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Indian-Tennis: Daily News for the week ending on Nov 29, 2004
(Previous week's notes) (Next week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2004)

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Nov 29 Notes

Sania Mirza, Shikha Uberoi (USA) and Neha Uberoi (USA) are all at the $50K challenger at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida .. Sania and Shikha re in the main draw list and Neha is the 4th seed in the qualies .. Neha won the first round of qualies on sunday, beating wildcard Jennifer Tuchband (USA,599) easily, 62 63 .. She was to play a tough Q2 today against Svetlana Krivencheva (BUL,411)

At the satellite masters leg in Delhi, Indians had a good start with four of the six advancing to the second rouond today .. Vijay Kannan and Ajay Ramaswamy had good wins over foreign opponents, while the two youngsters, Vivek Shokeen and Divij Sharan did well to beat their Indian opponents Vishal Punna and Kamala Kannan .. See the Delhi masters page for the results and the draws .. In the second round on Tuesday, 7th seed Vishal Uppal and the 8th seed Sunil Kumar, both with first round byes, alsd get into the action .. Now, every win gives them all very good ATP points.

Forgot to mention some good work by Madura Ranganathan last week at the grade-3 juniors in Malaysia -- she won the doubles title there with a foreign partner .. Good show! .. Hope the Indian contingent does much better in singles this week at the second grade-3 in Malaysia than they did last week.

Nov 28 Notes

OK, the official word has come out now .. As in today's Telegraph (Kolkata), Bhupathi to pair with Woodbridge in 2005; Paes in search of a partner .. I had some hints that Todd would be Mahesh's partner .. Actually, based on what I had heard, Hesh and Lee had talked earlier about playing together, but nothing came off it .. Then it became late and decisions had to be made I suppose .. To me it looks like Leander was showing unnecessary courtesy to his good friend David Rikl, who is in almost semi-retirement and not willing to play more than 16 events .. As Lee correctly says, that is too few, and this year Leander lost out because Rikl wasn't always available .. The crazy thing is that all of us fans have been seeing this all year, and all of us expected that nothing is going to change next year with Rikl as a full-time partner who plays 20+ events .. But I suppose Lee is too close a friend to Rikl and wanted to see if that partnership could continue - I guess it is tough to balme him when he shows his nice human side .. As for Mahesh, I suppose it is tough to blame him either, especially if the greatest double legend showed interest in being his partner - how can anybody say no to that guy Woodbridge? .. But on the other hand, it is also a fair question why the concept of the "Indian Express" and their guaranteed success would not take precedence over everything else when LP and MB are deciding their partners .. I have to think that it is because they still do not have that complete mental resonance that is needed to make Indian Express work again .. Put simply, there was no real mental urge to play together .. It's a pity .. Anyway, one more year will go by and we won't see LP and MB together, sadly .. LP has reportedly shortlisted "a few" candidates and said to the newspaper, “I am looking for someone who is two-three years younger, one who plays a bit of singles also.”

I do hope Lee will stop messing around with partners and pick somebody good .. Leander has played some really good smashmouth doubles this year when he came back to peak shape - perhaps as good a physical shape as he has ever been in his career .. Actually my suggestion for a good partner for LP would be a tall partner with a power game, like a Michael Llodra (6 ft 3in) .. Not sure if he is available though - and at 24 he is probably too yoing and still too focussed on singles .. Another suggestion would be Nenad Zimonjic, 6 ft 4 inches tall, who still has some singles skills and is a very good doubles player -- Lee and Nenad had a doubles title together as well, once ..  I have not heard any inside info on this though.

Wonder who will be Bjorkman's partner .. Heard a rumor that it might be Max Mirnyi - but I have no idea how authentic that is .. That would an interesting straight swap of partners, as Woodbridge played withe Bjorkman for the last few years.

Nov 27 Notes

Nothing much going on right now ... Gruel won the title at Gurgaon, staying unbeaten for a third week in a row .. He now has enough circuit points to be assured of topping the circuit point tally without having to do anything in the final masters leg .. 43 points including 8 bonus already! .. Wow! ... Ghouse-Uppal played very well in picking up the title beating the top seeds Kedriouk-Krotiouk .. Off to the masters leg now in Delhi ..

There was a news item the last couple of days from the Chennai tournament that Paes and Bhupathi will be playing with different partners .. Oh well, can't say I am surprised .. Massively disappointed at how this has turned out .. Many had hopes after the Olympics time that the two might rejoin .. I too was somewhat hopeful, though I had always had that sense from reading all of the noncommital lines given to the press that there was really nothing in the works .. More wasted opportunities .. What a  pity .. What a tragedy .. Sometime in life, everyone has to figure out that the "you did that to me - you did this to me" business is useless, at least when it is very clear that it is not in one's own interest to keep such feelings for too long .. I suppose that will not happen in this case .. Needless to say, I am disappointed in having to lose some more respect towards a hero or two I have had .. I am sure many fans feel that way too, sadly .. I guess it's time for us to say "to hell with this!" .. We look forward to the next generation of heroes in Indian tennis and have to move on ..

By the way, one correction on something I said earlier -- I said there is hardly any new faces coming to Chennai Open this time .. Not true .. Jonas Bjorkman, perhaps among the greatest three or four players in the last decade, is coming to Chennai for the first time ..  I remembered him coming to India but that was not at Chennai .. He was in India for the very first Indian Open in 1996, but that was the year before the tournament moved to Chennai .. He is currently expected to be the third seed there in January .. You wonder why I think that Bjorkman is that great? .. Well, consider this -- a whole ten years back this week he was ranked #50 .. Of course, at the veteran age of 32, he is still ranked at an incredible #69 .. He was once ranked as high as #4 in the world too .. 
Take a look at Bjorkman's December singles ranks since he turned 21 in 1993 --- #95, 50, 30, 69, 4, 24, 74, 46, 57, 48, 30, 69 (2004) .. Is that impressive or what? .. The most impressive part is that he has done all of that while also playing a full schedule for so long in doubles, where he is currently #3 .. He has almost always been in the top-15 for the decade too -  does anybody remember the great old pairs, Bjorkman-Apell and Bjorkman-Kulti? .. That feels like a century back! .. It is really mind-boggling how much tennis this man has played at the highest competitive level .. That is why I think this Swede is among the greatest three or four players over the last decade .. But I guess I think differently than most tennis fans on these things, and Bjorkman (or the other living legend Woodbridge for that matter) do not get the kind of recognition and respect they deserve for how good they have been in both singles and doubles for how long ..

Anyway, with whom Bjorkman will play doubles at Chennai, reamins to be seen .. Chennai should feel honored to welcome this legend - and I hope they give him the kind of respect he deserves (which is clearly much much more than what Moya, Srichapahan etc deserve!)

Nov 25 Notes

Ghouse-Uppal reached the final of doubles at Gurgaon, but otherwise nothing of much interest to Indians .. Gruel continues on .. 
See all the results in the Gurgaon-3 page .. Also see the points page for the circuit .. The 24 players who have qualified for the masters leg are now determined .. There was a plyoff for the final two spots among four players .. Vishal Punna made it with a walkover, but Rupesh Roy went down to Davir Kuseta .. See the masters leg page for the news.

A really poor show by all the Indians who were at the grade-3 ITF tournament in Malaysia this week ..
The second seed Madura Ranganathan (#129) lost to qualifier Martina Lautenschala (SUI,499) 46 26 in the R1 .. 3rd seed Sandhya Nagraj (#155) lost to unranked lucky loser Wei-Ping Lee (SIN), 36 26 .. Preethi Subramaniam (#344) lost to unranked lucky loser Cristina Pradonel (ROM), 06 36 .. Vandana Murali (#342) struggled but advanced 26 61 64 over another unranked lucky loser LuLing Chen (TPE) before falling to the top seed Anastassia Poltoratskai (RUS,106), 36 26 .. Shivika Burman (#339) beat wildcard Michelle Ying Liew (MAS,1268), 61 61 before losing Ye-Ra Lee (KOR,206), 06 06 .. Wildcard Gayatri Krishnan (#754) lost to Nadja Lass Hansen (DEN,261), 36 26 .. On the boys' side, Tejesvi Rao (#332) lost to the 9th seed Hsin-Han Lee (TPE,209) in the R1, 36 46 ..  Yikes, that is an extremely poor set of results .. I can understand running into some top players and losing, but take a look at the opponenets and the scorelines -- can it get any worse? .. What is going on? ..

I hope the whole Indian contingent was late in arriving and were tired and jetlagged or something .. Otherwise something is really going wrong .. On top of thast, the one player I thought would go and get some good results, GK Shweta, did not make the trip at all - though she had entered ...  I thought Jeevan might go to these grader-3 events, but he did not enter.

I am puzzled as to what the heck is going on, but our juniors suddenly seem to be waaaaay behind everybody else .. It feels like there has not been any serious results for quite a while from anybody to talk about .. I am getting extremely concerned that our junior program is grinding to a halt (if it has not already ground to a halt) .. May be I am over-reacting, but I am just sick of not seeing many of the better players not going abroad or playing anywhere enough, and the ones who actually travel seemingly not getting any good results .. Need to figure out what is ailing everybody .. Coaching and advice???  ... That has always been the first reason I think of ..

Nov 24 Notes

Another three-set fight from Sania but she could not pull an upset over Mervana Jugic-Salkic (BIH,157) in the R1 at the $75K Poitiers challenger in France .. She lost 57 63 16 .. Sania now goes to Palm Beach Gardens in Florida, USA, for the $50K challenger next week there .. Sania and Shikha Uberoi are in the main draw there .. Neha Uberoi was 10th in the qualifying list as of early this week.

At the Gurgaon satellites 3rd leg, only one Indian has made the QF and that is Vishal Uppal who has now consistently done that three times in a row, though he has not been able to pull an upset over a seed and move to semifinal .. Hope he does that tomorrow .. See all the results in the Gurgaon-3 page .. I am told that Sunil Kumar was carrying a groin injury yesterday and that caused his quick loss in the first round .. Hope he recovers quickly and does well next week in the masters leg.

At the grade-3 ITF juniors in Sarawak, Malaysia, Madura Ranganathan (#129) is the second seed in the girls' draw, facing qualifier Martina Lautenschala (SUI,499) in the first round .. Sandhya Nagraj (#155) is the 3rd seed playing a lucky loser to be determined .. Preethi Subramaniam (#344) plays wildcard Jawariah Nordin (MAS), Vandana Murali (#342) plays a lucky loser and Shivika Burman (#339) plays a wildcard Michelle Ying Liew (MAS) .. Gayatri Krishnan (#754) got a wildcard and has a tougher match against Nadja Lass Hansen (DEN,261) .. On the boys' side, Tejesvi Rao (#332) is the lone Indian and he faces the 9th seed Hsin-Han Lee (TPE,209).

Nov 23 Notes

I have got hold of the entry list for the 2005 Chennai Open ATP that came out today .. It is posted at our Chennai Open page .. Good to see that Moya and Srichaphan will be back, but otherwise the list is marginally worse than normal - only three players from the top-65 .. Hardly any new names showing up this time either .. By the way, what we heard was that Tata will not be the title sponsor this time and that the tournament would be called the "Chennai Open" this time and not the "Tata Open".

No offcial website to be found anywhere .. Come on folks, get that done please! .. And for Gods' sake, give the job to some guys who know at least the basics of tennis and have the enthusiasm to keep it up-to-date and update the scores promptly during the event (like how the website used to be in the early days when Satyam did the work) ... I hope it will not be given to the same guys at IndiaTimes who did an absolutely pathetic job last time .. I am sure most tennis fans who follow things on the internet would agree that last edition's Chennai website was among the poorest ATP websites this year, if not the worst ..

Sonal Phadke is at the $10K in pretoria, South Africa .. Unfortunately, a close loss for her in the first round itself .. [R1] S.Phadke (IND,699) l. Anna Hawkins (GBR,719), 63 26 67(5) .. Tough match .. She also went down in the doubles first round in the company of Katarzyna Siwosz (POL), 46 76(5) 26 to the RSA wildcards Ghizela Schutte and Tarryn Terblanche .. Two really tough losses .. She will be there for next week's event as well.

At the Gurgaon (3rd) leg of the Indian satellites, today wa sa so-so day .. No fireworks from Indians, but six of them are in the second round .. Sunil Kumar cannot seem to get anything going, and the 5th seed bowed out in the firt round itself for a very cheap score - I am not sure what was affecting him .. Karan Rastogi, the unlickiest of the players in this circuit as far as the draws are concerned, could not get past the top seed Gruel who still remains unbeaten in the circuit .. Karan will miss the masters leg and will not get any singles ATP points which is a real pity .. He did play some good matches .. Divij Sharan had a good win over Vishal Punna .. Vijay Kannan, Vishal Uppal and Kamala Kannan also advanced .. All of them have assured themselves of spots in the masters leg and thus some ATP points .. See all the results in the Gurgaon-3 page .. I have also added a points page for the point tally from the circuit, which will be kept updated till the circui ends .. Take a look.

A whole set of Indian juniors may be going to the grade-3 ITF juniors in Sarwak, Malaysia this week .. Mostly only girls, though .. Tejesvi Rao and Jitin Bishnoi are in the entry list for boys, and a Punam reddy, Madura Ranganathan, Sandhya Nagraj, GK Shweta, Shivika Burman, Vandana Murali, Preethi Subramaniam, etc are in the girls' entry list .. I will try to find the scores once the tournament starts from tomorrow on..

Nov 22 Notes

Hey, Sania Mirza qualified into the $75K challenger in Poitiers!!.. I think this is the first $75K challenger for her .. She beat Maria Goloviznina (RUS,270), 63 63 in the Q3 .. She plays Mirvana Jugic-Salkic (BIH,157) in the first round .. In the doubles R1, Sania and Nuria Llagostera Vives (ESP) went down 46 26 to the second seeded Czech pair, Gabriela Navratilova and Michaela Pastikova .. I think Sania plays the singles first round only on wednesday .. She has picked up 7.5 WTA points for the three qualies wins, including 5 bonus points so far.

In the third leg of the satellites at Gurgaon, Vivek Shokeen and Ajay Ramaswamy won their first round matches .. Karan Rastogi and Kamala Kannan came through the qualies, and those in the main draw are Sipaeya, Uppal, Punna, Shokeen, Ramaswami and Vijay Kannan as direct entries with Rupesh, Tushar, Divij and Arindam Dutta as wildcards .. I do not understand how Arindam qualifies for all these main draw wildcards .. he lost cheaply for the third week in a row yesterday too .. Mustafa fell in the qualies .. Poor Karan can't get a break from the draw - now he has a seed for trhe third week in a row, and it is the worst one -- the top seed Gruel .. Oh boy - I feel bad for Karan who has played two three-setters in losses to seeds in the last two weeks and has also qualified in twice, but has no way but to pick up his first main draw win with the biggest upset of the satellites, to get to the 4th leg and pick up any ATP points .. I will start a page for the third leg and post the draws soon.

We may know of the Chennai entry list soon .. Carlos Moya, Rainer Schuettler and Jonas Bjorkman, were three of the top players who had Chennai as their first preference, I believe .. More top names may have entered in the last minute too .. Depending on where the Doha cut falls, I expect other top-75 players like those like Koubek, Hyung-Taik Lee, A.Martin, etc come to Chennai ..

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the weeks ending on Nov 22 ..

I am getting some inquiries 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 inquiring 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 playera, let me know .. Please email me - R.Jayakrishnan