Notes for week ending on Sep 29, 1997

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Sept 29 Morning Notes

No changes in Leander Paes' rankings (singles, doubles, and team). Mahesh stayed at #225 in singles as well. Mahesh dropped one spot in the individual doubles ranking, to #15. Lobo/Sanchez have inched up right behind Paes/Bhupathi in the team rankings, after their title at the Romanian Open.

Here is the immediate draw for Leander in the singles at Beijing

T. JOHANSSON___                                                  
Q-N. KULTI_____|                |                                
LL-A. REICHEL__                 |               |                
               |________________|               |                
L. PAES________|                                |                
J. STARK_______                                 |                
               |________________                |                
G. STAFFORD____|                |               |                
G. POZZI_______                 |                                
J. NOVAK_______|                                                 

Note the the last time Leander played Stafford, Kulti, and Novak he has beaten them (all this year). He has not played any of the others this year. It is a good draw. We now have to wait and see how bad his Gastroentritis problems are. Cross your fingers. Looks like the first round match against #233 Alex Reichel will be on Tuesday (if Leander is able to play).

Bhupathi/Paes are the #1 seed at the Beijing Open.  This is the first time our Dynamic Duo are ranked #1 seed at any ATP tournaments (other than challengers) !!!

The doubles draw is:

1-BHUPATHI/PAES v. WC-PAN/LI                  \
3-BLACK/STARK v. KEIL/MIDDLETON               \   /  \
CARLSEN/WHEATON v. WC-XIA/LU                  /       \
Q-QUALIFIERS v. EAGLE/FLORENT                 \   /
GIMELSTOB/RIKL v. 2-DAMM/NOVAK                /

Again, it should not be too difficult to win this title, if they play like they can..

Sept 28 Evening Notes

Just heard (from an "inside source" in India) that Leander will be playing Alex Reichel (ATP #233, he is a lucky loser in the qualifiers) in the first round at Beijing. If he has got over the food poisoning problem, he should not have too much problems in this match, but who knows ! The schedule on when he will play, will be known soon..

Bad news on Mahesh's qualifiers, though. He lost in the second round to the Aussie, Joshua Eagle. Leander was the #5 seed in the qualifiers, but only the top 4 seeds ended up qualifying.. Oh well, it happens. He now has doubles to take care of.

A note for Indian tennis fans: Mahesh's old alma mater, University of Mississippi ("Ole Miss") now has another pretty good Indian prospect in their roster. Vikrant Chadda in his sophomore year there. The Ole Miss Rebels tennis team is ranked #5 in the preseason US collegiate rankings (the 1997-98 NCAA season is just getting underway). Vikrant did pretty well last week in the National Collegiate Claycourt championships at Baltimore, Maryland. He was one of the 16 who qualified into the 64-men draw, after pulling two upsets over higher ranked players in the qualifiers. Made the Rebel fans very happy as only two universities had 3 players in the 64 draw and Chadda surprised people by becoming the 3rd member from Ole Miss. He lost in the first round in the main draw this Thursday. He had come on very strong at the end of his freshman season and had won all 7 of his matches in the end. He has picked off well this year, going 6-2 so far. (from Ole Miss sources).. Another note: we had reported the news here earlier about Prahlad Srinath's successful satellite tourney in Thailand. Here is an article from today's Hindustan Times with some interviews with him... Apparently he decided to relax his strict vegetarian diet, to survive on the pro tour, and he thinks it has helped at least in finding some food to eat at all the places an international player has to go to !..

Sept 28 Morning Notes

Some bad news on Leander. Apparently he had a severe case of food poisoning on his way to Beijing. Hope he recovers well in time for the matches there. (Every time he goes to Calcutta, the fan club hold their collective breaths, as strange physical ailments seem to result.. nothing against the great city, but he should stop eating Pav-bhaji from road-side vendors.. just kidding.. don't know if the food problem was in Calcutta or in the plane..)

Still no news on how the singles qualifiers are going, for Mahesh at Beijing. LP and MB should be among the top couple of seeds there.

Please see the photographs on the new Pictures Page.. Will add some more pictures later.

Sept 26 Notes

Forgot to mention earlier; Mahesh had a few points (7 actually) to defend this week, from a first round win at a Challenger he played at Beijing last year. He beat T. Larkham, 6-3, 7-5 and then lost to R. Smith, 3-6, 5-7. His ranking will drop from 225 to around 230 next week, but not a big deal, as he can get those points back for qualifying this weekend, into next week's beijing ATP tournament. Leander did not play any tournaments this week last year, and has no points to defend for 3 more weeks.

Sept 25 Notes

Not much news today. Leander is having a few days to chill at Calcutta and will leave soon for Beijing. Mahesh left for Beijing today from Bangalore. He should be there well in time for the singles qualifiers. Mahesh has qualified at 4 different ATP tournaments. Only 9 players in the ATP tour have qualified at more tournaments. In fact, before losing in the second round of the US Open qualifiers (to world #127 N.Escude), he had successfully gone through four qualifiers in a row.  Hope he starts a new streak at Beijing. The last two tournaments where he qualified he played well (at Los Angeles where he beat the then #128 Daniel Nestor before losing in a tough match to Courier, and then at New Haven, where he lost in 3 sets to the then #41 Javier Sanchez). Leander should have a direct entry, but haven't seen the draw for Beijing yet.

This is the beginning of the indoor carpet season (next 5 weeks). Ramesh Krishnan in an article in The Telegraph this week mentioned how it's not easy to get adjusted to indoor carpets, due to the different lightings you find in the different arenas. Mahesh and Leander have not played indoors since the Pribram (Czech Republic) Davis Cup in February. Leander actually did very well in the Shanghai indoor carpet in January reaching an ATP semi for only the second time in his career (He later reached the semis on the Newport grass as well). Let's look forward to a good indoor carpet season.

This week's ATP rankings are still nowhere to be found (I did see a top-100 ranking, but not the whole list).

For those who are wondering about what next in Davis Cup: The 16 teams in the world group for next year are the United States, the Netherlands, Australia, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, South Africa and Sweden (the 8 automatic entries), and Zimbabwe, Brazil, India, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Slovak Republic, Switzerland (the 8 who won qualifiers last week). India is the sole representative of Asia. Europe has 10 of the 16 members ! The draw to decide who faces whom, will be on October 8th.

India has now been in the world group 5 of 6 years. 93, 94, 96, 97, 98. That is a pretty amazing streak, considering the rankings of our guys... India has an impressive Davis Cup history which is quite incompatible with the rankings of her players, and nobody plays with more heart than the Indians. It has always been like that, and Ramesh, Leander and Mahesh have taken it even further in the 90s.

Sept 24 Notes

The ATP Computer is down, and the new rankings are still not available... There shouldn't be much change as only a couple of challenger tournaments were there last week, due to Davis Cup being played around the world.

Now that India is in the elite final-16 world group for Davis Cup 1998, the next thing is the draw for it, on October 8th. India is expected to draw some good team, but there aren't many teams that India will be playing at home. If India draws the Czech Republic, it will be at home, but other than that it is pretty much all going to be on the road in early February...

The Indian Challenger Dates Changed: The Ahemedabad challenger has been moved forward by 2 weeks and rescheduled to start on November 24th, and the Mumbai challenger has been rescheduled to December 1st !! This means Bhupathi and Paes will be able to compete in both (in fact, the ATP was contacted with the reason that Leander and Mahesh needed to be there for the Hartford ATP Doubles top-8 championship during the week of Nov 17-23, and would miss the challengers, and they appear to have agreed to change the dates). The Madras challenger is still up in the air, as it is not clear if the guarantee money has been deposited with ATP. It is rare and surprising for there to be challengers starting as late as December 1st, and it is doubtful if the Madras challenger can start on December 8th. In addition, Leander is supposed to be in South Africa during the second week of december for the Mandela Children's fund event. There doesn't seem to be any dates available earlier for the Madras challenger. We will wait and see.. It is nice to know that they will both get at least two challengers to play at. Mumbai will be on hard courts and Ahemedabad will be on clay.

Sept 22 Evening

Note for Indian tennis fans: Prahlad Srinath was at a satellite tournament in Tailand for 25 days which ended on Sept 21st and ended up 4th among over 30 players. He picked up 21 ATP points. This will move his ranking up from closer to #1000 to somewhere in the #600-650 range (the new ATP rankings are not available, due to computer problems as they say), placing him as the 3rd highest ranked Indian player. He has been making a good effort at playing the tough ATP tour from bottom up, and he is quite possibly the 3rd best Indian player at this time. Congrats, Prahlad !