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LP/MB/NV/Indian-Tennis: Notes for the week ending on Jan 1, 2001
(Previous week's notes) (Daily Notes Index 1997 thru 2000)

.. Add your thoughts/messages in the Forum page ..  or use the archived guestbook ..

.. The site will be on vacation till January first week .. I am off to India, unexpectedly..

Dec 31 Note-1

Happy New Year!

I am back from my trip to India - no luck with a later return reservation to catch some action at Chennai .. A few quick updates .. Asia Cup ended up in a mess for India with Korea quite clearly losing their 3rd tie just to keep India out from the final .. We had only themselves to blame though as a rather rusty Harsh Mankad who flew in right after semester exams from the US could not pull off any magic .. Mahesh and his doubles work with Fazal kept us in the run till the Koreans decided that they did not want to face Hesh and gang in the final and literally stank the place up in their final tie .. That was the week before .. Last week saw the invitational at the Krishnan tennis center .. All top Indians including Fazal, Sri, Harsh, Vishal, Vijay, Sunil, Saurav etc played there - and this time Harsh Mankad was in fine form .. The final was between Harsh and Fazal, which Harsh won in a comeback, 36 64 64, though only after Fazal put up some really good rear-guard action in the 3rd set where Harsh led 4-0 .. Actually Fazal had two break points in the final game too .. Great match between these two .. Now, on to Chennai GoldFlake Open .. Paes-Bhupathi are the 2nd seeds and face wildcards Vinciguerra-Landsberg in a not-so-easy first match .. LP made the draw as a direct entry and will play young Tommy Robredo of Spain .. Mahesh plays Stoliarov and Fazal plays Voinea .. Bhupathi and Fazal got wildcards along with talented 19 yr old Taylor dent of USA .. Taylor's choice continues what is now a Chennai tradition of catching the foregn talent young .. I really did not expect that they would give one WC to Fazal, based on their earlier track-record though .. Harsh would perhaps have a beef, but it's a toss-up between these two anyway, and Fazal has a bit more experience with perhaps a tad bit more of a chance (though admittedly a small one) at this level on a non-clay surface than Harsh, whose time will hopefully come in the future .. The qualies got done today (Sunday) and no Indians made it in, with five of them losing in the first two rounds .. Today's final qualies scores are: Saulnier d. Kutsenko 76(6) 64; Davydenko d. Schukin 62 62; Pless d. M.Lee 26 63 62; Roux d. Tieleman 62 63 .. Pless is yet another very talented youngster .. In doubles, last year's runners-up Panja-Srinath got a WC along with Ghouse-Uppal ..

I have not had time to see if there is another official site, but the goldflakeopen.com site now transfers to khel.com, which bugs me because they never showed any heart in covering Indian tennis earlier - perhaps this means they are more serious about tennis .. I doubt it .. (well, even right now, on the tournament page they have "today's results" scrolling with Australia's score over West Indies in cricket -- yuck -- what can I say? :-)) .. Anyway, I see no button for scores or live scores yet, and even the draw has not been posted .. Qualifying scores ? .. are you kidding me - no chance .. They do have player profiles with Andre Agassi .. Whoop dee doo! .. If the tournament organizers messed it up this time and gave it to the wrong guys after three years of good coverage on the web, it would be most unfortunate.

Check out our page for Chennai Open for the draw, etc.

Will have more updates and news soon, after I get over some jet-lag etc ..

Dec 18 Notes

I am leaving for India, quite unexpectedly for a couple of weeks, and should be back by the time the Chennai Open starts (unless the airlines cooperate and let me stay a couple more days to catch some action in Chennai) .. The Asia Cup for men and women will be at Delhi this week, and I believe the Krishnan Tennis center tournament will be there next week, with the Chennai Open qualies starting during the new year's weekend .. I am sure you can find all the news in our newspapers -- Indian Express, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Deccan Herald and Telegraph , along with the websites, Rediff.com, indiainfo.com, indya.com, wahindia.com, india-today, etc, etc ..

For the fanclub members - I think our mailing list is down for the time being due to a technical glich, but it may be up again soon.

Happy Holidays -- Mrgasheersham, Christmas, Ramdan, etc, etc, for all of you!  .. See you soon.

Dec 17 Notes

Sorry about the late news update - I was having some technical problems here .. Anyway, the final turned out to be a total anti-climax .. It's weird, what has happened to LP-MB in world doubles finals every time .. Our guys are well-known for playing their best in the finals, as their record would show .. They have a stellar record of 16 and 4 in other finals on the ATP tour, including a 2 of 4 record in grand slam finals, but they have not even won a set in a world doubles final, going out in three straight sets every time .. I have no idea how that is even possible for them not to have won even a set in three attempts at a WDC title, but somehow something goes wrong for them everytime in the WDC finals and they have never been at their best in those matches either .. Same story today -- #5 D.Johnson-P.Norval d. #8 Paes-Bhupathi, 76(8) 63 64 ..

I could not follow the match online, but here is a recap based on the info at the official website -- our guys started fast and were up a break, threatening to break again in game 3 to go two up .. The other guys held there and broke our guys in game 4 (off LP's serve) to tie it .. It went to a tiebreaker and after a tight one, that went to DJ-PN as well .. In the second and 3rd sets, LP-MB did not even have a break chance .. The other guys had six chances and broke the Indian Express twice in the second set (in games 5 and 9 off MB's serve, believe) .. They had 4 more chances in the 3rd set and broke the Indians once (game 10 off MB's serve) .. End of story ..

There was one aspect which yesterday's reports had predicted would give trouble to LP-MB .. That was the early start of the match and the effect of the sun being in their eyes .. All teams had complained on the previous days about 3 pm matches and how the sun was troubling them .. Our guys hadn't played any early matches the previous four days and did not have to face the bright evening sun before .. LP-MB did have trouble with that, and DJ-PN had a bit of an advantage in having one left-hander, not having to serve into the sun .. I guess that is not an excuse, as it was already predicted by people yesterday .. Whatever that may be, it's clear that the Indian Express did not play their best and that Johnson-Norval were hitting on all cylinders .. According to worlddoubles.com, Paes commented that the level of tennis that he and Bhupathi played was high but that they lost to a better team, one that returned better and that made a bug difference. They said the starting time of 3pm had made a difference to them because their other matches had been later and they had not experienced the trajectory of the sun at that hour. "The quality of tennis wasn't there form us because we couldn't see the ball with the shadows," said Bhupathi. "They were more prepared having played at that time in the semifinals, but still we should have done something about it." Paes suggested that they were 10% off their best and that made the difference. They acknowledged that they did not handle the "I" formation by Johnson and Norval but "missing the return by six inches or ten feet, it's still out". He said: "Our returns were not up to standard and that made the difference and they kept fighting."  .. So, that's the story .. Our guys were just not playing 100% .. Very odd that they are virtually unbeatable in other finals, but that they cannot buy a set in a WDC final .. Tennis is a strange game sometime.

LP-MB picked up 90 points each for two round robin wins and 180 more for the semifinal yesterday, which gives them 360 points (52 race points).  That gives them 120 race points for the year and they finish as the #29 team in the world, moving up from #55 .. They made about $100K to share from the tournament which was good for them to balance the books, as I believe their earnings this year ($113K for LP and $140K for MB before this) was barely enough to break even after travel, training and coaching expenses.

MB is confirmed for the Asia Cup in Delhi next week, but it was unclear if LP would be there, due to tendinitis concerns .. I think it's better for him (actually for MB too) to skip Asia Cup -- the last thing we want is for them to come down with fatigue injuries now, especially after having played 5 matches in five days .. Perhaps they could go and be available for the crucial doubles matches if needed - I am sure the Delhi fans want to see both of them play, though.

Dec 16 Note-2

How about dem dynamic duo ?  .. They have now reached the world doubles final for the 3rd time in four years .. LP-MB d. #1 Ferreira-Leach, 63 75 .. The match started with an early break by LP-MB once again, as they have been doing throughout this tournament .. They got another break in the 9th game to close out the set .. The official site shows a really bad 26% first serves for EF-RL, with five doubles faults in that first set .. They did have three break chances in the set, but did not convert any, while LP-MB converted on both of the break points they got .. In the second set, there was no early sleep-walking from LP-MB, and they again broke EF-RL early, in the second game .. The top seeds got that break back in the 7th game, when LP-MB dropped serve after deuce .. LP-MB flirted with serious trouble at a break point at 30-40 in the 9th game at 4-4 as well, but held on to go up 5-4 .. Then, at 6-5, LP-MB raised their game at the right time, it seemed .. They took EF-RL to a few deuces and closed it off with a break in the 12th game .. It seemed like quite a tough fight for most of the second set with Leach and Ferreira not ready to fold easily, but our guys were up to the task .. The match took an hour and 25 minutes .. The key stat may be the poor first serve % for EF-RL and the break point conversion rate .. Our guys converted 4 of 7 break chances, but the other guys only managed 1 out of 6 ..

Hello, final !! .. Against Johnson-Norval tomorrow .. Those two beat Aspelin-Landsberg 64 57 63 today in the other semi earlier .. Repeat match against them .. I need to go to sleep; it is 5.40 am here in California and I have been up for a long time .. Go Indian Express!!

Dec 16 Note-1

LP-MB play the second semifinal today, starting at about 5 pm ..  Our chatroom will be open as usual for live scores and discussions.

A couple of newspaper reports today have Rick Leach talking about his plans to be the assistant coach at the Univ of Southern California next year (under his father, USC head coach Dick Leach, one of the legendary coaches in US college tennis) .. Interestingly, he mentioned that Prakash Amritraj will be joining USC .. So he will get a chance to be coached by Rick Leach .. Rick also mentioned that Prakash is very promising and that one day he "could be playing Davis Cup for India" .. So, I guess the news is out that Prakash has always had India in his plans .. I had heard that a while back, but had not really mentioned it, as he was after all still in the USTA junior system .. Prakash was not ranked quite at the very top of USTA junior ranking, though he will be among the top 2 or 3 US juniors in the ITF world junior rankings next month .. It is also not clear how much opportunity he will get to play for USA, but it is all too early to say, as he is only 17 and still developing (heck, not too many kids have got coached by more qualified dads! :-)) .. Anyway, that's good news .. In current world junior rankings, Prakash is at #80, just ahead of Sunil Kumar at #83 and Vinod Sewa at #123 .. I do plan to drive up to USC a couple of times next year to watch the guy play, as I live not too far away  ..

Speaking of US colleges, there is some really really really good news from this week .. The fall college rankings just came out and Ajay Ramaswamy has shot up all the way to #8 in singles rankings in USA .. That is an incredibly high ranking .. I had reported earlier that he has had a terrific fall season, winning against a ton of top-50 and top-100 players .. Harsh Mankad (now in his second year) has not played as much in the fall, but has kept to his preseason ranking, actually moving up a couple of spots to #53 .. I am actually still rather shocked, seeing how Ajay Ramaswamy, who along with Harsh cracked the top-100 only in the very last rank list of last year (at #99 with Harsh at #84), has come out firing like he has in the last 2-3 months and has gone straight to the top-10 .. I believe Mahesh was been ranked inside the top-5 a few years back, but nobody else has come close to even top-30 in recent years .. Ajay is in his final year, and clearly is one that everybody should take serious notice of .. We may also remember that he did pretty well in the satellites in India last June, though not as well as Harsh then (they were doubles partners too, finishing #2 as a team) .. I have seen the scores of some of Ajay's recent wins in college, and the manner in which he has been winning shows that he has become a super confident player, going after top college players with a lot of self-belief .. Hey, watch out! .. Indian men's tennis is NOT dead just yet for the future!

Dec 15 Note-3

One legend departs and another hangs on by the skin of his teeth .. Paul Haarhuis, who is retiring from ATP matches (he *might* play Davis Cup next year), went out just now, as Haarhuis-Stolle lost to Johnson-Norval 36 67(6), the latter team advancing to the semis against Aspelin-Landsnerg tomorrow .. As for Rick leach, here is the AP report from the Los Anglese Times online -- Leach and Ferreira, who had lost their first two matches, beat the Australian pair of Joshua Eagle and Andrew Florent 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2), but that was not going to be enough. They needed Aspelin and Landsberg not only to beat the South Americans (Oncins-Orsanic), but to do it without dropping a set to make it on a higher percentage of sets won (from among three teams tied with 1-2 records). The Swedes cooperated. Leach was surprised by the developments, "I was sure that I had played my last match on the ATP Tour," said Leach, who is retiring after this event. "I wanted to fly out of Bangalore tonight, but was unable to get a booking. I still can't believe it. I was planning to have a farewell drink with the guys before packing my bags, but here's a great opportunity. After we played the way we did in the first two matches, we probably didn't deserve to go through to the semis, but tennis can be a funny game at times." .. Hey Rick, drink that Kingfisher tomorrow after your semi, OK? :-)

So, my calculations were right - that F-L did advance .. Always good to see one of the nicest guys on the tour, Rick leach, getting this chance .. But let me make it clear, we don't want him to get another chance :-) .. Go Indian Express, hang a loss on another legend the last time you play him (like they did against Eltingh earlier and Haarhuis now) ! .. In a way it was good for LP-MB to lose closely today .. They know that they cannot afford to be overconfident .. The last time they played Ferreira-Leach, they lost -- at the World doubles final last year .. They need revenge on them, and they need to be at their best to make sure they reach final.

Dec 15 Note-2

I believe LP-MB had won 25 matches in a row in India, dating back to 1996 April when they lost in Davis Cup to Bjorkman-Kulti .. One of those great statistics I had never mentioned, as I was afraid i would jinx them and end it :-) .. They had won two challenger titles (8 matches - Ahmedabad and Chennai in late 96), won three titles at Chennai (12 matches), won two Davis Cups (Chile in 97 and China in 99), won one Asia Cup match (in 97) and has had two wins this week at bangalore .. I have to check all the stats, but I am pretty sure that it is a 4+ year streak of 25 wins .. Well the streak had to end sometime and it did today in a barn-burner .. O'Brien-Palmer d. Paes-Bhupathi, 26 64 76(5) .. We had a break point in the 7th or 9th game of the final set but could not convert it and it went to a tiebreaker .. O-P went up 4-1 on a minibreak and were up two minibreaks at 5-2 and serving .. Our guys got one minibreak back, but could not do anymore, ending their Indian streak with a 5-7 tiebreaker loss.

Other than $20K, no damage done though .. We proceed to semis as the topper in the gold group based on head-to-head win against Haarhuis-Stolle or Johnson-Norval who are playing right now, the winners there getting a 2-1 record too .. Our guys play Ferreira-leach tomorrow, if I am not mistaken .. will confirm later.

Dec 15 Note-1

LP-MB have sterted their 3rd round robin match just now at about 7 pm there, and are up a break rightaway at 3-1 .. Come to our chatroom ..

The big news today is that Aspelin Landberg won and Ferreira-Leach won earlier .. So, there is a three-way tie in the red group and guess who advances to the semi? -- Top seeds Ferreira-Leach, who had been cinsidered dead till they won a comeback after dropping the first set today, winning it in a 3rd set tiebreaker .. Talk about last-gasp heroics! ..  So the legendary Rick leach's career has NOT ended yet .. Wow! ..  Now, LP-MB will be facing them in the semis tomorrow .. In the other semi tomorrow, Aspelin-Landberg facing the winner of the Haarhuis-Stolle vs Johnson-Norval match that is the last match of the day.

Dec 14 Note-3

As the match for LP-MB on wednesday ended past the online edition press deadlines for all the newspapers, I have not seen any newspaper articles on it .. Here is a report from rediff.com - It was a classic performance by the former world No.1 team as they won in a little under 70 minutes and virtually assured themselves a place in the semi-finals ... Johnson and Norval, who caused the first upset of the championship on Wednesday when they defeated fourth seeds Alex O'Brien and Jared Palmer, could do little to stop the marauding Indians ... With a vociferous crowd behind them, Paes and Bhupathi dominated the match from the start. Though Johnson and Norval did extremely well to get an amazing 97 per cent of their first serves in in the first set, it was the Indians' ability to come good on the big points which saw them take the match ... After gauging their opponents in the early stages of the match, they broke in the fifth game to go ahead 3-2 and then never looked back. Within 35 minutes the first set was over, with Bhupathi serving out the set at 15 ... In the second set, the Indians broke as early as the third game after Johnson and Norval saved one break point. That sufficed for them to take the set and match .. "It was our best match in some time," said Paes after the match. "I'm really happy with our performance," he added while thanking the crowd for their support ..

LP-MB have two wins .. Haarhuis-Palmer and Johnson-Norval have one win each, and OBrien Palmer have no wins .. Our guys play OBrien-Palmer tomorrow and H-P play J-N .. The winners of the H-P vs J-N match and the Indian Express will make the semifinal .. At worst, our guys will be tied with H-P or J-N with two wins each .. The first rule for breaking the tie is the head-to-head result .. As LP-MB have beaten both those teams, it means that LP-MB are assured to top the group as well .. In other words, our guys can lie down on court and take a nap and they have nothing to lose, except for some money and points .. I don't think they will do that though .. The #3 seeds O'Brien-Palmer do not have any way to reach the semis, but will be playing for pride and they are always a dangerous team ..

In the other group, things are not as straight forward, and all teams are basically in it still .. Aspelin-Landberg are 2:0, Eagle-Florent and Oncins-Orsanic are 1:1 and Ferreira-Leach are 0:2 .. A-L vs O-O tomorrow, along with E-F vs F-L .. If A-L and E-F win, they both advance with 3:0 and 2:1 records .. If A-L and F-L win, then AL advances and there will be a three-way tie between OO, F-L and E-A, all with 1:2 record (this is the only way for Ferreira-Leach to advance, and they may also need some cheap straight sets win to handle the tiebreaker rules) .. If O-O and E-F win, there will be a three-way tie between A-L, O-O and E-F, all with 2:1 record, for two teams to advance .. If O-O and F-L win, the A-L and O-O advance with 2:1 records with the other two teams having 1:2 records .. So there are all kinds of possibilities out there, and the three-team tiebreraker rules are odd, based on # of sets won, followed by # of games won .. If I remember correctly, two years back the Woodies were leading 2-0 like Aspelin-Landberg here but ended up missing the semifinal on the basis of games won in a three-way tie between teams with 2-1 records .. Chances are rather dim for the top seeds Ferreira-Leach, though.

By the way, if you are wondering about points and prize money at stake, it is like this -- basically the points are used only to determine year-end team rankings - the points do NOT go into the 52 week individual ranking point list .. The points are determined as follows  - 90 pts each for each round robin win, 180 pts for a semifinal win and 270 points for the final win .. The maximum points any team can gain is 720 .. The prize money was $20K last year for each win (none for the loser) in the round robin, $50K in the semifinal, and $80K in the final .. I believe the numbers are not much different this year .. In addition there are also courtside bonuses for the year-end finish in the ATP team rankings ($100K going to the #1 team, $80K for the #2 team, etc..), and something similar will be offered this year as well ..

Dec 14 Note-2

Looks like a semifinal for LP-MB !! .. They won their second round robin match today, beating the 5th seeds, Don Johnson and Piet Norval, 64 64 !! .. This seemed like an easy match .. Our guys got a break early in the first set, and except for serving a couple of deuces in the 8th game, they were not in any trouble .. In the second set, they got the break in the 3rd game and then cruised to the end .. So, LP-MB lead the gold group and will play winless O'Brien-Palmer tomorrow (they lost to Haarhuis-Stolle today) .. In the other group, Aspelin-Landsberg pulled another upset, beating the 4th seeds Eagle-Florent and they lead that group -- basically the bottom two teams are leading the groups now!  .. More later.

Dec 14 Note-1

LP-MB play the last match of the day at about 9 pm today against Johnson-Norval .. That is 10.30 am New York 4.30 pm London .. See you in our chatroom.

Dec 13 Note-2

Here is the essence of the match today, from Kalyan Ashok in The Hindu -- Mahesh and Leander combined brilliantly to win emphatically over their fancied rivals .. If Leander sizzled with his serves and volleys, Mahesh was simply superb with his returns as the Indians `high-fived' after winning each point, sending the crowd into raptures. ``One on board and two to go,'' said an elated Leander after the victory while Mahesh remarked that he was happy with the way he played overall though he dropped serve in the second game of the second set ... Mahesh also admitted that their rivals were under pressure, especially with Sandon Stolle flying here without any respite after his Davis Cup engagements in Spain ... Stolle, on the eve of the match, said that he expected Paul Haarhuis to carry him through the first tie before he settles down. But the Indians never gave Haarhuis or him much of a chance with their positive play. They pounced on every loose return and had Stolle and Haarhuis misjudging their returns. Their net play was classy and one felt that the old magic was back again. ... Oh yeah, it looks like the magic was very much there today .. They did the job just at the right time, breaking Haarhuis in game 11 of the first set and closing it out .. Then, in their very familiar style, they were down 0-2 in the second set after Hesh dropped serve .. No problems though, as they broke Haarhuis (after four deuces) and then Stolle in succession to go up 4-2 and cruise to a 7-5 6-4 win.

Here is the link to a nice and detailed article from S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times -- Paes-Bhupathi duo score thumping win ..

The other results today were - Red Group  #7 Aspelin-Landserg d. #1 Ferreira-Leach, 61 36 61, #4 Eagle-Florent  d. #6 Oncins-Orsanic, 61 36 64 .. Gold Group: #8 Bhupathi-Paes d. #2 Haarhuis-Stolle, 75 64,  #5 Johnson-Norval d. #3 O'Brien-Palmer, 75 76(7) .. Interesting that the top three teams got upset today .. By the way, I had said that Aspelin-Landberg should not be taken lightly, and they proved it so .. 5th seeds Johnson-Norval also looked to be in very good form today.

I believe the winners and losers in each pool play each other tomorrow, if I am not mistaken about the usual format .. That would mean LP-MB will be playing Johnson-Norval .. Again, our guys cannot afford to be overconfident at all .. Let us meet in our chatroom during tomorrow's match for LP-MB .. I have not seen the schedule for tomorrow yet, though .. The official website, woulddoubles.com has online scoreboard for everyone to follow the match.

The official website did a fine job of updating scores today in the java scoreboard (the only complaint I have is that they don't indicate which player is serving during each game .. Actually an indication on who started serve in the set for each team would do, if it can be shown somewhere, but it is amazing to me that websites world over at tennis tournament foget this important detail, *always* .. By the way, they also have video-files updated after each set .. That is a FIRST, ever for doubles matches in the history of ATP tournament websites! .. Congrats go to the organizers for that .. As I have said before, Indians are of course in the forefront in doing these things .. If I am not mistaken, other than the grand slam and masters websites, Chennai Open were among the first two or three tournament websites to give live score updates from the court ..

By the way, I notice that they use Red and Gold to designate the two groups for the round robin .. They used to do have green and gold at Hartford .. Hmmm .. Something tells me that the new colors symbolically point to the new title sponsors, Gold Flake :-)

Dec 13 Note-1

Great stuff from the indian Express! .. They won their first round robin match by upsetting the #3 team in the world, Haarhuis-Stolle, 75 64 today .. More later!

Dec 12 Notes

Sorry for being away from the computer for a couple of days - tough times in my wife's family.

It's time for WDC .. It all starts wednesday; literally in a few hours .. LP and MB have not got the better pool for the round robin .. Here are the groupings:

Red Group:
[1] Rick Leach (USA) & Ellis Ferreira (RSA)
[4] Josh Eagle (AUS) & Andrew Florent (AUS)
[6] Jaime Oncins (BRA) and Johan Daniel Orsanic (ARG)
[7] Simon Aspilen (SWE) & Johan Landsberg (SWE)
Gold Group:
[2] Paul Haarhuis (NED) & Sandon Stolle (AUS)
[3] Alex O'Brien (USA) & Jared Palmer (USA)
[5] Don Johnson (USA) & Piet Norval (RSA)
[8] Mahesh Bhupathi (IND) & Leander Paes (IND)
The two pools are about as skewed in quality as it could get .. All the tough teams seem to be in the Gold Group, at least in my opinion .. LP-MB play the fourth and final match of the day, perhaps around 9 pm .. Sandon Stolle was just flying in to India today, after playing for Australia over the weekend at the Davos Cup finals in Spain .. May he be very jet-lagged :-) .. LP-MB could use some help as they are playing their first match together in about six weeks, and we don't know how much practice LP has had after the knee tendonitis healed .. In front of a home crowd, LP-MB are going to be ready though! (It has been ages since Mahesh played in Bangalore, actually - I am sure he will be charged up too..)

I don't know if the official website, worlddoubles.com will be giving score updates during the matches -- as I was busy with other things for a couple of days, I could not confirm things from Bangalore, but there is a java scoreboard at the website, and I expect there will be live scores .. Anyway, we will meet in our chatroom tomorrow during the LP-MB match .. Check here for start time updates later.

Dec 9 Notes

Here is an interview by S.Kannan in the Hindustan Times with Mahesh - "It'll be tough, not impossible" .. Mahesh is already in Bangaloe since Friday and Leander was expected in India on saturday night, according to Mahesh .. Mahesh is concerned about the lack of practice, but said the league format before semifinal is in their favor .. He also says LP and MB have made a tentative schedule for next year which they will refine later after they meet in Bangalore .. No idea what playing shape LP will be in, but I believe the knee tendonitis should be more or less just about healed .. A couple of days of practice with Mahesh, and watch out! .. Here is a good article on the pair, in Hindustan Times - "Home again, together" by S.Kannan .. As I have always done, I disagree somewhat with the general press opinion about "the split" that it was due to ego and immaturity .. Not that they weren't reasons; most tennis players have a good amount of ego which is often an ingredient to success, and young guys often have a certain amount of immaturity also .. It's just that I don't think these two guys are any worse than any other tennis players out there on those counts - actually they are better than most .. The reason why any problem got magnified (and started looking like serious ego and immaturity problems) was that they are two guys who are really quite different in their outlooks and approach to life which made it possible for mistrust to develop easily, as they were not thinking the same way and had trouble understanding each other .. But then again, I am not an unbiased observer, as I am of course a "fan", who is never unbiased, by definition :-) .. Anyway, I guess "the split" is a non-issue, as they have put it all behind them and were back in sync with the Tokyo title two months back .. Hey, I am looking forward to titles in Bangalore and then in Chennai in January - and they will be back in business again .. As Kannan nicely puts it - "This is no time for despondency. This is a pair which has shown remarkable resilience and focus in regrouping especially when the chips are down.  Last year was proof of that when despite the off-court digs at each other, when it came to competing against the best pairs, they never looked anything less than perfect. It has taken them years to achieve this kind of a rapport, and they are not about to throw it all, and so cheaply ... To analyse their chances vis-a-vis other teams in the fray would be an immature exercise, since causing upsets is what they know best. And pressure, which has affected the best of professionals, is something Leander and Mahesh thrive on. To think that lack of matches and all that has happened between them will hamper their chances in Bangalore is wrong. Leander and Mahesh are the future, a fact acknowledged by the Woodies. And what better venue than home to show the country is not content with just picking up beauty crowns." .. Yeah, let's go Indian Express!

More preview articles on next week's Bangalore Goldflake WDC for you to read - "O'Brien, Palmer duo raring to have a go" in The Hindu .. Alex O'Brien had given us that most memorable quote ("Egyptian Magician") on what I believe may be the best shot of LP's career - the final shot of the 3rd set 7-5 tiebreaker win over Lareau-O'Brien at Hartford in 97 .. Alex is at it again, praising LP-MB today in Bangalore -- "It is going to be very tough facing them with all the crowd here supporting them. I bet guys would hang from there and cheer for them,'' said O'Brien pointing to nearby trees, according to the article .. Here is another preview - "OBrien-Palmer keen to end on a bright note" in the Deccan Herald.

Not all teams have arrived yet, but there has been one more injury withdrawal - John-Lafnie DeJager unfortuantely had a wrist injury last week and so Adams-DeJager are being replaced by the alternates, the Swedish pair, Simon Aspelin and Johann Landsberg .. Not a bad replacement at all, as they are two talented young players who have had a breakthrough time in doubles over the last year or two .. The last time they were in India was in Jan-Feb 1999, when they won the title at the futures in Mumbai (in three sets over Ghouse-Uppal), and played in the Calcutta challenger [both reached the singles semifinals at the Mumbai futures too] .. LP-MB have beaten them this year though.

.. Previous notes are at Notes for the week ending on Dec 04 ..

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.