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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Oct 12, 1998
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Please read the newly-added page, a collection of notes, especially on the important topic of Indian players needing support .. We need responses and help from everybody ..
Oct 12 Note-4
Things went without any surprises at the women's satellites today at the Ahmedabad AGETA courts .. With the 4 top seeds haveing first round byes, 12 matches were played to complete the first round .. The 4 other seeds advanced to round 2 .. #5th seed Arthi Venkataraman had a double-bagel win .. #6 Rushmi Chjakravarti took out Sheetal Gautam easily .. 7th seed Montika Anuchan of Thailand (one of only 3 foreign players in the draw - all seeded) took care of Trishna Williams.. The only seed to play a 3-setter was 8th seed Shruti, who dropped the first set but won the next two easily .. see the women's satellite leg1 page .. The results from the men's tourney at Mumbai that I mentioned in the last note are all at the men's satellite leg 1 page .. Second seed Prahlad Srinath plays qualifier Basapparaju from Karnataka who is a friend and former practice mate of Prahlad.
A a press friend pointed out a correction from today's note-1 .. The Woodies have 54 titles now, not 49, and are trailing only McEnroe and Fleming who have 57 .. I got confused with Sampras' record which I believe is 49 (?) ..
In other news, I am told by a reliable source that AITA is now swapping the dates of the Mumbai and Ahmedabad challengers in the last two weeks of December .. I have changed the calendar at this site to reflect this, but the ATP releases do not show the change yet ..
Oct 12 Note-3
Just when I was feeling terrific after the great win for LP-MB, some gloomy news had to come our way .. from the ATP satellites leg-1 first round at Mumbai .. Vijay Kannan, Ravi Kiran Bhat and Harsh Mankad - all lost in the first round of the Mumbai satellites today. Kannan to the 4th seed Hede, 6-2, 6-1, Bhat to the 3rd seed Federico Rovai, 6-1, 6-1 .. Harsh had a rather surprising loss to Vinod Sridhar, 1-6, 6-7(2) .. Avinash Arun from TN who made some ripples at the national hardcourts last week, also went down - to top seed Andy Fahlke .. S.Zaman also lost .. Oh well .. Prahlad Srinath plays tomorrow, and apparently still is moving gingerly after his injury a few days back.. I will update the results page later today.
Oct 12 Note-2
This was a great win for LP-MB over the second best doubles team ever in history (as many would say, perhaps behind McEnroe/Fleming) .. The Woodies have 49 titles in their career so far, and our guys showed what they are made of, by preventing the Woodies from getting the half-century. This is the 5th ATP tournament title for LP-MB this year (Doha, Dubai, Chennai, Rome and Shanghai) to go with the 6 titles last year .. They have been in eleven ATP regular tournament finals so far in their career - and they have eleven titles !! .. Adding the 3 challenger titles early last year, they are now 14 of 14 in such tournament finals, which is perhaps unheard of (I have not seen a record mentioned, but I wonder if any team in the history of tennis have started their career going 11 of 11 in regular tournament finals - I would bet none has, though the Woodies had won all but a couple of their first 15 or so finals) .. The word "regular" here is intentional, as our dudes did lose one final last year, at the Hartford ATP doubles championship.
Points-wise, this tournament is not such a big deal, as the 195 points would make it only the 9th highest points total they have had in their career - but this is the kind of win that finally tells them that they have fully arrived. Their wins over Eltingh/Haarhuis at the beginning of 1997 summer gave them the confidence that they had it in them to go right to the top, but a few losses this year to some of the experienced veterans must certainly have made them think if they have been improving enough to reach the very top. This win should put most of that to rest, and set them on track to go all out towards that world #1 spot without self-doubts. In other words, this is the kind of win that takes a career to the next level .. To beat two legends, Sampras and Woodies within 3 months is something not too many people can even think of - and LP has done it ..
The confidence and the tremendous will to win that helps them pull out a 3rd set tiebreaker over a legendary team, is what sets LP-MB apart from the other sportsmen in India .. Late last evening I had an email from fanclub member Prakash Hemdev which reminded me of an India Today article that talked about LP-MB and how the Indian cricket team should get the two to talk to them about winning and the aggressive spirit .. Here is the article from last December titled Aggression is the Key (heck, all Indians who clamored to get a darshan of Becker at Chennai should read this, but that's not exactly what I wanted to talk about here - but then again, this being the one year anniversary week of that "event", why not?) .. While you are at it, here is a link to a very nice article in the Electric New Paper, Singapore, titled Man who beat Sampras on Leander .. Check that out too ..
Our onsite fanclub member, Kim Das, reports from Singapore that LP-MB will play first round doubles on Tuesday at about 4 pm, but have been given an extra day before playing their singles .. I assume they will have a couple of first round matches on wednesday, as they had at Shanghai.
The new rankings should show our guys around where they are now.. The 289 points from the Singapore title last year just fell off a week early, replaced by 195 pts .. A repeat title at Singapore this week would take them back up .. The team doubles point tally goes up to 2858, but they will stay at #3 .. Due to the Monday finals at Shanghai, the full ATP ranks won't be out till late Tuesday.. I have updated all the stats, archives, point-tally pages indexed at the LP-MB results page ..
Oct 12 Note-2
YEEEHHAAAW!!! WON IT!! .. Bhupathi/Paes (Ind) d. Woodbridge/Woodforde (Aus) 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-6(4) .. Yeah! .. They defended the title and got some extra points to add on - 195 points there, including 45 bonus points, well earned. To beat the big veterans in a 3rd set tiebreaker is just tremendous! .. Like I said earlier, boy, would I have liked to be there to see this one !
Oct 12 Note-1
Still no news out of Shanghai on the doubles final which must have got done 3-4 hours back.. #2 seed Chang beat #1 seed Ivanisevic in 3 sets to win the singles title earlier ..
We have been getting hot info out of Singapore on the $675K Heineken Open there this week, thanks to our globe-trotter reporter (:-)), Kim Das, who is based in Singapore.. The tournament is played indoors on a carpet surface .. Here are the immediate singles draws for Mahesh (in the top half) and LP (in the bottom half):
4-Jan-Michael Gambill [USA, 48] vs WC-Jonathon Stark [USA,190] \ Brett Steven [NZL, 95] vs Q-Crhristian Vinck [GER,125] / \_ to SF Q-Daniel Nestor [CAN, 96] vs WC-Jim Courier [USA,102] \ / 6-Mikael Tillstrom [SWE, 64] vs WC-Mahesh Bhupathi [IND,361] / 7-Paul Haarhuis [NED, 65] vs Kenneth Carlsen [DEB, 78] \ Martin Damm [CZE, 70] vs Leander Paes [IND, 87] / \_ to SF Mark Woodforde [AUS, 98] vs Marcos Ondruska [IND,132] \ / 2-Goran Invanesivic [CRO, 12] vs Steve Campbell [USA, 86] /
The rankings are from last week .. The draw is perhaps marginally tougher for LP compared to MB .. INteresting to see all three wildcards and 2 of the 4 qualifiers bunched in there .. Mahesh beat Daniel Nestor the last time they played, at the LA Infiniti in 97, and has not played Tillstrom before .. Both LP and MB will be playing Tuesday, when 11 of the 16 first round matches are scheduled - five get done today.
In doubles, our guys are #2 seeds behind the Woodies. The bottom half of the draw is:
W.Black/ M.Ondruska vs Qualifier/ Qualifier \ 3-S.Lareau/ D.Nestor vs M.Tebbut/ M.Tilstrom / \_ to Final K.Braasch/ M.Kohlmann vs T.Ketola/ L.Tielman \ / 2-M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes vs M.Keil/ T.J.Middleton /
The Woodies have #4 seeds Galbraith/Steven in their half, and perhaps have the slightly easier draw .. Tebbut/ Tillstrom, Keil/ Middleton, etc are good teams, and the Canadian team of Lareau/ Nestor can be very tough ..
Oct 11 Note-3
Leander plays Martin Damm (#70, CZE), and Mahesh plays 6th seed Mikael Tillstrom (#64, SWE) in the first round at Singapore on Tuesday .. They won't get to Singapore till late Monday evening, after finishing the postponed doubles final at Shanghai, though .. Once again Mahesh ends up with a seeded player in the first round .. Both are winnable matches for LP and MB though.
How about this ? - After today's qualies, 7 of the final 8 qualifiers to the Mumbai ATP satellite leg are Indians (4 qualies were done yesterday) ! .. Sourav Panja, Anand Radhakrishnan, Mustafa, Avinash Arun, S.Zaman, Vijayendra Laad etc are notable qualifiers .. That makes it 10 Indians out of the 12 qualifiers, to go with a seed (#2 Prahlad Srinath), 4 other direct entries and 4 wildcard main entries .. That means there are 19 Indians among the 32 in the main draw. I am bit surprised at the lack of international participation, but this may be because of the reluctance of people to commit to 4-week satellites that give points only at the end, while there are many futures events which only need one-week commitments. I am not sure if this is a good thing or bad .. It would help some of the Indians to get 2 or 3 cheap wins over other Indians and pick up a few points, but better competition is what makes them all better players and that may be a problem .. See the updated men-satellite-leg1 page .. On the women's side, it's even stranger .. Due to no shows and lack of entries, they did not even have enough players to play the qualifiers ! .. I am not sure if this happens anywhere else, as ITF allows anybody to sign in and play the qualies, if it ever comes to the lowest level of priority in their priority list which starts with those with WTA ranking, then national or ITF rankings, etc (perhaps the tournament director has the discretion to drop the qualies if it becomes meaningless with only people off the street are signing in to play!) .. Apparently they only had 23 of those who had entered in the main draw show up there .. In the end, they decided on a reduced main draw of 28, with 5 of the Gujarat players who had expected to play qualies getting direct entries, and the top 4 seeds getting first round byes ! .. 5 of the seeds are Indians, with Archana Venkataraman at #1 .. 24 of the 28 players are Indians too .. See the updated women-satellite-leg1 page .. So, this week turns out to be a nice domestic tournament worth 2 lakhs rupees, but with potentially a few WTA points in there .. Anybody still complaining about AITA's plan, and how it would just kill all chances for Indians to play ? ..
Oct 11 Note-2
Oh, great ! .. After all the waiting in anticipation, we find that it has been raining badly today at Shanghai .. Neither the singles nor the doubles final has been played as of late evening .. They say they probably won't get to play anything today .. So, it looks like a postponement to Monday .. LP-MB will have to wait another day to meet the Woodies ..
The Singapore Staits Times confirms that Mahesh, Courier and Stark have been given the three main draw wildcards for the Championship series Singapore Heineken Open starting tomorrow .. Good .. I was fearing that Courier would show up in the last minutes and take away MB's wildcard .. I have no idea why Jim cannot enter these Asian tournaments early enough .. The other Asian players like Paradorn Srichaphan (Thailand) and Adrian Raturandang (INdonesia) have wildcards into the qualifier draw .. On asked why no Singapore player was given wildcard to the qualifiers, the tournament director pointed to the lack of quality Singaporean players and how when they gave it once to somebody like that, he ended up losing 0-6, 0-6 to Leander Paes in 1996 ! .. Interesting ..
Oct 11 Note-1
Here are three good articles to read, by Kamesh Srinivasan in The Hindu, S. Kannan in Hindustan Times and Nikhila Natarajan in Indian Express to get all the info on the DSCL national hardcourts finals .. I liked one comment by Nikhila about Uzma silencing the murmur which has been there that her age is mis-stated, which probably started as she has been so dominant in the junior level .. Now that she won the senior title two times in a row (she won the grascourts title in Duliajan last december too), such nonsense would stop .. True or not, how does it really matter ? If she has talent she has talent - simple! .. I would have really really liked to see her play some good competition in the ITF satellites, but academics takes precedence for the time being as she is getting ready for US college which is the only way she can get some good coaching, it seems, due to lack of sponsorship (so what's new?) .. Looking at the entries so far in the women's ITF satellites, she didn't miss much as it is heavy with Indian players who have all lost to her .. Nice to see Nitin Kirtane serving notice that he is not ready to be forgotten in Indian tennis .. Shruti Dawan lost almost without any fight to Uzma Khan in the under-18 final, which was also probably because she was a bit tired after all the tennis in two draws this week (note that though Uzma was also in both draws, she was winning those 40 minutes whitewashes most of the time!) .. Shruti has a bright future .. Another name to remember now is Vijayendra Laad, who was unseeded but won the under-18 noy's title with some good power tennis .. Anyway, that's the conclusion of the DCSL national championship ..
Vijay Kannan had a great run and impressed everybody .. S.Kannan's article has some interesting critical analyses on what he needs to work on .. Vijay still needs good coaching, though BAT and later Dhaita have done a nice job with him so far .. He has a "burning desire" to excel in tennis, from all accounts .. He has chosen not to go to US for college and coaching (doing BCom in India now), which makes it absolutely essential that something is done to get him exposure to foreign players and coaching.. That means money. For now, and for the next 6-7 months, things are fine as Vijay will get to face a lot of nice competition in the 8 weeks of satellites, the futures and the qualifiers of the 6 challengers. Somebody needs to start planning well to get him some sponsorship to do some foreign travel after next April or so .. Here is an article today in the Times of India by Rahul Celli on Vijay Kannan ..
The qualifiers for the $25K ATP India S1 satellites' first leg in Mumbai are underway. Already 4 have made it into the main draw by Saturday evening, including three Indians - Rahul Gandhi (TN), Saurav Panja (WB) and Basapparav (Kar) .. 8 more qualifiers will be determined today .. The main draw is of size 32, but due to withdrawals and not enough direct entries on file when the entry closed, there are only 16 direct entries instead of 20 now (so the qualifier draw is increased to 12) .. There are 5 Indians in the direct entry based on their ATP ranks - Prahlad Srinath, Harsh Mankad, Nitin Kirtane, Sandeep Kirtane and Vijay Kannan .. Then there are 4 wildcards, which are Vishal Uppal, Vasudev Reddy, Ravi Kiran Bhat and Vinod Sridhar .. That makes it 12 Indians already out of 24 determined to be in the main draw .. Another 4 or 5 more Indians will hopefully be in after tomorrow's final round qualifiers .. Now you can see how ridiculous some of those newspaper gloom-reports were about AITA dumping domestic tournaments in favor of satellites with ATP points and how all the foreign players would get to play and Indians wouldn't .. On the women's side, the qualifiers for the first leg of the satellites is starting today at Ahmedabad .. The direct entries for the women are in the women's satellite leg-1 results page .. Most top Indian players other than Nirupama and Uzma are there, but I was very disappointed that Manisha Malhotra is not there (I know she is still in the US at the Univ. of Tennessee, and possibly still has some classes to finish this semester) .. Results from Mumbai are in the men's satellite leg-1 results page ..
There was a nice interview with Prahlad Srinath in the Indian Express today .. Prahlad mentions something about he and Fazal being taken under the wings by Dr. Vece Paes for some management and to find some sponsorship .. That's good news.. Prahlad says he will go to the US for some coaching by Arun Jitley in Cleveland (the same coach who worked with Todd Meringoff and Andrew Rueb of the US who came for the India futures early this year, if I am not mistaken) The title of the article - "Srinath sets sight on 300-mark" .. Why not ?
Oct 10 Note-3
So the big match has finally arrived .. LP-MB lost a heartbreaker to the Woodies at the Cincinnati Super 9 in 97 August, 6-2, 6-7, 1-6 (after completely outplaying the Woodies at first and leading by a break or two in the second set, before the Woodies regouped and made the adjustments that only the kind of class veterans can make against our dudes) .. That was their 3rd loss in 3 attempts against the Woodies, the first being the loss at the Atlanta Olympics in 3 sets, and the second the 3-6, 3-6 loss at Queens in June 97 .. Ever since letting the Woodies slither away somehow in one of the biggest Houdini acts LP-MB have had to face from any opponent, the Indian Express had to wait for a long time for a chance at the again. These two teams have been in 14 other tounaments from then - USO 97, Stuttgart, Paris, Hartford, AO, Key Biscayne, Chennai, Monte Carlo, Rome, FO, Queens, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, USO .. both seeded highly in all of them, but they strangely never faced each other .. They finally meet again, and it is in the finals at Shanghai, scheduled to be in a few hours, on Sunday there. Boy, I would love to see this match! .. I have no idea which way it will go .. All I know is that our two need to come out at their best to counter the Woodies' talent and veteran experience. I am sure they will.
A lot of news to report, about today's DSCL national hardcourts finals, and the two satellites - women's at Ahemedabad and men's at Mumbai starting monday .. Comeing soon.
Oct 10 Note-2
LP-MB had a walkover today over Galbraith/Steven as Galbraith has an injured small toe .. The Woodies won the other semi .. so finally, finally .. we have got that Indian Express vs Woodies match !! .. Final tomorrow !!
Oct 10 Note-1
The finals are done at the DSCL national hardcourts .. See the results page .. Nitin Kirtane in men's, Vijayendra Laad in boys under-18, and Uzma for both women's and girls under-18 (so much for my wimpy "going out on a limb" predictions ..:-)) .. We will wait till all the newspaper reports come up in a few hours to get match reports.
LP-MB doubles semifinal is the final match of the day on the center court at Shanghai, and must have got done an hour or two back. The result has not arrived yet (in singles, #1 Ivanisevic beat Ramon Delgado in 3 toughs sets to reach the final today .. #2 Michael Chang, looking for only his second title, is the other finalist).
Oct 9 Note-3
The semifinal opponents for LP-MB were determined today - #3 seeds Galbraith/Stevens .. That sets up a great lineup for the semis at Shanghai, with #1 seeds Woodies playing #4 Black/Tramacchi and #2 Indian Express playing #3 Galbraith/Steven .. Pat Galbraith (#11 in doubles) is a great doubles player and has had good results with Brett Steven (#16), though perhaps not as good with his partner last year, Ellis Ferreira, partly because the New Zealander Brett focuses on singles a lot .. Galbraith/Steven are the 11th ranked doubles team in the world, and they lost in two easy sets to LP-MB the only time they played this year, at the Dubai semifinals in February. Go LP/MB !! .. A win would give our dudes 132 points (including 24 bonus) .. I hope that the Woodies/LP-MB matchup will finally happen after 15 months when they have been in some 15 tournament draws but never faced each other! ..
Heard from Fazal today, who is back in the US .. He had a left quadriceps injury last week at the Glasgow futures in the first round match he won. Though he played the second round there, the trainer adviced him to heal the injury and signed on an injury withdrawl from this week's Leeds futures. He had originally planned to play at Leeds and then Edinburgh next week, and were to play two indoor carpet futures in France too, which is why he had withdrawn earlier from the Indian satellites starting next week (indoor carpet is his favorite surface, and having been sent for Davis Cup to UK, he could afford to play those) .. Anyway, once he was going to miss the Leeds and Edinburgh, he tried to reenter the Indian satellites, but couldn't, since the injury report prevents him from entering tournaments before Oct 14th .. So he came back to the US, and will try to play the Northern California satellites (starting on October 19th, at four places - Danville, Redding, Carmel and Fresno) .. Now that he is back here, he may continue after that with a couple of US challengers, but will certainly go to India if he is in the team for Asia Cup, Asiad, etc.. That's the update on our #4 .. His injury is healing well, and he is practising again.
Now, to the DSCL national championship - We started with 256 men in the qualifiers and 24 in the man draw .. The 280 have dwindled, as of Friday evening, to TWO - and they will be #8 seed Vijay Kannan and #2 Nitin Kirtane .. The semifinals of the singles were all today. Men's draw: Vijay Kannan flirted with disaster today, against Vishal Uppal .. He was down a set and two break points at 5-5 in the second set .. He reportedly came up with the best two shots of the match, a screaming passing shot and an overhead smash that fell "dangerously close to the line" (according to Kamesh Srinivasan in The Hindu) .. Doing what is needed at such crucial junctures is what makes a champion and Vijay is one! .. Can't take anything away from Vishal who by all reports played dominating tennis. He had injured his ankle when Kannan did his heroics, and loset heart in a hurry to serve 3 doubles faults and lose the set in the next game .. Then, rather than taking injury break and trying to continue on, he conceded the match (which apparently he would have had to even if he tried to go on) after one game in the 3rd set .. So, Kannan is in the final against Nitin Kirtane who has played and won 4 uneventful easy matches so far. Women's draw: Arati gave it a try, but eventually nothing works against Uzma, who won her match 6-2, 7-5 .. The kid, Shruti Dhawan couldn't pull an upset over a 3rd seeded player in a row, as #2 Sai Jayalakshmi taught her a bunch of lessons in a match where he Shruti could win only one game in 2 sets .. Sai has been playing very well (lost just 9 games in 4 matches here), and seems to have improved after her European swing when she played a few weeks recently in Italy, Greece etc. I would go out on a limb and say that she *can* beat Uzma in the final (OK, that's about as far out as I would go :-)) .. Boy's under 18: Easy wins for Akshay Vishal Rao and Vijayedra Laad .. Both apparently play power tennis .. Laad is having a good coming-out party, I guess .. Impressive to beat 3rd seed Ravi Kiran Bhat 6-2, 6-0 in the semi .. AV Rao is making the Punwire Academy, Chandigarh proud I am sure .. Girls' under-18: Uzma Khan (who else) against Shruti Dhawan .. could have predicted this on day 1 and they didn't have to play the whole draw! .. Shruti will need to pull out everything she has, to avenge for her 3-set loss to Uzma in the semi of the Chennai AITA junior nationals in August and the straight sets loss in the Calcutta junior ranking tourney last December .. Shruti has improved, but I ain't going out on any darn limb here! .. Doubles titles: Rishi Sridhar and Mustafa Ghouse for men's .. Avinash Arun and Ravi Kiran Bhat for boys .. Rushmi Chakravarti and Arati Ponnappa for women's .. Puja Deshmukh nd Karishma Patel in girls .. That's it .. Check out the complete results ..
Oct 9 Note-2
The doubles finals and the singles semifinals are all done today at Delhi .. Check out the updated complete results from DSCL National hardcourts ..
Simon Chaudhary tells me that Fazal was not in the Leeds futures at all. A press source tells me that Fazal had an injury (doesn't look serious) last week and that's why he chose not to play.
Oct 9 Note-1
Just saw the second round scorecard from the Leeds Futures .. Fazal is not there, or he lost in the first round ..
At the DSCL national hardcourts yesterday, the semifinalists are decided for all the draws .. The most impressive win of the day, from all accounts, was by the two kids, Vijay Kannan (who else?) on the men's side, and Shruti Dhawan on the women's side .. Men's draw: Vijay took care of giant-killer Jagdeesh Tanwar with ease and poise in straight sets .. He faces Vishal Uppal, another Dhaita kid in the semi .. The tough loss was for teenager Harsh Mankad, who served at a match point in the second set, but lost to veteran Davis Cupper, Asif Ismail .. Harsh's talent isn't doubted by anybody, but his confidence has not been where it should be and where it once was .. Somewhere along the way, he seems to have lost a bit of the instict to finish the job .. let's hope he works hard, and gets his edge back physically and mentally. The other semi is between #2 Nitin Kirtane (who has quietly and efficiently won 3 matches dropping just 11 games), and Asif.. Boys under 18: Qualifier (and Krishnan Center product - a surprise of the tourney) Mithun Murali's dream run ended against Parantap Chaturvedi of Dhaita (this kid is showing all kinds of good signs) .. Mithun played his 3rd 3-setter but couldn't get past Parantap. The other promising 16-year old AV Rao is also in the semi, along with Ravi Kiran Bhat and Vijayendra Laad .. Based on talent and current form, these four should have been expected to get to semis, and they did. Women's: Shruti - Shruti - Shruti .. Watch out, Shruti Dhawan of Dhaita is making a run again. She was a wildcard entry, as a 16 yr old, and pulled the upset of the day in 3 sets over the 5th seed Rushmi Chakravarti who was reportedly made to run all over the place. She next goes up against Sai Jayalakshmi, who will be no easy foe, though. Then there's that permanent fixture, Uzma who had another 6-2, 6-0 whitewash (Uzma has dropped just 16 games in 6 matches in the two draws so far!) and faces 3rd seed Arati Ponnappa next .. Girls under 18: Sonal Phadke had the upset of the day here, over 2nd seed Sheetal in 3 sets .. She gets Shruti next .. Sonia Shelar is the other semifinalst who has the nightmare of playing Uzma .. Here are the complete results .. All of the doubles results have also ben added, but nothing much interesting there, except that 2/3rds of the matches have been walkovers .. I guess folks are taking off to play the quals for the men's and women's satellites next week. The only notable doubles match of the day was the men's semifinal - #2 seeds Rishi Sridhar and Mustafa Ghouse beating #3 seeds Gaurav Natekar and Harsh Mankad in a 3rd set tiebreaker ..
Oct 8 Note-4
Leander/Mahesh beat Schalken/VanLottum, 6-4, 6-3 today to reach the semifinals!! (sorry I had a wrong scoreline earlier, based on an erroneous AP report) .. The #1 seeds Woodies won, and #4 seeds Black/Tramacchi won too .. LP-MB's potential semifinal opponents, #3 seeds Galbraith/Steven have not played yet, I believe .. Go LP/MB !! .. Phew, LP played 5 sets of tennis today .. Take some rest dude! .. The semi may not be until saturday.
The National Hardcourts results have been updated with Thursday's matches .. Comments later.
Oct 8 Note-3
The Davis Cup draw was done in London a few hours back.. Here it is, for the Asia-Oceania Group-I .. India is seeded first and Japan second .. India, Korea, New Zealand and China are in the top half of the draw from where one will advance after two rounds in 1999 to the world group qualifier for 2000 next September (the teams from the two halfs do not play each other - somebody from the world group 16 losers in early 99 will be the qualifier opponent) .. India faces Korea in the first round, but Korea has the choice of ground, so we will get to go there .. New Zealand goes to China .. Korea had Yong-Il Yoon, a top-200 caliber player, but India should be able to pull it off without much trouble.
In the other half, one advances from among four - Japan plays at Lebanon and Pakistan plays at Uzbekistan. That is a tough matchup for Pakistan.
I have not seen the doubles match result from Shanghai yet..
Oct 8 Note-2
Leander lost a 3-setter to 6th seed Ramon Delgado (Paraguay, #69) just now, 6-2, 3-6, 5-7 .. It has been a long time since he lost a comeback 3-setter like that to anybody .. Well, you win some, you lose some. LP did defend the points he lost this week. He will go back up a couple of spots in the rankings. The doubles match is to be played later today out there.
Oct 8 Note-1
Leander is playing Ramon Delgado today (thursday) at Shanghai .. A press friend in the fanclub tells me that the doubles QF match is also scheduled for later today on the same court .. As for Leander and Delgado, they have met in the main draw of two tournaments according to ATP - The Belo Horizonte challenger and then the Brasilia challenger, both in Brazil in 1995 .. LP won both times, in a 3 seter first and then in straight sets .. Kim Das of the fanclub swears that there was a final round qualifier at the US Open in 94 or 95 when LP lost a close 3-setter to Ramon .. Anyway, this should be a good match. Hopefully LP will have enough left to come back and win the doubles with MB later too.
Still haven't seen any results out of Leeds, UK, on how Fazal has been doing at the Futures there.
Oct 7 Note-4
Something that normally happens, happened again today at the nationals - Vasu Reddy lost a match he had no business losing. The #1 seed in the men's draw was upset 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-2 by qualifier Jagdeesh Tanwar (a 26-year old customs officer in Jaipur, who apparently never got a chance to improve his talent, being in Rajashtan with no coaching). Two newspaper reports talk about the match turning around after Vasu laughed sarcastically after winning the first set and going up 3-0 in the second. That got Jagdeesh going and he made Vasu pay, winning 12-5 in the next 17 games .. This has been the story for Vasu .. Kamesh Srinivasan of The Hindu once said, Vasu is a "powerhouse with no control tower" - oh, so true, it would seem. His mind can lose control at any time and he can lose to anyone - and often does. So much wasted talent.
Back to the games - On the men's final-16, #2 Nitin Kirtane had an easy win .. #3 Harsh Mankad had the easiest win of the day, 6-0, 6-1 over Rohan Saikia, who many had high hopes on, not too long back, but has now reaggrevated the shoulder injury he has had for close to a year now. Vijay Kannan had no troubles once again .. S.Kannan of the Hindustan Times talks about the terrific "modern tennis" Vijay played in the match which did not become boring even though it was one-sided 6-2, 6-2 win over Shailesh Dhoble. Vishal Uppal beat Mustafa Ghouse .. Another talented kid, Ravi Kiran Bhat upset the 4th seed Anand Radhakrishnan. Four or five of the quarterfinalists in the men's section are 19 or under, and that's great to see. In the under-18 final 16, that Nikhila Natarajan calls the "happening" draw, 14 year old parantap Chaturvedi upset Rohan Saikia, and the upset artists from the first round, Mithun Murali and Avinash Arun, both won again. Vijayendra Laad's 6-1, 6-0 upset of state-mate Rohan Bopanna was notable too. 4th seed Akshay Vishal Rao moved on, and #3 seed Ravikiran Bhat beat his state-mate Nirmit Shetty.. Now that the dust has settled a bit, there is only one player left standing in the QFs of both the men's and the under-18 draws - Ravi Kiran Bhat of Karnataka..
In the women's draw, the story was two of my favorite young girls, Shruti Dhawan of Dhaita and Sheetal Gautam of Karnataka pulling upsets over the Venkataramen sisters. 4th seed Archana lost a 3-set, 3-hour duel to Shruti 8-6 in the final tiebreaker, after wasting 5 match points - Shruti converted the one match pt she got. Sheetal had an easier straight sets win over Archana's older sister, 8th seeded Arati. Shalini Thakur (Dhaita coach Balram Singh's daughter?) pulled the upset over 7th seed Reetu Sethi. The under-18 girls' draw had no big surprises - Who are left standing in both women's and girls' draws in the QF ? - three of them - Uzma Khan, Shruti Dhawan and Sheetal Gautam.
Oct 7 Note-3
The quarterfinal opponents for LP-MB at Shanghai were determined today (wednesday) .. It will be Sjeng Schalken and John Van Lottum, who beat wildcards Paul Haarhuis and J-M Gambill. The LP-MB doubles QF could be tomorrow, after Leander's singles match, or could even be on Friday.
Forgot to mention another news item from Nikhila Natarajan's article today in the Indian Express - India will have 4 challengers in the early part of 1999. Three of them will be $75K challengers organized by Paes en Sport sports event management firm of Dr. Vece Paes .. I had heard this, off the record, from Leander a while back - I guess it is official now .. Anyway, the $75K challengers will be in Calcutta starting Feb 1st week, right after the 4-week satellites in India in January. The second week will be at Lucknow (I had listed it as Bangalore in the domestic calendar here, earlier - will correct that after ATP's calendar comes out). The venue for the following week is undecided now, according to Indian Express. Nikhila also mentions a planned 4th challenger, in April, the week after the Chennai ATP tourney, by AITA and Anil Khanna in Delhi (we had one this year at Vadodara in that week). Anyway, what it all means is that, on the men's side, we will have 8 weeks of satellites, 1 week of futures and a whopping SIX challengers in India in the next 7 months, to go with the big enchilada tournament at Chennai .. In fact, recently the TennisWeek magazine from the US had a blurb about challengers becoming popular, and mentioned Paes en Sport bagging new challengers for India. The folks around the world have noticed an upswing in Indian tennis (Quick, call Doordarshan and tell them that cricket is not all we have !).
I had posted earlier today at the DSCL results page the scorecards received from today's matches at the DSCL National hardcourts (a couple of nice press friends have been helping out - thanks!) .. The Indian newspapers have had tremendous coverage of this event. I must say once again that no other country's press follows the domestic competition as closely as the Indian press does, *in the world* .. I follow the world press pretty closely in tennis and can authoritatively say this ! .. Keep that up, guys .. Now, if only we could wake up the nitwits (there, I called them one more name!) at Doordarshan about Indian tennis! .. but I repeat myself there, don't I ? -- OK, enough non-news from me. Thoughts on the nationals in the next note, coming up soon.
Oct 7 Note-2
There was some interesting news reported by Nikhila Natarajan in the Indian Express today - an invitational top-notch world league doubles event in Calcutta, right after Asiad, the week before Christmas .. This could happen, and really would be a big coup if Dr. Vece Paes and Paes En Sport, the sports event management company could pull it off .. It still does not look final, but apparently there has been positive response for this from top doubles teams like Eltingh/Haarhuis .. The teams would come if it is before Christmas, and enough sponsorship, prize money, etc could be organized. The Telegraph, Calcutta also had a report last week mentioning this .. I had heard earlier that if it does not happen in december, it will certainly happen next year ..
The Indian Express also reports that Uzma Khan has pulled out of the 4-week satellites starting in India next week, for academic reasons .. I had a press source tell me earlier that Uzma is considering college studies in the US and may need to take the SAT exam soon .. Perhaps that is what caused the withdrawal - if so, it may be a good decision in the long run.
Oct 7 Note-1
OK, the corrected ATP rankings are out. Leander stays at #87, though he has lost 17 points from Beijing last year (which will be regained from Shanghai now). Mahesh stays at #361 too. The doubles ranks show MB at #8 and LP at #9, after they lost their beijing points, and the team ranking is #3. They will lose the Singapore points by next monday, but can get both those back in 2 weeks with tites at Shanghai and Singapore. Fazaluddin, who has been inching up for a while, has made another move, up to #614, with the one point he had from the Glasgow futures. He is supposed to be at the Leeds challenger this week, but I am yet to see any scorecards from there.
At Shanghai, 7th seed Ramon Delgado of Paraguay (#69) beat Daniel Nestor in the first round to advance to second round and will be Leander's second round opponent. #5 Paul Haarhuis won the other first round match today. In the second round, the seeds 1,2, 7 and 8 (Ivanisevic, Chang, Carlsen and Woodbridge) won the four second round matches today. The other 4 second round singles matches including the Paes-Delgado match will be on Thursday. I have not seen the doubles scorecard for today yet, but I believe our guys will play their QF match only tomorrow, or may be even Friday.
Now to the hoopla - the DCSL National Hardcourts at Delhi: Yesterday (Tuesday) was the men's/boys' day with the first rounds getting underway. On the men's draw, there were no surprises with all 8 seeds advancing .. The first seed Vasu Reddy was playing after a few months and looked rusty, but won rather easily. So did #2 Nitin Kirtane .. Somewhat inexplicably, the #3 seed Harsh Mankad dropped the first set to the talented but rusty R.Gopalan, a 3rd year engineering student at Anna Univ in Chennai .. Harsh came back strong to win the next set and was up a break in the 3rd set when Gopalan conceded the match. 18-yr old Vijay Kannan who has just moved into the men's category is the 8th seed and had a straight sets win .. The impressive wins were really by the 4 qualifiers, Mustafa Ghouse, Rohan Bopanna, Rohan Saikia and Jagdish Tanwar .. These guys had played 5 round of qualifiers (though of the shortened variety) to get in, and continue to fight on .. Mustafa "Pete" Ghouse, who has a lot of admirers now for the stylish and powerful game he plays, apparently looked very good against C. Mohanty .. He could look good in one match and mess up the next one though, as he did at the Junior nationals at Chennai, where he had a double bagel win over a talented Nirmit Shetty but then let the wiley S.Zaman beat him in the next match. Here at the DSCL, he won the first round match in the men's round but lost the under-18 match .. no shame though, as the loss was to the 3rd seed in the under-18 draw, Ravi Kiran Bhatt, another talented one .. On to the under-18 draw .. The story of the day was the exploits of two kids from the Krishnan Tennis Center (a huge endorsement of the training there - the newspaper reporters say) - Qualifier Mithun Murali (TN) upsetting the first seed S. Zaman in three sets, and Avinash Arun (TN) upsetting the second seed Kedar Tembe in straight sets ! .. The two kids from Bhupathi senior's tennis village (if I am not mistaken), 3rd seed Ravi Kiran Bhat and Nirmit Shetty, also won .. So did the other 5 seeds including the the 16 year old Akshay Vishal Rao, the 4th seed (who was part of the 3-member India 16-and-under team that placed 9th in the world at Italy last month). The guy who had the worst day probably was S. Zaman, #3 among 18-and-under in India behind Vijay Kannan and Manoj Mahadevan .. He got upset in under-18, and lost his first round in the men's draw too (to Vishal Uppal the 4th seed, in a 6-0, 6-2 whitewash). Check out the complete results from Delhi .. No women's/girls' singles were played today, but some doubles were [sources: The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Times of India, Hindustan Times]
The ones missing from the competition are: Prahlad, who had withdrawn due to an injury, Vikram Venkataraghavan, and the junior, Manoj Mahadevan .. Would have been nice to see how Manoj would have done here, but I assume he is focusing on studies ..
Oct 6 Notes
Straight sets win for Leander, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) today at the $315K Shanghai Heineken Open, over #90 John Van Lottum of Netherlands .. The win gives him 20 points including 3 bonus points .. Go LP !
The full ATP rankings are still not out from ATP .. They have had press releases with the top-100 singles rankings and the top-50 doubles ranks, which are all wrong ! .. For instance, they have Mahesh dropping behind Leander in doubles at #9, with LP at #8 in one press release (with MB's Beijing points off, but not LP's) .. I have also seen another one that has MB at #8 and LP at #9 .. They show Leander to still have 545 points, which is wrong, as his 17 points from Beijing last year should be off the computer now, dropping him to 529 .. I saw somewhere that they did not play the doubles final at the Mallorca (Spain) tournament due to rain, and that it would be played at Palermo, Sicily this week before they can run the computer and get all the rankings precisely (it just so happened that the finalists at Mallorca, Rovak/Rikl and Albano/Orsanic were in the doubles draw at Palermo too .. something to do with affinity to dirt .. oops .. clay:-)) .. For the time being, ATP is giving us some wrong info (inside secret - they *do* make mistakes and quietly correct them later!). Anyway, LP has defended the points he lost from Beijing and added 3 more with his win today at Shanghai .. He will have at least 548 next week. Since the Delgado vs Nestor match has not been played on Monday or Tuesday, we will only know tomorrow, whom LP will face in singles R2 .. The doubles opponents in the QF are also undetermined as of now.
In other results at Shanghai, Ivanisevic said he "almost fell asleep" while playing (with jet-lag after his long flight to China) but still beat Brett Steven (NZL) today .. #2 seed Chang beat Lareau .. #7 Tillstrom lost to sargsian. #8 Woodbridge beat Courier yesterday (Jim Courier is once again up to his old tricks .. He took a wildcard here.. He did that at Beijing and Singapore last year too, literally taking one away from LP at Singapore .. why the heck can't he enter earlier ?).. Schalken lost to Tebbut yesterday. #3 Gambill won. Woodforde beat Wayne Black too. That's it.
The new WTA rankings show Nirupama up 3 spots at #172 .. Her Santa Clara challenger points from last week will go in only next week (actually, she had 5 points from Santa Clara last year, replaced by 8.5 points this year - so she should go up a couple more spots next week). She lost 10 points from her doubles at Newport Beach last year, and has fallen to 67 points and #245 ranking this week. The good news is that this is perhaps the lowest she will go in doubles for a while, as she has nothing much to defend for a long time. She had tralked about serious problems over the last few months in finding a regular doubles partner, which has caused her ranking to plummet from above 150 in 1997 summer to #245 now .. Perhaps Manisha Malhotra can make a move up and start travelling with her, which could be the best if it works out. They are in touch in the US now, and are great friends, but Manisha needs to really bring her singles rankings up quite a lot to make it work and be productive at the tournaments where Niru travels to. She can, if she works hard, now that she is basically done with her degree at the U.of Tennessee and is planning to try the pros for a while (I hope) .. She took a good step by reaching the finals of the Southseas futures in UK a few weeks back and bringing her singles rank up by almost 300 spots ! .. I am told their games really do complement each other's, with Manisha also being an aggressive player, with good net touch to go with Niru's baseline abilities .. Most of the other Indian women rankings remain the same with Archana Venkataraman (#659) as the #2 Indian in WTA behind Niru and Manisha (#689) at #3 .. Jahnavi Parekh picked up 0.75 points somewhere (I guess either Japan or Britain satellites/futures) and moved from 840 to 801 ..
Oct 5 Note-3
A ton of news and results from New Delhi to report - from the DSCL National Hardcourts which is where everybody is this week .. The first round of the women's and girl under-18 draws are done, with hardly any surprise worth noting .. The qualifiers of the men's and boys draws' are also determined .. The list of qualifiers and the complete results from today onwards are at the Hardcourt Nationals results page .. Check it out ..
Quite a few girls are playing in both the women's and girls' draws .. Some results of note: Uzma Khan won easily in both the under-18 and the women's draws, in both of which she is the top seed (no surprise, nobody has beaten her in ages in India and only Manisha Malhotra has come close) .. A couple of newspaper reports say that Uzma looked a bit "unfit" and "bulky" (their words, not mine! :-)) - but that didn't seem to matter ! .. Shruti Dhawan had an easy win in the women's first round, but had a difficult time with a 3rd set tiebreaker in winning the under-18 match against the qualifier Harsimran Kaur (who, by the way, has pulled some upsets lately, notably the upset of the #2 seed Sheetal Gautam at the junior nationals at Chennai in August) .. The seniors' matches were all easy 2-sets affairs, with all the seeds winning - only #4 and #8 seeds Archana and Arathi Venkataraman sisters had even tiebreakers in their wins .. #2 sai Jayalakshmi, #3 Arati Ponnappa, #5 Rushmi Chakravarti etc are others who won .. Lisa Pereira and young Radhika Mandke are the only qualifiers to win in the women's draw .. In bad losses of note, both Padma Pritham and Vishnu Pritham of TN had 6-0, 6-0 losses, which must hurt (though against two good opponents, 3rd seed Arati Ponnappa talented youngster Sheetal Gautam) ! .. In the under-18 draw, three seeds (#5 Kameshwari Vadali, who is reported to have looked strangely nervous, #7 Geeta Manohar, AP, and #8 Vishnu Pritham) .. The qualifiers to advance in the girls' draw are Sonal Phadke (Mah) and Y.Lakshmi Reddi (AP) .. In a strange coincidence or twist of fate, Geeta Manohar lost to Sonal Phadke in both the women's and girls' events !! .. The scorecards I have seen show Geeta as a seed in the under-18 with Sonal as a qualifier, and the in the women's draw Geeta is shown as a qualifier and Sonal as a direct entry .. I have no idea what the deal is, with that .. Anyway, tough luck for Geeta .. Seven girls are into the final-16 of both events [sources: The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Times of India, Indian Express]
The boys' and men's events start Tuesday.
Oct 5 Note-2
Hmm .. funny .. ATP just changed the draw they had posted earlier for Shanghai singles. I had noticed that something looked messed up when they had Carlsen seeded above Delgado, even though his ranking was a spot below Delgado's last week (the previous week's rankings are always used for seeding). Carlsen is now the 7th seed and Tillstrom in the bottom half is the 4th seed .. Anyway, the corrected draw for LP, with this week's ranking is:
3-Jan-Michael Gambill (USA,48) vs WC-Yu Zhang (CHN,819) \ Sjeng Schalken (NED,80) vs Michael Tebbut (AUS,123) / \ Leander Paes (IND,87) vs John Van Lottum (NED,90) \ / 6-Ramon Delgado (PAR,69) vs Daniel Nestor (CAN,96) /
Thanks go to Vas Param, for alerting me to the change .. Already Gambill and Tebbut have won their matches (on Monday).
Oct 5 Note-1
Things have moved fast today at the Heineken Open in Shanghai .. LP/MB have already won their first round doubles match !! .. They played Ben Ellwood (Australia) and Sargis Sargsian (Armenia) in the first round and defeated them 6-4, 7-5 .. Now they await the winner of Jan-Michael Gambill and Paul Haarhuis (I guess Eltingh is still in Netherlands, spending time with his newborn son) vs Sjeng Schalken and John Van Lottum.
The Woodies are the top seeds in doubles and LP/MB are the #2 seeds .. Here is the draw lower half of the doubles draw:
M.Tebbut(AUS)/J.Tillstrom(SWE) vs Qualifier/Qualifier \ 3-P.Galbraith(USA)/B.Steven(NZL) vs J.Courier(USA)/J.Gimelstob(USA) / \ J-M.Gambill(USA)/P.Haarhuis(NED) vs S.Schalken(NED)/J.VanLottum(NED) \ / 2-M.Bhupathi(IND)/L.Paes(IND) d. B.Ellwood(AUS)/S.Sargsian(ARM) /
In Woodies' half of the draw the #3 seeds are W.Black/Tramacchi, with Keil/Middleton as another good established team .. Therer is also an interesting wildcarded old pair, Michael Chang playing with his brother ! .. It is not a very tough doubles draw for our guys, but Galbraith/Steven are a team that looked very good at the start of the year, though they have tailed off a bit after that ..
Leander plays John Van Lottum (#90) of Netherlands in the first round - the match should be tomorrow (Tuesday) .. Here is the draw till the semis for LP (upper half, which also has Ivanisevic as #1 and Gambill as #3 seeds):
4-Kenneth Karlsen (DEN) vs WC-Yu Zhang (CHN) \ Sjeng Schalken (NED) vs Michael Tebbut (AUS) / \ Leander Paes (IND) vs John Van Lottum (NED) \ / 6-Ramon Delgado (PAR) vs Daniel Nestor (CAN) /
It is not a tough draw, in the sense that there are no top-20 or top-50 players here .. However, 22-year old Ramon Delgado of Paraguay has had a tremendous year, coming up from around #125 to #66 .. Along with Leander, Ramon is one of the guys who has beaten Sampras this year, if I am not mistaken. Carlsen has been playing well again after so-so results for a while last year .. LP has a win over Karlsen the last time they met, a big upset at Beijing in October 1995 ..
By the way, very strong singles field there at Shanghai - surprising and perhaps the strongest I have seen for a tournament with $315K prize money .. The top seed is Goran Ivanisevic and the 8th seed is #66 Ramon Delgado (Paraguay) .. The main draw closed at around #125, six weeks back .. Doesn't that make you wonder why a $405K tournament in Chennai that spent much much more on appearance fees had trouble getting even eight or nine top-100 players and had a main draw closing at #160 ?? .. May be they spent too much time trying to get Becker ? .. sorry about digressing .. I don't let any chance go in taking digs at the Madras tournament, ever since the Aussie guys who ran the show (and the few Indians who stood watching) decided not to give a wildcard entry to Srinath ..
A correction: Mahesh beat Lie Xie in the second round of the qualifiers Saturday, not Lu Zie, as I reported ..
Indian news: The qualifiers at the DSCL national hardcourts at Delhi has been going on in full swing .. It seems there are 16 qualifiers into the main draw for men, and we were down to 32 on Sunday (it started with 256 people) .. Uzma Khan is the top seed in the women's singles, as well as the under-18 singles ! .. Women's Qualifiers: S Anitha (TN), Sumitra Rao (TN), Anisha Shellar (Mah), Lisa Pereira (Mah), Radhika Mandke (mah), Y Lakshmi Reddy (AP), Geeta Manohar (AP) and Nikita Bhardwaj (Guj) .. The girls under-18 qualifiers: Kasturi Bhatt (Mah), Sonal Phadke (Mah), Jitisha Shelakar (Mah), Nikita Bhardwaj (Guj), Rani Smita Jain (Raj), Harsimran Kaur (Chand), Sumitra Rao (TN) and Y.Lakshmi Reddy (AP) (source: Times of India) .. The wildcards into the men's draw are, Ashutosh Singh and Chandrashekhar Mohanty of Delhi and Chennai's VN Premprakash (apparently a full time coach now) and Rajkumar Gopalan (source: Indian Express) .. Sanzaruz Zaman is the top seed in the boys' under-18 (which means Vijay kannan is only in the men's draw, I guess), with Rohan Bopanna, Kedar Tambe, Akshay Vishal Rao and Mustafa Ghouse, also in the mix .. Mustafa has reached the men's qualifier final round too .. Harsh Mankad, Vasudev Reddy, the Kirtanes, etc are in the men's draw.
We were told that Fazal would not be at DSCL earlier - now we get even worse news .. Prahlad Srinath has withdrawn as well, due to a twisted ankle he sufferred in practice a couple of days back, according to Deccan Herald .. Not clear if that means he will miss the satellites starting next week. If it's a twisted ankle, he could probably recover by then, but an unfortunate time for that.
Oct 4 Notes
Talked to just about the only person who seemed to speak English (the ATP tour supervisor) at the $315K Shanghai ATP tounament office .. They were all nice and helpful out there though .. Anyway, the news isn't good .. Mahesh just lost the final round of the qualifiers to Michael Kohlmann (#111, Germany), 1-6, 5-7 .. MB had easily beaten a Chinese player, Lu Zie in the second round, 6-0, 6-2 yesterday .. He had a first round bye in the qualies. The last time Mahesh played Kohlmann was at the Kyoto challenger in Feb 1997, when it was a straight sets win for MB, but Kohlmann has got him this time. MB is 3rd in line for a lucky loser spot, but chances are low that there will be three withdrawals. He will be playing doubles with LP (probably 2nd seeds, if the Woodies go there as was reported in Chinese newspapers earlier).
.. Previous notes at Weekly Notes, ending Oct 5 ..