Notes for week ending on Oct 13, 1997
(Last week's Notes) (Next week's Notes) (Notes Index)
Oct 13 Note-1
The news rankings show two Indians in the world top-10 in doubles, with a team ranking of #4. Leander is now at #10 with 2402 points and Mahesh is at #9 with 2501 points. This means that Patrick Galbraith could not add enough points to his point total to keep Paes at #11 (he probably had some points to defend or had a big point total in the 14th best tournament that the new 275-odd points replaced...anyway, it doesn't matter). Ferreira/Galbraith is now at #6 below Lareau/Obrien and have gone above Lobo/Sanchez at #7. We will watch how Fer/Gal do at the $725K Lyon tournament this week where they are the #1 seed. If they win the title or something, they *can* jump over Lareau/Obrien and our duo to #4. They are facing a very good team in the first round, Randall/Waite. In the meanwhile Seb Lareau has been in the challenger singles circuit and so O'Brien has had to find different partners at all these tournaments. O'brien is playing with Jones at Lyon, so he can only add to his individual points, not to the team points.
Oct 12 Note-2
Need to qualify that line below about Leander cracking the top-10. It actually depends on what happens to Ferreira and Galbraith at the Vienna CA trophy tournament where they are playing the finals today against an unseeded team. Patrick Galbraith is a few points behind Mahesh at #10 currently, and may stay there if they win the title.. will know soon about today's doubles finals at Vienna. Leander should surely be at least #11 next week. Even though the Vienna tournament is a $675K tournament, as opposed to the $550K tournament at Singapore, both apparently give the same points (250) for the title winners. LP/MB have picked up a few more bonus points though, as the win over Leach(#11) and Stark (#20) with a sum-rank of 31 gives them 24 bonus points (they have 6 bonus for beating Kulti/Tillstrom, 3 for Ondruska/Stafford, and 6 for Reneberg/Suk). The individual ranks also depend on how many points in the current best-14 are replaced by the new points; so it is difficult to predict. Leander should have around 2400 points and Mahesh should have about 2500 points in the best-14 totals after this (we will make a list of our duo's best-14 results sometime soon and post it at this site)...
The prize money at Singapore is about $45,000 that these two will share. Leander will go over $400K earnings this year, and Mahesh should be at around $275K (These totals do not include mixed doubles earnings, as ATP does not count them in their totals and do not give points for those.. Mahesh has an extra $30K from the French Open title). Leander should quite easily make more this year than his career earnings of $425K in the previous 6 years in the tour ! Contrary to the common perception, Leander did not make all this money from doubles alone. About $175-200K so far has come from singles, which itself is much more than what he made from both singles and doubles last year. As for Mahesh, he has made many-folds more money this year than he did last year.
Oct 12 Note-1
Sixth Title.. Eight game win streak.. Team rank up to #4.. Leander moves up to #10 behind Mahesh at #9... The Hot streak continues.. looks like it was a ho-hum easy match for them.. against the #2 seed and the world #10 doubles team.. wow !..Here is the report from Arvind Kumar from Singapore:
Leander and MB convincingly beat Rick Leach and Jonathan Stark 6-4, 6-4 to win the title. At the end Jonathan Stark perfectly summed up when he said, "They are on a hot streak and were too tough for us." If ever there was a one sided match in this tournament, this was it. Stark was broken in the 5th game of the 1st set and Leach in the 3rd game of the second set. There were no other service breaks. Leander again showed his skill in lobbing when he lobbed a series of smashes taking them on the volley close to the net. Mahesh Bhupati had 4 aces to Leander's 3. Bhupati's fastest serve was clocked at 191 kmph though there was a fault which he served at 199 kmph. He also consistently served at around 185kmph. The pair is now currently ranked 4.
Oct 11 Notes
The ever-so-reliable Arvind Kumar has promptly sent the report from Singapore.. Beautiful win for LP/MB, and Hello ! Another FINALS !!! Looks like the best "lob artist" in the business, Leander, was at it again.. and Mahesh was up to his Mah-Ace tricks too.. Arvind says:
LP-MB WIN !! ... Mahesh Bhupathi began by holding his serve but the pair were down 1-3 after Leander was broken. Leander won a brilliant point by covering the gap just in time and went on to break Kulti to make it 3-3. Leander served an ace in the next game. The next game saw a point where the duo under the mercy of Kulti and Tillstrom recovered with a beautiful lob by Leander which to the surprise of everyone went right through an apparatus hanging from the roof containing clocks, speakers, lights and screen without touching it and landed correctly. They however lost the point but it was just one of the points where Leander Paes showed that he could control the ball by lobbing and placing. Bhupathi had an ace in the ninth game while down 15-30. The first set went into the tie breaker and the duo went up 5-0 which included a point which had Kulti muttering in disbilief at Leander's lob. Finally Bhupathi finished it off with a breathtaking point which had the crowd on its feet applauding them. Mahesh served 6 more aces in the next set, 3 of which were off successive points. Down 4-5, Bhupathi came up with another ace and in the very next game Kulti's preference to smash a ball heading out proved costly as his smash was blocked by Leander. Kulti followed it with a double fault and Leander served out the match to win 7-6(7-4), 7-5.
Arvind also reports that the opponents in the final will be the #2 seeds Rick Leach and Jonathan Strark. They got a walkover from Kiefer/Radulescu, as Kiefer had injured his wrist a bit, and didn't want to take any risks as he is playing the singles final tomorrow. So the classic #1 seed vs #2 seeds tomorrow !
Oct 10 Notes
Not much news today, as the doubles semis at Singapore are both on Saturday and only the singles quarterfinals were played today. Three sweded (Gustafsson, Johansson, Tillstrom) and the young 20 yr-old German sensation, Kiefer won the quarterfinals today. That means both Keifer and Tillstrom will be playing singles and doubles tomorrow.
The doubles semifinals draw is:
1-BHUPATHI/PAES vs. KULTI/TILLSTROM \ Q-KIEFER/RADULESCU vs. 2-R. LEACH/STARK /
A couple of comments on the semifinal opponents for the Dynamic Duo. Kulti is ranked #13 and forms a top doubles team with Bjorkman. Tillstrom's ranking is only #108, but this is perhaps the most glaring example of the deficiencies in ATP's ranking system. Tillstrom is an extremely good doubles player, who has played only SIX tournament the whole year ! (There is nobody in the ATP top 150 who hasn't played at least 12 or 13 tournaments).. And Tillstrom has two titles in those 6 tournaments. One at the Ivestor Swedish Open where he played with, guess who.. Kulti. That places the Tillstrom/Kulti team at #100. Tillstrom has another doubles title, at the RCA championships at Indianapolis too.. that time with Michael Tebbut. There Tebbut/Tillstrom were qualifiers.. and they went on to post probably the most amazing set of wins in a tournament this year.. they beat Leach/Stark, Broad/Norwal, the Woodies (!), and then Bjrokman/Kulti in the finals (thewins against the Woodies and Bj/Kulti were straight sets, that too..). Cleaned up 400 points and Tillstrom/Tebbut is ranked the 41st team in the doubles team rankings. Tebbut and Tillstrom went their own way after that, and Tillstrom went back to playing singles ! Tillstrom is part of two different teams in the doubles top-100, and the guy has played just 6 tournaments. So, don't for a minute think that tomorrow's semis will be easy for our guys. Hope they can pull, through.
Here is a picture of Mahesh and Leander doing the "hear no evil" thing in sync.. (courtesy: The Electric New Paper, Singapore)
We should have the score and match report from tomorrow's semifinal within a couple of hours after the match, from our main man there, Mr. Arvind Kumar.
Oct 9 Notes
They keep rolling on ! Into the semifinals now. The quartefinal win over Ondrusaka/Stafford makes sure that they will be the #4 team in the world in next week's ranking ! Here is the match report filed fast by Arvind Kumar at Singapore:
Leander and Bhupati won their second round match against Ondrusska and Stafford 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Stafford was broken in the third game of the first set and again in the 7th game when Paes returned at an acute angle and Bhupati finished the game with a pass. Up 5-2, they lost the very next game when Paes was broken. This game had a point where Leander recovered to return a lob but the 2 double faults were the deciding factor. Bhupati sent down booming serves and finished the set with an ace. MB and LP broke to go up 1-0 and Bhupati continued where he had left off in the previous set starting with an ace. But the next two games that they got to serve, they lost and it went into the 3rd set. Another break in the second game served by Ondrusska and some charged up tennis by Leander put them up 3-0 ahead. In the 5th game they were down 15-40 but Bhupati's powerful serve made it 4-1. At 5-2, Leander gave a display of what serve and volley was. Every point was won that way in this game. Stafford held serve but Bhupati dished out another ace and Leander closed the issue with a backhand volley.
Not sure whom they will face in the semis. Make it a six game win streak now; but their 5 game streak of not losing a set was broken today.. We can live with that !
A quick note on the Davis Cup draw: If India beats Italy in Italy, the next opponent will probably be Australia in Australia.. If they can somehow pull an upset there, the probable opponent in the semis will be USA in USA..
Oct 8 Notes
The Davis Cup draw is out for the world group final 16 in 1998. India faces Italy who are seeded 6th among 8 seeded teams. The tie will be in Italy. It should be on clay, as most Italians are good clay specialists. India should be rather happy with th draw, as Italy is certainly not an unbeatably strong team. Gaudenzy (#74), Martelli, Furlan (#83), and Pozzi are all darn good players of top-100 quality, but since Italy does not have a top-10 caliber player, India does have a chance to pull an upset if Leander and Mahesh raise their games like they do in Davis Cup ties. Note though, that Brandi and Messori of Italy (ranked #28 in the world as a team) have pulled off one of only two doubles wins against Mahesh and Leander by teams not ranked #1 or #3 in the world, since they started their 38-5 tear over the last few months (They beat LP/MB at Wimbledon, but grass has quickly proved to be not our duo's favorite surface..). Clay is a good surface for LP/MB, as they proved at Pribram where they pulled a doubles win against a pretty good Czech team.
The doubles quarterfinal draw at Singapore is set now:
1-BHUPATHI/PAES vs ONDRUSKA/STAFFORD \ KULTI/TILLSTROM vs WHEATON/WILKINSON / \ Q-KIEFER/RADULESCU vs 4-L. JENSEN/M. JENSEN \ / WC-JOHANSSON/RIOS vs 2-R. LEACH/STARK /
Another win will move our guys up to a #4 spot, pushing Lareau/O'Brien down a spot. One more win should give Leander enough points to jump to a #10 or #11 spot.. Mahesh's ranking will probably not move up after this tournament. The maximum possible points from Singapore seems to be about 290, which includes 24 bonus points for a potential finals win over Leach/Stark.. Even that will leave the Dynamic Duo about 10 points below Kafelnikov/Vacek at #3.. but, let us not look that far ahead yet. The QF is against a very good team of Ondruska and Stafford. Go LP/MB !!.. By the way, unlike what I expected, Leach/Stark seems to have come ready to play. They had a 7-6 (8-1), 6-2 win over a tough Eagle/Florent team. Woodforde has had a terrible trip to Singapore, losing in the first round in singles after being seeded 4th, and then losing to Wheatopn/Wilkinson in the doubles first round as well (yes, Woodforde is quite mortal when Woodbridge is not with him, as most great doubles players often are without their usual partners).
There is a report that most probably Mahesh will NOT be going to Ostrava next week. This means Leander will not go there either (as it is unlikely that he will squeeze into the singles main draw, not sure of that.. not much news reports about the Ostrava tournament yet). It may be a good idea for both to get back to India and take a few days of rest before going to Stuttgart for the singles qualifiers next weekend. Despite their wins, they have both been not 100% well after the flue and stomach problems last week and a rest will help.
Oct 7 Note-2
Arvind Kumar reports from Singapore on LP/MB winning their first round match today..(Great rally in the tiebreaker, from 1-5 down!):
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati beat Richey Reneburg and Cyril Suk 6-4, 7-6 (9-7). From the very first point they made their intentions clear when Leander returned a winner. They lost that game but Mahesh won on his serve which included an ace. Cyril Suk serving in the next game was broken by Leander and Bhupati who saw to it that the rallies did not last more than 5-6 shots. It was great watching Bhupati returning smashes by picking them on the volley. After the next few games going with the serve, it was Reneburg's turn to be broken in the 9th game. Mahesh bhupati held his serve in the 10th game which included a point which looked like it was heading for Leander's face but was finished off by him! The second set saw many games going against the serve. Reneburg, Bhupati and Cyril Suk were all broken before Leander held serve to see India going 3-1 up. Bhupati was broken again to allow their opponents to catch up at 3-3 but the duo broke Suk immediately to go into lead. Bhupati was broken again while leading 5-4. the next two games were also broken and in the tie breaker, Reneburg and Suk went into a 5-1 lead before Leander and Bhupati fought back to 4-5 and then 6-6 before finally winning 9-7. They now face Ondruska and Stafford who beat Keil and Middleton 7-6, 6-7, 7-6. Their match is on Thursday. In the meantime, Chang crashed out losing 6-7, 6-7 to defending champion Jonathan Stark. So the whole tournament has taken a beating as it is being marketed here in Singapore solely on chang's name.
That makes it a 5 match win streak and a 21-2 record in 23 matches for them.. Arvind also reports that the qualifiers into the doubles draw are Keifer and Radulescu. Wonder if Gimelstob/Rikl withrew from the draw, since I saw a report that Keifer/Radulescu d. Tebbut/Tramacchi yesterday.. It could have been the qualifer final match... Anyway, add two more top singles players into the doubles draw there. Something seems to be attracting a lot of people who don't regularly play doubles to the doubles competition there !
Oct 7 Note-1
Our fan-club representative at Singapore, Mr. Arvind Kumar, made it to the arena last evening.. He talked to an official out there, who claims that Leander would have received a singles wildcard had he confirmed his entry.. If the official is right, it all looks like a comedy of errors now. Arvind says Leander and Mahesh had not arrived in Singapore by the evening. Check here for a report or two later from Arvind Kumar, who has to work during the week and may not be able to attend all the matches. Thanks, Arvind !... More later..
Oct 6 Evening Notes
Mahesh has cracked the ATP doubles Top-10 at # 9 !! Leander moved up to #15. Actually, there are a few guys just above Leander, and he can jump over them to a spot right behind Mahesh if these two have a good tournament at Singapore as well. The team ranking remains at 5.. Leander's singles ranking moved up to #103. That may help him in squeezing into the singles draw at Ostrava next week.. more on that later..
The doubles draw at singapore is as below:
1-BHUPATHI/PAES v. RENEBERG/SUK \ ONDRUSKA/STAFFORD v. KEIL/MIDDLETON / \ 3-JONES/O'BRIEN v. KULTI/TILLSTROM \ / \ WC-DRAPER/WOODFORDE v. WHEATON/WILKINSON / \ Q-QUALIFIERS v. GIMELSTOB/RIKL \ / BARNARD/B. BLACK v. 4-L. JENSEN/M. JENSEN / \ / WC-JOHANSSON/RIOS d. WC-BEHRENS/P. MCENROE \ / EAGLE/FLORENT v. 2-R. LEACH/STARK /
Todd Woodbridge was expected to be here with Mark Woodforde, but he isn't. So Mark is playing with another good Aussie, Scott Draper.. O'Brien has another new partner this time.. not Courier.. It is K.Jones (who normally plays with Davis).. Nicklas Kulti is also there, but his partner Bjorkman isn't. All of a sudden Rios has decided to play doubles; this time with Johansson.. Of course, the American travelling fun-show pair, the Jensen brothers..There are some patchwork teams here, but also lot of great doubles players. Familiar teams from Beijing are there on our Duo's quarter of the draw. Both the first round and the possible second round teams for LP/MB are certainly not easy cupcakes.. If I were to make a bold prediction, it will be LP/MB and Eagle/Florent in the finals (but a prediction means nothing in tennis normally)... Leach and Strark are a great team, but they are playing together after a little while..
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 !