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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Nov 20, 2000

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Nov 20 Notes

At the Mumbai futures today, other than Rohan Bopanna pulling a minor upset over Tamas Gyorgy of Hungary in straight sets, there was no good news in the 8 matches that Indians played against foreigners .. Vijay Kannan won one set against Tomas Janci (CZE), but lost the next two .. Mustafa Ghouse retd after 3 games against Kokurin (UZB) .. Nitin Kirtane, Vinod Sridhar, Vijayendra Laad and Saurav Panja lost without much fight against the 2nd seed Bruthans, 4th seed Grolmus, 7th seed Kamil Patel and qualifier Doran, respectively .. Manoj Mahadevan, Rishi Sridhar and Kedar Tembe advanced against Indian opponents .. 8th seed Vishal Uppal's disappointing season continued, as he got upset by 19 yr old wildcard Kedar Tembe, who was inside the top-150 in the world early last year but had not shown any spark for quite a long time .. I'm not sure if the three-set win for Kedar was due to him taking the proverbial next step, or if it was simply Vishal losing a match he shouldn't have lost ..  Three of the remaining four Indian players have seeds to face in the second round, and so it does not look good for now .. See the Mumbai futures page.

No news yet from Manila where Shruti should be playing this week .. As there are no challengers this week in the US, Nirupama is taking this week also off .. She will play next week's $50K challenger in Tucson, Arizona, which will be the last tournament of the year for her.

Nov 19 Notes

At the Stockholm Swedish Open, Mahesh is playing doubles with Byron Black .. They have a tough draw, facing the Swedes, Simon Aspelin and Johan Landsberg in the first round .. If they advance, they will face top seeds Kulti-Tillstrom, or an equally tough Knowles-Nestor .. Sanjeevi, as usual will be reporting any news from there.

The qualifying rounds were completed at the Mumbai futures today, and two Indians - Kedar Shah and Nipun Gupta - qualified into the main draw .. I have posted all the results and the main draws at the new Mumbai futures page .. Vishal Uppal, Nitin Kirtane, Mustafa Ghouse, Vijay Kannan, Vinod Sridhar, Rishi Sridhar and Rohan Bopanna got direct entries .. With Manoj Mahadevan, Saurav Panja, Vijayendra Laad and Kedar Tembe getting the wildcards, and with the two qualifiers, there are 13 Indians in the main draw .. Fazaluddin is skipping this week's futures (he had withdrawn a couple of weeks earlier; not sure why) .. So Vishal is the only seed in the draw, and gets a rather easy first round match against Kedar Tembe .. The next highest ranked Indian, Nitin Kirtane, however, has to face the second seed Viktor Bruthans .. Six Indians play each other, and the other seven face foreigners .. Vinod plays the 4th seed Grolmus, and Laad plays the Mauritian 7th seed, Kamil Patel.

At the Sarawak (Malaysia) ITF grade-5 junior event, Amanjot Singh and Rohan Gajjar fell in the SF yesterday, and the Indians challenge ended there .. Rajeev Ram of USA, looking more and more like the next big hope in US tennis, won the other ITF junior event this week, the grade-5 at Dallas, Texas .. Actually "Prof" saw the match and sent me a match report too .. He was commenting that it was time to start a page for Rajeev Ram .. Well, as he is a USA player, I will hold off on that - here are some comments from Krishnan Narayan (aka "Prof") - "Relaxed, calm and focused, intense competitor is the description that comes to mind when I watch Rajiv play. Everytime there is a close call he will always call it in his opponents favor if he is not sure it is out; this is a truly remarkable quality that only champions have .. Its clear that we have a powerful talent here....everything I see reminds me of Sampras; an awesome, powerful forehand, a versatile, penetrating one-handed backhand (he can slice, topspin and flat from anywhere on the court) ..  His serve also reminds me of Sampras, he can vary spin, speed, placement and pace at will with astounding accuracy, very hard to figure out where and how his serve will come at you next" .. No, that's not hyperbole from Prof .. This kid is a serious prospect, ranked #1 in the 16s in the US (turning 17 only next march) .. Also, I had commented here about him getting the best sportsmanship award at the Nationals, etc .. He is building up fans at all these tournaments too!

Nov 18 Notes

I checked to see if Mahesh is playing singles qualies or something somewhere .. It doesn't look like it .. He basically needs wildcards in most places, so probably not his fault .. Will await doubles draw from Stockholm, where he may be playing this coming week.

18 yr old Shruti and 24 yr old former WTA #56 Miho Saeki (returning from an ankle injury layoff) played an engrossing 5-set battle today at the Manila satellite semifinal .. Shruti served two match points at 3-2 in the 5th set, then fought off two match points at 3-4 on Miho's serve to send it to a tiebreaker, where she finally fell .. Saeki d. Dhawan, 14 42 41 14 54(3) in a 2 hour 40 minute battle .. All I can say is, Wow! .. To come back in the 4th and 5th sets like that and fight till the end against somebody as good as Miho, is very very impressive .. Unfortunately, Shruti had more bad news later, as she fell in the doubles semis too - apparently thanks to her partner, according to a newspaper .. Here is Manila Times: "It was a close match, and I was lucky to get enough rest. If I played five sets yesterday (Friday), I don’t think I would have made it,” said Saeki, who was holding serve at 30-all in the third set before monsoon rains forced organizers to postpone her match to today ... In what proved to be a very long day for the Indian, she and doubles partner Jennifer Schmidt of Austria also bowed to the top-seeded Korean pair of Kim Jin-Hee and Chae Kyung-Yee, 42 42 42 .. Dhawan played well enough in the afternoon match to hold her serve on her turn, but Schmidt’s service always failed her in the sixth game of every set and practically gave the winning points to Kim and Chae" .. Manila Times has been very impressed with Shruti all week .. She picked up 3 more WTA points to take her total to 21.75, and her rankings up about 40 spots from the current 544 .. Shruti will be at the $10K satellite next week in Philippines, also at Manila .. Go Girl!

Not much good news from the grade-5 ITF international in Sarawak, Malaysia this week .. 3rd seed Amanjot Singh went down in straight sets, 26 57 to the ninth seed Brett Hunter (AUS) and unseeded Liu Tai Wei of Taiwan beat eighth seed Rohan Gajjar 76 75 in the singles QF of the 6 round event .. Rohan and Amanjot are in the doubles semis though - they beat Hsieh Yu Da and Lin Wei Ting of Chinese Taipei 62 62 yesterday .. The Indian girls had all fallen by the QF stage earlier .. Also, another piece of bad news - from Dallas (Texas) .. Sania Mirza, who was the top seed, got upset in the second round, 36 63 46 by Helen Broome of Britain .. Sania and Leila Cehajic of Canada reached the semifinal of doubles and lost.

The Chandigarh futures was won by Krotiousk of Russia yesterday .. See the Chandigarh results page .. The cravan moves to Mumbai for the futures there this coming week.

Nov 17 Notes

Some good news about Gold Flake Open, to start on Jan 1st .. Two more top players have eneterd the tournamnt, as #12 Franco Squillari (ARG) and #20 Mariano Puerta (ARG) joined the list .. That's terrific as it takes the count at the top to five top-20 players, with #4 Norman, #13 Ferrero and #15 Pioline already entered, along with #40 Jerome Golmard, the defending champ .. It has been a struggle for Chennai to attract any more than a couple of top-20 players in the past, and the five entries from the top-20 this time shows that the tournament is perhaps beginning to be taken seriously .. Cool! .. I am not sure where the entry cut off is standing now, but the entries will be based on next week's rankings .. If I were to guess, the cut wuld be higher than the #150 and #125 we have had in the past .. Perhaps closer to top-100, which means Leander at #129 now, will probably need a wildcard from them .. Based on how this tournament has used wildcards in the past, it may be just LP and MB who would be in the main draw from India - at least this time it would be difficult for us to argue for anybody else getting a wildcard, considering how our other men have done .. We will see how it all shakes out.

At the semifinals of the $10K satellite in Manila today, Shruti Dhawan won the first round against Miho Saeki and dropped the next set, when rain sopped play and they postponed it to tomorrow .. That's nice to know that she won a 41 set against somebody as good as Saeki .. Hopefully she can pull it out tomorrow .. Romana Tejakusuma of Indonesia has reached the final, winning the first semi over Wialwan Choptang (THA) .. Not sure where the doubles stand (source: Manila Times)

Both the Indian teams (Nitin-Sourav and Mustafa-Vishal) fell in straight sets without much fight in the doubles semis yesterday at the Chandigarh futures, ending the week for Indians -- it has been really a rare thing for no Indian to be in either final at any international tournament in India, but that is how it has gone at Chandigarh .. The Indian men need to somehow get a bit more confidence back - they seem to be collectively struggling on this count .. See the Chandigarh results page .. Two more seeds fell yesterday, as unseeded Russian Krotiouk and the Irish qualifier Doran reached the singles final.

At the Sarawak ITF grade-5 event in Malaysia, 3rd seeded Amanjot Singh and 8th seeded Rohan Gajjar have reached the quarterfinals .. Top seed Sunil Sipaeya retired with fever in the first round, and second seeded Vinod Sewa (who won last week's Brunei event) was upset in the PQF by Lim Kyung Sik (KOR), 61 61 .. Perhaps Vinod is also not well, looking at that score line .. Megha Wakharia lost to one of the best Asian juniors, Su-Wei Hsieh, 16 16 .. Ouch! .. 2nd seeded Liza Pereira lost 36 61 16 to 13th seeded Kimberly Coventry (AUS), who had beaten Nischella Reddy, 63 76 before .. So, except for Amanjot and Rohan being in the QFs, this week is not going very well for our kids.

Nov 16 Note-2

Shruti continues to roll at the $10K Manila satellite, where she has reached the semifinal .. Today she took out the 8th seed Jennifer Schmidt, 41 42 41 .. She has a very tough match next, against Miho Saeki (!) .. If you are wondering what the heck Miho (ranked in the top-100 just last year, and as high as #56 in 1998) is doing at this satellite, it is just that she is returning from a long injury layoff .. She is actually unranked right now .. Miho beat the second seed Kyung-Yee Chae in four sets today .. I saw this comment in Friday's Manila Times -- "Saeiki, who was ranked 120th in the world before hurting her left ankle, will have a tough time against the power-hitting Dhawan, who has already disposed of fourth seed Andrea Van Den Hurk of the Netherlands in straight sets in the opening round.  The Indian lass, ranked 705th worldwide [last week's rank; she is 544 this week - Jay], also clobbered frequent Manila visitor Dea Sumantri of Indonesia in straight sets Tuesday before powering past Schmidt, ranked 22 places higher and seeded eighth" ..  Wow! .. That's quite a stretch by the newspaper to say that somebody like Saeki will have a tough time against Shruti, in her first year of pro tennis and playing her first pro event abroad .. Hey our girl seems to have impressed people out there .. When was the last time you heard of "power game" from an Indian? .. I love it! ..

There is a streak of confidence in this 18 year old that must be noted by everybody .. She just does not seem to be awed by anything .. This was the case when she won a satellite masters in India as a 16 year old two years back .. This week's show is another indication, as was her run to the QFs in the challenger two weeks back .. Winning tennis is mental to a large extent, and so far Shruti is giving us a lot of hope on this count .. Her return from a year of injury problems in such a resoundingly successful manner, is one of the best stories for Indian tennis this year, in my view.

Nov 16 Note-1

Here are the details from the Grade-4 ITF junior international in Brunei where the second seed Vinod Sewa won the title over the top seed Sunil Kumar, 63 64, last Sunday .. This was a big tournament with 7 rounds and over 75 players, though most players had byes into the R2 round of 64 .. Vinod beat 6th seed Gunter Austerhuber (AUT), 61 61 in the SF, 9th seed Marcus Egger (AUT), 76(2) 62 in the QF, Taek Soo Kim (KOR) 62 63 in R4,  Pedro Joao (POR) 60 60 in R2 and had a walkover in R2 .. Sunil beat 4th seed Mark Henderson, 64 61 in the SF, 15th seed Brett Hunter (AUS), 26 76(8) 64 in the QF, Joseph Victorino (PHI), 63 61 in R4,  Palanupap Puranawit (THA), 61 61 in R3 and Ting Lin Wei (TPE) 61 60 in R2 .. 5th seed Amanjot Singh lost to 4th seed Mark Hunter in the QF after wins over Martin Neidermaier (AUS) 61 60 in R3, Tai-Wei Liu (TPE) 62 62 in R3 and Wang Cheng Hsieh (TPE), 62 64 in R2 .. 10th seed P.Ravikrishna won the R2 over Ali Imron (INA), 64 75 before being upset in R3 by Hwa-Soo Yoo of Korea 36 46 .. 12th seed Rahul Rajkhewa won the R2 over Yi-Chang Wu (TPE), 63 64 and lost the next round to Martin Neidermaier (AUS), 46 26 .. 16th seed Rohan Gajjar lost in R2 to Su-Hyun Han (KOR), 64 36 16 .. Vivek Chandrasekhar lost in the second round to 14th seed Prmote Malasitt, 16 06 .. Rohan Kranti lost to Taek Soo Kim (KOR) 36 63 26 in R2 .. Girls:  4th seeded Sasha Abraham and Nischela Reddy were there, but both lost in the second round ..  Nice to see two Indian boys in the final, and a 3rd one (Amanjot) reaching the QF there .. Though Sunil and Vinod were the top two seeds, they had to play against a good number of top-300 quality players there on the way to the final .. It looks like it was a good quality grade-4 event .. This is Vinod's second foreign title this year (he had won the grasscourt grade-5 title in Canada in August).

This week's news from the ongoing grade-5 event in Sarawak (Malaysia) isn't as good .. Unfortunately, top-seed Sunil Kumar had to retire in his very first match, due to an eye infection along with fever on Tuesday - he was leading 52 in the first round against Tai-Wei Liu (TPE) when he retired .. But for Rohan Gajjar beating Warwick Foyer 63 63 to reach QF, the PQFs yesterday were bad too, as Im Kyung Sik (KOR) beat Vinod Sewa 61 61, Chang Kai Lung (CHN) beat Amanjit Singh 63 63 and Oliver Grignard (BEL) beat P.Ravikrishna  60 61 .. On the girls side, Megha and Liza joined the Indian contingent this week .. Second seeded Liza Pereira has reached the QF with a win over Ayoko Tamura (JPN) 63 64 .. Seventh seeded Megha Vakharia beat Wang Nai-Yu (KOR) 60 62 to reach the QF, but she runs into one of the very best juniors in Asia, top seed Su-Wei Hsieh, next .. [source: Sarawak Tribune]

Also playing this week is Sania Mirza who turned 14 yesterday .. She is the top seed in the girls' draw at the grade-5 ITF junior event (T-Bar M International) in Dallas, Texas .. No scores yet .. No other Indian there, except for Rajeev Ram of USA who is the second seed in the boys' draw.

Nov 15 Notes

Some more good news from Manila .. At the $10K futures, 18 yr old Shruti Dhawan had another good win, this time over a talented junior from Indonesia, Dea Sumantri, 42 41 41 .. She has picked up 2.5 points (including one quality pointy for upsetting the 4th seed #427 Van den Hurk yesterday) to take her tally to 21.25 and a ranking just outside top-500 in the world ..  She now faces the 8th seeded Jennifer Schmidt (#689) of Austria in the QF .. Actually Shruti is higher ranked now than Jennifer, as she went up from #705 to #544, with the Delhi challenger QF points going into her list this week.

Here are the latest rankings of Indians in WTA .. We have 8 players in the top-650 .. Niru at #175, Sai at #359 (up from 407 with 13 pts at Delhi), Manisha at #382, Sonal at 434 (up from 507 with 8.5 pts at Delhi), Rushmi at 481,  Shruti at 544 (up from 705 with 8 pts at Delhi), Archana at 551, and Radhika at 650 .. Nice to see three 18 year-olds among those top-8 .. Actually you can count 21 yr old Jyotsna Vasisht at 635 (up from 814 with 7 pts at Delhi) also in that list, though she is still officially listed under USA .. We will soon have 6 players in the top-500, which was unthinkable just about a couple of years back ..

Nothing good to report from the $10K Chandigarh men's futures, as all four indians fell yesterday in the second round - Nitin, Fazal, Vijay and Manoj .. Actually all of them played decently and three of the losses were three-setters, but no cigar .. Darnit .. In today's QF's, the top seed Hasko went down .. 2nd seed bruthans, 5th seed Sekac, the Russian, Krotiousk and the qualifier Doran advanced .. Nitin and saaurav are in the doubles semis, as are Uppal-Ghouse .. That's it .. See the Chandigarh futures page for results.

Nov 14 Note-2

Well .. Unfortunate that LP went down with an injury again .. I am sure Mahesh is a bit down as they had hoped to at least finish strong this year together .. Anyway, no heroics from the Paris masters today to report .. J.Bjorkman/ D.Prinosil d. M.Bhupathi/ S.Humphries, 63 64 .. It seems there were one break each in each set.

Some good news from Manila to report .. 18 yr old Shruti Dhawan, playing her firt professional match abroad as fas as I know, pulled an upset today at the $10K Manila satellite .. She upset the 4th seed Andrea Van Den Hurk (NED), 41 54(4) 42 to reach the second round! .. Add yet another top-500 upset win for the Shruti .. She has a tough second round matchup against a very talented youngster, Dea Sumantri of Indonesia, though .. It seems Rushmi and Sai were thinking along the same lines as I was (in my last note) .. They skipped this week .. Actually both were reportedly counted as no-shows at Manila and will be fined $300 each for not showing up, according to the Manila Bulletin. .. That's unfortunate, but I am happy that they are taking the week off, after 5 weeks of continuous play!

Nov 14 Note-1

Mahesh and Scott Humphries go up against Bjorkman and Prinosil in the doubles first round at the $2.5M Paris masters indoors today, at about 3.30 pm.

At the Chandigarh futures, the so-so performance by our men continued, as only four Indians advanced to the second round yesterday .. Nitin Kirtane and Fazaluddin won against decent foreign players .. Vijay Kannan had a good win against Vinod Sridhar .. Manoj Mahadevan, who had a wildcard beat qualifier Punna Vishal to move on as well .. I had expected at least one among Vishal Uppal, Saurav Panja and Rishi Sridhar to pull off a win, but all three weent down .. So did Mustafa Ghouse and Rohan Bopanna, though they lost to the 5th seed and the top seed respectively .. All of the four who won have not-so-easy matchups in the second round, but all four are capable of winning more, if they will believe in themselves and play to their abilities .. See the Chandigarh futures page.

Rushmi, Sai and Shruti are at the $10K satellite in Manila, Philippines .. Nice to see Shruti hitting the senior circuit .. Sai is the 3rd seed, Rushmi is the 5th seed and Shruti is unseeded .. Sai gets a qualifier (Kristel Samala, PHI) in the first round, Rushmi plays Wilawan Choptang (THA) and Shruti faces the 4th seed Andrea Van den Hurk .. I don't think Shruti played last week's futures in Indonesia, instead taking a break after four weeks of tournaments in India .. But Sai and Rushmi are playing for a 6th week in a row! .. I don't know, and I hate to sound alarmist, but I am scared that they are playing that many weeks in a row ..  Tendinitis, tennis elbow, etc, are often the result from such continuous workload (Sai and Rushmi have played doubles in every week, reaching the finals for the last 5 weeks in a row, that too) .. Take a break, please, ladies!

Finally some good news from the far east junior circuit .. Vinod Sewa and Sunil Kumar reached the final of the grade-4 junior ITF international at Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei this last weekend .. Vinod upset Sunil, 63 64 in the final! .. I have not seen the full results from there, but Sasha Abraham was the doubles runner-up also there (with Sydney Cubasch of Australia) .. The title moves Vinod Sewa up about 25 spots to #114 in the junior world rankings, and the final moves up Sunil Kumar by nine spots to #80 .. Pretty good, because Sunil is now assured of a top-50 ranking when the new year starts [he is #41 among 17-and-under players now; Vinod is #65] .. Next year is the final year for Sunil and Vinod in the juniors, and both need to play some grand slam events against top-flight opposition before moving to the senior level .. Both should be making the Austrlaian Open juniors without much problems .. Sewa and Sipaeya are being supported and given coaching by Paes en Sport, and it's good to see some good results from them .. Incidentally, 16 yr old Rajeev Ram, the top junior player in the US, reached the final of the Van der Meer ITF junior international (grade-4) at Hilton head last weekend .. He also won the doubles title there .. This kid is going to be something special for the US soon !

Forgot to mention that Pat Cash beat Borg in the final at the Bangalore legends tournament last weekend .. From all reports, the Bangalore fans thoroughly enjoyed the old favorites' show out there! .. Pat Cash is apparently also scouting for young kids around the world to take to his new coaching academy in Australia.

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.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Nov 13 ..

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.