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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Oct 19, 1998

(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index)

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 19 Note-2

Our fanclub member, Raina Luk, sent the draw for the Hong Kong challenger .. She was at the courts today and met Leander, who was watching the Nestor match today.. Here is the draw (with winners of the Monday matches):

1-Leander Paes (IND)           vs Thomas Shimada (JPN)       \
  Rogier Wassen (NED)          d. Takada Mitsuru (JPN)       / \
  Marcos Ondruska (RSA)        vs Melvin Tong (HKG?)         \ / \
7-Michael Tebbutt (AUS)        d. Paradorn Srichaphan (THA)  /    \
3-Daniel Nestor (CAN)          d. Petr Pala (CZE)            \    /
  Ryuso Tsujino (JPN)          vs Petr Kralert (CZE)         / \ /
  Jonathan Stark (USA)         vs Jim Thomas (USA)           \ /
5-Justin Gimlstob (USA)        vs Yong-II Yoon (KOR)         /
6-Dennis van Scheppingen (NED) d. Wayne Wong (HKG)           \
  Oscar Burrieza (ESP)         d. Ben Ellwood (AUS)          / \
  Satoshi Iwabuchi (JPN)       vs Andrew Town (USA)          \ / \ 
4-Laurence Tieleman (ITA)      vs Cecil Mamiit (USA)         /    \
8-Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)         vs Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)      \    /
  Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR)         d. Jamie Holmes (AUS)         / \ /
  Kalle Flygt (SWE)            d. Yaoki Ishii (JPN)          \ /
2-Mark Woodford (AUS)          vs Karsten Braasch (GER)      /

Leander has a very nice draw, and Mahesh has a tougher one. It is easily one of the strongest fields we have seen in a 50K+H challenger .. The cancellation of the Beijing tournament originally scheduled for this week has caused some of the players who are in Asia to go to this challenger. The winner gets 70 ATP points, the runner-up gets 50, and the Seifinalists get 30 each. I am surprised not to find any Chinese player with a wildcard there. After all, Hong Kong is in R.O.China ..

Oct 19 Note-1

Just heard that LP will be playing Thomas Shimada (#685) of Japan in the first round at the Hong Kong challenger .. Shouldn't be a tough match for him. Mahesh is down with fever and high temperature (apparently he had it for a couple of days, but it got even worse in the plane to Hong Kong) .. His draw is not too kind either - he has to play the young Aussie phenom, Lleyton Hewitt (#137 last week, but will go up a bit this week after his wins over Delgado and Gimelstob at Singapore - he took a set off Rios in the Qf, but then lost).. I believe Hewitt is seeded, which is usually the case for MB's first round opponent anywhere! - Let's hope MB has quick recovery by Tuesday evening and goes after the kid .. Lleyton created big news in January, winning the Adelaide title in Australia, beating guys like Spadea, Woodforde and Agassi ! .. At the age of 17, he is still learning the ATP tour and loses a few matches, though his talent shows in the right tournament where he can beat anyone .. As for Shimada, he is much better known for doubles than singles .. The courts are lighting quick at Hong Kong, I am told.

Oct 18 Note-3

The report on the match from Nirmal Shekhar in The Hindu is not flattering, to say the least .. He says this was the worst performance he had ever seen from LP-MB .. In fact he quotes coach Rico Piperno's words - "Awful, they were awful" .. Wonder what made them "sleep-walk" through this match .. Ate some bad "satay" or something for dinner last night ? .. :-) I hope they will just forget this match and move on. It's one thing to play your best and lose a close one when you get outplayed .. It's another when you stink up the place .. because you know you just didn't play well, and you can write it off .. LP was all praise for how well the Woodies played, though.

Here is a tidbit to cheer everyone up .. The Singapore Straights Times had an article a couple of days back about the lady who was in charge of the movies in the players lounge at the Heineken Open .. German-born Kristine Schmidkunz, a 52-year-old mother of two .. The article says, Schmidkunz's big satisfaction is that some of the players who had been here before remember her from previous years .. She said: "Some of the players, like Leander Paes, and some of the coaches. They will come up and say hello and I get a kiss. I went to the Australian Open this year and saw some of them there, and they came up to ask me 'what are you doing here?' So that's nice." .. This is one thing we often hear, about how Leander charms the people at the tournaments.

The qualifiers at the second leg of the ATP stallites got done today at Hyderabad, and as at Mumbai, 10 of the 12 qualifiers are Indians, the other two are Ben Guzdelak of Britain and Gerhardt "underarm-serve" Fahlke of Germany, who qualified last week too. Among the Indians, Saurav Panja, Avinash Arun, Mustafa Ghouse, and S. Zaman are repeat qualifiers from last week. Otherwise, it will be the same cast of characters there, except for Vishal Uppal withdrawing due to that leg injury suffered at the DSCL hardcourt national finals. His wildcard spot is given to under-18 DSCL champion, Vijendra Laad - the kid richly deserved the good gesture .. He had to qualify last week but won a round at Mumbai. The Hindu reports that 4 of the main draw players have not arrived yet, and one of them must be Andy Fahlke, the top seed at Mumbai, since the published top-8 seeds does not show him and Prahlad is the top seed. If any player does not report, more guys from the final round qualies could get in as lucky losers .. It has been raining heavily till the quals started but the newly laid hardcourts are doing fine.. Check out the Men's satellites leg2 page for quals results, etc.

At Pune, the second leg of the women's satellites is also all set to go. Again, as at Ahmedabad, there were no qualies, and all the 9 entries to the qualies were placed in the main draw (32-size this time, no byes as in leg-1). Have not seen the full entry list yet, but the 8 seeds are the same as at Ahmedabad. Janaki Krishnamurthi is the new top Indian player to enter the tournament. Jahnavi Parekh was expected there, but was a no show at sign-in.

Sharda Ugra's article in The Hindu gives some indication that AITA is finally doing something about the Asiad .. Seven players have been informed that they are probables for selection for Asiad - Archana Venkataraman, Rushmi Chakravarthi, Shruti Dhawan, Janaki Krishnamoorthy, Jahnavi Parekh, Sai Jayalakshmi and Manisha Malhotra .. 2 spots are already set for the team - Nirupama and Uzma .. All have been asked to fill out paperwork but nobody knows how many will be in the team. Also, what criteria would be used. Sharda mentions how Jahnavi Parekh may have spoiled her chances by not appearing in the satellites or at the DSCL hardcourts. Arathi Ponnappa already is not in the list. I would hope the one player whose lack of presence in the satellites would not be held against her, would be Manisha Malhotra. After all, it was just last month that she reached the final of a $10K satellite in Britain upsetting 2 seeds and picked up 7 WTA points, which is more than the maximum (five) that anybody can get after the 4-week Indian satellites.. Her top-20 collegiate ranking in the US should also count. Sai and Rushmi have certainly had the best results in India lately. Sharda also writes that the players now seem to be welcoming the idea of these satellites replacing the domestic tournaments .. Nice to see that - for a while I was feeling that I was the only one who felt the international events were a good idea by AITA, with all the players and press criticism going around !

Oct 18 Note-2

Not a good day today - actually the worst day in about two years .. Here's the onsite fanclub member report from Prasenjit Basu: Monday's Shanghai result was reversed rather emphatically, 6-2, 6-3 today. Our guys began weakly again -- like yesterday -- and were quickly down 0-2 after MB's service was broken. They began to fight back around the fifth game, by putting Woodforde's service under some pressure. But in game 8 (LP serving), our guys were quickly down 0-30 and 15-40 before Leander came up with some spectacular play to even it up at deuce. They couldn't convert 4 advantages, and the Woodies put it away on the sixth deuce ... The second set was much more evenly matched, but our guys were again under pressure in game 8 (LP serving). Woodforde again came up with some spectacular play to break after one deuce, and then held his own serve (for the loss of one point through a double-fault) to end the match. So Mark managed to carry away some silverware after Rios had beaten him earlier in the afternoon, 6-4, 6-3, in the singles final. The Aussie cheering section actually outnumbered us vociferous Indians, and the crowd seemed marginally to favour the Aussies ... Our guys didn't click today (and lost at least 4 points on coordination failures -- e.g., both shouting "yours" or "mine"), so they've lost their stellar record of never having lost an ATP Tour final ..

How bad was this loss ? .. Well ..This was the fewest games won in a doubles match by LP/MB since ..uh.. oh, I don't know .. I can't even remember ! .. Actually it's their wirst loss since January 1997 at the Australian Open where they lost to Pat Cash and Petr Korda, 6-3, 6-2 - so far back, that one of those players no longer plays on the tour .. :-) ... [they had an injury walkover in the first set at Dubai in Feb 97 which doesn't count] .. The worst two losses since then have been to, who else, Woodies, 6-3, 6-3 at Queens in June 97 and 6-3, 6-3 to, (some Aussies again) Arthurs and Tramacchi, at NewHaven this July (on the day that LP beat the other legend, Pete) .. These Aussies do know how to get to our guys, huh ?..

But, they had just gone 10-1 in their previous 11 matches, and a bad day was bound to happen .. Also, they had gone 11-0 in their first 11 regular ATP tour finals (not counting Hartford), and a loss had to happen - I prefer that streak getting snapped by Woodies, not by some no-names .. It is not a bad thing for such streaks to go away, as they can put unnecessary pressure on a team .. The Indian Express record for this year: 42-10 .. 15 tournaments, 6 finals, 5 titles, 6 semifinals, 3 early round losses .. Truly remarkable records .. They have proven that they can beat anybody and that last year was no fluke .. Let's keep on keeping on, and they will find themselves right on top soon. As for now, they both move up one spot to #7 and #8 next week with Ferreira dropping below them. I think they still have FlyDu, Woodies, Bjorkman, and Nestor ahead even though those last two are ahead only by a few points. A good showing at any of the remaining three tournaments - Stuttgart and Paris Super 9s and the Kremlin Cup will place them at their well-deserved #5 and #6 as they have virtually nothing to defend now (the 80 pts from Stuttgart-97 is already not in MB's best 14 list, and LP has 45 pts to replace it with, when it falls of after this coming week). Keep the heat up, Indian Express !!

Oct 18 Note-1

They seem to have quietly changed the schedule at the Singapore ATP tournament site .. Now they show the doubles final to be *after* the singles final, as is normally the case.. that means it won't be starting till at least 90 minutes after the singles final, to give Woodforde some rest .. Should be 6 pm or something there when the doubles final gets going .. Not sure if the TV coverage in India is live or not ..

Oct 17 Note-3

Good news - Prahlad Srinath won the first leg of the Indian ATP satellites at Mumbai today, beating Danai Udomchoke easily, 6-2, 6-2 in the final .. PS gets 21 circuit points (and about $750) and Danai gets 15 circuit points (and about $525) .. If PS ends up with about 40-50 circuit points after 4 weeks and places in the top-4, he will earn at least a good 20+ ATP points .. Hopefully it will be even better with a couple of finals and may be a title or two more, placing him right at the top with some 40+ ATP points in the end.. Go Prahlad ! .. Even more good news - Sandeep and Nitin Kirtanes won the doubles title over Zoltan Borockzy (Hungary) and Johan Hede (Sweden) - 7-5, 6-3 was the score .. They get 15 circuit points and about $400K to share. Great job by all, at Mumbai.. See the final complete results at the Men's satellites leg1 page.

The LP-MB doubles final on Sunday seems to be scheduled *before* the singles final, according to the tournament website, which is very rare in ATP tournaments .. If correct, the start time will be 2 pm at Singapore (around 12 in India?)

Oct 17 Note-2

Hey, just last week we were talking about how the Woodies and LP-MB didn't get to play each other for so long .. Now they can't seem to get away from each other ! .. The Woodies beat Gimelstob/Stark in three tough sets, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 tonight to advance to the final .. Looks like they really wanted to get back at the Indian Express .. Alright, now it's "all systems go" for another great doubles final, and the Singapore fans are going to get their money's worth. Even better, I am told that the final may be televised in India on cable (ESPN?) ! .. That means we will be at the chatroom, and those of you in India are expected to bring us live updates .. :-) .. I will post the time for the finals here and on the chatroom, as soon as we find out.

Incidentally, last week at Shanghai was surprisingly the first time in three years (!) that both the singles and doubles finals had the #1 and #2 seeds, in the ATP tour ! .. To follow that up, we don't have a single seed in the final four at the $675K Vienna tournament this week (Bjorkman/Rafter, Ferreira/Leach, Johnson/Montana, etc .. all lost early) .. How about that ? .. Anyway, the Woodies and the Ind Ex are doing their part. A win in the final would be worth $46K to share and 299 total points for our boys.  I believe LP and MB will both move up a spot in doubles rankings as of now (Ferreira moves down), and may be 2 or 3 each with a win tomorrow.

Oct 17 Note-1

Another final .. another final .. another final ! .. LP-MB won a straight-setter against Andre Pavel (Romania) and Sargis Sargsian (Armenia) today .. Sarge (he hates being called that, I believe), ranked 215 and and Pavel, ranked 298 in doubles, seemed to have clicked here, or they wouldn't have beaten the 3rd seed Lareau and Nestor ranked 16 and 5 .. They played LP-MB close, but that wasn't enough .. Here are the reports from two onesite fanclub members at Singapore (isn't it nice to have Arvind, Prasenjit and Kim out there ? - thanks guys!) ..

Arvind Kumar writes: "Leander and Mahesh beat Sargis Sargsian and Andrei Pavel 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 after a disastrous start. They were down 1-4 after MB was broken in the second game. None of their shots were good and no point lasted more than 2-3 shots. Andrei Pavel was broken in the 7th game and that was the turning point. There were terrific reflexes by LP at the net. The tiebreaker was a thriller too. The second set was dominated by LP and MB. The break came in the last game. The woodies' match hadn't yet begun when I left the stadium. However, Mark Woodforde will play the final tomorrow against Rios and the doubles final is scheduled after the singles final. LP and MB were cheered on by a crowd of around 1500!" ..

Prasenjit Basu writes, "They beat Sargsian-Pavel, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 to make their second consecutive final in the Singapore Heineken Open. The Woodies are on court at the moment against Stark-Gimelstob (who looked strong in practice on the adjacent court); Mark will also be tired after winning a gruelling 3-setter against Sjeng Schalken earlier this afternoon (0-6, 6-4, 6-3), getting craftier as the afternoon wore on. LP-MB practiced hard on the adjacent court while the singles was on, and Woodforde avidly watched their doubles match (alongwith Woodbridge) for some tactical pointers for tomorrow's final. Rios was absolutely spectacular in demolishing an in-form Jim Courier in the other singles semi-final (6-2, 6-1) ... Now to our guys. They were clinically professional in the second set, but looked a bit tentative at the start of the match. Pavel held serve with some difficulty in game 1, but Mahesh was quickly broken in game 2. Leander served exceptionally well to make it 3-1, and they finally broke Sarg's serve in game 7. After that it went with serve, although our guys began winning their service games with relative ease (especially when LP was serving), while putting their opponents under pressure during their service games. LP, in particular, had some superb passing shots, and both were retrieving well at the net. Sarg began by double-faulting the opening point of the tie-break, but LP did the same to give back the mini-break at 3-3. They got the mini-break again on 7-6, and closed it out in spectacular fashion with some strong net-play on set-point ... The second set saw our guys adopt a fairly clinical approach, as they played within themselves through the set -- ensuring consistent rather than brilliant serving. Sargsian served the final game, and our guys took the bull by the horns, racing to a 15-40 lead. On match-point, Leander's service return (off Sarg's first serve) was the strongest of the match, and it was all over. In comments afterwards, both said they were ready for the final regardless of the opponent, although they were cognizant of the fact that Woodforde would be tired after his singles engagements. They were especially appreciative of the vociferous cheering section spread around the stadium (of which I was, like last year, a vocal member!). Here's to another easy win tomorrow!" ..

Still have not seen the result for the other semi, which we will see soon. This win gives our guys 179 points (only 4 bonus points so far) and about $25K to share .. A win in the final will give them 75 more points (plus 45 or 12 more bonus depending on whether it is Woodies or Gimelstob/Stark in the final) .. Go LP-MB !! .. By the way, how about Mark Woodforde, at the ripe-old age of 33, playing all this great tennis ! .. and doing well in singles too, which he has not done for a while this year. Apparently Goran Ivanisevik made some not-so-serious comments about Mark getting old, at Wimbledon after beating Mark .. Woody mostly laughed it off, and got revenge over the "young" Goran out at Singapore yesterday. Not much bad blood between them, though.

Forgot to mention the women' satellite winner yesterday at Ahmedabad, though I had updated the results page .. It was Rushmi Chakravarti, who beat Sai Jayalakshmi in 2 sets.. From the newspaper reports, neither played a great match, and it was going to go to whoever made the fewer errors ! .. The doubles final was postponed during the second set due to rain .. See the women's satellite leg-1 page (there is also the circuit points for the top-8 there, as given in Indian Express)

Oct 16 Note-2

Yes !! .. Prahlad is in the final, after beating 3rd seed Frederico Rovai of Sweden 6-1, 7-5 .. Guess whom he plays in the final ? .. The kid from Thailand, Danai Udomchoke.. Prahlad, I am sure remembers his loss to Danai in the Thailand satellites last year, though he beat Danai in the next leg out there (see the Nov 8 and 14 Notes from 1997) .. Danai upset the 4th seed Johan Hede of Sweden. He is talented, for sure. In the doubles semis, Sandeep and Nitin Kirtane got a walkover from Andy Fahlke and Patrik Erhardt today and are in the finals. They face Boroczky and Hede in the finals. See the results at the Men's satellite leg-1 page ..

Oct 16 Note-1

Andrei Pavel and Sargis Sargsian upset the 3rd seeded Canadians, Seb Lareau and Dan Nestor in three sets at Singapore today, to advance to semis and face LP-MB tomorrow ..

There was some interesting drama yesterday in the quarterfinal at the Mumbai satellites between Srinath and the German, Gerhard Fahlke .. Fahlke tried all kinds of dirty tricks (may be he also subscribes to the ideas in the book "winning ugly", by Agassi's coach Brad Gilbert) .. Had his pals, Patrik Erhardt and couple of German players in the stands heckling Prahlad .. Fahlke tried serving underhand, treated Prahlad passing shots with a "volley of not-so-polite German" (so writes Sharda Ugra of The Hindu), and stood on the service line to receive serve, etc .. Sharda writes, "the next time Fahlke stood on the service line to receive, the 24-year-old from Mysore swung his racket hard, directing his volley straight at the man across the net. It missed by very little but Srinath, usually the most mild-mannered of men, was not yet spent. He ticked Erhardt off asking him to be quiet, called for ITF supervisor Luigi Brambilla and demanded that the players on courtside be asked to leave" .. Anyway, Prahlad, who had briefly got distracted to fall 0-2 down in the second set before all this, chose to go after the German, and simply beat him with better tennis, winning 6 of the next 8 games ! .. Later Srinath said, "There's no point in putting up with stuff like that, a lot of the times the Indians do. He was just trying to play on my mind - I lost focus for a while but you can't let things like that affect you" .. That's the spirit, PS ! .. No need to be meek against these kinds of mindgames that Indians sometimes lie down and take .. Don't let anyone come into our neighborhood and sit on us ! .. It's one thing to be gracious hosts (and all foreign players who tour India talk about how well people treat them), it's another to put up with .. uh .. crap.

In other news, Jahnavi Parekh (among the Indian top-5), who missed the first leg, is expected at the second leg of the women's satellites starting in Pune with the qualifiers over the weekend .. Saw a newspaper report that Patty Murren of the US who was originally expected to be the top seed at Ahmedabad but was a no show, is the top seed at Pune too. I assume that will change and we should basically have the same players as this week, with perhaps a couple of additions/subtractions as direct entries. The Indian Express had a nice article today with some interview comments from Uzma Khan .. She is excited about leaving for the US soon (I believe she may be enrolling in mid-year in January at some college here, if her SAT exam and all that go well), and wants to play as much of top competition and undergo good coaching while at US.

Oct 15 Note-2

LP-MB won the doubles QF today, 6-3, 6-3 over Ketola/Tieleman.. They are in yet another semifinal. They face the winner of Lareau/Nestor vs. Pavel/Sargsian next (that match is on Friday) .. I believe the semis will be played only on Saturday .. The Woodies face a tough Gimelstob/Stark team in the other semifinal.. LP and MB are both in the draw for the $50K+H challenger in Hong Kong next week for singles.. MB does not have to worry about playing quals etc over the weekend.

At the women's satellites leg1 at Ahmedabad, 6th seed Rushmi Chakravarti beat Orawan Wongkamalasai of Thailand, 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-1, after being down and about to lose it at a match point, serving at 4-5 in the second set ! .. She is in the final to face #3 seed Sai Jayalakshmi who beat Shruti Dhawan .. Shruti gave her a better fight than last week at Delhi, but went down in straight sets. See the complete results at the Women's satellite leg-1 page.. The complete results at the Mumbai Men's event, as reported earlier, are at the Men's satellite leg-1 page ..

So, what are the details of the WTA points from these women's satellites ? .. Here they are.. These $20K satellites ($5K each week) are very rare (there are only 2 or three such satellites in the whole ITF calendar this year). International Tennis Federation calls it a "developmental satellite circuit", meant for participation by players in a region. Not much prize money and even less points, but one can get WTA points to make that first move up the charts .. The first three weeks give no WTA points at all, but one can get "circuit points" based on the number of wins. At the end of the first three weeks, the circuit points are added up and the top 16 are picked for the masters week (no qualifiers for the 4th week). The WTA points are awarded solely based on the 4th week's performance, and are equivalent to the points from a one-week $10K futures event such as the ones in Mumbai and Delhi in February-March this year (i.e., 5 pts for winner, 4 for runner-up , 2 for SF, 1.5 for QF and 1 for final-16 - that means, if you qualify for the masters week's draw of 16, you will get at least a point for WTA rankings) .. In a way this is an ideal way to replace the domestic circuit, because, they are effectively 4 tournaments giving Rs 2 lakhs prize money each, but in the end the best few women would end up with some WTA points too. As we saw at Ahmedabad, there are only 3 foreign players in the draw, and normally with this prize money and the very few points one can get, there will not be more than 5 or 6 foreigners. We can see why there was really not much basis for all the media (and players') criticism of AITA on replacing closed domestic tournaments with these satellites .. It was based on a fear that this would be filled with top foreigners and Indians would not get to play.

What should be done is to have one such satellite circuit every year,but to follow it up with three or four $10K futures to then get the domestic players more exposure to tougher international competition. AITA did a good thing in organizing this circuit, but badly goofed in not offering the women any futures events. After all, one doesn't get better without playing good international competitors. I wish the $75K challenger in delhi were split into two $25K challengers and a couple of $10K futures.. Oh well, perhaps we will do better next year. As it stands, the $75K challenger will have a main draw closing at about WTA #200, with even the qualfiers filled with top-300 or 400 players. That is a tough jump for the few who do well in the satellites to make even if they get wildcards into the quals and main draw...

The men's satellite circuit is similar except that the ATP points at the end can be up to even 45 or so, for the one placed at the top .. Normally the top 4 will get over 20 ATP points, and the top 8 or so will have more than 10-15 points .. The final ATP points and standings are based on overall circuit points, not just the masters (4th) week, though. The entry to the 4th week reduced, and it is a smaller draw, however..

Oct 15 Note-1

Prahlad Srinath is in the semis at the Mumbai satellite leg !!.. He beat Gerhardt Fahlke of germany, 6-2, 6-4 today .. Sandeep Kirtane lost in the QF to 3rd seed Frederico Rovai 6-2, 6-0 .. 17-yr old Danai Udomchoke (Thailand) who upset the top seed yesterday, did it again, over the 8th seed Leysek of Solvak Rep. today .. 4th seed Johan Hede of Sweden is the 4th semifinalist - he meets Danai next, and Rovai meets Prahlad .. Yes, cream does rise to the top in the end.

No news from Singapore yet, on LP-MB quarterfinals against Ketola/Tieleman this evening ..

Oct 14 Note-3

Leander also lost 5-7, 1-6 to Martin Damm (CZE, #70) today at Singapore on what Nirmal Shekhar of The Hindu reports to be possibly the slowest indoor carpet ever in the ATP tour .. LP just hates those slow surfaces and gives it up unless it is a Davis Cup match or something .. Reportedly his heel injury was bothering him .. Arvind Kumar, our onsite fanclub member reports: "The LP-Damm match wasn't one sided as the score suggests. The first set could have gone either way. In fact, it was LP who first broke Damm to go ahead 3-2. LP was all over the place chasing everything. Damm broke back in the 8th game and again in the 12th to clinch the set. LP saved one break point in the 12th but imeediately double faulted and lost the next point. LP seemed to lose fire after he was broken in the 2nd game of the second set. LP held serve in the 4th but was broken again in the 6th game. Damm had several aces (I didn't keep count but my guess is 10 to 15). The final score was 7-5, 6-1" .. By the way, despite those erroneous wire-news scorecards (and even a wire story that talks about MB showing the door to Tillstrom) which showed up at the ESPN, CBS and Yahoo sites, MB did lose today, 1-6, 3-6 as we reported here .. Nirmal Shekhar talks about Vijay Amritraj (doing TV commentary there) lamenting about arriving a half hour late and basically missing all of MB's match ! .. Others who did well at Shanghai like Michael Chang (winner at Shanghai) and Ramon Delgado (semifinalist) also lost at Singapore .. All seem to talk about getting tired .. Anyway, all the players that Asians wanted to support are out at Singapore. By the way, Nirmal Shekhar ought to get rid of that irritating habit of not giving LP and MB the title space of the article .. Heck, if you are reporting for an Indian newspaper, you talk about the Indians first, OK ? .. His reports are usually good though.

Sandeep Kirtane and Thailand's Danai Udomchoke (told you to watch out for him!) were the heroes today at the Mumbai ATP satellite second round .. Sandeep upset the 6th seed Timo Nigri of Germany, 6-3, 6-1 .. Yeah, that's how you beat people! .. Danai upset the #1 seed Andy Fahlke in three sets .. Prahlad had no problem advancing to the QF beating Vinod Sridhar, and now gets qualifier Gerhard Fahlke (the brother and coach of Andy Fahlke who decided to play here for the heck of it! - he upset the 7th seed Niko Karagiannis of Greece today too!) .. Vasudev Reddy lost a tough match, though he reportedly played well and was not giving it away as he sometimes does.. The other 3 Indians (Saurav Panja, Nitin Kirtane, and Vijendra Laad) lost too .. The QF lineup and doubles results are all at the Men's satellite leg-1 page .. At Ahmedabad, the big news was that 16-year old again - Shruti Dhawan .. She took care of the first seed Archana Venkataraman (of the "patented moonball" fame, as Nikhila Natarajan wrote last week from the Delhi tournament :-)) .. The other nice upset was Rushmi Chakravarti rolling over the 2nd seed Anna Nefedova of Russia .. 3rd seed Sai beat Arthi Venkataraman .. The good thing is that three of the 4 semifinalists are Indians (yippeee..) .. Again, based on current form those are the three we should have expected in the semis - Shruti, Sai and Rushmi .. Shruti gets another crack at Sai in the semis (she lost meekly to Sai in the women's semi last week at DSCL, but apparently also because she was dead tired having been in both women's and under-18 draws) .. Rushmi plays Orawan Wongkamalasai of Thailand .. Results in the Women's satellite leg-1 page. (courtesy: Times of India, Indian Express, The Hindu).

There is also the DSCL Junior (under-14 and under-16) national championships going on this week at Delhi .. Parantap Chaturvedi got upset today by Ashutosh Singh .. I will give a summary of that tournament later in the week.

Oct 14 Note-2

Even the ATP site's draw page score update says MB won today .. I guess they are using the same wrong wire news scorecard that is up at Yahoo, CBS scoreticker, ESPN scoreticker, etc .. I will stick to the news emailed to me .. Or the whole gang is in on some joke on us - LP, Rico, Kim, Arvind, etc .. I will happily take the joke, if so .. but I doubt it .. MB must have lost .. :-(

Oct 14 Note-1

Mahesh just seemed to have had a poor day at Singapore .. Onsite fanclub members, Kim Das and Arvind Kumar were in attendance .. Kim Das says, "MB lost to Tilstrom 1-6, 3-6 today in a pretty one sided encounter. He was broken right from the outset and then went down another break in game 5 to hand the first set to MT. In set two MB started to play a little better but was just dominated by the repertoire of shots in MT's arsenal. His serve was not on in either set and his groundstrokes were carrying too far resulting in a boat load of unforced errors. Leander invited me to sit with him and Rico through the entire second set and their analysis boiled down to the sluggish courts (they play like "clay") and just a really long week in Shanghai .. He attributed their lacklustre performance yesterday (in the first round doubles win) to the courts and being very tired as well. He was also unsure about his chances against Martin Damm tonight because apparently his left heel is bruised but was going to give it his all" .. Arvind agrees with Kim's assessment of MB just not being able to do much today .. Not sure if either of them would be at the LP game, on right about now in the evening - Kim had to get out of town, and Arvind may be busy too .. We will see .. Anyway, I just saw the wire score update which says MB won the match by the above score, which has to be wrong .. Had I not got the emails from our friends there, I would have celebrated and then felt even worse! ..

Oct 13 Note-2

Today was certainly about as good as we could have expected at the men's satellite at Mumbai, as the round got completed with 7 Indians making it to the final-16 .. After the youngsters messed up the first day completely, we got the stalwarts to show up and make amends today .. Starting with Vasudev Reddy who pulled the upset of the tournament, beating Patrick Earhardt of germany, ranked about 600 spots ahead of him, in the 600s .. We all know that Vasu deserves a much better ranking than he has had if we were to look at his abilities, and that he himself was his biggest enemy, but today it was the world-beater Vasu from all reports, and he won the match in straight sets .. Not to be outdone, Sandeep and Nitin took care of their British and Czech opponents, and Prahlad beat his friend Basapparaju .. under-18 youngster Vijendra Laad continued his fine form in winning the junior title last week, by qualifying on Sunday playing two matches, and then came on today to win his first round too, against a not-too-shabby opponent, Anand Radhakrishnan .. He must be making a lot of people proud in his homestate ! .. Mustafa also had a great start winning the tiebreak over the Slovak republic opponent, 8th seeded Marian Leysek, but lost the next two sets closely .. The one foreign kid to turn some heads was Danai Udomchoke of Thailand, currently among the top-20s in junior world rankings and already a davis Cup player for Thailand last month against Pakistan .. He beat the qualifiers Rahul Gandhi in a double bagel in some 35 minutes flat .. Ouch! .. The women's satellites at Ahmedabad moved on without any events, with a nice draw of all 8 seeds in the quarterfinal, and all the matches were straight sets .. One Indian is assured to be in the final, as the upper half has 4 seeded Indians - Archana vs Shruti and Sai vs Arthi there in the quarters .. The two seeded Thai girls, Montika Anuchan and Orawan Wongkamalasai play each other next to get to the semi.. Rushmi is the lone Indian in the bottom half, playing Anna Nefedov in the QF .. Check out the men's satellite leg1 and the women's satellite leg1 pages.

Nirmal Shekhar of The Hindu has been reporting from Singapore, and says that LP-MB were a bit off-color and jaded in the first round doubles match yesterday, tired after their latenight flight from Shanghai .. But he says they knew exactly when to raise their game enough to win the match, just like champions do .. Mahesh commented on the redone surface at Singapore - he felt it was as different as "chalk and cheese" from last year's .. Much slower now, apparently.

By the way, I am corrected again, that the Woodies have won 51 and not 54 titles (I started with 49, then was told it was 54) .. Now I feel I should really investigate this carefully .. :-) .. Anyway, it's a whole bunch .. At the current rate of 6-7 titles a year, LP-MB would need 6-8 more years to reach those numbers, if you need to put that in perspective!

Oct 13 Note-1

LP-MB is in the quarterfinals at the $575K Singapore Heineken Open, after a first round win over Mark Keil and TJ Middleton, 7-6(4), 6-4 .. They next face Tuomas Ketola and Laurence Tieleman .. Both LP and MB play singles tomorrow (wednesday) .. MB plays Tillstrom first, at 12.30 pm and LP plays Damm in the evening at 6.30 pm ..

The new rankings show LP at #84 with the 20 points from Shanghai taking his total up to 484 points .. MB is at #363, Prahlad at #540, and Fazal at #622 .. The individual doubles ranks stay at 8 for MB and 9 for LP .. From now on, the rankings will only go up for LP/MB as they only have about 90 points to defend this week and then none till early next year .. The team ranking stays #3 ..

Nirupama moved up 2 spots to #170 with her points from Santa Clara a couple of weeks back .. She is at #250 in doubles, her lowest in a long time, but it shouldn't be dropping any more as she has nothing much to defend for a long time.. All other Indian women players are at about the same rankings, except for Jahnavi Parekh moving up about 20 spots up ..

A note for those in Northern California : Syed Fazaluddin will be playing the four satellites at Danville, Redding, Carmel and Fresno respectively, during the next four weeks, starting Oct 19th .. Please send me a note if you would be attending any of the matches (we always like news), or know anyone around those places who would like to meet Fazal, etc..

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, Vijendra 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 ..

.. Previous notes at Weekly Notes, ending Oct 12 ..