lot of money spent by the WB government for refurbishing .. It is alwasy terrific to see that being done to sports facilities .. Netaji indoor was the largest, or one of the largest in Asia when it opened some quarter century ago, but has been in serious bad shape with lack of proper maintenance .. Even now there were some rearlier reports of nails and plaster falling off on court and about aircondirtioning problems, but all seems to have been worked out ..

As former Davis Cup captain, the venerable Naresh Kumar (of course one of my favoriite experts columnists on tennis!) said today in his article in the Telegraph, "As a lover of sport one has to applaud the chief minister, sports minister and the sponsors for putting Calcutta back on the tennis map. In equal measure, the enterprise shown by Jaidip Mukerjea, the tournament director and the Bhupathi family in organising and putting together the whole show, is laudable .... To stray from my blinkered vision of tennis I can see a golden opportunity for development of sport in West Bengal. Industry in West Bengal is at full throttle on the runway. Thousands of crores will be invested in industry and new townships. This is the time sport must be woven into the fabric of our lives, especially for the generations to come .... The current generations have suffered much due to the lack of sports facilities and a tunnel vision concept of education. Now that West Bengal’s economic future seems secure, we should think about sport. Think Big. Build football fields, astroturf for hockey, gymnasiums, athletic tracks, tennis courts, basketball, badminton etc. Let every child in the state have access to sport at minimal affordable cost" --- That is all very well put by Mr. Naresh Kumar .. That is precisly why I love this event, and all the enthusiasm surrounding it! ... Go everybody, let's have some fun this week!

As for the Davis Cup matters, there were enough nice reports about Leander Paes' having taken full control of the situation and having done and said all the right things to bring the team spirits to the proper level .. There was a press conference with Paes and Mankad side-by-side, and Leander again repeated that it was all basically a comedy of errors due to the way the team selection is done and announced by the federation and that he undrstood how Mankad must have felt he was unwelcome .. Mankad echoed the views and showed his trust of the captain now .. That is all great to see ..  Let's go guys -- got a job to do this weekend .. The Swedes are supposedly having a bit of trouble with the humidity in practice, as Vinciguerra went down with some dehydration today .. I would rather see them get dehydrated by the weekend than this early though! :) .. Our team, all in full strength, had nice practice sessions on monday.

The qualifying rounds and most of the first round main draw doubles were done yesterday at the Gurgaon first leg of the $25K+H India satellites .. See the scores in the satellite leg-1 page ..

Sep 19 Note-2

Just got a note from a press friend who was at the press conference that the newspaper article had blown the Leander's quote on Harsh needing a lesson in patriotism, out of proportion .. I hope so too .. Man, Leander, would you please be careful about these things? .. You are the captain and this type of stuff should not happen .. Some of us here are quite sensitive to these things after everything that has happened .. OK, I will withdraw my earlier tirade ... That is, we will bite our lips and eat our crow for a the umpteenth time! :) .. Hopefully nobody will tell Harsh (I know he does not read this site when he is focused on any event he is playing) .. It is important that the team spirit is kept up .. I will not talk about any of these unpleasant matters till the tie is over .. Go India!

Sep 19 Note-1

OK, I am back from my travels and ready to do the normal updates again ..

We are all set to go at Kolkata with the big Sunfeast Open WTA .. The main draw starts today .. The good news is that two Indians qualified into the main draw .. The impressive win was by Rushmi who upset the 3rd seed in the qualies, Chin-Wei Chan (TPE,235) by a 63 75 score .. That is one of the best wins of Rushmi's career .. Our ladies always seem to come through with their best in the qualies at the Indian WTA events - which is great to see .. Ankita and Isha played a dandy of a three-setter with Ankita winning in the end to make the main draw .. Sanaa could not do a whole lot against the 4th seed, #258 Chia-Jung Chuang though ... With Sunitha Rao (USA) making the main draw in the last minute without qualies, and Neha Uberoi (for the first time listed under IND in the WTA draw this week!!) receiving a wildcard, we have SIX Indians in the main draw, 5 of them listed under IND .. That is better than any of us could have expected .. See how far we have come! .. The main draw is ouit .. Sania plays qualifier Junri Namigata, Shikha plays Ryoko Fuda,  Ankita plays Kaia Kanepi, Neha plays Sunitha .. See our Kolkata WTA page for all the scores and draws ..

Here is a news report today with some comments from Leander, basically saying good things about his players, but at the same time dropping a line for the press to use as the headline - Harsh has few lessons to learn (New Indian Express) .. LP said, "Harsh has a huge lesson to learn this week on being a patriot" .. This comes right when HM is on a flight to India, supposedly after he changed his mind and trusted Leander when they talked over the phone .. I suspect he had no idea that LP would turn around and say something like this .. Come on Lee, how long are you going to keep this up? -- This is not how a captain should speak about one of his players .. Yeah right, the grand son of Vinoo Mankad, and the son of Ashok and Nirupama Mankad needs a lecture from Leander on playing for the country! .. Disgusting.  I will leave it at that .. I will spare writing much more here - my views are all in this forum thread, for those of you who have the patience to read a series of posts from me, in utter anguish in having to finally turn around and speak that harshly against my old hero Leander (but this was due to several issues brewing over a long time) .. But do read what I have written carefully, and not with any biases that I have some dog in this hunt - I don't .. This Harsh issue is the one that finally caused me to break my silence that is all .. I am not married to Harsh - and I have pointed out in that thread the past cases when I wrote criticizing Harsh's inclusion in the team ahead of Rohan in Australia, etc, too .. I also repeat that I don't even necessarily think that HM will do better than Kash and Rohan, as a player - but that is all besides the point; the issue is how a player is treated .. Anyway, two days back I thought we would all consider this issue laid to rest, but then Leander comes out with that gem today - what choice do we have when the captain is hell-bent on killing team spirit and doing character assassination of one of his players like this? .. Today it is Harsh, in the past it was another player he called out on patriotism (I will not mention who), and in the future it will be somebody else .. And I suppose we will continue to not talk about Leander "the patriot" not going to Italy in 1998 due to injury and then coming to Chennai the next day to play? .. Spare us the patriotism talk, Lee .. And don't make me write more on this - there are many out there who may not want to talk, but I will .. As far as I am concerned, LP need to behave like a real captain, or step down! .. Period.  There is a limit to how far one should take this type of games .. Looks awfully like Harsh has been "set up" .. I can only hope that Lee just mis-spoke carelessly and this was not planned .. Unbelievable to see that 4 days before a davis cup tie. [I just got word from a press friend that this quote was blown out of proportion and Lee had said in the context of many other things - OK, then I will ease up on going after Lee once again]

Back to tennis - two rounds of qualies are done at the first leg of the 4-week $25+K ITF satellites starting at Gurgaon .. The first three legs at Gurgaon and the masters leg at Delhi .. Peter Clarke of Irelqand is the top seed, with Sunil Kumar second seed .. Karan, Vijay, Mustafa, Vishals etc are all there .. W will also keep an eye on some youngsters like Vivek Shokeen, Vishnu Vardhan, Sumieet Prakash etc also .. See the draws and the qualies results in the Gurgaon leg-1 page ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Sep 19 ..

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