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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for 3 weeks ending on Oct 4th, 1999

(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 99)

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Oct 7 Notes

I was away for a week and just got back .. Alright, it's time to restart things again!

Leander and Mahesh are in Shanghai for the $325K Heineken Open .. They are the top seeds in doubles and easily beat the wildcards J.Zhu and B.Li in the first round, 6-2 6-1 .. They are playing the quarterfinal against Neville Godwin and Grant Stafford tonight - no news yet .. Both were to play the singles qualifiers, but Leander had to skip it in the last minute - I saw somewhere that Vicky Labbe, his girlfriend, had to undergo appendicitis treatment .. I need to confirm that .. Mahesh played a good match in the qualies but lost in three sets to Todd Woodbridge, 6-7(2), 6-2, 2-6 .. By the way, there is a very enjoyable article in the India Today magazine on LP and MB .. Here is the link .. Check out the article by Rohit Brijnath, which is so nicely put together and has a lot of well-researched details.

Nirupama was supposed to be at the Albuquerque - as is usal for many US tournaments, no press coverage that I can find yet .. I will find out soon how she is doing.

Manisha was in the finals of both singles and doubles, once again at Glasgow last Sunday, in a $10K satellite ! .. Congrats again to her for continuing the great unbeaten streak! .. Unfortunately, I saw that she had to give walkovers in both the finals -- I am trying to find out what happened .. Let us hope she is OK.

The big event this week is of course the Indian hardcourt nationals .. Thje DSCL Nationals (Sreeram Cup) in Delhi .. I am not keeping the scores updated here, as there is an excellent website for it -- Check out .. They even have photographs and profiles of players, latest score flashes, etc .. So, I will save time and compile the results and archive them after the tourney is over .. Check out that site for daily scores .. Anyway, the story so far has been undoubtedly 16 year old Sunil Kumar (who else?) who is creating the kind of waves that perhaps nobody has created since Leander Paes! .. First, he played 4 rounds to qualify into the senior draw .. He then went on to beat the likes of Vijendra Laad and SK Shivshankar to reach quarterfinal .. I believe he has won the QF today over veteran Asif Ismail (!!) to reach the semis too .. Sunil, who has played some 10 matches in the u-18 and senior draws, was perhaps too tired, as he lost to Mithun Murali today in the u-18 quarterfinal in a 3-setter .. Anyway, in the senior draw, he will play the SF against Vishal Uppal or P.Vishal .. The other good news is from Vijay Kannan, 19 yr old who won the u-18 title last year, who seems to be playing well again after almost a year .. He is in the seniors QF too .. Big upset today, as Mustafa Ghouse reached SF as the defending champ and no.1 seed Nitin Kirtane conceded the match at 6-3 5-1 .. Things have been quite uneventful on the women's side .. Check out the above official site .. Also, take a look at this Hindusthan Times article (perhaps by S.Kannan) that talks about Sunil Kumar's tennis to be "simply breathtaking" .. More comments later.

Sep 30 Notes

The latest info from the press is that LP and MB will be off to Shanghai for the singles qualifiers this weekend  (I had thought they were getting wildcards there too, not just at Singapore the week after -- not sure) .. Anyway, I will be away and the next update here will be around the middle of next week .. Check the ATP site where the qualifier draws should come up sometime during the weekend .. Here is the Shanghai Tournament Website (Not a promising site -- doubtful if they will have any qualifier results, etc) .. Those who find news on LP's and MB's singles matches there may want to post news at our bulletin board page and inform everyone! .. Same about any news from Manisha at Glasgow this week, Nirupama at Albuquerque next week and Fazal possibly at Turlsa next week ..  See ya next wednesday/thursday.

There was a news item in the Deccan Herald (Bangalore) today about a "reliable source" confirming that Mahesh will be changing his coach (Enrico Piperno now), and that both LP and MB will be coached by Bob Carmichael .. I can't confirm the news, as I have not been in touch with Hesh and Lee for a few days and won't try to bug them for at least another week!

Sep 29 Notes

Got the latest Boys under-16 and under-14 rankings from Mr. P. F. Montes of AITA yesterday, and have posted them too .. You will find the links at our Calendar/Results/Rankings page .. Will have the missing rankings (Girls u-14 and u-16) also soon.

The DSCL Hardcourt Nationals start next week on Monday in Delhi .. There have been over 1000 entries in various categories - They will need qualifying rounds for some 4 days, it seems .. Since I will be mostly away till next wednesday, it will be about the middle of next week when the DSCL results page will come up here .. The top 5 men (LP. MB, Srinath, Fazal and Harsh Mankad), and the top two women (Nirupama and Manisha) are the only ones who will be missing the nationals, according to the reports .. Uzma Khan, last year's women's double crown holder, and Harsh Mankad are in US universities and can't be at the nationals .. Others are all on tour abroad .. The Kirtanes, Vinod Sridhar, Sai Jayalakshmi, Rushmi Chakravarti, etc will add good quality to the event, though .. The under-18 events are also next week, followed by the u-14 and u-16 nationals the week after.

The big tour for LP and MB, talking to fans, endorsing products and getting felicitations from everybody, is in its final legs right now .. After Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, they were at Calcutta yesterday .. I keep seeing newspaper reports about them going to Singapore, but no mention of Shanghai next week .. As far as I know they are supposed to be in Shanghai next week, unless something has changed .. I did see that they are flying out on wednesday, though.

Nirupama will be at the Albuquerque challenger next week.  I believe Fazal is in the list for the challenger in Tulsa (Oklahoma) next week, and probably for the Dallas and Houston challengers that follow .. Not sure if he has made the main draws yet.  Manisha is probably at the Glasgow challenger in Scotland this week, but I have not got any results yet.

Sep 26 Notes

Great news!! .. Manisha Malhotra won her second satellite title in a row (the last tournament she played was a $10K satellite in the US where she bagged a title) .. The Sunday Times, London, reports that Manisha won the $10K Sunderland satellites, beating 5th seed Nicola Payne (GBR,437) in the final, 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 in a great comeback yesterday ! .. I had reported the first two rounds of results in the last note .. I don't know the scores from the QF and SF yet, except that she beat Kate Elliot (GBR,541) in the QF, followed by either the 6th seed Yvonne Doyle (IRL,479) or Susie Bensch (GBR,950) in the semifinal .. She picked up at least 6 points from this tournament, to add to her current total of 33.75 .. That will take her to around #355 from her current ranking of #381 .. Congrats Manisha!! .. No news yet on how she did in the doubles.

This takes Manisha to #2 in the AITA rankings .. She was a few points behind Sai Jayalakshmi, who is ranked #420, but has a few more AITA points from domestic tournaments - Manisha has domestic points only from the grasscourt nationals this year, where she however had the triple crown in singles, dowbles and mixed doubles .. I must say that I have been expecting these kinds of results from Manisha, ever since she was in the top-20 in the US colleges, and then reached the final of the Southsea futures in England last summer  .. That is why some of us were screaming "bloody murder" when she was left out of the Fed Cup squad this year - see the Feb 16 Note-1 here, which also has a link to an S.Kannan article on this matter .. I say this once again to point out that the decisions should be based on results, and nothing else - Manisha had shown results, and other matters should all have been secondary!  .. She was almost not in the squad for Asiad either, though she was included in the last minute (I later heard some rumours about the circumstances around that last-minute selection and why AITA was quite upset in the end - probably they even had some right to be upset, but had the selection been made with a careful analysis of the quality of Manisha's results abroad to start with, it could all have been avoided  .. Anyway, that's all old news and not relevant anymore!) ..  As of now, it is pretty clear that Manisha has been pulling off wins with some amazing consistency.  I also like the fact that she has chosen not to jump too early into the tougher challengers and waste time .. Play, play often, and play more -- win consistently at every step and be fully confident before taking the next steps ..  There is no substitute for match play experience ..  I am sure she now knows fully well, that she can beat any player below #400 -- that confidence and experience is a prerequisite before going up and trying your hand at the top-300 players in the challengers .. I guess she will be playing a few more challenger events soon .. Anyway, I am very happy to see Manisha's exploits.

Otherwise, the Indian newspapers have been filled with articles about what LP and MB have been up to, in India .. All reports are about how the personal chemistry between them seem to be back, and how they are in good spirits .. Full-time schedule in Delhi, Mumbai and next up Bangalore .. The pair has been going around endorsing all kinds of products and meeting all kinds of fans .. A trip to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan included .. All well and good, and since they are there together for the first time in six months and for the first time after the two GS titles, they weren't going to have any choice in this .. The bad news is that they are supposed to be playing at a tournament after a week -- hardly any time to get any practice .. I pity the plight of these two guys .. It's easy for people to criticize them for not doing well in singles, etc, but a closer look shows how much of their time is needed for other things and how they have added responsibilities as two of the most accomplished sportsmen among 900 million people (over and above the time spent in doubles!) .. I am actually glad that they are willing to do what they are doing right now, meeting and talking to anybody and everybody that comes in front, be it at the DLTA tennis complex, a Kentucky Fried Chicken place or at the PVM-Anupam movie complex  .. Those who are used to many of those snobbish big primodonnas in cricket seem to be oh-so-surprised  at how accessible they have been  .. We in the fanclub knew this about LP and MB for long, and that is the reason why anybody who ever met them at a tennis tournament has become a fan instantly .. And what they are doing right now is only going to help Indian tennis in the long run (any time any sportsman other than a cricketer is in the news as being successful, it helps! -- not that the cricketers are successful - they just happen to be in the news all the time :-) :-)) ..

Sep 23 Notes

Most of our players are all on vacation, but not all -- Manisha Malhotra is back on the tour again, after a couple of months of break .. She is at the $10K Sunderland futures in UK (on indoor hardcourts) .. The India #2 Manisha, ranked 379, is the 2nd seed at this futures .. She has reached the quarterfinals of both singles and doubles so far ..  She beat #988 Karen Paterson (GBR) 63 62 in the first round and then #641 Herbert Louise (GBR) 64 46 62 .. She next faces #541 Kate Elliot, also from GBR .. In doubles, Manisha and Susi Bensch (GER) upset the 3rd seeded German pair, Bianca Kremer and Karina Karner 63 63 .. They play a British pair, Julia Smith and Kathy Vymetal next in doubles .. Good to see Manisha continuing the nice form she showed in the US circuit earlier .. She has become quite consistent in beating lower ranked players.

No others in action this week, as far as I know ..  #1156 PK Sreenivasan was in the first leg of the $50K Southern California satellites last week (lost in the first round, 63 36 46 to #903 Aaron Marschetti of USA) .. For some reason, PK is not playing in the second leg, though.  There are a few others like Jayant Sood and Nick Rainey (both members of the fanclub here!), Stephen Amritraj, Rajeev Bagri and Shiv Vasisht (I believe all Indian-Americans) who have been in the qualifiers of these satellites, but the competition is just too much in these dog-fight US satellites and none seems to have been able to make the main draw -- the toughest thing for US players is to get that first ATP point and a ranking!  You need to go through three rounds of qualies somewhere, make the main draw and win two more rounds to get ONE point ! .. 120 players start out at each of these satellites (64 in the qualy draw) and only 16 get any points in the end!

The preseason collegiate rankings have come out in the US ..  Hey, Harsh Mankad, our #5 player, may not be getting any hype in India, but Harsh did get noticed by those in the US college ranking committee .. The preseason doubles rankings show Mankad and Michalowski at U. of Minnesota, who have not even played a single match, ranked at #41 in doubles .. Only the preseason rankings are opinion-based votes by a committee - the later ones are based on computer points from results in the collegiate season, which starts this week.  Amod Wakalkar, in his second year at the U of Idaho is part of the #42 pair .. I was surprised to find Ajay Ramaswamy (who just transferred to a top program, Lousiana State U, for his second year) and Uzma Khan (starting her first season at the Univ of Arizona) not making the top-100 in singles .. All the best to Harsh, Ajay, Amod, Uzma, etc, in US colleges this year ..

Talking of Harsh, there is a reason why continue to have to bring up his name here - sort of like hyping him up, which I certainly do :-) .. Only because, I feel nobody else seems to be giving the 19 yr old national #5 any credit for anything .. I saw that MSLTA gave out a mllion scholarships to players from Maharashtra - read this wednesday article in the Indian Express - once again, the one who who reached the highest teenage ATP ranking since LP and MB, by finishing 4th in the Indian satellites just 4 months back, did not even get a mention! -- how come Harsh continues to be the forgotten guy?? .. May be MSLTA looked at the nationals only (Harsh did not play the Calcutta nationals in March as he was back to studying after a long time to take his SAT and school exams - his scholarship to the US depended on that), but considering the number of players who got awards from them, it is sad that nobody remembered to give him a pat in the back for his show in the satellites .. But then again, on second thoughts, we should give credit to MSLTA for giving all these scholarships to so many deserving players ..

I have updated the schedules for LP and MB, and Nirupama's schedule till January .. Take a look .. LP and MB are expected to be at Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong challenger, Stuttgart and Paris Super 9s next, before taking a 10 day break ahead of Hartford.  The Woodies are confirmed for Shanghai and Singapore like last year (these two teams split the titles there meeting in both the finals) ..  After Hartford it will be Asia Cup, followed by Lucknow and Jaipur grass challengers .. LP also is leaning towards playing the Asia Cup, along with MB, I think.

Sep 21 Notes

Nothing much happening, except for this rather awkward/funny/sad story about Hesh's troubles at the Kanteerava stadium in Bangalore .. Not funny, being chased away by clueless guards .. Read the story which appeared in most newspapers today .. Here is the article in the Times of India .. I can understand some silly guard who may not have known what Hesh looked like, but the guy who was rude towards Nirmit Shetty who went to request a pass for Mahesh to the stadium tracks is another story. It's the kind of crime that perhaps deserves a punishment as they do in Singapore for public littering -- public flogging ! .. Anyway, embarrassment all around .. That is how it goes some times in India. Way too many useless guys handling jobs they have no business handling.

Guess what I just got ? .. The complete rank list database from AITA !! .. Many, many thanks go to Mr. P. F. Montes who sent me the whole mother load of stuff ! .. I have just posted the men's, women's and u-18 boys and girls singles and doubles AITA rankings .. All the links are at the Rankings, Calendar, and Results Index page .. Take a look .. What is nice is that AITA has responded to the criticism last year that international points were not counted in the domestic rankings .. Anyway, now we do have Leander, Mahesh and Nirupama in the rank list ! .. Take a look at the doubles rankings if you need a chuckle at finding LP and MB with about 25 times the points that the 3rd and 4th ranked players (the Kirtane cousins) have! .. What AITA does is to add 5 times the ATP/WTA points to domestic points to get the total points, which sounds pretty reasonable .. In the juniors, the ITF international events points are simply added to domestic AITA points, which may be a bit unfair - not sure what multiplier to use there though .. Anyway, there may be more tennis data now available online for India than most other countries around. Pretty cool, huh ??

It looks like our bulletin board page is working again .. There is a note by a "Fazal" out there .. Need to check if it's "The" Fazal .. Take a look.

In other news, LP and MB will be in India till the end of this week, I believe .. I saw that they will be doing a clinic together for kids at Delhi, organized by Adidas, on the 24th - as reported by The Pioneer

I also finally got around to compiling the results I could find for the umpteenth tournament in Chennai recently (5 junior events in 6 weeks -- great job by everyone down there) - the mini- and sub-junior event, Sep 7-11 .. See the Cata-AITA Chennai Subjuniors page .. R. Arun Prakash repeated for a title in u-14 (he won the nationals on clay just the week before) .. Jacco Mathew won the u-16 event .. The story on the girls's side was basically Sania Mirza of AP and Isha Lakhani of Maharashtra .. They faced each other in the finals of both u14 and u16 and split the titles, playing two three-setters which went wire-to-wire .. Take a look at the results .. The competition was not great at this event, compared to the previous weeks.

Sep 17 Notes

Nirupama was in our chatroom for about a couple of hours on Wednesday, and we had a lot of fun getting a lot of candid answers from her .. I will post a transcript soon ..

The updated domestic schedule has now been posted for the period till Feb 2000 .. Thanks go to Mr. P. F. Montes of AITA for promptly sending the schedule today! .. Two men's challengers in early december, and three more in February .. Also a 4-week men's satellites in Oct-Nov and three men's futures in January .. Only one challenger and two futures for women .. Men/Women hardcourt nationals starting Oct 4th (Delhi) and Men/Women grasscourt nationals in mid-Nov (Calcutta), following the 4-week men's satellites .. Basically, 14 weeks of events for men (12 weeks international) and 7 for women (3 international) .. Wish at least a few more domestic events were organized for women ! .. The effect of the votes-for-events scheme for state units  recently started by AITA probably is not reflected in this schedule, most of which was fixed before that .. Let us hope that some state units will conduct some women's tournament after February .. I am not sure yet on what grades the four ITF junior internationals have -- I keep waiting for that first grade-2 event to come to India .. Or at least two or 3 grade-3 events .. It doesn't help to have too many grade-4 and grade-5 events, though a couple of those are good to have, to give some players a few points and a head-start .. Otherwise, our top junior players *never* get exposed to the level of play in the grade A, grade-1, grade-2 events and get terribly shocked when they finally struggle up to the top-75 and get to a grand slam junior event in their last year or so .. That is followed by even more shock when they move to the senior tour .. Our current 14-16 age group players (guess what, these are the guys we need to play for the country  6-7 years from now -- yeah, I am talking about the Sunil Kumars of the world!) need some carefully planned help in this regard .. Anybody listening ?? .. Anyway, I hope AITA at least follows through on their promise to send some kids with a coach to bigger foreign events .. There also needs to be some oversight (may be from the national coach or junior development officer, or wheover) in planning some schedules to develop these kids .. We hear of too many stories of parents themselves not being able to make the right decisions always in this regard .. There is no replacement for the experience from playing more and more tournaments, and I hear too many stories about parents thinking that their kids have achieved some very high level based on minimal set of good results, and making silly decisions afterwards .. "Will play wherever I can get to play, and will play tough against whomever I play" should be the motto for the kids ..  It is actually pretty simple - no need for people to think too much into what are the most important ways to improve as tennis players ! .. If you play 5 events each for 3 years, you aren't going to improve much more than someone who played 15 events in a year (regardless of how good the coaching was!) ..  Most players in the ITF junior top-100 play 10 to 15 junior ITF events in a year .. Most Indian players don't play more than 5-6 events .. That doesn't help .. Anyway, that's another big topic, and I digress .. Check out the schedule link above for the calendar.

Fazal was in the original draw at the France F11 Futures, but did not go there, based on the results I saw .. Not sure why he skipped the event - hopefully not due to any  injury problems ..

Sep 15 Notes

Don't forget -- Nirupama will be in the chatroom in about an hour (at 1 pm EST, 10.30 pm India) .. Come on in !!

Just a quick note -- Fazaluddin is playing at the F11 futures in France .. It is a 32-draw 15K+H futures, with 30 maximum points, which is almost like a challenger in quality .. Tough draw .. He is drawn against Slimane Saoudi (FRA,475) in the first round and then against 2nd seed Rodolphe Gilbert .. No news yet.

Sep 13 Notes

Nirupama is not playing the Hopewell Junction challenger in New York .. Talked to her yesterday .. She said she would have made the draw, but felt that she really does need to do something with a long-term perspective, and put in some focussed work now, before she feels comfortable about going out there to WIN tournaments, not just get a win here and a win there .. The comment I have often heard from many is that with a bit more mobility after trimming down a bit, she should be able to do just that .. She feels her best chance to do that is now, for the next few weeks .. The schedule I posted for her about couple of weeks back may change because of that (according to that her long break will be in India, but she may be able to do better fitness work right now, while in the US) .. She will decide in a couple of days when she plays next - but it appears that it will be in the second week of October, in the US challenger series (Largo, Albuquerque, perhaps Dallas, Indian Wells, etc) .. She still plans to go to Australia, but not for the October challengers, but for the late November challengers ..  Will post an updated schedule soon.

By the way, Nirupama will be joining us all for a chat session this wednesday - at about 1 pm EST (10 PST, 6 pm Londoan, 10.30 pm India) ..  This is the first time Niru is coming for a chat with the fans .. Please come on in and shoot questions at the lady who has done path-breaking work in Indian women's tennis.

Otherwise, as I have written at the top, I will basically be on vacation for 3 weeks too ! .. I will add the results of last week's mini/sub-junior tournament in Chennai at the tournament results page soon, and will report any significant-enough items that come up during that period.

Sep 12 Notes

Sorry for a long (;-)) one day break in the notes stream here .. Was a bit busy with a bunch of things over the weekend .. Nothing much was happening, since the USO final anyway .. Both LP and MB will be taking time off for three weeks now .. They earned it .. Nirupama will be at the Hopewell Junction challenger in New York starting monday .. Need to confirm that she made the main draw and did not have to play qualies.   More later.

Sep 10 Note-5

Here is the report on the match from Arjun: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi lost to Sebastian Lareau and Alex O'brien in two straight sets, 6-7(7-9), 4-6 .. Even though the scores seem to give one story, the games were closely fought .. Bringing their record making Grand Slam year to an end with 2 wins in 4 Grand Slam Finals. Although one had hoped that they would finish with a win, 4 Grand Slam finals has every Indian and tennis fan proud of these two players' accomplishments. We certainly hope that they continue in the trend that they have set out. The Game Scores was as follows: 1st set :- Alex O'brien started the first set by holding serve. The next 4 games where held by servers. The score was at 2-3 when Mahesh's serve was broken(game 6) to make it 2-4. Alex held serve 2-5. Leander holds at 3-5 after saving one break point (set point). At this point it seemed that the Indian pair were ready for a huge come back as they went up 0-40 on Lareau's serve game. In one of the longest games(game 9) of the match, LP-MB broke Lareau after NINE break points to make it 4-5. Mahesh held serve (game 10) 5-5. Alex held serve (game 11) 5-6. LP held serve (game 12) 6-6. The Tie breker that followed went to 16 points(LP-MB should have had the set on two ocassions, 6-4 and 6-5) before losing the set to SL-AO 6-7(7-9). 2nd set :- Mahesh and Alex held their serves to keep it 1-1. LP went down 0-40 and was broken (game 3) 1-2. The two(LP-MB) did not give up easy, they fought back to break Lareau for the second time with three break points (game 4) 2-2. The four of them held serve the next four games(game 8) 4-4. The turning point was game 9, with Mahesh serving and down 2 break points (15-40) and was broken to make it 4-5. Alex served the last game out for the win .. Thanks a lot for the report .. There you have it .. LP-MB have gone 22-2 in 24 grand slam matches this year .. 17 game win streak in GS matches, is over.

Sep 10 Note-4

I saw one of the newspaper reports yesterday that seemed to almost predict ("if the form is any indication, they will win") that LP-MB was a sure-bet to win this .. Much as I expected them to do it, I had enough of respect towards Lareau and O'Brien, and was having trouble imagining they would go 2-6 in 8 matches to our guys .. Looking at all the close matches between the two, it was time for them to pull one out, and that is exactly what they did .. Lareau/O'Brien d. LP-MB, 7-6(7), 6-4 .. After I had rearranged all my work schedule to push an urgent thing to late afternoon, just to catch this match - the rain spoiled everything .. I couldn't follow it online, and it was not on TV in the US either .. When I left, our boys were down 2-5 down in the first .. They made a fight of it after that, it seems .. I will await any reports from fanclub members who saw the match ..

Our pair has nothing to be ashamed of .. They continue to be the most consistent performers on the big stage .. I am happy to see a team of the caliber of Lareau and O'Brien being there to give our guys this kind of competition .. The way every other team seemed to be in a downward spiral, it was a matter of concern that our pair would have trouble keeping it up .. Losses make our team stronger - we have seen that time and again .. Now I know they want to win that Australian in January so badly! :-)

Sep 10 Note-3

I guessed it, in my last note .. They have just changed the nets on the Arthur Ashe court to singles nets, as of 1.30 pm .. The rain is just about stopping (though the sky looks heavily overcast still)  .. Once they showed the nets-change on TV, I called the US Open media room, communications, etc .. They don't even want to admit that they are moving the match to the next court - but I will be very surprised if it stays on the center court .. I got a bunch of BS about why that is best, why there will be more people in the next court, how it won't affect TV coverage in India, etc, etc .. But, CBS TV (see why it is "see BS television" ?) isn't gonna show it in the US, it seems .. And the guys who have had one of the best doubles years, since what, 1952 or something, will go the whole tournament without playing on Arthur Ashe court even once .. "We have to consider a lot of factors, and the decisions by the scheduling people are as fair as possible" .. Blah .. Blah .. "Fair!" .. My left foot! .. Yes, the bottom line money is what mostly maters in the US, but there should be some sense of proprieaty in these things! ..  It is a finals, for crying out loud! ..

I  know there are much more prople wanting to see the Williams sisters play (I would like to see them too), but there is plenty of time remaing in the TV coverage slot, as far as I can see .. At least stagger the start of the singles and doubles a bit and show even some of the doubles ? .. No such luck.

Well, we will see if anything changes, but I am not waiting with boiling broth for TV coverage around here .. Hope Star Sports brings it to you folks in India!

Sep 10 Note-2

It was raining heavily for a few hours this morning at US Open, and it's still raining, as of 12.10 pm, an hour after the scheduled start .. The weather center says it may clear up sometime after noon .. The match won't start till at least 1 or 1.30 pm .. They just showed Leander and Mahesh on CBS TV .. in the players' lounge, in some nice, deep conversation! ..  Perhaps figuring out how to chenge their strategy to counter the new look Lareau, with his old hair and goatee beard back .. Or when to shout "armadillo" to confuse the Texas panhandle guy, O'Brien (who is from Amarillo, TX, which does have armadillos, whose sole purpose in life seem to be to run across the freeway and get crushed by trucks -- How about Alex getting crushed by a steaming Indian EXpress! .. alright, enough yapping from me :-))

While everyone waits for the match to start, check out this article on Mahesh by none other than the best out there - Bud Collins, in the Boston Globe .. It has a rare inaccuracy from Bud; he said Davenport does not even think of mixed doubles - not true, she was in the mixed doubles draw at Wimbledon, with Woodbridge .. He has a lot of interesting stuff in the article .. Check it out .. I din't know that Ai meant "love" in Japanese .. Had no idea about that when I sent an email to the fanclub list after the match with the title, "love in Tokyo" (I was commenting on how MB's best has been with girls from Japan!).

Here is the article from US Open by Akshai Sawai about the mixed doubles final, in Mid-Day, Mumbai (that link will go away in a few days) ..

Here is the interview with Hesh and Ai after the title, as at the official US Open site ..  Mahesh talks about how Ai keeps on smiling all the time and how that relaxed him on the court .. That is what brings her a lot of fans - the constant smile!

Hopefully we will get going out there on Arthur Ashe court, and we won't have to miss the TV coverage because they move it out of Arthur Ashe court in favor of women's semifinals or something !

Sep 10 Note-1

Today's doubles final is at 11 am  (8 am PST .. 4 pm London .. 8.30 pm India) .. The match is being covered on CBS TV in the USA, and I believe on STARsports as usual, in India ..  We will be in our chatroom, if any of you without TV want ball-by-ball updates!

Talked to Mahesh this evening, and he demands an honorary citizenship from Japan for all the grand slams he and his Japanese partners are winning! :-) .. Both LP and MB are pumped up for the match tomorrow.

Their opponents are known to everybody here - Sebastien Lareau (CAN,22) and Alex O'Brien (USA,27) .. Lareau, many would remember, was Leander's partner 6 years back at the US Open where they reached the semifinal - the first glimpse of what was in store in the future from them both .. Lareau and O'Brien had success earlier than LP and MB .. They have been  in two grand slam  finals - at the Australian Open in 96 and 97 (losing to Edberg/Korda and Woodies) .. O'Brien has been in a US Open final too  (in 95 with Sandon Stolle, when they lost to the Woodies) .. They are looking for their first grand slam, and if their win over the Woodies and then Bjorkman/Black are any indication, they are in fine form too .. I have given the record between these two teams many times in the past - here it is again: The Indian Express beat them at the Montreal Super 9 [76(5) 63] and New Haven Pilot Pen finals in 97  [46 67(2) 62], lost to them at Stuttgart Super 9 [75 67(10) 57] and beat them again in the Hartford semis [61 26 76(5)] .. In 98, Lareau/O'Brien beat LP-MB at the Stuttgart Super 9 finals [63 36 75] but our guys got revenge the next week at the Paris Super 9 [76(4) 62] .. This year they played yet another barn-burner, the 5-setter quarterfinal at Wimbledon when our guys came back from being down two sets to none to pull it off [36 46 76(5) 64 64] .. So it is a 5-2 advantage for our guys, but one or two things going the other way, could have made that record 2-5 or 3-4 too (also Courier/O'Brien has a loss to LP-MB, and Mahesh/Leach has a loss against Lareau/O'Brien too) .. We have to expect another close one today ..

Sep 9 Note-3

OK, here is the match report on today's final from fanclub member Saibal Chakravarti: Don Johnson started the match serving .. The match went on serve till 4-4 in the first set when in the ninth game Don Johnson was broken -  MB served out the first set .. In the second set it was 1-1 when Kimberly Po was broken mostly due to some blistering returns of serve from MB at her feet. Clearly she was unable to handle the power .. Then all the games went with  serve and the match ended 6-4, 6-4 with MB serving it out again .. Sugiyama was having some problems with her serves throughout but with some help from Mahesh who looked incredibly solid today, she  held her ground (esp. in the 8th game of the second set when there were 5 break points on her serve) .. MB served flawlessly till the last game of the match when he was taken to deuce thrice but saved each break pt with an ace/service winner .. A match which was more or less comfortable for the Indo-Jap pair with only minor problems cropping up here and there .. Our opponents were 0/8 in break points which tells the story - MB and Sugi played the big points very well .. MB, in particular,  was poaching at large with a great success rate and hit some spectacular returns and groundies. Take my prediction for tomorrow - unless LP/MB are drugged they are going to beat the hell out of Lareau/O'Brien - does not matter how close any of the previous matches were !

OK, that last line was not a report on the match .. :-)  .. I notice that thing about MB holding serve in the final game of the match after deuces with aces and service winners .. MB may lose focus at times in a match, but when it counts he plays with heart - something Leander mentioned in his press conference as a reason why he felt Mahesh should be his partner for the future 3-4 years back (something LP has told me personally many, many times about Mahesh - "plays with heart") .. I also saw a newspaper article a couple of days back that mentioned how the understanding between Sugiyama and Hesh has been tremendous in the matches here too.   Those are the things that make a championship team!

And, oh, they made $124K for the title - they share that money .. They should treat each other for a few curry and sushi dinners!

Sep 9 Note-2

Grand slam titles have a become a habit for our boys, or what ? .. Second title for Mahesh in mixed doubles, and it comes, as in the first case, in the company of a Japanese - Ai Sugiyama .. Yeah, Asian power rules! .. Bhupathi-Sugiyama d. Po-Johnson, 6-4, 6-4 today .. Here is a netcam picture from the awards ceremony that Giri sent me (again, reproduced without permission - courtesy to  IBM and the official US Open site, who have copyright) ..

MB-Sugiyama with USO-99 trophy (IBM - USO site netcam picture)

Now the bad part (for me!) .. Due to unexpected work commitments, I missed the match, couldn't watch it on TV, and could not be in the chatroom .. I cannot believe that of all the matches, I missed this one! .. Anyway, that means I have no reports on the match, except what the official stats say - the other guys had 8 break chances but could not convert any, and our pair did their job in 2 of 6 chances .. Anyway, I am sure people had fun in our chatroom .. Guess who dropped in unannounced today in our chatroom during the match ? - I am told Nirupama Vaidyanathan was there!

I will add any other info on the mixed doubles final that comes my way, later .. Doubles final tomorrow.

.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending Sep 13 ..