Notes for week ending on Nov 10, 1997

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Nov 9 Notes

Current #11 Bjorkman/Kulti lost in the semis at Stockholm to Goellner/Reneberg, probably killing their chances to unseat Knowles/Nestor for the 8th spot at Hartford. Then Goellner/Reneberg upset the top seeds Ferreira/Galbraith in three sets in the finals, making sure that NONE of the top 8 teams will come into Hartford with a win in the previous match... The Woodies, Lareau/O'Brien, Bhupathi/Paes, and Knowles/Nestor had lost last week and didn't play this week. Leach/Stark, Kafelnikov/Vacek, Eltingh/Haarhuis and Ferreira/Galbraith all lost this week. In fact, you can add last week's #9 Lobo/Sanchez, #10 Johnson/Montana, #12 Broad/Norwal (one of them should be at Hartford as a stand-by) to the "loser" list too... None of the top 12 teams have a win-streak going.. How about that ?..

Nov 8 Notes

India won the Asia Cup !! Here is the report from Kannan Srinivasan from New Delhi on the matches concluded a couple of hours back:

Hats off to the Korean kids, who played a ton of matches this week after Yoon had his back problems, and they earned every bit of the runner-up $$$.

Asia Cup certainly gave an indication of what to expect next year at the Asiad. In fact, Leander (who is still upset about not getting a gold in 94) had given this as the biggest reason why he wanted to play at the Asia Cup. It is not going to be easy next year, by any means, with guys like Ogorodov, Yoon and a few top-250 caliber Japanese guys also expected to be there. Asian tennis news: 18-yr old Paradorn Srichaphan is in the finals of the Thailand ATP satellite tourney, beating Wayne Arthurs of Australia in the semis. He is going to make a big jump into the ATP top-500 or so now.. Need to keep an eye on that guy for next year too.

Hartford Watch: Eltingh/Haarhuis lost to Damm/Suk and Kafelnikov/Vacek lost to Adams/Santoro, both unseeded teams, yesterday in the semis at Kremlin. This means that, other than Ferreira/Galbraith who is in the finals at Stockholm after beating the 3rd seeds Eagle/Rafter, none of the top 8 teams will be going into Hartford with a win in their previous match (The Woodies, Lareau/O'Brien, Leach/Stark, Bhupathi/Paes, Knowles/Nestor being the others with a loss in their last matches).. That's strange, but it's good to know that LP/MB will have the company of a bunch of "losers" (ok, I jest..) at Hartford.. !

Nov 7 Notes

Surprising to see that Mahesh lost a three setter to the Indonesian, but good for the crowd, as that made sure they would see LP/MB in doubles ! Here is Kannan Srinivasan reporting from New Delhi on today's matches:

Surprised to see Kannan commenting that Korea is that good with their speed ? wow.. I thought there were only two or three players in the top pro circuits who can be considered quicker than Leander.. Interesting to see that the Koreans have hardly played Yoon so far. He is their trump card, but I think LP should take care of him. Looking forward to Sunday !

Nov 6 Notes

S. Kannan had sent this report promptly by evening Delhi time (thanks).. sorry it took a while to put it up here.. busy day !

Actually, that may be a bit too harsh on poor Vasu here.. The guy actually has been playing rather continuously.. 8 singles matches in 9 days (and a couple of doubles too), is pretty tough for somebody like him who isn't used to such a schedule, but Kannan is right that being ready for such grind is what makes anybody top-brass.... The India A team got $7000, which isn't bad. If they shared it equally, it is some Rs. 60K each. Add that to the 40K Vasu made last week at the Nationals, and he has had a good couple of weeks that should help heal the hurting shoulder !

Nov 5 Note-2

#3 Leach/Stark lost today, and #4 Kafelnikov/Vacek won. There are only 22 points separating these two teams, and Kafelnikov/Vacek may retake the #3 spot next week (perhaps they need one more win). Why is this significant ? Because that would mean Kaf/Vac will be in the same half of 4 teams as LP/MB (expected to be the #6 seed) in the round-robin at Hartford (that is, assuming Kaf/Vac will play there).. Also, Broad/Norwal and Johnson/Montana lost in the first rounds this week, probably ensuring that they will both miss Hartford. Bjorkman/Kulti won, and they look to be the #8 or #9 team now (They can move ahead of the current #8 Knowles/Nestor, who are idle this weeek).. Bjorkman is already in the draw for the Hannover singles top-8 ATP championship (next week), and could become the only player in both the singles and the doubles tournaments.

Good news on Indian Tennis: Manisha Malhotra (singles preseason #13, playing for #10 U. of Tennessee) won the ITA Rolex Southeast regional tournament singles earlier this week, beating a couple of US top-50 collegiate players (both from the #4 ranked Duke). She lost in the doubles final, but advances to the National collegiate indoor championship in Feb 98, the 3rd leg of the "collegiate grandslam" (There are 8 such regional tournaments going on right now in the US). She has looked every bit as good or better than her preseason ranking so far. It is very nice to see another Indian woman doing well; so far Nirupama Vaidyanathan (at WTA world ranking #151 in singles and #126 in doubles) is the only Indian woman who has done anything outside of India. She lost in the final round of the qualifiers for the $75,000 WTA challenger in Austin, TX a few days back.

Nov 5 Note-1

Lareau/Obrien lost yesterday at the Kremlin Cup; so they will not move above LP/MB, and it looks pretty sure that our guys will go into Hartford as the #6 team (probably the #6 seeds too).

Uzbekistan was a tougher test, but we came through fine.. Nice to see Leander finally winning a match against Tomaschevic, after losing to him two time in challengers (Andijan and Fergana in 96 early summer).. S.Kannan's report follows (Thanks!):

Nice to hear of India-A coming back to win 2 matches and contend for the highest spot outside of the seeded teams which are all in the semis..

Nov 4 Note-1

India is into the semifinals after thrashing Thailand today.. Here is the prompt report from S.Kannan (thanks!) at New Delhi:

Nice to hear of Vasu playing a good match; for someone as telented as he is (I would say he's still rather young at 23) he should be able to do much better than he has done in the past.

Nov 4 Note-1

Well, my calculations a couple of days back were slightly off. Ferreira/Galbraith managed to move ahead of LP/MB to the #5 spot with 2408 points. Our guys have 2402. Leach/Stark has moved up to #3 now, with the finals showing at Paris. The funny thing is that they have lost so many finals this year, and do not have a single title !.. Anyway, the 62 points from the Ahemedabad challenger doubles title last year fell off the computer, being replaced with about 60 and 45 points each for LP and MB.. So their individual doubles point totals are down a little bit to 2420 (2435 last week) and 2519 (2521 last week). MB is now #11 and LP is now #14. Mahesh also lost the 7 first round win singles points from Ahemadabad, and his total is down to 176 from 182. MB's rank is now #131. LP's point total remained at 427 but he slipped down to #108 in ranking.

The good news is that ATP announced yesterday that LP/MB are officially in the Hartford draw. The seven teams who have qualified are: 1. Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde (4624), 2. Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis (3589); 3. Rick Leach and Jonathan Stark (2487), 4. Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Daniel Vacek (2465); 5. Ellis Ferreira and Patrick Galbraith (2408); 6. Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes (2402); 7. Sebastien Lareau and Alex O'Brien (2386)

There is a dog-fight for the 8th spot. The possible teams are, 8. Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor (2017); 9. Luis Lobo and Javier Sanchez (1919); 10. Jonas Bjorkman and Nicklas Kulti (1834); 11. Donald Johnson and Francisco Montana (1791), 12. and Neil Broad and Piet Norval (1746)..... K/N are not playing this week. Lo/Sa, B/K, J/M, and B/N are playing this week and one of them can replace K/N. By the way, a ninth team usually gets invited as stand-by if any last minute injury-withdrawal occurs. Plus, the Hartford Courant reports that #3 Kafelnikov/Vacek may not play (as last year, when they didn't play; don't know why).. We will just have to wait and see how things play out, in a week.

LP/MB could get pushed to #7 next week by Lareau/O'Brien, who are playing this week. #1, #4, #5, and #8 will be in one group for the round robin, and #2, #3, #6 and #7 will be in the other group. So, unless Kafelnikov/Vacek withdraws, LP/MB should be in the same draw with E/H, Lea/St, and L/O; a much more preferable group since our duo is 5-1 against them over the last year or so (and the only loss to L/O after 2 wins against them, was last week at Stuttgart where LP/MB had 4 second set matchpoints on them). Against the other group, they are 0-4 (3 losses in a row to Woodies and 1 to K/V; they haven't played #5 F/G). Two teams from each group move to the semifinals where #1 from each group plays the #2 from the other group.

Indian Tennis Note: US College Tennis: Manisha Malhotra is now a senior at the University of Tennessee in the US, and is ranked #13 in preseason singles rankings. Her doubles team with Margie Lepsi of U.of.T is ranked #4 in the preseason. Tennessee itself is ranked #10. These are all terrific rankings (there are 100s of colleges and perhaps a couple of thousand or more college players in the US). The season is only getting underway now and won't heat up till January. Another Indian name in the preseason rankings is Trishna Patel, ranked #66 in singles, at Brown University. She is credited with a large role in the surprising show by Brown over the last year or two in the Ivy league tennis (they are the Ivy league champions). Brown is ranked #33 in the preseason among colleges, which is a big accomplishment for them.

Nov 3 Note-1

Here is the report from the Asia Cup at New Delhi (Thank you, Kannan Srinivasan!):

Interesting comment on Leander's backhand. The fan club has been discussing this all year, and the consensus has been that he should be using more topspin backhand rather than the slice shots. He has always had a pretty good topspin backhand but has for some reason preferred the slice shot, which while he plays it beatufully, does not often prove the winner that his stronger backhand shot is. The guess has been that his coach "Nails" Carmichael must have impressed upon him a bit on using this more often. His baseline game has certainly improved a lot this year.

Rather disappointing that the India-A lost 0-3 to Korea, though. Three of the team members got in only just before the matches, as they were all at Bombay where they were playing the National Hardcourts Tournament during the weekend. Must have affected their game a bit...