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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Nov 5, 2001
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Nov 5 Notes

LP-MB dropped the final against Ferreira-Leach again, 36 64 63 .. Those two seem to be always trouble - and I believe they are especially tough on the carpet surface, as their successive titles over LP-MB in two weeks would show .. This time they also pulled a comeback on our guys - which is also not easy for any team to do .. Somewhat of an anti-climactic end to the year, which was decent in terms of titles (4 titles in 6 finals) .. The Indian Express did pick up 525 points in the last two weeks to finish the year at #6 and #11 .. MB with 3425 points and LP with 2990 .. The team ranking is #4 with 598 race points, behind Novak-Rikl at #3 with 618 pts - our guys could have finished #3 with a title at Paris .. Still, it's good to see them have a decent year with close to $375K in earning by each, and one grand slam title to go with one masters title and two other titles - especially nice, considering the horror story last year was.

Manisha Malhotra and Leanne Baker (#4 seeds) fell in the SF against the top seeds and eventual winners, Nannie DeVielliers (RSA) and Irina Selyutina (UZB) at the $50K Hayward challenger in Califiornia last week, 46 26, after winning the QF against Maria F Alves (BRA) and Renata Voracova (CZE) 64 75 ..

Rohan Gajjar (#2 seed) beat the 4th seeded Roman Kutac (CZE) 62 62 in the SF but had to withdraw from the doubles final at 57 02 due to injury, against the top seeded Diaz Doskarayev (UZB) .. Rohan and GD Jones (NZL) were the second seeds in doubles and reached that final too, but they conceded the match .. Tough luck for Rohan, but good job there .. He added 10 more points to his point total and moved up a few spots to #128 in the ITF junior world ranking .. Rohan has withdrawn from this week's grade-3 event in Brunei, where Amanjot Singh is the top seed .. Most other Indian kids have gone there this week .. Sad to see both Karan Rastogi and Rohan Gajjar going down over the last couple of weeks.

Nov 3 Notes

Another final, a big one for LP-MB - at the Paris masters !! .. [SF] #5 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. #7 D.Nestor/ N.Zimonjic, 76(7) 75  .. LP-MB were broken early to fall to 1-4 and then making a furious comeback, winning the set and going up a break to 3-0 in the second, but they dropped serve to fall even at 4-4 .. Then they broke again in the 12th game to seal it .. The final is tomorrow against Ferreira-Leach - a repeat of last week's Basel final .. This will be a good one! .. Go Indian Express .. They have a chance to end the year as the #3 team, moving up one spot over Novak-Rikl, with a win and 500 entry points tomorrow .. They picked up 350 points for making the final.

At the ITF grade-4 junior event in the beautiful sea-resort oil town of Miri in Sarawak (East Malaysia), the second seed Rohan Gajjar has reached the semifinal, but top seed Megha Vakharia fell in the quarterfinal .. Rohan beat Ryan Sceats (AUS) 64 64 in the QF yesterday .. He plays the fourth seed from Czech Republic, Roman Kutac, in the SF .. Rohan had beaten Jonathan Amdanu in the R2 after a first round bye .. Not sure whom he beat in the R3 .. Megha had beaten Santie Delport (RSA) 61 62 and Maya Rosa (INA) 63 75 in the second round before falling to sixth seed Tina Schmassmann (SUI) 63 64 in the QF .. (source: Sarawak Tribune) ..

Nov 2 Notes

How tough has our pair been lately? .. Well, they have now gone at least 15 break points in a row without dropping serve! .. Today, it was a very tough match against two top doubles players, but our guys came up big while facing trouble, except in the tiebreaker, and pulled off the win without dropping serve in the whole match .. #5 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. #4 J.Eagle/ T.Woodbridge, 67(5) 63 62 .. The first set was a very close affair with neither side dropping serve, though LP-MB faced two break attempts in the 4th game after deuces .. In the tiebreaker, our boys dropped one minibreak and were down 1-4 .. Then they took one point off the Aussies' serve to even it at 4-5, but followed it with dropping a point on their own serve to fall 4-6 .. They served off one set point but fell off the other guys' serve at 5-6 .. In the second set, the Indian Express faced three more break chance which they save in game 3 to go up to 2-1 .. Then they converted their very first break chance in the next game to go up 3-1 .. LP-MB faced another BP in the next game, but once again held tough to go up 4-1 .. At 4-2, they saved yet another break point to go up 5-2 .. At 5-3, our pair served out the set without any further complications .. In the 3rd set, they again converted their first break chance in the 3rd game to go up a break .. In the 4th and 6th games they faced one break chance each, and LP-MB continued to hang tough and stay out of trouble to go up 4-2 (that was 9 break pts in a row they had saved in this match, and added to 6 they had saved in the second set in the previous match) .. The continued futility on break points must have totally deflated the Aussies, and they seemed to simply give up in the next game, as LP-MB converted their 3rd break in 3 chances to go up 5-2 .. The Indian Express then served out the next game at love for an emphatic finish to the match ..  The match took 2 hours and 10 minutes, and the key stat seems to be as expected - 3/3 by in BP conversion by our guys and 0/9 by the other guys ..  Oh yeah, I love these kinds of matches that our guys play .. It's always extra sweet when two Aussies are beaten in any sport in such manner :-)

LP-MB play the 7th seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the semifinal tomorrow .. Those guys upset the top seeds Johnson-Palmer today in a comeback three-setter.

At Pune, Rohan Bopanna came close to winning today it seems, but no cigar .. 62 67 26 was the score of his loss to the second seed Erlich (ISR,530) .. He had dropped serve at 4-4 in the second set but had promptly broken back Erlich in the next game to send it to a tiebreaker .. Apparently one mistake on a sitter winner messed up the tiebreaker for him .. Oh well .. So he finishes the current series of futures iwth 2 finals and a semifinal, picking up 20 ATP points .. Lior Dahan won the other semifinal in another close three setter, over Michal Varsanyi .. The doubles final was postponed to today due to bad light after that was also going to a 3rd set, between Srinath-Ajay and Dahan-Erlich .. See the Pune scores ..

Nov 1 Note-2

A little bit of good rumor today .. It appears that World Doubles Championships may happen after all, in the end, though it may be in January .. What I hear is that there was really no problem with sponsorship or players showing up, and that ATP simply got cold-feet about the "security situation" .. This seems be to be getting worked out, and we *may* see WDC in Bangalore in January .. Don't quote me yet - we will hear soon what transpires.

Good start for our boys at the Paris Masters .. [R2] #5 M.Bhupathi/ L.Paes d. D.Adams/ L.Arnold, 64 75 today .. The match was not really very easy .. I followed only the second set .. After easy hold by both sides to 3-3, some dogfight started .. DA-LA were down at 0-40 in the 7th game but won 4 points in a row, and then held after two deuces .. Then LP-MB were down 15-40, but they too held afrer saving two break attempts, to go 4-4 .. In the 10th game at 4-5, we faced a set point at AD out, but we held there .. 5-5 .. Then DA-LA were down on serve at 15-40, and the Indian Express broke them at 30-40 to go ahead to 6-5 and serve for the match .. Once again we were down 15-40, clawed back to deuce, had a set point, faced two more AD out break points and finally held to win the match .. Saving the last 6 break attempts by the RSA-ARG combo was the key to our guys' win .. Their opponents will be the winners of the late-evening match between Eagle-Woodbridge and Haarhuis-Schalken .. The QF will be tomorrow.

More good work from 21 yr old new hope Rohan Bopanna at Pune today .. This time it was the 3rd seed Syed Fazaluddin who fell to his fury .. 62 76(4) was the score of the match .. Unfortunately, Sunil Kumar could not mount much of resistence against the top seed Lior Dahan and went down 26 06 today in the QF .. Rohan plays the second seed Eyal Erlich tomorrow, and Dahan plays unseeded Michal Varsanyi in the other semi .. Sri and Ajay kept up their superb streak in doubles, winning their 11th match in a row, upsetting the 3rd seeds Mahadevan-Sridhar in the semi .. Though unseeded all three weeks, Srinath and Ajay have only dropped one set in their 11 wins so far, and that was against Bopanna and Vijay Kannan last week .. They face Dahan-Erlich in the final tomorrow .. See the Pune futures page for the scores.

At the $25K challenger in Hayward, CA, Manisha Malhotra lost in the first round to lucky loser Fareil Esseghir (ALG), 16 26 .. IN doubles, the smashing combo of Manisha and Leanne Baker (NZL) are the 3rd seeds .. They play qualifiers, Teryn Ashley and Stephanie Nickitas of USA in the first round.

Nov 1 Note-1

The 5th seeds Paes-Bhupathi, who had a first round bye, play the second round today against David Adams (RSA) and Lucas Arnold (ARG) at the $2.95M Paris masters .. Ther match is scheduled for about 2 pm Paris (6.30 pm India .. 8 am New York), plus/minus 30 min .. We have not had a chat session for a long time ..  Shall we meet in our chatroom and follow the ball-by-ball score updates from Paris? ..

Some good news from India .. Today's Deccan Herald reports that the BM Jain College in Bangalore will be sponsoring Rohan Bopanna for a few foreign events soon, based on his superb performance in the ongoing futures circuit .. He is a student there now, and Bopanna was reportedly surprised at how the college decided to sponsor him .. He will be going to two futures in Thailand ($10K at Pattaya City and $10K at Nonthaburi), followed by two $15K futures on grasscourts in Australia (Berry and Barmera), and then back to Thailand for a $25K+H challenger in Bagkok (Dec 3rd) .. Based on the schedule I have, these five events are over the next five weeks .. I am reaffirmed in my belief that despite what we hear from players about not getting enough support, it is also true that those who have produced results have generally gotten at least some help from various quarters in almost every instance, and it actually may even be more help than what many struggling players in say the US or Europe get for comparable results, though it is easier for many foreign players to pull out personal or family funds .. It is also true that the Indian players have often found it tough to keep up the same level of results and the Indian sponsorship tends to dry up a bit too fast for it to be useful .. The bottom line is to show the determination and produce the results .. Only that counts .. Congrats go to Rohan for this - and his coach Bhupathi Sr deserves credit too .. At the same time I hope this is not a case of proimises that go unfulfilled by organizations and sponsors, which is also another problem that sometimes happens in India .. I think BM Jain College is some sort of a pioneer in this sort of stuff - they had given some support to Sheetal Gautam for foreign travel too, after she did well in the ITF satellites earlier this year .. I hope Rohan does not get too satisfied with how well he has done - this has been the curse of many a good Indian player .. One has to keep the fire up and keep on looking for bigger and bigger goals, raising one's confidence and aspirations all the time.

More interestingly, the newspaper reports another news item -- Mahesh Bhupathi is planning to take a crack at resurrecting his singles career at the same events !!! .. Ataboy, Hesh! ..  I had actually heard from a good friend of Mahesh that he was indeed thinking of starting off with some futures events, but I had not been in touch with Hesh for a few weeks to confirm.  This is great news; let's hope his shoulder holds up.

The only thing that worries me, in both Rohan's and Mahesh's case is that the newspaper reports that they will be playing next week itself in Thailand .. That would be 8 continuous weeks of tennis for Rohan .. And Mahesh would be playing some 9 weeks continuously if he plays the next five weeks.  That is recipe for disaster.  I hope they will both skip the week after next or something like that .. I am also not sure if Rohan has a direct entry for next week - probably not, and he may need to get there by Friday if he needs to qualify in .. Anyway, we will find out what transpires soon.

At the Manila ITF women's satellites, 4th seed Sonal Phadeke beat Yoo-Mi Jung (KOR) 63 36 64 to reach the QF yesterday .. She plays the 6th seed Tzu-Ting Weng (TPE) .. Sonal and Radhika Mandke went down in the doubles R1 to the second seeds Hsiao-Han Chao (TPE) and Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS), 16 06 though.

I still have not seen the draws or results from the $25K challenger in Hayward, California to see if Manisha is playing there by any chance.

Oct 31 Note-2

At the Pune futures today, mixed results from Indians .. Srinath's 11 match win streak came t an end aganst the second seed Eyal Erlich (ISR,530), whom he had beaten last week .. I think Srinath may be way too tired to play well, having played 22 matches in the last 16 days .. So, we can't complain about him losing - Sri finishes the futures circuit singles with 25 ATP points .. Rohan Bopanna's breakout streak continued, as he upset the 7th seed Ciarran Moore (RSA,907) .. Despite being seeded,  Moore is not that highly ranked, but Rohan took him out for a 62 60 score to show that he was a class above! .. Fazal had another easy win, and now faces Bopanna in what appears to be the match of the day tomorrow .. The other upset of the day was the straight sets job by Sunil Sipaeya, who beat the 5th seed Nitin Kirtane .. He faces the top seed Lior Dahan tomorrow, to try to reach his first futures semifinal, after two QF showings the last two weeks .. Rishi Sridhar and Vijay Kannan unfortunately could not do much today .. In doubles, Sri and Ajay kept on winning, reaching the semifinal today with a win over a tough pair, the Kiratene cousins .. See the Pune futures page for the scores.

Oct 31 Note-1

LP-MB are not scheduled to play their second round at the Paris masters today .. They will be playing tomorrow (thursday).

Vas Param of the fanclub reminded me that I had not mentioned anything about next year's Davis Cup .. The draw came out a few days back .. UZB and IND are the 1st and 2nd seeds in the Asia-Oceania Group-1 .. JPN and NZL are the other two seeds .. Two teams advance after two rounds to the qualifying round for the 2003 world group .. Except having to go abroad yet again, we have got a decent draw .. Here is the draw:

Uzbekistan at Thailand
Japan at Korea
Indonesia at New Zealand
India vs Taiwan, or India at Lebanon

Taiwan was to play at Lebanon a few weeks back, but it was postponed to this coming weekend, due to the Sep 11 events .. The winner of that tie will get promoted as the one newcomer into the group-1 level in 2002, replacing China which was in group-1 this year but got relegated to group-2 level .. I will go out on a limb and predict that Taiwan will beat Lebanon, as they have some of the most talented upcoming kids in Asia, in Yen-Hsun Lu and Ye-Tzuo Wang, both top-5 quality junior players in ITF (Wei-Jen Cheng is another top-10 quality junior player a couple of years older than the other two) .. They managed to beat Pakistan this year in group-2 level, and 17 yr old Yeu-Tzuo Wang's win over Aisam Quereshi was a key in their win (remember that Aisam has even beaten Leander) .. Lu and Wang won the reverse singles for a 3-2 final score .. Wang and Lu are ranked #439 and #618 after having played only a handful of ATP events each .. For my money, Lebanon could be toast against these two kids .. If Lebanon somehow pulls it off at home, then we travel to Lebanon .. If not, it is a coin toss, as India and Taiwan have never played each other, ever since Taiwan started playing Davis Cup in 1972 .. If I am reading the ITF info right, Taiwan has won that toss and we will travel if they win against Lebanon .. So, that would make it our 5th away tie in a row! .. If we have to play Taiwan away, those Taipei kids could cause some trouble for us, though I doubt they can win three singles matches on us (no, Taiwan will NOT beat us in doubles).

If India advances against Taiwan/Lebanon, we face the winner of the INA-NZL tie .. That is a toss-up tie; INA with Suwandi Suwandi and Peter Handoyo, may have a bit of an edge, but they are playing in New Zealand .. If it is Indonesia, they come to India .. If it is New Zealand, we go to New Zealand in the second round next year .. So, the bottom line is that there is again a chance for India to have to go abroad twice, for an incredible 6 away ties in a row! .. Assuming Taiwan to beat Lebanon, hopefully we will go to Taiwan, and then get Indonesia at home.

In other news, the Tata ATP Chennai Open will be proceeding as scheduled from Dec 31st onwards, as IMG once again announced today .. Andrei Pavel (ROM,22) has confirmed his commitment .. Tomas Johansson (SWE,18), Fabrice Santoro (FRA,19), Dominik Hrbaty (SVK,26), are the others I have heard to have confirmed participation earlier this month .. That is a very good group of players to have commited early .. Shiela Maniam and IMG must be doing a good job to have these guys commited early, despite all the crap that is going around about the "security situation" .. By the way, Santoro had said that he likes Indian food, and that is why he wanted to play in Chennai! :-) .. Alright, let's give him some extra Thair saatam for that .. Or let's send him to a malayali restaurant for some Appam-Motta !

Nov 30 Notes

After a first round bye, LP-MB will play the second round match against David Adams (RSA)  and Lucas Arnold (ARG) who beat Florent-MacPherson in the first round at the $2.95M Paris masters .. The match will be on wednesday or thursday.

At the $10K Pune futures, there were no big surprises today .. Manoj Mahadevan beat Ajay Ramaswamy 76 62 .. Manoj had lost to Ajay in the first round of the Mumbai masters, and so this was some sort of revenge for him .. Manoj had also lost last week in the first round and needed a win to somehow pick up a point .. Ajay gets no points to add to the 8 he has for two semifinals the last two weeks .. I am somewhat disappointed that Ajay could not make a bigger splash there .. Compared to the caliber of top-20 players he was beating in the US in college earlier this year (his best win perhaps being the 63 64 win over even Harsh Mankad when he became the only Indian other than Srinath to beat Harsh in some three years), the competition in the Indian futures is quite marginal, and I had expected him to do better .. On the other hand, Ajay may be getting used to playing pro events which he had not played much of in the last 4 years, except for one satellite circuit in India; sometimes it takes a while for one to feel comfortable and confident .. But then again, he has done a decent job of picking up 8 points and coming into the rankings with a chance to get into a lot of futures events if he travels abroad .. The key is for Ajay to go abroad and play, as he missed a chance to play the US futures due to academics this summer .. As for the results today, Srinath, Bopanna, Fazal, etc, all moved on to the second round .. Two more seeds fell in the doubles .. See the Pune futures page.

Four Indians are at the $10K ITF women's satellite at Manila this week .. The news is not very good .. 4th seed Sonal Phadke beat qualifier Deena Rose Cruz (PHI) 61 60 in the first round, but Da-Jung Hong (KOR) upset the second seed Radhika Tulpule, 75 75, qualifier Po-Kuen Lam (HKG) upset 3rd seed Shruti Dhawan, 62 63, and qualifier So-Jung Kim (KOR) beat unseeded Radhika Mandke, 61 60 .. That is really a poor set of results, though Da-Jung and So-Jung are very good junior players ..  I don't understand Shruti's loss .. Oh well .. Bad week, I guess for three of them .. In doubles Dhawan-Tulpule are the top seeds and beat Suzanne Aignor (AUT) and Lan-Tan Tai (TPE) 61 60 to reach R2 .. Phadke-Mandke play the 2nd seeds Hsiao-Han Chao (TPE) and Chin-Bee Khoo (MAS) in the firt round [source: Alain Vincent].

Sai and Rushmi are at the $25K Mackey challenger in Australia .. Rushmi plays the top seed Christina Wheeler in the first round and Sai plays wildcard Gabrielle Baker (AUS) ..

Oct 29 Notes

LP-MB are the 5th seeds at the last ATP doubles event of the year, the $2.95M Paris masters ..  They get a first round bye in the draw of size 48, and will play the second round against the winners of the match between David Adams (RSA)  and Lucas Arnold (ARG) and the Australians Andrew Florent and David MacPherson .. The Indian Express are in the bottom quarter of the upper half in the draw, along with 4th seeds Eagle-Woodbridge .. The top seeds are Johnson-Palmer and Novak-Rikl are the #2 seeds .. It would be nice for LP-MB to win a title and 500 entry points to finish the season with a good bang and over 3000 pts .. LP-MB now have 529 race points this year (2645 entry pts) .. It looks quite probable that LP-MB will finish the season as the 4th ranked doubles team for the year behind Bjorkman-Woodbridge (785 race pts), Johnson-Palmer (704) and Novak-Rikl (618) .. There is an outside chance for them to overtake Novak-Rikl to #3, or to get overtaken by Pala-Vizner for the #4 spot ..

The main draw matches have started at the Deccan-Gymkhana in Poona in the India F6 $10K futures .. Today's best match was the tough fight from Vinod Sridhar, who went down to the second seed Eyal Erlich, 57 75 57 .. 6th seed Mustafa Ghouse got upset by Rishi Sridhar, and Sunil Kumar advanced to the second round .. 11 of the first round matches will be tomorrow .. see the Pune futures page.

Amanjot Singh moved to world junior ranking #81 from near #100, after his runner-up showing in the Thailand grade-3 ITF last week .. Megha Vakharia moved up to #106 with her runner-up finish too .. Amanjot Singh has a good chance to make it into to the upcoming Australian Open junior main draw - he will probably be ranked inside the top-55 or so, after the 18 yr olds leave the rank list on Jan 1st .. Megha needs to do some work to raise her ranking high enough to make it to the AO juniors along with Sania .. The bunch of Indian juniors along with AITA's junior development officer Sunil Yajaman goes to Miri, Sarawak (East Malaysia) for the grade-4 event there this week.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Oct 29 ..

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.