Notes for week ending on Oct 6, 1997

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Oct 6 Morning Notes-2

Byron Black d. David Wheaton, 6-2, 6-4 in the "featured" night match today.. Hope they had a ton of spectators and made oodles of money from that match, because Wheaton won't have a chance to bring out anymore people into the stands... (sorry to be unusually vicious in my comments, but I am still annoyed.. and I *like* David Wheaton.. nothing against him)..

Oct 6 Morning Notes-1

The Heineken singapore tournament web site has put up a draw. It shows the draw direct entry closing with the ATP #105, #107, and #108 players. Leander at #109 seems to be the first player to miss the main draw. And the 3 wildcards went to #24 Jim Courier, #157 David Wheaton, and Paradorn Srichaphan. Paradorn must have won the Heineken challenge tournament last month for Asian players, the winner of which qualifies into the main draw.. so, no complaints.. plus, he is among the most talented Asian prospects now (ranked in the ITF junior world top-10 till recently).. but DAVID WHEATON gets a wild card ?.. Huh ?... Hello ?.. Who is smoking what out there, I would like to know. You drop the Asian #1 from the main draw for this guy ? That is positively frustrating. Wasn't it ATP who said recently they wanted to develop tennis popularity in Asia, and after Michael Chang, they considered Leander their guy ?

...Arvind Kumar, the fan-club representative at Singapore also confirms yesterday's report that LP/MB are the #1 seeds in doubles at Singapore. The Woodies must have decided to skip the tournament. (As far as I see, Leander should skip it too, next year, seeing how these Singapore guys can't go even an extra inch for him, and they go much farther for American wildcards.. again, this is a fan's opinion.. Leander may know more and feel differently.. I'm pretty mad this morning).

Paradorn Srichaphan is the only Asian in the main draw. Interestingly, his elder brother(?) Thanakorn Srichaphan won the Asian challenge and got the wildcard spot last year, which was the first time any Thailand player ever played in an ATP tournament !

Oct 5 Notes

They won their 5th ATP Doubles Title of the year !!!... Courier/O'Brien gave them a good fight, but they won 7-5, 7-6 (9-7). The win gives them 153 total points. Mahesh may crack into the individual doubles top-10 this week !! He will be at least #11. Leander should be ranked 14 or 15. They keep going up and up and up.. The team ranking will be the same, but the point total gets very close to that of the #4 team, Larea/O'Brien. They share $ 21,000.. Including the singles, LP made $15,600, and MB around $11,000..

So, only our guys and the #2 team Eltingh/Haarhuis have 5 titles this year. Elt/Haar are 5-3 in the finals, while LP/MB are 5-0.. Mahesh has won 3 of the last 6 tournaments he entered and has reached the finals in 4 of 6.

Troubling news about the Singapore Heineken tournament next week. Unconfirmed reports that Leander just missed out the main draw and may not have got a wildcard.. The main draw was expected to close somewhere in the ATP #100-110 range, and LP at #109 may be among the first couple of guys to miss the main draw. It beats me what logic the organizers used for not giving a wildcard to the Asian #1 player who just missed the main draw (we did see that the Thai prospect, Paradorn Srichaphan has been given a wildcard and that he will be playing Courier in the first round.. Srichaphan is good and deserves encouragement, though). Courier is a wildcard. That is another thing that bugs me.. Jim Courier keeps going around taking wildcards away, because he decides very late to enter. He did that at Beijing last week. He is doing it at Singapore now. Come on, Jim; enter the tournaments on time and stop causing trouble for people! Anyway, will pass it on as soon as definite word comes in on LP's singles status. The fact is that Leander plays the kind of tennis that many people like to see, and he is quite disproportionally popular (in comparison to his ranking) among the fans in many places.. Sometimes, the tournament folks don't seem to be aware of that.. Oh, well.. enough of whining..

LP/MB have been drawn to meet Richey Reneberg (#74) and Cyril Suk (#22) in round 1 at Singapore (don't know their seeding for sure.. reports are that LP/MB are the #1 seed, which means the Woodies may not be there).  Reneberg and Suk have played together before; actually, both play with many different partners and are excellent doubles players. They were seeded 4th at Beijing but lost to Courier/O'Brien in the first round. Not the easiest first opponent for Leander/Mahesh, but they should be favored to advance.

Oct 4 News

Not much to report today. The team I was "intrigued by", right from the beginning, Courier/O'Brien, are in the doubles finals at Beijing to face our Dynamic Duo. I hate it when it's an unknown team like this.. Those are the types who can get up and bite.. Of course, O'Brien is #7 in world doubles rankings, and Courier's #512 ranking doesn't mean much as he rarely plays doubles (..and it makes sure that our guys don't get any bonus points for beating them). Anyway, C/O did not have to play a doubles semifinal, as Eagle/Florent gave them a walkover. Courier is also in the finals of the singles tomorrow, against Magnus Gustafsson. The doubles finals should be a couple of hours after the singles finals..

ATP #6 Lobo/Sanchez lost today in the semis at Sicily; so LP/MB will put some more distance from them.

Awaiting news from Singapore, where the $550,000 Heineken tournament starts Monday. LP/MB are in the doubles draw. The singles draw was earlier today. #1 seed Michael Chang (ATP #2) plays the winner from last year, Jonathan Stark (#72, unseeded) in the first round.. Interestingly it was Stark who beat Chang in the finals there last year ! #2 seed Marcelo Rios plays Justin Gimelstob (USA), and Jim Courier (USA) plays a wildcard, Paradorn Srichaphan (a very good upcoming Thailand prospect). Haven't seen the full draw; so don't know about Leander's status in the singles. We will have an on-site fan-club representative, Mr. Arvind Kumar, at some of the matches next week. Hope to bring some match reports..

Oct 3 Evening Notes

Hey, it's another tournament, another semifinal win, another straight-sets job ! They are at it again!

LP/MB beat Keil/Middleton in 75 minutes, 6-4, 6-4. Broke them in the 9th game of the first set, and again in the 3rd game of the second set.. Match over. This is the 3rd final in the last 5 tournaments for them (4th final in the last 6 tournaments for Mahesh, who reached the LA Infinity finals with Rick Leach, loss to the world #4 team).. Montreal (win against the world #2 team, title beating world #4 team), Cincinnati (lost to world #1 Woodies in the QF), New Haven (title), US Open (SF loss to world #4), and now another finals.. Their record during this hot-streak ? .. 19-2.. Quite incredible ! Add to that the 15-0 record (Chennai ATP, Prague challenger, Prague ATP, Jerusalem challenger) before a poor period of 2-3 when Leander was nursing hip, back and groin troubles, and you get a record of 36-5 in the last 41 matches (2 of the 5 losses to the world #1)... They now have 4 titles this year. Only the #1, #2, #5 and #6 teams have that many. Only #2 Eltingh/Haarhuis have 5 titles, and LP/MB can tie them on Sunday with a 5th title... and they are yet to lose an ATP event final (actually they have not lost the last 4 or 5 challenger finals as well).

They have got 111 points each and $ 12,500 to share, so far.. Leander also got $5,100 for his one singles win. Not bad at all for a week of work. They can make about 155-160 points if they win the title, but their team ranking will not change. Lareau/O'Brien will still keep a few points lead over them. The good thing is that they made sure they won't lose ground to the #6 team, Lobo/Sanchez, who won a title and 220 points last week, to pull up to just 85 points behind them. L/S are playing the semis at Sicily this week, and so this win was important to keep them behind... Individual rankings: Mahesh will move to about 11 or 12 and Leander should be in the 14 thru 16 range, next week.

Here is another blurb from ATP, today (they say "MAMESH Bhupahti" today also... ATP needs to get their act together.. and there are a couple of inaccuracies here as well .. They are looking for the 5th title, not the 4th):... "INDIANS IN FINAL Top doubles seeds, Mamesh Bhupahti and Leander Paes moved through to their fourth doubles final as a duo in 1997. So far this year they have won doubles titles at Montreal, a Super 9 event, New Haven and Chennai. "We have never lost in a main ATP Tour event final. It's good to be in another one," said Paes. Bhupathi and Paes beat the unseeded combination of Mark Keil and TJ Middleton in straight sets 6/4 6/4 using deft angles and placement to overcome the powerful Americans. Both combinations have been crowd pleasers during the China Open and shown plenty of personality to tournament workers as well. Bhupathi and Paes have qualified for the World Doubles Championships in Hartford November 17-23. They are currently ranked fifth as a doubles team behind only, the Woodies, Eltingh and Haarhuis, Kafelnikov and Vacek and Lareau/O'Brien. As individuals Bhupathhi is ranked 15th and Paes 19th. Their semifinal opponents had much lower rankings - Middleton 95th and Keil 119th. Paes is a 24 year old from Calcutta who also resides in Orlando, Florida, while Bhupathi hails from Madras (now called Chennai) and resides in Bangalore in India. Bhupathi has a birthday just 10 days ahead of his doubles partner, but there is a year's difference in age - Bhupathi June 7 1974, Paes June 17 1973. Bhupathi/Paes will play the winner of the Florent/Eagle V Courier/O'Brien match scheduled for Saturday. The doubles final will be played on Sunday".

This is the first time ATP is saying they HAVE qualified for the Hartford doubles championship.. We have been counting them in after the US Open.

Oct 3 Morning Notes

The semifinals line-up at Beijing is:

Both Courier and O'Brien are playing the singles quarterfinals today (Friday), so their doubles semifinals may be on Saturday. Our guys' semifinal may be today itself. Johannson won his quarterfinals today against Pozzi, 6-2, 6-4, and is in the semifinals. Nothing else for the time being.. will update later if any news comes in.

Oct 2 Evening Notes

Alright, they seem to be in fine form.. LP/MB got rid of Patrick McEnroe and Bill Behrens in 55 minutes, 6-2, 6-4.. They must be liking the true bounce from carpet (Leander had said earlier their best surfaces are the true ones). Now they face the US pair Keil and Middleton, ranked 136 as a team. Keil happens to be the partner with whom Paes has the highest doubles points (after Bhupathi) as they won a round together at the Rosmalen Heineken tournament in June in Netherlands (but they had to withdraw and give a walkover due to Leander's back problems in the QF). Keil is ranked #119 in ATP individual doubles rankings, and Middleton is #95. The semifinals will reportedly be on Friday (Oct 3).

The Dynamic Duo have picked up 66 points so far, and just became the 5th team this year to cross 2000 ATP points.. they are at 2003 as of now.. Leander seemed super-confident in the Interview with PTI. The Indian Express reports Paes to have said, ``We played good tennis and if we continue to maintain this form, we should be there in the final''..

Oct 2 Morning Notes

No news yet on the second round doubles match.. no info yet from "inside sources" in India.

Here is a note from ATP :

TOP SEEDS LOOKING AT WORLD CHAMPS: Indian doubles dynamos, Leander Paes and Mamesh Bhupathi are all set for the ATP Tour World Doubles Championships in Hartford, November 19-23. The top seeds in the China Open are set to take on Behrens and McEnroe in the doubles quarterfinals today. As a combination they are ranked fifth in the world and attribute their success to teamwork. "The first reason for our success is that we are such good friends, we have known each other since we were about 12 years old and we have just gelled well as a doubles team. The second reason is Bob "Nails" Carmichael, our coach who has nurtured our doubles talent. The results should go to him," says Paes. On their chances at the title in the ATP Tour World Doubles Champs, Paes doesn't discount success, but says they'll be putting in the big effort when the time comes. "I think it's possible to win. We are really looking at it one match at a time. Being our first time at the ATP Tour World Doubles Champs we will just have to take it slowly, we can't really predict anything, but we will give it a hell of a shot" As individuals Bhupathi is ranked number 15 and Paes 20 on the latest ATP Tour doubles rankings.

Nice term, "Indian Doubles Dynamos".... Like it.. but we will stick to just "Dynamic Duo" here. .. and oh, ATP needs to get Bhupathi's first name right, one of these days !

ATP on the press interview of Johansson after beating Leander.. "Leander is the best Asian and was playing very well in the first set, we both played well initially but in the second set I got an early break and I think because he was down he also became more tired." Said Johansson. When asked in a media conference if he thought Asian players get tired easily Thomas Johansson replied. "Chang never gets tired, he could play for two weeks without getting tired." ..

Johansson is right. Every now and then we hear of some newspaper reporter bringing this thing about Asians, Leander in particular, getting tired. There are some popular misconceptions about this too. Leander almost never loses a five-setter. The 5-setter he lost to Pioline at the US Open was the first loss in 6 or so five-set matches he has played (need to check on this, but his record is close to that).. The main reason for the loss against Pioline was a lack of concentration in the 4th set, while tinkering with the raquet, not tiredness... It's time people dropped some of these myths. Leander probably did get tired in the match against Johansson, which is understandable considering his food poisoning problems just a couple of days back. Those who say Asians get tired, should also take a look at Mahesh coming back to win the last 3 sets in a 5-set win in the Davis Cup last week, after having played a 5-set doubles match the day before, against Silberstein who had a day of rest !

Oct 1 Notes

Leander's match against 3rd seed (ATP #35) Thomas Johansson was the featured match of the night. Johansson seem to have gone back to his early season indoor carpet form.. LP couldn't pull it off... Score 7-5, 6-1. Leander did get about 17 points, and took care of the 13 points falling off the computer on Oct 20th. This would have been a good match to win, as the next round opponent would have been ATP #104 Gianluca Pozzi..

Just heard that Mahesh actually had fallen sick with a flu saturday and had been in bed for a couple of days, just about managing to get up and play his second round qualifier match which he lost. If he had won that match, he would have been the lucky loser entry in the main draw.. and would have played.. Leander !!!!... Damn , we would have loved to see that match... Interesting that Paes had gastroentritis and Bhupathi had a flu, and they still won the first round doubles on Monday, 6-2, 6-2.

In doubles, they now face Behrens(#132)/McEnroe(#267).  The other seeded team on their half of the draw, #3 seeded Black/Stark lost to Middleton/Keil. The #2 seed Damm/Novak lost to Gimmelstob/Rikl in the first round.. And, today, the team I am intrigued by (:-)), Courier/O'Brien, reached the semifinal upsetting the 4th seeds Reneberg/Suk.. What it means is that our guys are the only seeded team remaining in the draw. Eagle/Florent on the other side of the draw is perhaps the only other established top team remaining. Pretty good chance for the Dynamic Duo, if they have recovered from physical ailments. By the way, you get bonus points only for beating doubles teams with sum-ranks under 400, and Behrens/McEnroe have a sum-rank of 399... So, LP/MB can get 1 bonus point for beating them.. :-) :-) .. Any team that beats LP/MB can pick up 24 bonus points.

Sept 30 Notes

Leander took care of Alex Reichel in the first round today and picked up some 16 points. 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. He must be over the stomach problems by now. He now faces Thomas Johannson who is ranked # 35 in ATP singles. Most of his points are from earlier in the year (before April) when he went on a 21-3 tear, finishing with titles at Copenhagen and St.Petersburg on indoor carpet. Then he had a terrible streak going 3-13. He is showing signs of life again, and indoor carpet is his best surface. He had done very well at this time last year on indoor carpet in Asia, as well. Leander will have his hands full with him. On his part, Leander has had his best tournament so far at the indoor carpet in Shanghai in February, and he is 4-1 on carpet so far. Their second round singles match should be a good one. If Leander can beat Johannson and reach the quarterfinals, he will collect about 47 total points. Go do it, Leander !

No news on the second round doubles opponent or match time yet (..it should be tomorrow, wednesday, though). There is an intriguing team in the doubles draw here. Jim Courier and Alex O'brien. They have not played together this year. Obrien, of course, plays with Seb Lareau of Canada and is the #3 ATP team. Wonder if these two are trying to form a doubles team for the sake of US' davis Cup finals against Sweden. It has been a while since US won a doubles match at Davis Cup. Both O'brien and Courier were members of the semifinal US team, but neither played. Anyway, these two have won their first round match and are in the quarterfinals..

Oh by the way, correction on the earlier note about LP/MB having won against both the possible second round doubles opponents.. Not correct.. They haven't played either team.. They have been in tournaments together, that's all.. Both are good teams. Ondruska/Stafford team is ranked #39 and Behrens/McEnroe is #189 (only because they have not played exclusively with each other.. Both Behrens and McEnroe are pretty good doubles players).

Sept 29 Evening Notes

Leander and Mahesh defeated Bing Pan (China) and Bruce Li (USA) in the first round of the doubles Monday, so it appears that Leander has recovered somewhat from his bad stomach problems. That is good news. This match wasn't even close. Score: 6-2, 6-2. Their possible second round opponents are both very good teams. They have beaten both Ondruska/Stafford and Behrens/McEnroe the last they played these two teams, both during this summer. So they have the advantage. The second round doubles should be on wednesday after leander's singles match on Tuesday.

The news is really hard to come by, from China, but whatever news will be posted here as soon as possible..

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                  \
ONDRUSKA/STAFFORD v. BEHRENS/MCENROE          /   \
3-BLACK/STARK v. KEIL/MIDDLETON               \   /  \
CARLSEN/WHEATON v. WC-XIA/LU                  /       \
WAHLGREN/WILKINSON v. WC-COURIER/O'BRIEN      \       /
FREDRIKSSON/TILLSTROM v. 4-RENEBERG/SUK       /   \  /
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..