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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for week ending on Nov 23, 1998
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Nov 23 Note
India takes on Pakistan tomorrow (tuesday) in their first tie at the Asia Cup in Delhi .. more details coming soon ..
Nov 22 Notes
Not much news today .. Mahesh has reached Delhi to lead India at the Asia Cup .. Coach Jaideep Mukherjea had a scare at first that India may have to play Monday itself, and that would have been trouble with Mahesh jet-lagged after reaching there Sunday .. Anyway, the Japanese referee has agreed to let India play on Tuesday, so we should be fine (but then again, Mahesh had the strange experience at Mumbai this time last year, when he got there on Sunday, played with no trouble on Monday and then had a late jet-lag hit him on tuesday! .. I am sure he will be fine this time). More details on the asia Cup soon ..
Leander had an extra injury during Hartford, which is what caused him to totally skip the 3rd round robin match - a bone chip on his ankle .. He is undergoing treatments in Hartford itself, but will go to Orlando for rest the next two weeks .. No surgery is recommended this time, and if the hip flexor and the leg injuries respond to rest and treatment, he could be OK in two weeks for Asiad .. More rest would help, but that's all he can get now ..
As for the government clearance for Rushmi Chakravarti, Manisha Malhotra and Shruti Dhawan, for the Asiad, apparently it is possible for somebody else other than the sports ministry to come up with funds to send them to bangkok .. Looks like it has fallen into AITA's lap now.. Time to show that we are serious about the commitment to improve the women's game .. More so, this may be *very* important to make sure that we have at least a chance for a team medal (though competition is very tough in Asian women's tennis, I believe we have what it takes to get to the final four and pull out a medal .. that is where it is important to have a couple of good doubles teams (Sai/Rushmi and Niru/Manisha) available .. We also have a great chance to let those two teams get some match practice at the Delhi challenger next week too .. with three matches every day in team competition, the doubles pair becomes very important .. So who wants to come up with money ? IOA ? AITA ? .. We will wait, but I am still upset at how these things come up in the last minute. Pathetic.
Nov 21 Note-2
Great ! .. Terrific ! ..
The Indian sports ministry just went ahead and decided to refuse clearance for three women players, Shruti, Rushmi and Manisha, to the Asiad - Only Nirupama, Uzma and Sai are cleared (The Hindu).
When he hell will this kind of crap end ?? .. Here the players are busting their behinds trying to do something for the country and this is the thanks they get .. Shruti had just won perhaps the first satellite event ever by a junior Indian player and is bound to crack the world top-800 in 3 weeks, and she is being flatly told that she is not worth it (or something like that) .. not that she was a medal prospect at the Asiad, but the experience from here is what she can use in 4 years when she WILL BE a medal prospect .. the biggest mistake, in my mind, is that they may have seriously hurt any chance for a doubles medal by taking Manisha out of the team. Nirupama and Manisha are a perfect fit for doubles, and from what I understand, Niru has always spoken of Manisha as a good partner for her .. they may have had a chance to play some doubles together at Delhi the week before Asiad too .. Rushmi and Sai had played terrific doubles together at the satellites, and now they have to get used to new partners too .. I am sure Niru will find either Uzma or Sai as a good partner too, but this seriously hampers the ability of the coach to mix and match and keep players fresh during the team competition .. Basically it will now force all players to play every day (and one of them to play two matches a day) for 4 days in the first week, leaving them tired for the second week at Asiad when Niru has to play mixed doubles, doubles and singles .. I don't know what the hell these ministry folks are thinking.
FOR ONCE AND FOR ALL, CAN THESE IDIOTS REALIZE THAT TENNIS IS THE SPORTS WHERE WE ARE COUNTING MULTIPLE MEDALS AND THEY MUST NOT, I REPEAT, MUST NOT MESS WITH THE SPORTS THAT WE ARE GOOD AT ? .. (there are 7 total medals in the tennis competition)
May be women's tennis is not where we are counting medals, but it is also on the upswing in India right now, and this kind of meddling by politicians WHO ARE CLUELESS, is what kills the player morale .. It's just pitiful .. There seem to be no problem sending 15 or 16 people for team sports where we stand zero chance for even one medal (and you know what I am talking about - heck, even the hockey medal is iffy at best now) - and it's the three young women in the tennis team that is costing India all the money - and ours is such a poor country that we cannot afford this, as it costs so much money that could be used better for exploding devices.
Oh, I am so mad, I don't know what to say - and I am trying hard not to use some choice four-letter words that come to my mind.
They did not object to the 6 member men's team (LP, MB, Srinath, Fazal, Vijay, Nitin) .. Thank God!
If I were in Delhi, I probably would go and start a Nirahara Satyagraha outside the sports ministry office right now, but I am not .. Fast unto death till tennis is treated the way it should be, by the authorities.
Nov 21 Note-1
LP-MB did the right thing last night, deciding not to play the 3rd round robin match and risk further injury to Leander .. they were replaced by the alternate team, Eagle-Florent, who then went on to tbeat Knowles/Nestor, 7-6, 6-0 - Knowles/Nestor may have thrown in the towel after losing the first set to conserve energy for the semis today, as the semifinalists were all decided after the two morning matches .. the French pair Delaitre/Santoro won in a 3rd set tiebreaker over Ferreira/Leach, and the American pair Johnson/Montana won a match with three straight tiebreaker sets over Stolle/Suk .. the Woodies had their third straight loss, this time to Eltingh/Haarhuis. So, the #2 and #3 team went 0-5 in the round robin .. It will be the Dutch vs the Americans in one semi, and the French vs the Canadian/Bahamas pair in the other .. As for LP-MB, they leave Hartford with no wins, no points (which wouldn't count towards individual ranking anyway, and the year-end team ranking is already fixed at #2), and no tournament prize money .. I believe they do get the court-side bonus money for the #2 year-end ranking, which may be $50K or more .. It's a sombre way to end a terrific year .. They will get many many more chances at Hartford.
Fan club members were at the tournament and were too sad to even write any onsite reports to us .. LP clearly was struggling, and basically could serve only the first couple of games well in each match (that was enough time for them to get a break and win the first set, but after that it was going downhill every time) .. He even threw his racket in frustration due to the inability to rotate his mid-body or move much at the net .. Mahesh did his very best to compensate (I don't think he has dropped serve even once in the last three losses) and played consistently well, but that was not enough.
One thing I notice in all the newspaper and wire news stories coming from Hartford is how *none* mention the injury in connection to LP-MB's losses - the reason is that our guys have not even mentioned LP's injury as an excuse .. Here are Mahesh's comments after the loss to Johnson-Montana: "they way Johnson-Montana played today, they would have beaten a lot of teams. They served and returned very well. We had our chances but couldn't convert" .. That's classy.
At the $25K Port Pirie challenger in Australia, Nirupama lost her semifinal match to Vanessa Webb of Canada, 3-6, 4-6 .. Vanessa is the #1 ranked collegiate woman tennis player in the US this year (playing for Duke University) but Niru had beaten her in the second round last week at the Mount Gambier challenger .. Anyway, this was the second semifinal of the year for Niru, who has picked up 13 pts here and 9 pts last week. She will move about 20 spots up in rankings, closer to #165 in a couple of weeks, which assures her of her best year-end ranking ever .. Her rankings from 1994 through 1997 are #653, #334, #189, #190 .. She was ranked as high as 134 at one point in early 1997, but this year will be her best year-end finish .. She has played three tournaments in Australia this year, and adding the 32 pts from the Asutralian Open, she has 54 total pts from there (out of about 135 she has now). She has two more tournaments to go this year .. She is expected to play at the $25K Nuriootpa challenger this week in South Australia (again, close to Adelaide - it's in the wine country out there), but had said that she *might* skip it if she felt like getting to Delhi early for the $75K challenger the week after - I believe she is going to play one more week in Australia as it stands. With these points, she has made sure that she will not fall below 200 even if she is unable to defend the 32 points at the AO in late Jan .. It does not appear that Niru will qualify for the Asian wildcard, as Sung-Hee Park or Eun-Ha Kim of Korea (at #144 and #188 now) would get it as of now .. Niru got in last year because Park just squeezed into the direct entry, and the player inside top-200 from a country not represented at AO turned out to be Nirupama .. Niru will have no problem getting into the qualifier draw, though, and may even qualify in, looking at how she is playing these days .. She seems to have got over the recurring chest infections and all that she had earlier in the year - the 5 week break and yoga must have helped too.
Nov 20 Note-2
LP-MB play the last round-robin match at Hartford today, against Mark Knowles (BAH) and Daniel Nestor (CAN) at about 9 pm EST (6 PST, 7.30 am Saturday India) .. Eltingh-Haarhuis play the Woodies in the night match before that .. Basically the two morning matches decide who will advance from the Green and Gold groups along with the Dutchmen and Knowles/Nestor .. The two night matches are just for pride and some money for the win .. The year-end finish is now all set - Eltingh-Haarhuis will be #1 and the Indian Express will be #2 .. Since the Woodies are also out, they cannot overtake our guys ..
At the Islamabad Futures, Vijay Kannan and Rishi Sridhar, who were the 3rd seeds in the doubles, got upset by Donovan September (RSA) and Abduhamid Makhramov (UZB), 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals, and so the Indian challenge ends there .. Vijay and Rishi will pick up 4 pts each in doubles, and that's it .. Though he lost in the first round of singles and the second round of doubles, it's still a good trip for Vijay .. This is the first senior tournament abroad that he has played, and it's always good to go to a relatively hostile place to get a feel of how things are in the pros ! .. If anyone is interested in the full draws/results there, check out the Islamabad Futures page we have .. 18-yr old Aisam Ul Haq is in the quarterfinals, and plays second seed Vadim Kutsenko .. I think he can give Kutsenko a run for his money.
Nov 20 Note-1
Thank you Niru for bringing us some good news during this Hartford heartbreak - Nirupama is in her second challenger semifinal of the year !! - She just beat Trudy Musgrave of Australia (#294), 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals at the Port Pirie challenger in Australia .. A correction from yesterday's note - She beat Mareze Joubert (#363) of RSA, not De Beer (since the French name Joubert is spoken as "Ju-beer", both last names sound alike - it's more so when an Aussie says it .. :-)) .. Anyway, the semifinal gives her 13 total points including 3 quality points (bonus) .. This is her second challenger semi in singles this year, after the Pucheim challenger in Germany in June .. The gentleman at the press box sounded very impressed by Nirupama .. His words - "Niru is playing very well .. you have a fine lady representing India here .. She is very nice and is a lot of fun .. just beautiful to have her around" .. unsolicited comments, that too .. This is one reason why a lot of us are fans of our tennis players - LP, MB, NV - they are truly wonderful ambassadors for our country .. Also, Niru and Petra Rampre (SLO) have reached the quarterfinal of doubles, and are playing the top seeds Catherine Barclay and Trudy Musgrave later today .. Niru plays Vanessa Webb of Canada (#263) in the singles semis tomorrow .. She had beaten Vanessa in the second round at the Mount Gambier challenger last week in straight sets - let's hope she can repeat it and reach her first singles final of the year .. Clearly the Australian hardcourts and the Spanish claycourts have been Niru's happy-hunting grounds this year.
Last night at Hartford, Knowles/Nestor beat Johnson/Montana, 6-3, 6-2, officially eliminating any semifinal possibilities for the Indian Express .. Stolle/Suk play Johnson/Montana tomorrow and the winners advance to SF with a 2-1 record .. Knowles/Nestor is through to the semis, even if they lose to LP-MB tomorrow .. In the other group, the Woodies lost to Ferreira/Leach in straight sets .. The only teams to officially get eliminated from the two groups after two days are #2 LP-MB and #3 Woodies .. I guess it's some consolation to see the great Woodies also in the same condition .. It is the second year in a row that the Woodies are missing SF (last year they were elimiated on the basis of the 3rd tiebreaker on game-winning-percentage!) .. As a great man once said, "excrement happens" sometime (that is the sanitized version, pun intended, of what comes to my mind.. :-)) .. Hope LP-MB just goes out to have some fun today .. It will be nice to get out from Hartford with at least one win .. some revenge on that loss earlier this year to Knowles/Nestor would be nice too !
Nov 19 Note-2
The horror that started on Friday the 13th last week, continues - the Indian Express lost today again, to Stolle-Suk, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6 .. The tell-tale signs of how much the physical troubles were affecting our pair was all there .. They started well, and seemed to hold their service games well, and got the break in the 7th game off Cyril Suk's serve .. The second time Leander went up to serve, it was clear that things had started going downhill as he went up to 30-0 and then had to fight off a break point at 30-40 .. He held to go up 5-3 .. They also had a couple of break chances in the next game off Stolle, who managed to hold .. Then MB served it off for a 6-4 first set .. The troubles which showed up in the 8th game of the first set continued in the second set as LP served the 4th game and allowed the break to fall behind 1-3 .. Could tell right there that the physical troubles weren't going away .. he did manage to hold serve the next time (8th game) but Stolle served it off easily to tie it up with a 6-3 second set .. The story continued in the next set, the next time LP served, when they got broken to fall behind 1-3 .. All the fighting from that point on was not enough to keep Stolle/Suk from finishing it off .. Make that three matches in a row where they have lost steam early in the second set and allowed comeback wins .. We did seem to win the games off MB's serve very easily, till late in the 3rd set, when even those games looked like adventures..
I am assuming here that it is LP's hip trouble that is causing all this, though I have not talked to him after yesterday's match .. Seeing how uncharacteristic their losses have been (a team that has allowed just one comeback win in some 100 matches just does not let that happen three times in a row!) I think I am at least partially right .. I should give credit to both their opponents for playing well though - Otherwise we fans will be blamed for being less than gracious when our team loses ..
If a loss is after playing at your best and not being able to overcome the opponents, it should hurt - if it's the case of being unable to play your best due to pure physical problems, all you can do is to put that behind you and forget about it .. That is basically where LP-MB are now .. A sad way to finish a terrific year, but they have many many more years and they are learning more and more about what it takes to reach the top and stay there .. Right now, what Leander needs is a constant trainer with him (I don't think he has had a trainer full-time with him, ever since the period in summer when Sanjay Singh travelled with him - when he did so well at Newport and New Haven) .. I believe Leander liked Sanjay a lot too, but right now he is in India with other commitments .. As for next year, this should become a real priority for Leander. Watching the schedule and being ready to withdraw at the slightest indication of injury, etc. Both LP and MB like to play as much as they can, and are fighters who never give up, but sometimes it becomes their worst enemey .. These are all just my thoughts - take it for whetever it's worth ..
Back to the Hartford scene - things are not exactly over, though it's close to it for LP-MB .. The only way they can advance is to beat Knowles-Nestor tomorrow and hope for a three-way tie of 1-2 teams .. That would also require Johnson-Montana to win out, and for the tiebreakers to fall our way (the tiebreakers are generally in our favor now) .. It's not that probable, but hey, stranger things have happened .. I would suggest that LP should not risk any further injury if Johnson-Montana loses later today to Knowles/ Nestor, and withdraw from tomorrow's match - Somehow I don't think LP will think of withdrawing, though .. :-)
Nov 19 Note-1
Leander and Mahesh play the first match of the day today, against #6 Stolle/Suk - that sounds tough, after playing a tough three-setter till 9 pm last night .. The match starts at 1 pm EST (10 am EST), USA and 11.30 pm India .. The matchups for today are: Bhupathi/Paes vs. Stolle/Suk .. Ferreira/Leach vs. Delaitre/Santoro .. Eltingh/Haarhuis vs. Woodbridge/Woodforde .. Knowles/Nestor vs. Johnson/Montana .. There will be score updates in the chatroom (we had to scramble last night, as ATP did not give ball-by-ball score updates till the middle of the third set for the LP-MB match, even though they had live updates for the two earlier matches .. Anyway, we have got the contact to the press box at Hartford Civic Center now, for score updates even if the ATP site is asleep as it was yesterday!)
By the way, the $84K Asia Cup (non-ATP event) is next week at Delhi and the teams are China, Chinese Taipei, India, Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan. India is seeded #1 seeded followed by Uzbekistan, Korea and Chinese Taipei .. The Indian Express reports that the format is being changed this year to a three-round knockout, rather than two four-team round robins, and then semis as last year .. There is quite a bit of money involved - $30K for the winning team, $14 K for the loser, $10K for semifinalists, and $5K each for the quarterfinal losers .. The four-member team for India is Mahesh Bhupathi, Srinath Prahlad, Fazal Syed and Vijay Kannan (Leander had considered playing a while earlier, but had basically been leaning towards skipping it as he desperately needed rest after playing continuously for 6 weeks - with the injury troubles now, he is certain not to play) .. Each tie between two countries will include two singles and a doubles match .. The only Asian team not coming there is Japan - they give domestic schedule conflict as the reason .. Japan said the same thing last year too. This is being organized as an ATF (Asian Tennis Federation) event by AITA .. Oleg Ogorodov of Uzbekistan who skipped it last year will be playing this year .. I am not sure how India is seeded first, as the ranking for Ogorodov and Kutsenko are closer to top-200 compared to Bhupathi and Srinath at 350+ (perhaps the Davis Cup ranking is used here, based on the countries top-2 players, regardless of whether they play) .. If India wins it - though that is certainly not a given, it will be good money (about Rs 3 lakhs each) which would help Srinath, Fazal and Vijay to carry on with their pro-tour plans .. There was an India-A team last year due to a withdrawal, but nothing like that this time.
Nov 18 Note-2
After getting some really bad news, I had to hunt around for some good news this evening - and got some after finally getting through to the tournament desk at the Port Pirie challenger in Australia .. Good news first - Nirupama upset the 3rd seed Surina De Beers (#145, RSA), 6-4, 6-1, today (thursday there .. I hope I heard De Beers and not DeVilliers, who is also from South Africa!) .. So Niru has entered the quarterfinals for the second week in a row .. She had beaten Marketa Kochta (#234, GER) in the first round yesterday .. this is turning out to be a pretty good trip to Australia for Niru .. Her opponent was yet to be determined for tomorrow's quarterfinal ..
OK, now the bad news .. At the Hartford ATP doubles championships, LP-MB lost a shocker, 6-3, 5-7, 6-7(4) tonight to #8 Johnson-Montana .. Not much details available, except that this was a close game after the early second set .. After allowing just one comeback win in close to 100 matches, our boys have now lost two in a row after winning the first set - I just have to believe that the injury problems had to have something to do with it, but Johnson/Montana is a very good team who have shown often that they can beat the very best in the business too .. Other scores today: In the Gold group, Knowles/Nestor beat Stolle/Suk, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 .. In the Green group, Eltingh/Haarhuis had the easiest win of the day, 6-4, 6-4 over Ferreira/Leach .. the night ended with another upset, in the green group, where the #3 Woodies went down to #7 Delaitre/Santoro, 7-6(1), 3-6, 4-6 .. Funny how three of the 4 games were comeback wins by teams who lost the first set ..
All is not lost or anything, though .. Remember that LP-MB had a bad loss in the round robins last year too .. If they win the next two matches, they will basically be in the semis, though that's not easy against Knowles/Nestor and Stolle/Suk, especially if LP-MB are not 100% healthy .. But when adrenaline flows, champions do pull off wins .. Actually, teams have made it into the semifinal in the past with 1 win too .. that would require one team to go 3-0 and the other three to go 1-2 each, which is not that improbable .. In the event of ties, the number of sets won is the first tiebreaker, and the number of games won is the next tiebreaker .. Right now LP-MB are #3 in the Gold group above Stolle-Suk on the basis of a 16-16 games tally against the 12-14 tally for Stolle-Suk.
At the Islamabad Futures today, Pakistan's future hope Aisamul Haq beat Indian qualifier Viplav Anjan easily, 6-4, 6-0 .. that makes it three first round losses by three Indians, all to Pakistanis .. Vijay Kannan and Rishi Sridhar won the first round of doubles today, though, over Franz Leibinger (GER) and Bruce Li (CHN) 6-2, 7-5 .. [source: The News International, Karachi]
Nov 18 Note-1
Pretty bad news from Pakistan - Vijay Kannan lost to Nasser Shirazi of Pakistan in the first round at the $15K Islamabad Futures yesterday, 6-4, 7-6(2) .. Nasser is just 18 years old, and is not even their best youngster (that would be 17 year old Aisam Ul-Haq) .. this should be considered an upset .. Hey, I said a while back that if India doesn't do its job in grooming and developing our youngsters fast, the day won't be too far when we see losses to Pakistanis, who have not been anywhere to be seen in the tennis world for so long .. Anyway, I hope this was just a bad day for Vijay and we shouldn't read more into it .. The tournament is on clay, and Vijay may be unused to the surface out there .. Nasser is however in their Davis Cup team and even has a win against Pacific Oceania in April of this year iin the Asia-Oceania group II competition .. The other loss was for Rishi Sridhar, to the 35- year-old veteran Davis Cupper, Rashid Malik of Pakistan, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 .. the third Indian there, Viplav Anjan, plays today - and he goes up against, guess who? .. Aisam Ul-Haq, the world #11 junior .. Pretty bad news all around.
Nov 17 Note-2
The new ATP rankings show LP drop five spots to 89, without losing any points .. He has 25 points to defend in a couple of weeks from the ahmedabad challenger semis last year, which will drop his ranking a few more spots but he will still be inside the top-95 with no points to defend till mid-march (he plays singles next at Doha in January as he will be too banged up to play the Indian challengers in december, followed by Australian Open, the Calcutta challenger, Dubai, and Indian Wells .. with no points to defend he should be able to come back up inside the top-75 or higher if he gets healthy and puts on his show) .. MB is at 351 - he has 7 points each falling off the next weeks, from the 97 Mumbai and Ahmedabad challengers, and will drop closer to but above Srinath who is at 394 .. MB will be playing the Ahmedabad and Mumbai challengers in late December to pull his rankings up .. After that he has 32 points to defend in February .. the points from the Calcutta futures last week have not gone into the computer yet, but the few other players who had points from the satellites who did not enter the rankings last week have all entered the rank list now (Vinod Sridhar and S.Zaman have entered at #1059 tied for 11th in the Indian rankings with 5 pts, PK Sreenivasan and Vijendra Laad tied for 14th at around 1200 with 3 pts, and Ravikiran Bhat and Vishal Gupta at around 1350 with 1 point each) .. the rankings will change a bit next week, as 19-yr old Vinod Sridhar will move up with 8 more pts from the Calcutta Futures to tie Harsh Mankad with 13 points but just above him as the Indian #5 at around the ATP-800 .. That is a very impressive move, going unranked to #800 in two weeks by Vinod !!
The new women's rankings show somebody else other than Nirupama inside the top-500 for the first time in a long time - Sai Jayalakshmi at #486 in doubles, up from #564 with her 5 pts for the doubles title at the satellite circuit masters at Delhi .. Her partner Rushmi comes up from 676 to 557 too .. In singles, Nirupama moves down one spot to #187 and in doubles she moves up one spot to #249 (her 9 points from the Mount Gambier challenger last week goes in next week) .. Sai moved from #725 to #640 with the 4 pts from Delhi .. Rushmi moves up from #880 to #790 with the 2 pts from the semi there.
As I had expected Shruti Dhawan has not entered the rank list, as she has not yet played three tournaments and that is a WTA reqwuirement for a ranking .. She has played only two - the first was the Delhi futures in February where she beat Orawan Wongkamalasai in the final round of qualifiers and then lost to the same one in the main draw, after Orawan became a lucky loser - Shruti picked up 0.75 pts there ! .. Her second tournament was 2 weeks back where she won the title and picked up 5 more pts .. She will enter the rankings with a minimum of 6 pts after she plays the Delhi challenger in 2 weeks as probably a qualifier round wildcard - I hope they won't make her play in the main draw with a wildcard, as it could be demoralizing for a 16 yr old to go up and play some top-150 player this early .. She will enter the WTA rankings straight inside #800 in a hurry then, which will be remarkable ..
So, there is the weekly ranking update ..
Nov 17 Note-1
OK - here is the first preview of the Hartford Doubles Championship starting on wednesday .. The 8th and final team to enter the field was Johnson/Montana, as Eagle/Florent failed to make over 200 points at Stockholm to go above Johnson/Montana .. I was trying to compile some info on the head-to-head results between the eight teams and found it to be too much of work .. Thankfully, Mr. Miki Singh in the communications department at ATP faxed me some info from this week's ITW (International Tennis Weekly), dated Nov 16 - here it is (with a mistake corrected):
Team Bhu Del Elt Fer Joh Kno Sto Woo Total Pae San Haa Lea Mon Nes Suk Woo -------------------------------------------------------------------- #2 Bhupathi-Paes --- 1-0 3-2 2-1 3-0 0-1 1-1 1-4 11-9 #7 Delaite-Santoro 0-1 --- 0-0 0-1 0-0 0-1 0-0 1-0 1-3 #1 Eltingh-Haarhuis 2-3 0-0 --- 1-0 1-1 8-1 1-1 8-8 21-14 #5 Ferreira-Leach 1-2 1-0 0-1 --- 1-1 0-0 0-1 0-0 3-5 #8 Johnson-Montana 0-3 0-0 1-1 1-1 --- 1-3 1-0 0-3 4-11 #4 Knowles-Nestor 1-0 1-0 1-8 0-0 3-1 --- 4-1 3-7 13-17 #6 Stolle-Suk 1-1 0-0 1-1 1-0 0-1 1-4 --- 1-2 5-9 #3 Woodbridge-Woodforde 4-1 0-1 8-8 0-0 3-0 7-3 2-1 --- 24-14
ATP gave a record of 2-3 for LP-MB against the Fly-Du (as we affectionately call the Flying Dutchmen in the fanclub!) Eltingh-Haarhuis, which is wrong and has been corrected above - The Indian Express do have a winning record of 3-2 against one of the greatest doubles teams of all-time (in ATP matches - they are dead-even at 3-3 if you include a Davis Cup match) .. LP-MB won the first two matches, 6-4, 7-5 in the 1996 New Haven tournament, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the 1997 New Haven tournament, then lost 3-6, 2-6 at Hartford 97, lost 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 at the Monte Carlo semifinals this year, and won 6-4, 6-2 at the Paris Super-9 final two weeks back .. Take away the Woodies, and the Indian Express are 10-5 against the field in their career .. Take away our guys, and the Woodies are 20-13 against the field .. Only the top-3 teams have winning records against the field .. Eltingh/Haarhuis will not be in our guys' group of four for the round robins, but either the Woodies or Knowles/Nestor will be in the group - and both are tough teams to play ..
I will report the record for the year for each team soon, if I find time to compile that ..
Some other notes, mostly based on ITW, and the ATP website :- Johnson/Montana are expected to play even though Montana is still injured with a torn medial meniscus in the knee and they have not played in a while .. Delaitre/Santoro have a 15-4 record since the US Open, which ATP calls the hottest record since US Open in today's ITW .. That is not correct either, since the Indian Express have a 15-3 record including a win over Delaitre/Santoro (Stuttgart Super-9 Semi) .. Knowles/Nestor have returned to the form they had before the rib injuries to both of them in mid 97 that kept them away for almost a year - they reached the finals of the French Open (beating LP-MB in the semis) and lost to Elt-Haar, and reached the finals of the US Open, which they lost after match points, to Stolle/Suk .. The Woodies have 51 titles and the Dutchmen have 38 - #3 and #6 in the historical list in the Open era since 1968 (McEnroe/Fleming and Bob Hewitt & Frew McMillan have 57 each) .. LP-MB need 8 more titles to reach the top-10 with 20 titles .. the Woodies have a tour-high 55 wins this year (55-14) and have been in eight consecutive ATP doubles championships, breaking the record of Fleming-McEnroe (78-84) .. Sergio Casal and Emilio Sanchez also have had 8 appearances which is the record .. Nobody can break the winning record of McEnroe-Fleming, though - 14-0 in seven consecutive years (different format then) .. Gosh, that was some doubles team ! .. Finally, this Hartford tournament is being considered the farewell tourney for one of the greatests of all time - Jacco Eltingh, who retires after this .. Boy, is he gong out in style - winning three grand slam titles (and missing a chance for the first true doubles grand slam since 1951 by Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman, due to the 'timely' birth of a baby boy a day before the draw at USO) - Eltingh-Haarhuis have a 41-4 match record this year, with 8 titles in 9 finals - their only loss in a final was to the Indian Express two weeks back .. Our guys are still the youngest team in the field with a sum-age of 49 ..
Points and prize money at Hartford - each round robin win fetches 90 points (three round robin matches, Wednesday through Friday for each team against the other three in the group) and $19.5K to share .. A semifinal win is worth an extra 180 points and an extra $40K to share .. A title is worth 270 points and $70K more .. The points are slightly different from 1997 (it was 80, 190, 280 - the new numbers make more logical sense) .. The prize money is also up - The total here adds up to $384K, which is up from $290K last year .. An undefeated team can make $168,500 (that is, 3*19.5 + 40 + 70) and 720 points .. However, these are just the prize money for the wins - there is more to it, called court-side bonus over these amounts, which depends on what final ATP team ranking each team ends up with .. Last year the bonuses totalled $200K .. Since the total prize money has gone up from 500K to 800K, I assume the courtside bonuses are over $400K, twice what it was last year, which would put it at around $100K for #1, $75K for #2, $60K for #3 .. then $50K, $40K, $40K, $20K, $20K .. ATP has not talked about the courtside bonuses anywhere that I can find yet - Will have to talk to Miki Singh again to clarify .. The sponsors, Phoenix mutual insurance company had promised extra money over the $800K for any player in the ATP top-10 here at $100K a pop - they will not have to spend that, as Rafter, the only guy who would have qualified for that (with Bjorkman as the #8 team), is not playing either the Hartford doubles or the Hanover singles due to an injury. The points earned at Hartford is of use only in determining the year-end team ranking, and do not go into the individual doubles ranking point list (and no bonus points are given for beating top teams, as in regular ATP events) ..
There is the skinny on the whole affair - Let the fun begin !!!!!!
.. Previous notes are at Weekly Notes, ending Nov 16 ..