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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Nov 13, 2000

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Nov 13 Notes

At the $2.5M Paris masters, Mahesh and Scott Humpries have a tough first round matchup against Bjorkman and Prinosil .. LP-MB had beaten the same team in the second round at the Tokyo Open title-run last month, however ..

Nirupama is taking this week off ..

Rushmi and Sai continued their good run in doubles, at the $10K satellite Indonesia, reaching the final this weekend .. They went down to Angelique Widjaja and Liza Andriyani in the final though .. As reported earlier, Rushmi and Sai had fallen in the second round and QF respectively, in singles.

I have added a page for the Chandigarh futures where the main draw started today .. The qualifying results are at the page - will add today's score as soon as they are available.

Nov 12 Notes

The terrific run in doubles with Nana Miyagi continues for Nirupama! .. Yet another title for them today .. At the $50K Pittsburgh Challenger Final -  #1 N.Miyagi/ N.Vaidyanathan d. #2 Kristine Freye/ Seda Noorlander, 57 64 60 !! .. Add another 12 or 13 more WTA points to her kitty, and Niru has raised her ranking to around 135 or 140 .. Pretty darn impressive for this pair to go 11-1 in three challengers together, with a final and then two titles .. For Niru, that is two titles and two finals in doubles in the last 5 challengers (one final was with Lisa McShea, before she and Miyagi got together) .. The title also gives her some $1800 in prize money .. I believe Niru has been carrying a cold for the last few days and will be taking a week off after three weeks of continuous playing and 16 matches .. She was originally expected at the Naples (Florida) challenger, but will skip that this coming week .. She will be playing the Tucson challenger in Arizona starting on the 20th .. By the way, unseeded Sandra Cacic, who had rather easily beaten Niru in the first round, has gone on to win the singles title at Pittsburgh today .. The 26 year old, who was ranked in the top-40 some 4-5 years back is on a comeback trail and seems to be playing some good tennis now.

The qualies have been on at the $10K Chandigarh futures .. Mustafa Ghouse, Punna Vishal, Kedar Shah, Baptiste Dupuy and John Doran have qualified in today .. The entry list is virtually unchanged there from last week's Lucknow futures, with 7 of the eight seeds remaining same from last week .. I will start a results page later today .. By the way, unlike I had thought, this futures is being played on a synthetic surface rather than on grass which is the usual surface at Chandigarh .. Kamesh Sreenivasan reports in The Hindu that they will indeed use Penn balls rather than the Cosco balls that Indian players (and most other too) hate .. This should leave everything even-steven for all players!

Nov 11 Note-2

Good news from Niru again, in doubles! .. It's a 3rd final in a row for her .. In the Semifinal today, #1 N.Miyagi/ N.Vaidyanathan d. Christie Bloomberg (USA) and Courtnay Chapman (USA), 63 64 .. In the QF yesterday, #1 NM-NV d. Janet Lee (USA)/ Jolene Watanabe (USA), 63 62 .. Yeah! .. Four finals in the last 5 challengers she has played .. This win gives her 27 WTA points (including two bonus points) which means she has picked up about 65 points on top of defending about 40 points in the last six weeks - she did that with 4 finals .. Her points total will go up from 131 on October 9th to about 195 in two weeks, which will take her ranking up to about #145 in a couple of weeks .. The opponents in the final tomorrow are yet to be determined - the other semi today is between #2 seeds  Freye/ Noorlander and Nemeckova/ Maruska ..

Nov 11 Note-1

Niru advanced in the doubles first round at the $50K Pittsburgh challenger ..  #1 N.Miyagi/ N.Vaidyanathan d. Anca Barna/ Adriana Barna, 64 62 .. No news yet about the QF match against Janet Lee and Jolene Watanabe.

At Lucknow, the singles title was won by the qualifier Jonathan Murray, 75 06 75 over the 3rd seed Leslie Demeliani (FRA) today .. Fazaluddin went down yesterday in the singles semis to the same in-form British qualifier, Murray, 46 46 .. Murray took out four seeds in a row (#6 Uppal, #3 Mertinak, #7 Fazal, and #4 Demeliani) on the way to the title .. Fazal was nopt in peak form yesterday, probably also because he had played two three setters the previous day .. There was some good news good news yesterday, as the second seeded Nitin and Vishal reached the doubles final, but they lost today in the final to the top seeds Tomas Janci and Michel Mertinak, 26 46 .. See the Lucknow futures page.

Nov 10 Note-2

Sai and Rushmi were at the Bandung ITF futures in Indonesia this week, as the 3rd seed and 5th seed respectively .. Sai was upset in the Quarterfinals (35 24 45(4)) and Rushmi in the second round (24 24 45(4)) by the same young player, Angelique Widjaja of Indonesia - a very talented player .. In the first round, Sai beat Stella Sondang (INA) 42 41 41 and Rushmi beat Devina Saedi (INA) 40 42 40 .. In the second round, Sai beat Suzi Bangaran (INA),  41 41 53 [courtesy: danker] .. I have not seen any doubles scores yet.

Sania Mirza's tiring travels continue .. Sania, who turns 14 next week, was in Malaysia last week, and during this week she was at the Van der Meer International (ITF Grade-4 event) in Hilton Head, South Carolina in the US .. She was the 5th seed, but was upset, 46 57, in the first round by Melissa Applebaum of US, ranked #257 .. Though Sania is ranked #134, I don't consider this such a bad loss .. I assume she will be in the US for a few weeks and would play some good quality events .. I guess she may have been a bit travel-weary this week, that caused the upset too .. In doubles, Sania is playing with Fareil Esseghir of Algeria.

Nov 10 Note-1

Mahesh and Nenad Zimonjic went down in a three-setter in the semis today at the $800K Lyon Grand Prix to Ivan Ljubicic and Jack Waite, the qualifiers who had upset the second seeds Federer/ W.Ferreira in the previous round .. MB-NZ lost 67(4) 64 46 .. Mahesh got 100 entry points and $10K for the semifinal at Lyon, France .. I had received some info (Thanks, Rahul!) that MB will be playing Scott Humphries next week at the Paris masters and with Wayne Black the week (probably at Stockholm), as LP is out for a cuple of weeks at least with the knee tendinitis .. I will confirm that from Hesh soon .. Now that the semi has got done by Friday, MB probably has the option to play singles qualies somewhere, but I don't think he can make the qualy draw at Paris, as the masters qualies entries close very high.

Nirupama doesn't seem to be doing as well in singles as she has been in doubles as of now .. She had yet another early exit in the first round at the $50K challenger .. Sandra Cacic (USA,158) d. Niruapama, 61 61 .. The scoreline caught my eye .. Perhaps she is a bit out of form in singles, unlike a couple of months back, before the Olympics and USO when she was making some good moves in singles .. The latest three weeks of challengers have yielded only a second round and two first round losses .. In doubles it has been another story, with a title and final .. This week also, the doubles draw remains for Niru where she and Miyagi are the top seeds ..  Perhaps she could have picked up an extra 10-15 points easily in singles had she gone to Delhi instead, but considering that her doubles ranking has gone up very nicely and that she does have a realistic chance to make the doubles main draw at the Australian Open with a good partner like Miyagi, things have gone fine.

The legends tournament has started in Bangalore, and I am sure the Bangalore folks are enjoying their time watching Borg, Leconte, Cash, Vilas, Vijay, Anand, and Bahrami play .. I am personally not too much into the legends tour, which is mostly for spectator entertainment - I would pay money to watch Mansour play though -- he, of innumerable tennis ball tricks! .. The new playpave surface at the KSLTA stadium reportedly seems to have come in for some praise.

As for the Lucknow challenger, it seems Fazal was having some trouble with the slow grass surface and chose to stay back most of the time yesterday, but he pulled out the serve and volley game when needed to move on in a three-setter over the second seed Bruthans yesterday ..  There was a period over the last year or so when Fazal came in for some criticism for being tentative and nervous in tiebreakers - he had taken some of that criticism to heart and I believe wanted to show that he can play positive and aggressive tennis .. I do notice that in some of the matches he has played over the last few months he has done much better .. He won his first round at Lucknow in two tiebreaker sets and two of the sets he won yesterday were in 7-2 tiebreakers as well .. That is a good sign .. Will report today's scores soon in the Lucknow futures page .. By the way, Fazal and Vince Mackey was beaten by the 2nd seeded Nitin Kirtane and Vishal Uppal in three-sets in the doubles QF .. Nitin and Vishal are playing the doubles semi against Bruthans and Sekac today.

Nov 9 Note-2

OK, at least somebody is there to keep our flag fluttering in Lucknow! .. Fazaluddin upset the second seed in a 3rd set toebreaker to make the smeifinal there!  Go Fazal! .. French man Demilaini, and qualifier Jonathan Murray of UK also reached the semi .. Will update the results page soon with the scores.

Nov 9 Note-1

Mahesh and Zimonjic are in the semifinals to be played on Friday or Saturday at the $800K Lyon Grand Prix ATP .. They won the first round yesterday, and was soon told that they would get a walkover in the QF as well .. In round 1,  Bhupathi/ Zimonjic d. P.Tramacchi/ T.VanHoudt, 63 75 .. Their QF opponents today would have been the wildcards Clement and Grosjean who had upset the 4th seeds Carbonnel/ Garcia in the first round, but Grosjean is injured and so MB-NZ advances to the semifinal, where they will play the winners of the match between the second seeds Federer/ W.Ferreira and qualifiers Waite/ Ljubicic.

Will find out some news on Niru at the Pittsburgh challenger, soon.  Also about the legends tournament in Bangalore.

The news yesterday from the Lucknow men's futures was the most depressing it could ever get .. Five Indians were in the second round, and three of them fell to foreign opponenets .. Only the 7th seed Fazal, who beat Kamala Kannan, advanced to the QF .. It is absolutely embarassing to see just one Indian in the final 8 .. Whay I say it is embarassing is that this futures quite possibly has the worst competition EVER in the history of $10K futures .. In fact I am positive that there has never been a $10K futures without a single top-500 player anywhere in the world .. This begs the question about what it is that causes such utterly poor entries in the Indian events .. For instance this same week there is a $10K futures in Thailand with 6 players in the top-500,  a $10K futures in Mexico with six top-500 players, and a $10K in Greece with 10 players in the top-100 .. As time goes on, fewer and fewer top-500 players are coming to India which I don't understand .. OK, this was a grass event, but there indeed are a handful of top-500 players who would consider that as a chance for them to try their hands at grass [and this is a thre-week series with two grass events and a hardcourt event] .. Not one among the eight British players in the 350-600 rank range (the ones who playe $10 futures) came to India .. Not one from among 16 Australians in the 350-600 range came to India this time (perhaps because there is a $15K futures in Australia, though many of them wouldn't make the draw for that!) .. None from among the 4-5 South Africans who play futures came to India .. There are a few German, French, and Italian players who would consider playing on grass - none from the top-600 showed up .. Strange .. Anyway, back to the results from Lucknow, the unanimous criticism from the correspondents of The Hindu, Times of India and Hindustan Times about Vishal Uppal yesterday, surprised me a bit .. The sixth seeded Vishal (who was upset in straight sets yesterday by a qualifier) was reported to have taken a negative approach about the whole thing even before the match started, by complaining about the balls and the slow surface, and about not having homecourt advantage etc, etc, and then threw his racquet during the match and complained about the umpiring and this and that .. It is quite sad to see that .. Vishal was always one guy who fought till the last breath to win a match, but ever since the success with LP in one doubles match in Davis Cup, he has not played *one* such match, as far as I can recall in any tournament .. What happened to him suddenly ?? .. Rishi Sridhar was the only one to put up any fight, taking his opponennt to a 3rd set .. Vinod Sridhar also fell in two sets .. Darnit .. Let us hope Fazal can beat the second seed Bruthans in the QF today .. See the Lucknow futures page.

Nov 8 Notes

At the $800K Lyon Open, Mahesh and Zimnojic pay the doubles first round today evening against Peter Tramacchi and Tom Van Houdt.

At Pittsburgh, Nirupama is drawn against Sandra Cacic (USA,158) in the first round .. It's a tough draw, as she could possibly face the 3rd seed Emmanuelle Gagliardi (SUI,89) .. The R1 match will be played today .. In doubles, Niru and Nana Miyagi are once again the top seeds and they face the Barna sisters from Germany - Adriana and Anca.

At the Lucknow grass futures, Rishi Sridhar, one of the very few guys who have shown anything positive or new in the circuit this year, pulled off a nice upset yesterday, of the 5th seed Branislav Sekac (SVK,625) .. Fazal moved on with a 76 76 win, and Vishal moved on with an easy win over Punna Vishal .. No other surprises, as six Indians are playing the second round today .. Check out the Lucknow futures page.

Nov 7 Note-2

Some decent news from the junior grade-4 ITF event in Kuala Lumpur last week .. Sunil Kumar Sipaeya reached the semifinal there .. Sunil was the second seed there .. He beat Raj Dormani (Malaysia), 60 61, Markus Egger (Austria), 64 61, and Kai Cui (China) 63 64, before falling in a very close semi to Rafel Durek (AUS) 63 46 67(5) .. Durek was the Indian killer there, as he beat the 4th seed Vinod Sewa, 76(5) 60 in the second round, 6th seed Amanjot Singh, 64 62 in the quarterfinal, and Sunil Kumar in the semifinal .. Rohan Gajjar was also there and lost to the 7th seed Chris Kwon (USA), 36 16 in the second round [Chris Kwon, unseeded as he was injured most of the year, is a top quality player, who won last week's grade-3 in Hong Kong] .. Amanjot Singh had a decent win against Pramote Malasitt (Thailand) in the second round .. Rahul Rajkhewa lost in the first round .. In boys' doubles, Sewa-Sipaeya reached the semifinal before falling to the top seeds Panu Karanes and Pramote Malasitt of Thailand ..  Girls:  The second seeded Sania Mirza was the only Indian to advance, as the 8th seeded Liza Pereira, as well as unseeded Sasha Abraham, Nischella Reddy, and Megha Vakharia all lost in the first round .. Sania did somewhat OK, beating Nai-Yu Wang (Taiwan) 64 75, and Sydney Cubasch (AUS), 60 76(4) before falling to Kristina Czafikova (Slovakia), 60 76(4) .. Second seeded Hyderbad pair, Sania Mirza and Sasha Abraham reached the semifinal of doubles as well .. I am surprised at the good competition there in Malaysia, for just a grade-4 event .. We never seem to get even half that many quality players to come to India for our grade-4 events .. Not sure where our junior caravan has gone this week .. The grade-4 event in Brunei and the grade-4 in Tianjin (China) are on this week .. Our kids have traditionally not gone to Brunei or China for any events, so perhaps they are returning home.

The semifinal points have moved Sunil up from #97 to #89 this week in the world junior ranking .. Sania who turns 14 years old next week is at #134 now .. Once the 18 year olds leave the rank list in January, Sunil will be starting the next year inside the top-65 or so, and that will mean that he won't have much problem getting into the Australian Open juniors (and if he defends some of his points in the early part of the year, possibly the other grand slams later), but to do well in grand slams and get quality matches against top-players under his belt before moving to seniors some time next year, Sunil needs to raise his level of play a couple of notches in the junior circuit NOW .. He seems perfectly capable of doing that - so we will keep our hopes up.

Nov 7 Note-1

I had a couple of emails asking if there is something new between LP and MB .. Just wanted to state that there is nothing like that .. Just bad luck .. Actually Mahesh was the one who emailed me yesterday about LP's injury, as LP was on his way to Orlando from Europe .. Let us hope that the knee tendinitis will go away fast with some rest .. Based on a report in The Telegraph (Calcutta), the injury is unconnected to the earlier injuries of the wrist and groin, I believe, and that may be good news actually .. He played six matches last week with three three-setters (eight seven-game sets) in five days .. That may be a bit too much of tennis for LP at this time .. I am also guessing that LP is playing at a higher weight close to what he was at in 1998 when he had his best singles results, and knee joints may be one of those places that gets affected first by the upper body weight, which in LP's case helps his power in the singles game .. LP may need to be even more careful in allocating his playing time judiciously .. Perhaps singles and doubles should be done together only at absolutely essential places .. We will wait to see how long he will be out.

I wasn't sure if I should be happy or sad yesterday in hearing about 18 year old Kamala Kannan upsetting 20 yr old Vijay Kannan in the first round at the Lucknow Futures .. Happy to see the youngster making use of the wildcard and making his mark picking up an ATP point, but sad to see that Vijay is once again unable to do anything anywhere near what people expected of him a couple of years back when he was a top-75 junior .. Nitin Kirtane also fell, but Vinod Sridhar managed to beat a hard-fighting 15 year old qualifier Arun Prakash, on whom we have some hopes .. The foregin players did wellm, inclusing a couple of qualifiers .. See the Lucknow futures results pag .. Today's results coming soon, with Fazal, Vishal, Manoj Mahadevan, etc, playing.

News on Nirupama at the Pittsburgh challenger (main draw starting today there), coming soon.

Nov 6 Note-2

Oh shooot .. LP is down again .. Has tendinitis on his knees, and he has to skip a couple of weeks (hopefully nothing much longer) .. He is back in Florida for now .. Looks like he will have to skip Paris masters next week as well .. We will have to wait and see if LP and MB will get a chance to play anywhere before Bangalore .. Oh, boy, what can I say?

Nov 6 Note-1

Just saw the doubles draw at Lyon and Mahesh is playing with Nenad Zimonjic (YUG,40) in the doubles draw .. I am not sure where LP is, at this time .. The last entry in the draw at Lyon was Nargiso-Gaudenzi who were ranked 56+84, which means MB and LP would have had to squeeze in as one of the last entries with a 43+85 rank .. If I were to guess, LP may have decided to skip Lyon because of the uncertainty in making the draw, but that is just a guess .. I have emailed both - hopefully we will hear soon about what happened .. I hope LP did not get injured or anything at Charleroi last week .. I will also check if he made the singles draw somewhere, but with there being no challengers in Europe this week, LP may be taking the week off (the challenger events are in the US, in Korea and in Chile this week) ..

MB-Zimonjic will be playing Tramacchi and Van Houdt at Lyon in the first round .. Zimonjic is a good player, and he was a semifinalist last week at the Stuttgart masters with Wayne Arthurs (by the way, the Stuttgart title went to Novak-Rikl who had beaten MB-Ullyett in the second round last week -- looks like those two will be coming to Bangalore in good form)

Nirupama, who had originally planned to skip the $50K Pittsburgh challenger this week is actually playing there .. We will know the draw soon .. She will be continuing to play doubles with Miyagi this week and also the next week at the Naples (Florida) challenger.

The qualifying rounds were completed yesterday at the $10K Lucknow futures, and four Indians made it in - the most interesting entry being the young Arun Prakash, who is among the top-3 in the under-16 ranks .. Also making it in is Nishank Mishra in the top-15 of the u18 ranks, along with SK Shivshankar, Kedar Shah, and four foreigners  .. One name that caught my eye among the qualifiers is Stephen Nugent of Ireland -- I remember that guy winning the ITF junior international in Calcutta in 98 December, as the second seed .. In his first year on the pro tour this year, I don't think he has done all that well, however .. In the main draw, Vishal Uppal, the 6th seed, gets Punna Vishal in the first round and Fazaluddin gets Anton Kokurin of Uzbekistan .. See the Lucknow futures page.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 6 ..

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.