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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Oct 16, 2000

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The new week's notes have started on wednesday 18th (link above), after a break of three days as I was away  ..

Oct 15 Note-1

There it is! Title #16 for LP-MB !!! .. At the $700K Japan Open, M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. #5 M.Hill/ J.Tarango, 64 67 63 .. In the first set, it went with serve all the way before the Indian Express picked up the timely break in the 9th game and wrapped it up .. In the second set, our pair was broken in the 6th game, and they were down 2-5 soon .. They broke back in the 9th game and then forced a tiebreaker, though they could not win that .. In the 3rd set, our guys quickly broke their opponents in the second game and went up 3-0 .. LP-MB again dropped serve in the 5th game to fall back on serve .. They were not ready to give up yet, as they went after a break in the 8th game which took a while to finish .. Our boys did the job in the end to go up 5-3 there and serve the match off in the next game! .. The match took 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete, and seemed not to be an easy affair by any means.

Great job winning 5 matches in a row, including beating the 8th, 2nd and the 5th seeds .. The title gives our boys $44,500 to share, and 250 entry points .. They keep their stellar record in finals where they have only lost about 5 times out of about 21, from my sleepy memory (it's 3.15 am here folks; I better go to sleep!) ..  The Indian Express is baaackk!!

Oct 14 Note-2

The final at the Tokyo Open, LP-MB vs Hill-Tarango, is at about 3 pm there on Sunday .. There will be game-by-game score updates .. So come on down to our chatroom; let's follow the match and celebrate the first title for our boys in a long time! .. That is 12.30 pm India, 7 am London, 2 am New York, 11 pm Los Angeles ..

Oct 14 Note-1

The $700K Japan Open in Tokyo is the 5th tournament for LP-MB in their second life together -- and this was their second semifinal in that stretch (they reached SF at Long Island earlier), having lost in the first round twice (US Open, Hong Kong) and in the second round once (Olympics) .. Today it was back to business and they moved on to the final, beating a couple of good baseliners - L.Paes/ M.Bhupathi d. N.Massu/ A.Sa, 63 46 62 .. According to an agency news item, "We played another good match. They are not a typical doubles team, but they are very good baseliners, they both hit the ball very big from the baseline, and I think we did well with our volleys," said Paes .. "Especially in the third set, we volleyed really well, we were like a wall at the net.That's the way we got better. "I'm happy about reaching the final. I hope this is not the last one," said Paes .. "We've been having some troubles winning matches," said Bhupathi. "But this week, we had a lot of close matches, so I think we have a lot of confidence now. "We are very happy, because it's the first final this year. We've played only in five tournaments. We are playing well, we have a good chance," he added.

That puts them in their first final since Hartford last year, and first final in a regular ATP tour event since last year's US Open .. They face Jeff Tarango and Michael Hill in the final tomorrow .. MH-JT beat the top seeds Arthurs-Hrbaty in three sets in the other semi today .. This should be interesting, Tarango being one who is known to hate Leander Paes (he lost to LP-MB sometime and did not appreciate being beaten, I guess :-)) .. LP-MB played Tarango last time at the French Open final in 1999, when they beat him and Ivanisevik for their forst grand slam title .. They had also beaten Tarango and Raoux at the US Open in 1997 ..

Reaching the final gives LP-MB some good points (175 entry points, or 35 race points) .. This brings their team rankings up inside the top-60 in the world .. A title will give them 75 more entry points, $21K more to share over the $23.5 they have made so far, and place them inside the top-50 .. LP-MB used to have a very good record in the finals during their earlier life - let's hope it all comes back again.

At the DSCL National Championships in Delhi, Sunil Kumar's 12-match win streak in the senior section (going back to the qualies in last year's DSCL) came to an end against the 5th seeded wily veteran, Nitin Kirtane .. Nitin won the final, 61 64 57 62 .. Sunil had 10 break points and converted three, and Kirtane had 13 break points of which he converted 8 .. So, it seems like Nitin successfully managed to keep Sunil from playing big at the bigger points .. Sunil apparently got a bit tired by the end and that helped Nitin too .. Regardless of this loss, I am very happy to see Sunil reach the final .. Will certainly help his confidence as he goes back to the junior ITF tour and later into some of the ITF futures in India .. 'I was confident from the very beginning. Also, the fact that I had beaten him once helped me lot. My fitness helped me a lot in this victory,'' said Kirtane after his triumph .. He also had a word of praise for the 17-year-old loser. "I would like to give him credit for playing a very good match. He is certainly a player for the future,'' he said .. [source: agency news at Rediff.com] .. Congrats go to Nitin for pulling off the double crown .. The Kirtanes never go away .. Just when you think they are over the hill, one of them would remind us that the younger guys can still learn a thing or two from them! .. The women's title was won in a whitewash by Rushmi Chakravarti, who seems to have been in terrific form the whole week, beating a lot of good players .. Rushmi took out top seed and defending champ Sai Jayalakshmi, 41 41 41 .. It's puzzling how the extremely talented Rushmi does so well in domestic events and has had so much trouble in the ITF satellites abroad .. As for the boys, right from the beginning, I felt rather sure that Rohan Gajjar would do something impressive here .. And unseeded 16 yr old did do what was needed to upset the second seed Parantap Chaturvedi and lift the u18 title today .. Rohan won 64 26 75 .. The girl's u18 title went to second seed Radhika Tulpule, who beat the top seed Sonal Phadke, 64 57 64 .. It's always a toss-up between these two girls, but it's nice to see Radhika playing well, after being troubled for several months by a tennis elbow injury .. It will be fun to see all these women go at it again next week at the Gwalior ITF satellite .. As for the DSCL championships, things aren't done there, as they move on to the u16 and u14 events next week  .. See all of this week's results in our DSCL results page and check out the dsclopentennis.com site with their excellent coverage, pictures, notes, etc

Actually there are some very insightful comments worth reading at the "potpourri" section of that official DSCL site .. I particualrly liked them pointing out how far Indian women's tennis has come, with somebody like the Russian Anna Nefedova who used to trouble everyone in Indian satellites just a couple of years back, losing in the qualies of this tournament (she came early for the satellites and challenger coming up in Delhi and wanted to play DSCL for practice), and then having to sit and applaud the Indian girls who were playing the main draw! .. There is also a comment from Nandan Bal out there where he talks about how talented 13 year old Sania Mirza is, though he felt she should cut down on the tournaments and find more time to work on her game as well [probably true, though it may be better for our players to go out early into the ITF circuit and learn how far they need to develop physically and otherwise to compete with the juniors aborad, and THEN work on their game rather than the other way around] .. The story at the official site about Sunil Kumar sportingly asking the umpire to reverse a call and let them replay a point though he had won that point against AV Rao, and the umpire allowing it even though it may have been against the rule, was nice!

Oct 14 Note-1

The Tokyo Open web site just showed the score for the semifinal and LP-MB is listed as the winners, though with a score of 36 64 26 .. I assume the score is a mistake, and the result is a 63 46 62 win for our guys -- If so, that is great news .. First final since last year's Hartford !  Yeah! .. The other semifinal is later this evening there, between #1 Arthurs/ Hrbaty and #5 Tarango/ Hill, after Hrbaty gets some rest time (he lost the singles semi to Lapentti earlier)

Oct 13 Note-2

LP-MB are playing the first match on show court 1 saturday at 12 noon at Tokyo.

At Delhi, the youth march ground to a halt in the women's draw with Sai somehow pulling through in 5 sets after a spirited comeback by Shruti, and with Rushmi beating Radhika in four sets .. So it will be a repeat of last year's final .. On the men's side, Sunil Kumar continues his unbeaten streak in the men's section .. In today's semis, he "upset" 2nd seed Vinod Sridhar in three sets, in a match of left-handers .. The 17 yr old reportedly has often not been at his best in the tournament, but he does seem to play the big points better than his opponents and show flashes of brilliance often .. Veteran Nitin Kirtane, also a left-hander, beat Rishi Sridhar to reach the final .. In the u18 section, unseeded 16 yr old Rohan Gajjar of Maharashtra upset 4th seed Kamala Kannan, after recovering from the brink of defeat in the second set after being down a break at 4-5 .. I am getting a good feeling about Rohan Gajjar .. Do we have a good young prospect in him ? .. Let's hope so .. He will play 2nd seed Parantap Chaturvedi in the final .. No surprise in the u18 girls' section final, as old foes Radhika Tulpule and Sonal Phadke face each other again .. All the doubles finals were done too .. Only the singles finals remain tomorrow .. See the DSCL results page.

Oct 13 Notes

Seems like old times - seeds falling like nine-pins in front of the runaway train called the Indian Express .. The second seeds bit the dust today, following the 8th seeds yesterday in Japan .. L.Paes/ M.Bhupathi d. #2 J.Bjorkman/ D.Prinosil, 64 75 in the quarterfinal in the $700K Japan Open in Tokyo .. Our pair now faces the qualifier pair, Nicolas Massu (CHI) and Andre Sa (BRA) in the semi .. Massu and Sa seem to have entered the draw as a qualifier after the #4 seeds withdrew (?), and thus got a first round bye, following which they beat Pala-Vizner and then Haygarth-Levy (who had upset the 6th seeds in R1) .. I don't expect Massu-Sa to be all that tough a pair for our guys to get past .. We will see .. Good times are here again, almost ?? .. I am beginning to smell a bit of it.

Oct 12 Notes

LP-MB had a good match today, "upsetting" the 8th seeds in the second round (hey, with their current rankings, most wins are "upsets" :-)) - M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. #8 P.Kilderry/ P.Tramacchi, 64 36 64 .. I guess they had one of their traditional second sets, but they also did the old thing about closing it out in the 3rd .. Cool! .. They have a much tougher match in the quarterfinals though - against the 2nd seeds J.Bjorkman and D.Prinosil  tomorrow (Friday) ..

At the DSCL national championships, there were some very interesting matches today .. Based on the dsclopentennis.com website, Shruti has upset the 4th seed Sonal Phadke today in the women's draw QF! .. It's so nice to see such a strong comeback by young Shruti .. Sai and Rushmi advanced too, the latter beating 15 yr old Megha Wakharia in a 5-setter [boy, is the competition in the women's side intense or what, these days? -- so tough to say who will beat whom, and when, among about 5-6 of these girls .. it's great] .. Top seed Vijay Kannan, reportedly recovering from jaundice or chicken pox, was upset by 8th seed Rishi Sridhar in the men's draw .. 6th seed and 17 yr old defending champ Sunil Kumar had a pretty good win over 3rd seed Vishal Uppal in straight sets .. Sunil seems to be at it again - I was beginning to worry about him based on some of the junior results, but perhaps he is one who plays to the level of his opponent and raises or lowers his game according to the situation .. It's still tough to get a read on Sunil if one looks only at his results .. 16 yr old Rohan Gajjar, who had let such a big match slip against semifinalist Rishi in the men's draw first round, came up with the goods against the top seed Shivang Mishra in the boys u18 quarterfinal .. Qualifier N.Mukundan's upset of 3rd seed P.Ravikrishna was also notable in the u18 draw .. Radhika Tulpule has been quietly doing her job, as she moved into the semis of all three draws she has entered - women's, u18, and women's doubles .. Sonal also is in the u18 semifinal .. See the DSCL results page.

Oct 11 Notes

Leander's short run ended today at the $700K Tokyo Open against #103 Andrei Gaudenzi .. 36 26 .. Still a promising tournament, as we at least saw him beating a top-200 player .. He did get some match practice in singles and may have got a bit of confidence back .. He got 15 points from this outing, which would move his ranking up from the current 161 to close to 150 .. If he can pick up a few more points somewhere (will need qualifying at most places) by December and move up to about 135 or so, he has a chance to get a direct entry into the Chennai Open in the first week of January .. He has about 100 points falling off for two challengers in last december (Lucknow, Jaipur) but the Chennai entry will close just before that .. It would be good for him to make the direct entry for Chennai, as that would free up a wildcard spot .. Next week is an off-week for LP and MB as they stop over in India and proceed by the weekend to Basel, Switzerland .. LP will next play singles at the qualies in Basel over the Oct 21-22 weekend .. Depending on how they do in doubles, he may also play the qualies at Stuttgart masters, Lyon, Paris masters or Stockholm which are the 5 events remaining for LP-MB this year before the WDC in Bangalore ..

LP-MB are scheduled to play their second round match tomorrow evening (Thursday) in Japan, against the 8th seeds Kilderry and Tramacchi.

The story at the DSCL Open yesterday was the terrific match between the 8th seed Rishi Sridhar and the 16 yr old qualifier Rohan Gajjar .. Rohan had three matchpoints, serving at 5-4 in the 3rd set, but a couple of errors and an unlucky netchord followed by a poor tiebreaker did him in .. Rishi is one of those guys who showed good signs during the satellites earlier this year when he finally started showing a lot of confidence and fighting spirit (Rishi has reached QF today, after beating a very good Rohan Bopanna in straight sets, 64 61) .. It's very impressive of young Rohan Gajjar to play that kind of a match against Rishi .. According to newspaper reports, he just ran out of stamina in the end and lost all sting on his serve .. These are the kind of matches that teaches a youngster what work needs to be done .. Rohan was close to tears, but rather than cry over the lost chance, he will hopefully learn from it .. Not much else of significance from yesterday, as things went pretty much according to script .. See the DSCL results page for scores.

According to the dsclopentennis.com site, there were no big surprises in today's second round matches either, except for 3rd seed Liza Pereira making amends for her upset loss in the u18 section, with the big upset of the 3rd seed Archana Venkatraman in the women's draw .. 13 yr old qualifier Sania Mirza lost in the second round to 2nd seed Rushmi Chakravarti, and Shruti Dhawan advanmced after a gruelling 5-setter against Jyotsna Vashisht .. All the top 8 seeds are into the QF in the men's section, including Vijay Kannan and Sunil Kumar .. Vijay will face some tough challenger from Rishi Sridhar tomorrow .. In other matches of note, Samrita Sekar took out 13 yr old Sanaa Bhambri in the u18 section today .. Sonal, Radhia, and Megha are the only ones to reach QF of both women's and u18 girls draw .. No player has reached the QF of both the men's and u18 boys draws .. Will update our DSCL page soon.

October 10 Notes

The Tokyo trip has started well for our pair so far -- in the first round today, L.Paes/ M.Bhupathi d. E.Taino/ C.Woodruff, 64 62 .. I know no details, but it looks like an easy match for the Indian Express .. They next face the 8th seeds Paul Kilderry and Peter Tramacchi in the second round (round of 16) .. In the second round of singles, Paes will be playing Andre Gaudenzi (ITA,103) who beat the 16th seed Christophe Rochus (BEL,65) in three sets yesterday .. LP is scheduled to play wednesday at about 4 pm .. The second round of doubles will be on Thursday .. [a correction -- I said yesterday that Mathieu who beat LP last week was a Swede .. Brainlock .. He is a french man, of course!]

At the DSCL Open yesterday, things generally went as expected, except for unseeded 16 yr old Megha Wakharia "upsetting" 13 year old 5th seed Sania Mirza in the u18 draw .. Not an upset at all, as Megha is among the best in that age in India, and is actually the 6th seed in the women's section already (Sania is a qualifier into the women's draw) .. The women's draw is played with the new scheme of 5 shortened sets -- Jyotsna Vasisht upset the 8th seed S.K.Tara there .. I am not sure I like that new scheme that ITF has started experimenting with this year .. But it's a good idea to give our players some experience with that format in a domestic tournament, which I like .. Sheetal Goutham, seemingly never getting a break in the draw, went up against the resurgent Shruti Dhawan in the women's draw and lost in 4 sets .. There is so much competition in thge girls' and women's draws with all these upcoming players .. In the u18 draw, Along with 3rd seed Sania Mirza, 3rd seed Liza Pereira and 4th seed Nandita Chandrasekhar also fell .. Nandini Perumal, known to have some good athletic talents finally put together a great match to upset Liza .. C.Nandita's inconsistency continues, as she fell to Ankita Bhmabri .. Ankita's 13 yr old younger sister Sanaa, also one to watch out for, has qualified into the u18 draw, by the way .. Top seed Sonal and 2nd seed Radhika are also through to the second round in u18 .. Only 5 matches were done in the women's draw yesterday .. In the men's draw, qualifier Vijendra Laad's upset of Manoj Mahadevan (in a 3-stter, as is almost always the case with talented Manoj's losses!), and Vishal Uppal played a great match to beat former national champ Asif Ismail 61 64 .. Rohan Gajjar and Amanjot Singh are two young qualifiers into the men's draw, who were to play today, along with top seed Vijay Kannan and 2nd seed Vinod Sridhar .. 6th seed Sunil Kumar won in the round 1 too .. In boys u18, the 6th seed CS Mohanty was upset by Siddharth Sharma .. Rohan Gajjar won, and Anant Sitaram gave a good fight before losing to 3rd seed P.Ravikrishna .. See our DSCL results page.

Today, according to the dsclopentennis.com website, qualifier Amanjot Singh lost to second seed Vinod Sridhar in the men's draw .. Top seed Vijay Kannan won over P.Ravikrishna in R1 too .. In u18 girls, 13 yr old qualifier Sanaa Bhambri totally killed a pretty good player, Nivedita Venkatesh, 62 60 .. Hmmm! .. Not much news yet on the rest of the women's draw R1 matches .. I will update our DSCL Open results page later today with those.

Oct 9 Note-2

Here is the AFP article, giving LP the headlines for his win today, as at yahoo.com .. As the top 8 seeds have first round byes, no big matches today, and LP got the headlines .. The match was delayed by 6 hours with rain, and LP had to rush back from the hotel and just about make it when his match was called .. He hardly got warm-up time, actually!

I have started the results page for the DSCL (That is DCM Shriram Consolidated Ltd.) Hardcourt Nationals - take a look .. You will find latest score updates during the day, etc, at the nice official web page, dsclopentennis.com ..

Oct 9 Note-1

Finally, we have a win!! .. Yes .. Leander has restarted his singles thing .. Today in Japan, he was facing the 3rd Swede on his return to singles after several months off .. Tillstrom had beaten him at Sydney, and then Mathieu had beaten him last week in the Hong Kong qualies, both in straight sets .. Today it was another Swede, and LP came through -- Lander Paes d. Fredrik Jonsson (SWE,181), 76(6) 63 .. This is the first win for Leander on the ATP tour ever since the win over Federer in the qualies at Indian Wells back in March .. His last wins were actually in early April in the Davis Cup against Korea .. He had lost 5 singles match in a row after that .. The win gives Leander 15 entry points .. More importantly, it's good to know that LP has not forgotten how to win a match in singles .. His next round opponent will be determined tomorrow, I believe .. LP-MB first round doubles also should be tomorrow .. Actually there is a website for the event (thanks, Danker for the info!) - check out the official site .. I had seen some pages at the Japanese Tennis federation site and had said there was no proper website, but those are not the official pages it seems.

At the $50K Albuquerque challenger, Nirupama reached the doubles final with her latest partner, Lisa McShea with a 63 36 64 over J.Embry/ K.Grant, but then lostthe final yesterday 46 46, against Brie Rippner (USA) and Elena Tatarkova (UKR) .. Lisa McShea was a bit off-color yesterday, and dropped serve once in each set - perhaps because they moved the final to an indoor court, due to rain .. Anyway, Rippner seems to be in great form there winning the singles title as well (with a 60 60 win over #89 Vento in the final, following on her 61 61, 61 61, 62 62, 63 60 wins in earlier rounds -- she must be on some serious spinach diet! :-)) .. As for Niru, she defended the points she had last year from the final at Albuquerque .. And this was the 7th doubles final of her career, in the company of 7 different partners (4 titles) .. Actually she has reached semi or better 12 times in challenger doubles, with 10 different partners! ..  Niru gets about 40 WTA points and the team gets $1500 to share for the runner-up finish .. With the $800 from one singles win, Niru made decent money this week .. Niru is skipping the Mirmar challenger in Florida this week, as it would need a one-week change of surface to clay from hardcourt .. She will be back on the tour next week at Largo, Florida ..

First day's news, as well as weekend qualifying news from the DSCL hardcourt nationals coming soon .. 13 yr old Sania Mirza qualified into the women's main draw yesterday .. 17 yr old defending champ in men's, Sunil Kumar, who had expected to play in an ITF junior event in Japan, changed his mind and has entered the men's draw as a wildcard.

Oct 8 Note-2

 Looks like LP made it in as a direct entry and not as a wildcard, based on the draw -- Here are the singles and doubles draw at the $700K Japan Open:

 1 Gustavo Kuerten (BRA)   vs    Bye                     \
   Nicolas Massu (CHI)     vs WC Satoshi Iwabuchi (JPN)  / \ _ QF
   Leander Paes (IND)      vs    Fredrik Jonsson (SWE)   \ /
16 Christophe Rochus (BEL) vs    Andrea Gaudenzi (ITA)   /

8 P.Kilderry/ P.Tramacchi   vs   A.Calatrava (ESP)/ A.Prieto (BRA) \
  M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes        vs   E.Taino/ C.Woodruff               / \ _ SF
  A.Gaudenzi/ O.Stanoytchev vs W H-T.Lee/ Y-I.Yoon                 \ /
2 J.Bjorkman/ D.Prinosil    vs   Bye                               /
Relatively easier first round encounters, but I have no idea about LP's and MB's form in singles and doubles right now, so no predictions :-)

Still waiting for any news from Albuquerque for Nirupama from the doubles semifinal and hopefully the final.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Oct 9 ..

I am getting some enquiries from US college coaches who are interested in Indian junior players .. I would like to be able to contact Indian players (some of the coaches are enquiring about specific names) .. If any of the junior players are reading this, please contact me .. Or if any of the other readers know the contact emails/address for any junior player, let me know .. I would like to have a mailing list where I can post general announcements and enquiries from the coaches too .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan.