Notes for week ending on Nov 24, 1997

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Nov 24 Note-3

Here are some scores from Mumbai today (The only Indian to play today was Vasudev Reddy, and it's the same story of inconsistency, yet again, for Vasu..) :

1 Leander Paes (India)           vs. David Nainkin      \
  Sandeep Kirtane                vs. Goichi Motomura    /
8 Daniele Musa (Italy)           vs. Nitin Kirtane
  Vladimir Vitchkov              vs. ???          
3 Andrei Merinov (Russia)        vs. Martin Lee         \
  Mahesh Bhupathi                vs. Luke Milligan      /
5 Orlin Stanoytchev (Bulgaria)   vs. Stoliarov 
  Martin Hromec (Slovakia)       d.  Vasudev Reddy            6-4, 6-2

4 Eyal Erlich (Israel)           vs. Harsh Mankad
6 Frederic Fontang (Fra)         d.  Vadim Kutsenko (Uzb)     6-1, 7-5
7 Eyal Ran (Israel)              d.  Jamie Delgado (GBR)      6-1, 6-1
2 Oleg Ogorodov (Uzb)            d.  Falenti Rainer (Aut)     7-6 (8-6), 6-4
  Emanuel Couto (Por)            d.  Herbert Wiltsching (Aut) 6-2, 6-0
  Julien Chauvin (Fra)           d.  Dimitri Tomashevic (Uzb) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2

Nov 24 Note-2

Haven't seen a full draw for the Mumbai Challenger yet. There was a small mistake in the earlier news.. The Hindu and Deccan Herald say Harsh Mankad is playing Eyal Erlich (ATP #156, 4th seed.. poor kid, Harsh .. tough first round match).. Mahesh called up Mumbai Sunday evening and asked if there was a way he and leander could play the first round on Wednesday.. The tournament head says it's not possible, as ATP prohibits first round matches on Wednesday unless the final is on Sunday (at a challenger like this, they want to finish by Saturday to avoid expenses for an extra day).. Unless the ATP supervisor (Michel Willems) can bend the rules as Deccan Herald hoped (;-)), LP and MB will have to get there early morning Tuesday, get over the jetlag and play by evening 5 pm at least.. I say delay the matches as much as you can, start it and then stop due to poor light ! .. Here is what I can piece together from various newspaper reports (the matchups are correct, and hardly any report on the bottom half so far, as all the Indians but one are in the top half):

1 Leander Paes (India)           vs. David Nainkin
  Sandeep Kirtane                vs. Goichi Motomura
8 Daniele Musa (Italy)           vs. Nitin Kirtane
  Vladimir Vitchkov              vs. ???           --> \                      
3 Andrei Merinov (Russia)        vs. Martin Lee         \
  Mahesh Bhupathi                vs. Luke Milligan    (may be flipped)
5 Orlin Stanoytchev (Bulgaria)   vs. Stoliarov          /
  Vasudev Reddy                  vs. Martin Hromec --> /
4 Eyal Erlich (Israel)           vs. Harsh Mankad
6 Frederic Fontang (France)      vs. ??? 
7 Eyal Ran (Israel)              vs. ???
2 Oleg Ogorodov (Uzbekistan)     vs. ???

Nov 24 Note-1

Here is what the Hartford Courent wrote about Paes-Bhupathi after the finals loss yesterday:

They also report that Leach and Stark are parting ways (as good friends, though). Rick Leach who has played great doubles, consistently with so many different partners, including Mahesh, will now form a team with Ellis Ferreira for 1999 (which means Galbraith may be looking for another partner), and Stark will now be playing with Byron Black next year (Black and Stark have played together a bit this year).

Here is what Kamesh Srinivasan (The Hindu) got from Leander as a running commentary of his final shot in the semifinal win: "I hit a kick serve. I thought that he would throw up a lob and I was hoping that Mahesh would jump up and hit it; he is the tall one. I came in really tight and I knew if he had come at me, I would have a relatively easy ball, and the next thing I saw the ball going up and Hesh coming towards me and I was like, okay, it's mine. So I took off, and chased it down. And once I saw the ball coming, I took a look at them to see what they were doing. And I saw Lareau covering the middle and I saw Alex a step slower but coming in. And I said, I mean, Lareau's got too good a volley, I am not going to go at him. The first thing that came to mind was to throw up a lob and I said `go for it'. In times of doubt, I just go for the shot. And I'm happy that it came off today,'' ... Leander, as is well-known, is never at a loss for words !!

Here is what a crybaby Australian Newspaper scribe (Alan Attwood) wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald after the Woodies lost:

Anyone has heard of Mahesh Bhupathi ?? 930 Million in India know, my friend ! .. and how many people are there in Australia ? huh ? Run that by me again ?.. And the "tennis buffs" know him as the player who made the biggest jump into the top-10 in ATP rankings this year (singles or doubles) .. John McEnroe knows a bit more about tennis than you, when he called Mahesh one of the most improved players this year (at the Pilot Pen).. And you will be reporting on him from down under in January when Mahesh and Leander beat your guys.. and, oh, by the way, in case you didn't know, Rafter and Philippoussis have lost to Mahesh this year (semifinals at the LA Infinity.. I know.. I was there seeing Bhupathi's two-handed backhand whizzing past Philippoussis to win the tie-breaker in that 2-sets job!).. and also, now that you bring it up, Rafter/Phil did not qualify even as an alternate into the Hartford draw; ... Mahesh was playing the finals there and I didn't see the Woodies anywhere (actually the Woodies have been televised for one match here in the US, and Mahesh has been for two !) .. Now, go and crawl back under that rock, OK ? .. Boy, do I hate nagative journalism.. If you have nothing to report, just take up some other job !

Nov 23 Notes

All good things must end.. And all too often, it happens faster than we like after the highs.. After they spilled guts and emotions all over the carpet yesterday, the steps seemed a bit slower and the "You"s seemed a bit softer.. Against wily veterans who have been on a roll (Leach/Stark), Leander needed to be there in full flow. The heart did seem to show up often, but wasn't enough to attack and dominate at crucial junctures as yesterday. Mahesh was there as the steady companion, but he needs Leander's fieriness to bring out the best in himself too. It was over with Clinton getting revenge on Gujral for the straight sets loss in Singapore. LP/MB lost to Leach/Stark, 3-6, 4-6, 6-7 (3-7)... OK, enough of crapping from me... They now move up to #4 again. The final rankings should show 1. Woodies, 2. Eltingh/Haarhuis, 3. Leach/Stark, 4. Bhupathi/Paes, 5. Kafelnikov/Vacek.... In individual doubles, MB should probably be #7 and LP #9.. Incredible numbers for two guys who started the year as #89 and #105 (and a team rank of #36).

By the way, a correction: I misheard Kannan Srinivasan over the phone yesterday.. he was telling me about the line that Alex O'Brien said at the press conference, about LP's final shot ("Egyptian magician"), as Kannan reports in his Hindustan Times article today.. Anyway, now it makes me wonder.. doesn't Alex know there are better magicians in India than in Egypt ?.. :-)

News from Mumbai Challenger: The draw is out. 5 of the 6 Indians are all in the tougher upper half of the 32-draw. Both LP and MB are in the upper half and can meet in the semis. In the first round Leander Paes faces David Nainkin of South Africa (ATP #277), and Bhupathi has drawn Britain's Luke Milligan (ATP #294). Leander had lost to Nainkin at Beijing in October 1995 and then in the final round of qualifying at Wimbledon in Jun 96. Nainkin has been ranked near #150s a couple of years back and has really fallen a bit over the last year or more, and Leander is quite a different player since the Olympics last year. So, most of his head-to-head records before July 96 do not mean much. If Leander has a comfortable plane ride and gets to sleep Monday night, and gets to play the featured evening match Tuesday (both Mahesh and Leander are playing Tuesday evening), he should be able to handle Nainkin. Same with Bhupathi, who should be able to beat Milligan if he plays his game. If he wins the first round, Leander faces the winner of Goichi Motomura vs. Sandeep Kirtane match. If Bhupathi wins, he will face either third-seeded Andrei Merinov (#156), who won the 1997 Indian Satellite, or Britain's Martin Lee, the junior world No 1. Nitin Kirtane is drawn against eighth-seeded Daniele Musa, Vasudev Reddy meets qualifier Martin Hromec. The top half also has 19-year-old Vladimir Voltchkov (Belarussia), who won the junior Wimbledon last year. Harsh Mankad is the lone Indian in the lower half, but he faces the tough Uzbek, Dmitriy Tomashevich. (most of this news based on the Indian Express story today). See the Nov 22 Note-1 below for the list of 22 direct entries and the 8 seeds.

According to Indian Express, 19 yr-old Vishaal Uppal (Delhi) is the only one who made it to the final round of qualifying. He fell to Vadim Kutsenko (Uzbek) 2-6, 1-6. Dimitriy Tomashevich (Uzbek), Jamie Delgado (Britain) and Martin Hromec (Czech) are the other qualifiers. Paes and Bhupathi are not in the the doubles draw (it is unfair to others for the ATP #4 team to play doubles in this challenger !). The Kirtane cousins, Sandeep and Nitin, Vasudev Reddy-Anand Radhakrishnan, and Gaurav Natekar-Vikram Venkataraghavan, all got wildcarded into the doubles. Anand, Garav and Vikram had all lost in the first round of quals for the singles.

Nov 22 Note-3

Final score 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5).. Good to finally see a doubles match on TV (though tape-delayed) here in the US. Only two ATP doubles matches are televised in the US, and we get to see the Indian Duo in those two.. How about that ?..As for the match itself.. WOW!! That final shot by Leander should disprove all myths about Indians and killer instinctt. Boy, but for a period in the second set when L/O made some adjustments and our guys were readjusting, it was all-out attack mode for DD. Just look at the way they went for the kill in the tie-break going up 5-0 (two loud "YOU"s by LP egging MB on for that overhead smash was classic!).. They were not worried one bit about missing the shots. They wanted to not let up and finish the tiebreak, which caused L/O to pull up to 6-5. And then one of the most aggressive shots one will ever see, by LP.. Great lob by O'Brien.. Not too many people will have the confidence to run back (yell a "primal scream", as Patrik McEnroe called it), and hit a perfectly timed forehand down the line there ! LP wanted it and he didn't care about missing the shot. That is KILLER INSTINCT ! Having said that, though Leander stole the show in the end, Mahesh's Aces at the critical points were a real big key here. Our Duo won over 90% of the points on his first serve !

Kannan Srinivasan (Hindustan Times) called after the game and said "just see the final shot; it's Egyptian magician out there".. he didn't say anymore details.. have to completely agree after seeing the match.

OK, now they have got 350 pts so far (will get an additional 280 for a win tomorrow). As of now, Leach/Stark are #3 in the world, and LP/MB are #4. They have made $55K, and will also get $25K in courtside bonus for finishing at ATP #4. If they win tomorrow, they will move up to #3 in the world, get an extra $60 for the win, and will get $30K bonus for finishing at ATP #3, for a total of $145K. Money is good too ! Right now MB is at around #7 in doubles rankings (LP around #9). Win tomorrow, and they will be #6 and #7 in the world !!

Leach/Stark won against Eltingh/Haarhuis, surprisingly easily today (6-3, 6-4).. Tomorrow's final against Leach/Stark is at 1 pm EST (same time as today's match). The ESPN tape-delay coverage in the US is 5 pm EST (an hour later than today..).

Almost can't sleep tonight, out of excitement. Go LP/MB !! Took care of Germans in Germany.. Now let's take care of Americans in America !! Kannan called this the "Clinton vs Gujral" match... :-) ...Go Go Go.

Nov 22 Note-3

Here are some excerpts from a report from Kamesh Srinivasan in today's The Hindu: "Nursing a bruised right forehand, as he was throwing himself at everything apart from slipping a few times, Leander was spilling blood and guts literally on court, as he attacked in tandem with his deputy, who was providing the punchy hits, whenever he called out `you'... The Indian pair was in trouble in the second set, especially in the tie-breaker, but the rivals let them in with a double fault. It was indeed a brilliant finish by Leander after trailing 3-5 in the tie-breaker.. The Indian pair played sharp especially in its service games to clinch the first set, without much trouble. In fact, the Indian boys could have taken a lot less time than 39 minutes to take the first set, but for messing up a series of sitters, especially at the net.... Trevor Kronemann, deceptively fluent for his balding forehead and bulky frame, faced five breakpoints, four of them in his first service game. He saved them all. The Indians more than 10 years younger than their rivals, in cumulative age, failed to grab those chances. The rustiness of the US-Australian combination was understandable, as the pair had precious little practice, jumping into the fray as alternate to Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor in the Yellow group. No doubt, Kronemann and Macpherson may have an enviale track record of making the semifinals in the last edition here, and few in the circuit could boast of having beaten the Woodies, which they did in style in straight sets at Paris on indoor carpet recently". Here is a classic Kamesh line in his report in The Hindu on Thursday's loss: "..if the Indian pair could be blamed, it was definitely not for want of effort. They did play their hearts out, but ran into a heartless wall, rather an error-free machine"...

It is rather troubling to hear of Leander hurting himself throwing himself at everything. That's the exciting style that he goes to whenever he really needs a win, and invariably have caused him to play sub-par soon after, due to the injuries. Can't complain about anybody showing heart, and hopefully he is alright to come back and do it again today!

Indian Newsbit: Arati Ponnapa crashed out to Korean Chung Yang-Jin, 6-4, 6-2, in the $10K ITF/WTA event in Manila, Philippines, in the second round...

Nov 22 Note-1

Will post a match report on the win against Kronemann/MacPherson very soon. In the meanwhile, here is some news on next week's Mumbai Challenger: It's a $50K challenger. Leander Paes is the top seed there ! It's a 32-men draw and the direct entries are as follows (country and ranking from a couple of weeks back in parentheses): 1 Leander Paes (India, 108), 2 Oleg Ogorodov (Uzbekistan, 135), 3 Andrei Merinov (Russia, 151), 4 Eyal Erlich (Israel, 163), 5 Raviv Weidenfeld (Israel, 185), 6 Orlin Stanoytchev (Bulgaria, 193), 7 Frederic Fontang (France, 198), 8 Daniele Musa (Italy, 207), 9 Eyal Ran (Israel, 208), 10 Rainer Falenti (Austria, 211), 11 Martijn Belgraver (Netherlands, 224), 12 Gerald Mandl (Austria, 229), 13 Mahesh Bhupathi (India, 231), 14 Julien Chauvin (France, 236), 15 Andrei Stoliarov (Russia, 248), 16 Charles Auffray (France, 249), 17 Goichi Motomura (Japan, 251), 18 Emanuel Couto (Portugal, 263), 19 Gabrio Castrichella (Italy, 267), 20 Joao Cunha-Silva (Portugal, 274), 21 Martin Lee (Great Britain, 282), 22 David Nainkin (South Africa, 284). In addition the 4 wildcards are Sandeep Kirtane, Nitin Kirtane, Vasudev Reddy and Harsh Mankad. The 4 qualifier spots are being decided over this weekend. There are also two special exempts spots. (Courtesy: The Indian Express). It appears that the field is rather weak compared to other recent 50K challengers, especially the ones going on in the US right now (the Amarillo Challenger this week for instance had some 6 or 7 top-100 players such as Sargsian at #55 in it ! Apparently the Isreal challenger 3 weeks from now also will have some 3-4 top-100 players. Just getting two top-150 players is not very good (perhaps the players don't know how nice the whether is in India at this time! .. the late announcement of the Indian challengers in the ATP schedule may be another reason) .. not complaining though, as it makes it easy for Leander and Mahesh to clean up some good points ! There are some very good players in this field though.

Other items: It appears that Leander will get the Asian wildcard at the Australian Open (his rank will be down to about 125-130 this monday). If Leander picks up about 60-70 points from the two challengers (two final appearances, or one title and another semifinal appearance, or even one final appearance and a semifinal apperance), he should stay at around the #110 ranking, and squeeze into the Australian Open main draw. In this case, it was earlier assumed that Mahesh could have had a chance to get the Asian wildcard if he got some 50 points from the challengers and moved up in front of Yong Il Yoon (#203) of Korea (It is not clear if Oleg Ogorodov would be considered for the Asian wildcard). In any event, apparently the Aus-O officials are saying that they would prefer to give the Asian wildcard to somebody from a country not already represented in the main draw. Now that means Mahesh cannot get the wildcard in any case and it will be Ogorodov or Yoon. We will know soon what shakes up. ATP basically closes their ranking for the year as of the coming Monday (Nov 24th); even though the challenger points from the next few weeks will count, they will not update the rankings and release them till about January 1st. If Aus-O uses the year-end rankings as of this coming Monday, then it should be Leander getting the wildcard (right now LP has 420 points, and will be down to 355 on Monday; Ogorodov is at 327 now; not sure if he is playing a challenger somewhere, but he will probably need to get to the finals to overtake LP on Monday). Will try to confirm more details on these speculations and report here soon..

Nov 21 Note-3

Well, well, well... How about that ?! The Woodies lost just now, to Lareau/O'Brien, 6-7, 5-7.. earlier Bhupathi/Paes defeated Kronemann/MacPherson, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).. So, what it means is that Lareau/O'Brien and Leach/Stark are #1 and #2 from the other group, and our dudes will be playing their old friends, Lareau/O'Brien tomorrow in the semis !! More news and reports coming soon (like, probably tomorrow morning here)..

Nov 21 Note-2

Kamesh Srinivasan comments from Hartford on the loss to Eltingh/Haarhuis yesterday: "Basically Eltingh/Haarhuis played an unbelievable match here. They seemed to want revenge on the losses to our Duo earlier, and made sure they gave nothing to the Indians. LP/MB could only get FIVE points off their opponents' service games !! .. That's amazing.. The percentage of first serve points won by Eltingh/Haarhuis was something like 92%, which means they were firing on all cylinders. Leander got broken on the 8th game in the first set, and then in the second set, Mahesh and then Leander got broken once each. That doesn't mean the Indians weren't playing well. They were playing their game, and there were several exciting long rallies in this match.. they just came out short on most of them. There were some classic retrievals by Leander and Mahesh was serving well too. Only about 2 or 3 mistakes (a couple of volleys into the net and a misjudged overhead smash) by LP/MB, but it didn't matter against Eltingh/Haarhuis on a day which clearly belonged to them. Their return game was superb to boot, along with their services.. That's deadly.. Kannan Srinivasan asked Elt/Haar in the press conference whether this was for revenge, and they seemed to not diasagree.. They said they still had trouble dealing with the 3-set loss earlier this year to LP/MB, despite playing well then..Leander, Mahesh and the coaches, Carmichael and Piperno, are all taking this match as one that you have to just forget about and move on. They are prepared for Kronemann/MacPherson today.. They have beaten Kr/Mac in two tiebreaker sets before, and expect a tough match from them (Kr/Mac has beaten the Woodies recently too).. Looking forward to the excitement today!"..

Nov 21 Note-1

Hmmm.. Now the plot realy thickens at Hartford. Just found out that Knowles/Nestor have withdrawn due to an injury, and are being replaced by Trevor "The Tank" Kronemann and David MacPherson who are the alternate (stand-by) for today's match aginst the Dynamic Duo. This makes the scenarios even better for LP/MB. Now the scenario combination 4-A below will have LP/MB advancing. That is, they can advance even with a straight set loss today, provided Fer/Gal also lose by straight sets to Elt/Har. The scenario 4-B favors Fer/Gal (that is, our guys lose in straight sets, and Fer/Gal lose a three-setter). That is 11 out of 16 scenarios for LP/MB advancing, and 5 out of 16 favoring Fer/Gal..

I know.. I should stop thinking about all these losing scenarios.. Our dudes will win today, and that will be that !

Bhupathi/Paes have beaten Kronemann/MacPherson this year (at the Montreal DuMaurier Super 9). Hope they can repeat it here..

Nov 20 Note-3

OK, Leander-Mahesh seem to have had a bad day today.. Lost to Eltingh/Haarhuis, 3-6, 2-6. However, as it stands, they are still in good shape to make it into the semis. Eltingh/Haarhuis are already in the semis, and Knowles/Nestor are hanging by a thin thread. There are several different scenarios possible now. Following is the complete possibility analysis.. The tiebreaker rules are to use head-to-head result for two-way ties, and set won-lost ratio for three-way ties. The numbers in parentheses show the sets won-lost.. Here goes !

Legend:  E/H  -  Eltingh/Haarhuis
         F/G  -  Ferreira/galbraith
         B/P  -  Bhupathi/Paes
         K/N  -  Knowles/Nestor
                           E/H         F/G        B/P         K/N
Current record            2-0 (4-0)   1-1 (2-3)  1-1 (2-2)   0-2 (1-4)
   Game          Score   
   tomorrow      tomorrow

1. B/P  vs  K/N   2-0                            2-1 (4-2)   0-3 (1-6)
2.                2-1                            2-1 (4-3)   0-3 (2-6)
3.                1-2                            1-2 (3-4)   1-2 (3-5)
4.                0-2                            1-2 (2-4)   1-2 (3-4)

A. E/H  vs  F/G   2-0     3-0 (6-0)   1-2 (2-5)
B.                2-1     3-0 (6-1)   1-2 (3-5)
C.                1-2     2-1 (5-2)   2-1 (4-4)
D.                0-2     2-1 (4-2)   2-1 (4-3)

There are 16 Combinations between the scenarios 1 thru 4 and A thru D
and the pairs who will advance are as shown next :

       A           B           C          D   
1    E/H, B/P    E/H, B/P    E/H, B/P   E/H, B/P  
2    E/H, B/P    E/H, B/P    E/H, B/P   E/H, B/P
3    E/H, B/P    E/H, B/P    E/H, F/G   E/H, F/G
4    E/H, K/N    E/H, K/N    E/H, F/G   E/H, F/G

What it all means is that out of the 16 possible scenarios, 10 favor Leander/Mahesh making it into the semis. 4 favor Ferreira/Galbraith, and 2 favor Knowles/Nestor. Win tomorrow, and LP/MB are in, regardless of what Ferreira/Galbraith do tomorrow. Lose in a three-set match tomorrow, and LP/MB still have a chance to make it in, but Ferreira/Galbraith will need to lose to Eltingh/Haarhuis (doesn't matter if it's in 2 sets or three)... Got it ??..

Nov 20 Note-2

The scores from Hartford are:

         Mark Knowles/Daniel Nestor (7), lost to
         Ellis Ferreira/Patrick Galbraith (3), 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 5-7

         Sebastien Lareau/Alex O'Brien (6) def.
         Donald Johnson/Francisco Montana (8), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3

The losers in these two matches will be virtually out of the tournament with 2 losses each..

Nov 20 Note-1

Today's match against ATP #2 Eltingh/Haarhuis is at 7 pm. Hopefully there will be some occasional score updates in our chatroom (see the link above).

Here is part of the report in The Hindu from Kannan Srinivasan (who is at Hartford and has just joined our fan club) on the win over Ferreira/Galbraith:

By the way, Bhupathi at 23 and Paes at 24 are the youngest two players among the 16 who are at Hartford this time.. The Woodies themselves said this week that our Duo has a chance to be good for a long time. Go guys!

Nov 19 Notes

Sorry we are not able to bring you the match reports. Technical difficulties such as computer availability at the Hartford Civic Center are giving us problems. Hopefully we will have things worked out later in the week and bring you some match reports and score updates here... By the way, I will leave the notes from 14th onwards in this file, as some Hartford info is there below.

The good news is that our Duo is off to a very good start, beating the ATP #4 team, Ferreira/Galbraith in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4. In other matches, Eltingh/Haarhuis defetaed Knowles/Nestor, 6-4, 7-6 in the last match of the day. The winners of today will play against each other next (losers play each other too), so it will be Eltingh/Haarhuis for our guys tomorrow. In the other Group, The Woodies murdered the 8th seeds Johnson/Montana, 6-4, 6-1 in a night match, and Leach/Stark defeated Lareau/O'Brien, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a tough afternoon match.

A Note on the prize money at Hartford: Even though the prize money from the tournament wins itself is as given below (Nov 14 Note), the teams end up making bonus money (courtside bonus, as it is called) based on the year end ranking after the tournament ($50K for #1, $35K for #2, $30K for #3, then $25, $20, $20, $10, $10..). That makes it $300K for tournament wins, and $200K for bonus prize money..

Other tennis news: Prahlad Srinath was again out in the early round of the Thailand ATP/ITF satellite tournament (3rd leg) on Monday, losing to the top-seed Igor Gaudy of Italy. This satellite tournament is quickly becoming a wasted trip for Prahlad..

The wildcards for the Mumbai challenger next week were announced yesterday: Vasudev Reddy, Sandeep Kirtane, Nitin Kirtane, and the young Harsh Mankad. Leander and Mahesh are already in the main draw. Once again, Prahlad Srinath, the 3rd highest ranked Indian player, misses out (that's the price he pays for being away trying out the international pro tour.. Pity.. He has one more week of Satellite tournament to go through in Thailand.. Prahlad has really not been at the Indian Tennis scene for a while, actually).

Nov 18 Notes

Finally, got the draw for the Hartford Doubles tournament..Minor difference from what we reported earlier. #1, #4, #6 and #8 are in one group and #2, #3, #5 and #8 are in the other. So Woodies, Leach/Stark, Lareau/O'Brien and Johnson/Montana in one group. The other group has Eltingh/Haarhuis, Ferreira/ Galbraith, Dynamic Duo, and Knowles/Nestor. Still not a bad group for LP/MB.. LP-MB are in the Yellow Group.. The other is called the Green Group

FORMAT: All teams will play the three other teams in their round-robin group, with the top two teams from each group moving into Saturday's semifinals. The No. 1 team from the Green Group will play Yellow #2, and Yellow #1 will face Green #2.


1.00 pm      (3) Ferreira-Galbraith   vs.  (5) Bhupathi-Paes 
followed by  (4) Leach-Stark          vs.  (6) Lareau-O'Brien
7:00         (1) Woodbridge-Woodforde vs.  (8) Johnson-Montana
followed by  (2) Eltingh-Haarhuis     vs.  (7) Knowles-Nestor

Nov 17 Notes

The Hartford lineup is set, with as we had been guessing, Kafelnikov/Vacek not showing up like last year (what's up with them anyway ?.. :-)).. It is Woodbridge/Woodforde, Eltingh/Haarhuis, Ferreira/Galbraith, Leach/Stark, Bhupathi/Paes, Lareau/O'Brien, Knowles/Nestor, and Johnson/Montana, in the rankings order (11th ranked Johnson/Montana took the final spot freed up by Kaf/Vac)... The order should be #1, #4, #5, #8 in one group and #2, #3, #6, #7 in the other (not sure of this; will confirm soon); if so, LP/MB will have the Woodies, Leach/Stark, and Johnson/Montana in their group. They are 0-2 vs the Woodies (losses at Queens and Cincinnati), 1-0 against L/S (Singapore) and 2-0 against J/M (Montreal and Cincinnati) this year... Certainly not a bad group to be in, The Woodies notwithstanding.. The draw for the schedule of matches, etc, will be on Tuesday.

Leander dropped a few spots in the singles rankings, after losing 7 or 8 points from the Reunion Challenger from last year. He is now at #114.. He will drop all the way to 125-130 next week after losing the Mauritius challenger points as well; then he can come back up at the Indian challengers. The doubles, and team rankings remain the same for Paes and Bhupathi. Mahesh moved up 3 spots to 228 in singles, with the same point total.

LP and MB have been in Hartford from Saturday night; so is our friend, Kannan Srinivasan of Hindustan Times. Depending on computer access for him there, Kannan may send us some match reports. I am told The Hindu has also send a reporter (Kamesh Srinivasan) to Hartford. Good to see such press coverage for this event, which has hardly got any coverage outside of India, so far. Kannan had an article in yesterday's Hindustan Times about how even the people at the Hartford Civic Center (which is where the event will be held) had not much idea over the weekend, and asked him to come back Monday to get more info !.. Our old pal Kim Das (remember his great job reporting from the US Open ?) should also be getting to Hartford soon.. look for enough news here starting late wednesday (it may be slow till then).

Nov 17 Notes

Looks like Paes and Bhupathi have been doing their homework. The Hindu had an excellent article by Kamesh Srinivasan yesterday with Leander's analysis of the top-10 teams, where he also rated the top teams on a 1 to 10 scale (1 being the best). Here is a slightly edited version of the article (hope The Hindu doesn't mind me quoting the article!):

Leander is refreshingly candid in his comments. Pretty darn good detailed analysis there. Hope our dudes can follow through and win it all !

Nov 14 Note-2

Here is the point allocation at the Hartford ATP doubles championships: 80 points for each win in the round robin (three matches), 190 points for a semifinals win, 280 points for the finals win. So, basically, unless you get to a semifinal, you get hardly much points (two round robin wins will normally be needed to reach the semis, even though a 3-0, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 record is a possibility for 4 teams in a round robin group). If you win the finals, you will normally get at least 630 points. If you win 3 round robin matches and then win the title, you get the maximum of 710 points, roughly equivalent to a grand slam title which gets you 750 points (in a grand slam, however, you will end up with about 50 to 100 bonus points too, for beating some top teams.. At Hartford, there are NO BONUS POINTS allowed..). A loss in the finals will get you normally 350 points. In other words, two teams end up cleaning up most of the points.

Prize money from last year were: $15K for each round robin win, $25 for a semifinal win, and $60K for the finals win. Last year, The winners (Woodies) got 630 points and $115,000 (2 wins in the round robin, then semi and final wins). Sebastien Lareau and Alex O'Brien, the second team (2 wins in the round robin, and a semifinal win), got $55,000 and 350 points. The third team, Byron Black/Grant Connell (3 wins in the round robin and a loss in the semis) got $45,000 plus 240 points. The remaining 5 pairs (four of them with 1-2 records in the round robins, and one with a 1-2 record in the round robin and a loss in the semis) got $15,000 each and 80 points each. The prize money amounts added up to $290K last year, and the amounts may be different this year. (Thanks, Kannan Srinivasan, for digging up the last year info, and thanks, Sanjeev Bordoloi for the points info !)..