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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Nov 15, 1999

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Nov 15 Note-1

The events of interest to us this week are the Hartford doubles championship, the Vietnam futures (I believe Fazal was supposed to make a trip there), a junior grade-5 ITF international in Pakistan (not sure if any Indian kids would have gone there, considering the current political situation), a grade-4 ITF junior international in Malaysia and the AITA subjunior (u14/u16) ranking event in Pune ..  There was an AITA subjunior ranking event last week in Mumbai too, but I have not seen the results yet.

The new ATP singles rankings are out, and Fazaluddin Syed, with the points from the just-concluded satellites has reached a career-high top-400 ranking at #396 !! .. Srinath is at #321 .. LP is at #200 and MB is at #296 .. Though he did not play at these satellites and lost a few points from last year's satellites, Harsh Mankad stays at #5 in India at #662, followed by Vinod Sridhar, Sandeep Kirtane and Vishal Uppal ..  I find that ATP has given 1 point to Sunil Kumar even though he did not make the masters draw .. Those who made the playoff for the masters leg after three regular legs received 1 point each .. 16 yr old Sunil has entered the ranking at #1301 .. 17 yr old AV Rao is the other new entrant in the rank list from India, and he is at #1161 with 3 pts .. Rohan Bopanna made the biggest jump, of over 300 spots to #905 ..

By the way, 20 year old Kamil Patel of Mauritius won the Swiss satellites that ended last week, and will now reach a career high top-400 ranking - this guy was in the 900s just about 3-4 months back .. I know nothing about him, except that he has Patel as the last name :-)

According to the Telegraph, Calcutta, the grasscourt nationals will be held at the CFCC courts in Calcutta starting March 6th nect year .. I had heard earlier that AITA might try to find a February date for the nationals ..

Nov 14 Note-2

Nirupama lost yet another close qualifier match today - to #91 Olga Barabanschikova (BLR),  2-6 7-5 5-7 in the second round at the WTA Pattaya City tournament in Thailand .. Also, Niru could not squeeze into the doubles main draw like in the last week, and ended up playing the qualifiers with Marion Maruska .. They were the top seeds in the qualies but lost in the first round to Myskina and Prakusya, 5-8 .. Hmm .. In my view, Niru should avoid all these qualifiers - qualy rounds have not fetched her much in the last couple of years .. A lot of those qualies have been at the tougher challengers too, this year - Niru has this knack for ending up at the tougher challengers and somehow missing out on a lot of easier challengers where she would have easily made the main draws! .. She has done much better in tournaments such as the Australian challengers last year where she made the main draw .. She was originally scheduled to be in the challengers in Australia for three weeks this month .. I believe she has missed the Mt. Gambier challenger starting Monday, as she was at the Pattaya City qualifiers .. She should be able to go to the next two weeks at the Nuriootpa and Port Pirie challengers in South Australia .. She has a good number of points to defend from two Australian challengers and the Indian challengers last year, over the next three weeks - she was planning to play at least 4 challengers, with Manila and New Delhi following the Australian challengers .. She should be in the main draw at all four - I hope she doesn't change her schedule and miss out the main draws once again !  ..

Nov 14 Note-1

Nirupama was to be playing the #1 seed in the qualies, 91-ranked  Olga Barabanschikova (BLR) today in the Q2 at the Volvo Open WTA event in Pattaya City, Thailand .. I have not got today's results yet.

Nov 13 Note-2

Nirupama won the first round of the qualifiers at the WTA Tier-IV event in Pattaya City, Thailand today - She beat Tatiana Kovalchuk (UKR,274), 6-4, 6-2 .. I have not seen the draw yet, and so I am not sure whom she meets next ..

Nov 13 Note-1

Here are the newspaper reports on yesterday's satellite masters final - by Sharda Ugra in The Hindu , by Arun Janardhan in the Indian Express, and by Naoshirvan Vakil in the Times of India ..  It appears that things just did not go right for Fazal at some key points in the match .. Some comments on "moving lines" by Arun are interesting - I guess he implies that the calls actually went against Fazal at key points in the 36 64 64 loss .. That is terrible .. Where is the home court advantage ? .. I also read the PTI report that SIX  (are you kidding me?) foot faults were called against Fazal .. Hello ??? .. Was this being played in India ? .. Urgh .. One needs to be able to weather these problems and win, though .. Fazal did play well enough it seems, but he just didn't get the breaks .. Here is what was in the Indian Express article: At 5-4, serving in the decider, Chicoine was down two breakpoints and Fazaluddin faced his last chance to salvage the final .. Then, the line moved just a little. Or so Fazaluddin would have thought for two seemingly winning shots -- one forehand pass and a backhand return -- just went wide, giving the American a spot of divine blessing and a dose of Indian hospitality ..  Apparently this was an action-replay of what happened at 4-3 when Fazal had 2 break chances too .. It is rather disgusting to me to hear of any such "hospitality" from Indians .. Fazal said after the match that "it is a game of inches, and the inches weren't with me today" and congratulated Chicoine .. All credits go to Chicoine though - the guy could hardly move due to cramps in the end, but he hung in there - fortune favors the brave .. He said afterwards that he did get lucky in the end as he could just not move any more, had it gone on any longer .. I predicted yesterday that he would not give Fazal an easy time even though he stood to gain only one extra ATP point with this win (though Fazal could have had 8!) and he did exactly that .. That is some incredible fight from Tom, and he deserves huge congratulations .. All the players at the satellites should learn from him, about that "never-lose" spirit .. Regardless of what is at stake or what is not, a player should always look to win - and then good things will happen.

And kudos to Fazal for exorcizing his own demons after three terrible weeks and coming to form just in the nick of time to finish 5th in the standings (up from 18th earlier!) ..  He should be able to crack inside the top-400 for the first time now .. And he very effectively removed any doubts anybody may have had creeping in, that he may not be deserving of that #4 spot in the Indian team .. Good job.

Some early news on the Lucknow challenger starting after 2 weeks, on Nov 29th - the top seed will be Paradorn Srichaphan (#104) of Thailand .. I believe this may be the first time the 20 yr old current Asian #1 is visiting India [Gosh, I can't believe that it was just a year back that I was talking about this top junior guy going to be good in the future - Asian #1 already ?] .. The usual suspects like Oleg Ogorodov (UZB, #133), Tuomas Ketola (Finland, #161) and Jamie Delgado (GBR,#191) are the next three seeds, followed by Leander at #204 as the 5th seed, as it stands .. Mahesh, Srinath and Fazal have all made the draw as the entries closed .. Three more Indians should make it in as wildcards, and others will need to fight for the four qualifier spots .. Paes-en-Sport of Dr.Vece Paes is organizing this challenger (under the auspices of AITA, as the press release says) .. They will also be organizing the one in the following week at Jaipur and then one in Calcutta, starting on February 14th.

Nov 12 Notes

The Indian satellites are over - Tom Chicoine won the masters final today, beating Fazal, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 ..  Take a look at the official final ATP points I have just updated (according to the fax out of Mumbai this evening, actually!) .. I have corrected a couple of minor errors from earlier too .. Srinath and Fazal with 37 and 11 ATP pts respectively, as we figured out earlier .. More later.

At the $800K Scania Stockholm Open quartefinals, W.Black - S.Stolle d. M.Bhupathi - P.Tramacchi, 6-1, 6-3 .. MB-PT were broken rightaway in the first game after falling behind 15-40 .. This continued in the 3rd game also, as they lost 4 points in a row from 30-0 to be broken again .. After managing to hold serve in the 5th game, they were again down 0-40 in the game 7 and the set got over fast at 1-6 .. Then they were down 0-30 in game 2 of the second set, but foght back to level at 1-1 .. They then showed a sign of a fight and had a break chance at 30-40 in game 3 .. WB-SS held there though .. After MB-PT held serve at love in the 4th game, it looked as though the tennis was rather even till the seventh game .. Then came the break in the 8th game and MB-PT were again down 3-5 .. They had a last-gasp fight and tried to force a break in the next game with 2 break chances off the opponents serve at 15-40 .. WB-SS won 4 points in a row and finished it off ..  Assuming that Mahesh started serve as usual in each set, he was not broken after the first game of the first set, but Tramacchi was broken in 3 of the 4 games he served .. Anyway, count it as a nice couple of matches of practice for MB getting back from injury .. Now MB will be flying to Hartford (I believe today itself) .. LP is also scheduled to get to Hartford tonight or tomorrow, and they will get down to the business at hand - winning their first Hartford title.

Nov 11 Note-2

Mahesh and Tramacchi are scheduled to play the quarterfinal at the $800K Scania Stockholm Open tomorrow (Friday) at 1.30 pm (4.30 am PST, u.s.a .. 6 pm India) .. All fans are welcome to join us in our chatroom for ball-by-ball scores and chat .. We have not had a chat session in a while, and this may be a good time to get started again - Hartford is next week you know! .. Let's get fired up!

What about our man, the one on a mission to regain lost pride - Fazal ? .. He won the semifinal today in a terrific fight through back spasms, etc .. Fazaluddin d. Mlynarik, 64 26 63 ! .. "Be brave" was the advice his buddy Srinath reportedly gave Fazal .. Reportedly Fazal said after the match that it was exactly what he needed in the end when he had to resort to flat-paced serves and variations, as his back was troubling him a lot .. He pulled through, and now faces Tom Chicoine, the 3rd seeded American who ousted Thomas Messmer of Germany in another show of great fight .. Tom came back from 46 03 down to win 12 of the next 14 games and grab a 46 63 62 win ! .. The win has assured Chicoine of the circuit topper position and 10 extra ATP points that come with it .. With 58 circuit points (excluding any bonus) he already has 36+10 ATP points .. I believe Srinath and Messmer are tied for the second spot with 53 circuit points each - if so, both should be getting 32+5 ATP points each (5 for circuit runner-up) .. Fazal is the one who has picked up a lot of circuit points so far .. He has taken his tally from 8 to 31 with this leg, and his ATP pts from 3 to 11 so far .. As the big jump in ATP pts happen once above the 30 circ.pts mark, Fazal can take his tally to 19 ATP points with a win tomorrow (which will leave him with 39 circ.pts) .. Chicoine on the other hand has nothing much to fight for .. A win will only give him 1 extra ATP point - that's how the point table works - once you go past about 55 circ pts, the extra points are hardly worth much .. Chicoine, who is known as one who never gives anything away, shouldn't be expected to give Fazal a free ride in the final, though! .. See the results in the Leg-4 page.

Nov 11 Note-1

Mahesh and Tramacchi are not playing their QF match at Stockholm today .. It should be on the schedule for tomorrow (Friday) ..

Mustafa and Vishal Uppal made it two satellite masters titles in a row (they had won the June satellites masters too) .. They beat Fazal and Srinath, 63 75 yesterday .. With this win, by my calculations, they ended up second in the satellite circuit points list behind the Kirtanes (36 cir.pts, worth 29 ATP pts) and picked up the 5 extra ATP points given to the circuit #2 pair - thus 34 total ATP pts .. This will move both of them up in the rankings by about 150 spots or so, to inside 500 .. I believe the Kirtanes ended up with 40 circuit points (worth 32 ATP pts) and picked up 10 extra ATP pts given to the circuit toppers for 42 total ATP pts .. I have not calculated the few bonus pts that may come into the calculation for beating any top-ranked teams, etc .. Anyway, it's a really commendable job by the new young pair Ghouse-Uppal to play together long enough and develop into a doubles threat .. Sharda Ugra says in The Hindu: The race to decide the second best doubles team in the country is now on. Mustafa Ghouse and Vishaal Uppal have thrown their hats into the ring with some style and much substance ... That is true .. The Kirtanes had 49 pts in last year's stallites and defended 42 here - both will be just inside the top-300 in the new rankings in 2 weeks .. Fazal picked up 23 more doubles ATP pts and will also now be ranked at just inside the top-300 ..

Later, with today's singles semifinal scores from Mumbai.

Good news for Chennai -- Cedric Pioline (#15) of France has sent his enty for the Chennai Goldflake Open .. That makes it the #2 (Kafelnikov), #15 (Pioline) and #16 (Moya) from the current rank list appearing there .. The tournament will most probably get noticeably better participation from top players this time, due to the better timing in January.

Nov 10 Note-2

Nirupama (#191) and Holly Parkinson (USA,151) went down in a close match to the much higher ranked pair of Rita Grande (ITA,62) and Sylvia Plischke (AUT,32), 6-2, 4-6, 5-7 yesterday in the first round at the Wismalik Open in Kuala Lumpur (source: The Star, Kuala Lumpur) ..

Here is the onsite fanclub member report on Mahesh's doubles match at Stockholm today, from Dr. Sanjeevi: I am writing this from the Kungliga Tennishallen where the matches are going on .... I saw MB-PT play their first match here. They played very well. They were very confident and took the first set 6-0.  However in the second set they took it easy and the set went to tie-breaker. they finally won when Bowen double faulted at crucial point ....  I spoke to Mahesh after the match. He was full of confidence. He hopes to do well at Hartford with LP. He said that his shoulder is still hurting and so is his stomach, but it is much better than it was few weeks ago. He said that Leander is training at Orlando and is in good shape .... He hopes to do well here with Tramacchi. Their next round opponents are (2nd seeds) Black and Stolle and it is to be played tomorrow (Thursday). If MB-PT lose MB said that he will head straight for Hartford tomorrow itself .. Thanks Sanjeevi, for the report.

Nov 10 Note-1

Bhupathi and Peter Tramacchi won their first round match at the $800K Scania Stockholm Open just now .. MB-PT were quickly up 5-0, with breaks in games 2 and 4 .. Then they converted the first set point at 5-0 for the 3rd break and wrapped up the first set 6-0 .. M.Bertolini and D.Bowen were hardly getting many points in the whole set .. They did toghen up a bit in the second set .. MB-PT faced one break attempt in the first game of the second set, but held  on .. Neither pair faced a break point till game 10 when Bert-Bowen were facing a set point at 4-5 and 30-40 .. They averted trouble there .. It went to a tiebreaker, soon .. MBPT went up 4-1 with one minibreak and serving two at 5-2 with two minibreaks .. It was over at 6-0, 7-6(2)  .. The match took exactly one hour to complete .. It's good to see that Mahesh is doing fine after the injury break - good sign for Hartford next week.

Big upset today at the masters in Mumbai, as Srinath went down at the worst possible game, to unseeded Zybinek Mlynarik of Austria, 6-7(1), 1-6 .. I have only seen the score and do not know what caused Srinath's defeat, but I hope he is alright .. Zybinek was a seeded player with a ranking inside the top-800 when the satellites started, but had done poorly in the first three legs - perhaps he is playing well now .. There was good news though, as Fazaluddin made sure there will be one Indian in the semifinal, with an upset of the 4th seed, Radim Zitko, 67(3) 62 64 in a comeback .. Go Fazal ! .. He is showing that he has not lost the fight in him, and has now placed himself at the #6 spot in the circuit points, after falling all the way down from #2 to #18 after three legs .. Vishal Uppal played yet another good match, but went down fighting in three sets to Tom Messmer .. Rohan Bopanna could not put it across Tom Chicoine .. So it will be Fazal vs Mlynarik, and Chicoine vs Messmer in the semis tomorrow.

Srinath caused some slight damage to his ATP points with this loss .. He now has 53 circuit points (32 ATP points), but he is sure not to get the extra 10 ATP points for the circuit topper, as Messmer with 53 pts or Chicoine with 51 pts will overtake him after their semifinal .. I believe it is possible for Srinath to finish second with a Messmer loss tomorrow, but I am not sure of that due to some few bonus points that may get added to the circuit points I show in the points page.  In any event, Srinath will have around 32 or 37 ATP points, which will still leave him inside the top-340 after the satellite .. That is good recovery by Sri after a terrible start to the satellites with a first round loss in the first leg .. Fazal has done a great job with this last-gasp rear-guard action .. With the 16 pts here, he now has 24 circuit pts (8 ATP points - he is just outside top-400 with that), but can pick up 7 more cir.pts with a semifinal win over Mlynarik tomorrow, which will give him 11 ATP pts (and he will crack top-400 for the first time) .. Two wins would leave Fazal with  39 cir.pts and 19 ATP points  (a top-375 ranking) .. That would be quite a lot better than we could have expected after the disasters Fazal had  in the first three legs .. With these results, Fazal may have effectively established that he is still the India #4 and prevented any consideration of say a Sandeep Kirtane for the Indian team for Asia Cup team, etc ..

Nov 9 Note-3

MB and Tramacchi are scheduled to face D.Bowen and M.Bertolini tomorrow (wednesday) at 1 pm in Stockholm (4 am PST, USA, 5.30 pm India) .. They will have online ball-by-ball score updates at the official site, ..

In doubles today at the Mumbai satellite masters, the Kirtanes once again got upset in the masters leg (they have been the top seeds into the masters for three Indian stallites in a row, but have never won the masters leg) .. Fazal and Srinath have reached the final now with that upset .. By my calculation of the points, Fazal can tie the Kirtanes with 40 circuit points and thus get the 10 extra ATP points for circuit topper by winning the doubles title (42 total ATP points) .. Since the Kirtanes' points from last year's satellites have fallen off, Fazal has overtaken them in this week's doubles ranking as the Indian #3 .. With this win over them today, Fazal may have ensured that he may stay above them .. He and Srinath will have the young-but-developing doubles pair, Mustafa and Vishal to handle in the final .. I have now added the doubles circuit points, hopefully correct, in the circuit points page.

Nov 9 Note-2

Forgot to mention earlier - Nirupama is playing doubles in the main draw at the Wismalik Open ($170K Tier-III WTA event) at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia .. Nirupama (#191) and Holly Parkison (USA,150) .. They face Rita Grande (ITA,62) and Sylvia Plischke (AUT,32) in the first round - tough matchup, again .. It's a good break for Niru though, as they were the last team in the draw, I believe .. Always nice to be in the main draw and get hospitailty (accommodation, etc) at the tournament .. Not sure when they will be playing the R1 match.

Nov 9 Note-1

At the satellite masters in Mumbai today, there were upsets galore, as all the bottom four seeds were dumped .. First, the "wounded animal" I talked about yesterday showed up and took care of the 5th seed Per Thornadtsson - Fazal, trying to salvage as much as he can, was there pulling uff another straight sets win, to follow up on his destruction of Nitin Kirtane yesterday .. I was itching to predict upsets in my notes yesterday by the two guys I called the "break-out" fellows here - Vishal and Rohan - but I thought I shouldn't jinx the young men .. So, there they are, making it into the quarterfinals with upsets today .. Rohan got the better of 6th seed Sandeep Kirtane in straight sets .. Then Vishal Uppal accounted for 7th seed Kunj Majmudar (USA) in three sets .. Vishal has been more of a known quantity in Indian tennis though his best results have come here .. But the tall 20 yr old guy from Coorg (now in Pune under Nandan Bal's coaching),  Rohan Bopanna, deserves a close look by everyone .. He was in the upper echelon of junior players till recently, though he never had any break-through results in the juniors .. Do we finally have that rare entity in Indian tennis  - somebody who starts doing better and better after the age of 19 ? .. Rohan's consistency and confidence has been proven well in all 4 legs of the satellites .. In other matches, the top 4 seeds (Srinath, Messmer, Chicoine, Zitko) were not troubled much, except for  Vijay Kannan giving some resistence to Srinath in a 75 63 win .. Vinod Sridhar bowed out to Zitko - it's fair to say that Vinod, who is the #5 in AITA rankings, did not take a step forward in these satellites .. I don't think there were any doubles today, but the singles results are all at the Mumbai Masters page.

The new rankings show LP at 204, MB at 294, Srinath at 404, Fazal at 418 and Harsh at 657 .. The points from last years satellites fell off, and that's why Srinath dropped .. He should be back up near or inside 300, once the points from these satellites go into the computer in 2 weeks.  Fazal did not play in last year's satellites, and so whatever he picks up here would move him up.

Nov 8 Note-2

Damn .. Niru unfortunately, once again, fell at the final hurdle in qualies .. She lost to Annabel Ellwood (AUS,109), 2-6, 5-7 .. It is incredible, the number of times she has lost in the final round of qualies, normally after upsetting somebody very good in the first 2 rounds .. In this case, I expected 7th seed Annabel Ellwood to be a tough matchup for Niru, though. She should be either at the Pattaya City WTA event qualifying rounds this coming weekend, or proceeding to Australia for the three-week challenger series starting at Mount Gambier next week.

I have added the doubles results from the satellite masters today, at the Leg-4 page .. All four teams in the semifinals are Indians ! .. Vijay Kannan and Vasudev Reddy had a good win over a troublesome pair, Tom Chicoine and Kunj Majmudar .. Fazal and Srinath advanced in a three-setter, over Karagiannis and Doug Abraham, both Fazal's partners in the earlier leg - interesting .. Hey, Fazal, why didn't you just play with your buddy Sri right from the beginning ? :-)

Some US college tennis news -- Harsh Mankad had his first big test this weekend, and did fine though he lost (:-)) .. He was at the North regional championships and advanced to the 3rd round beating players from Western Michigan and Michigan State Universities, but then he ended up with the #2 player in US college ranking, Ryan Sachire of Notre Dame ! .. Quite a tall order for a freshman player from any university .. Mankad showed his class, and took him to two tiebreakers, losing 6-7(6-8), 6-7(6-8) .. A loss is never good, but he proved that he can certainly play with the big boys here .. Uzma Khan is unbeaten in fall tennis (at Univ of Arizona), and won two invitation type tournaments at San Diego and at Michigan - she has a 7 match win streak going (I believe she has not had to go up against any top-50 players yet) .. She should be at the West regional tournament at Irvine this week .. Ajay Ramaswmay reached the second round of the South regional but lost to Alex Hartman, preseason #100 in colleges .. Salil Seshadri and Akram Zaman of Columbia University had reached the final of the East regional doubles when I saw the results last .. Akshay Jagdale (Rutgers U.) and Susheel Narla (U of Alabama) lost in the first round of their regionals .. The best results from the regionals so far are from Jahnavi Parekh, who reached the final of the South regional, upsetting the #44 player, Galina Seliouina (UH) in straight sets in semis .. Jahnavi lost the final to the #30 ranked Bruno Colosio (LSU), but she should get a nice top-100 ranking after this show!

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 8 ..