Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sandhya Nagaraj, Leander Paes reach semis, others disappoint

May 12 - May 18: Sandhya Nagaraj reaches semis at Badalona, Paes/Robredo make it to last four at Hamburg Masters, Sunitha Rao only Indian hope in French Open singles

SANDHYA NAGARAJ

After several opening round losses in previous weeks, Sandhya Nagaraj made full use of a weak draw at $10,000 ITF Badalona, Spain to reach the semifinals of the claycourt event.

The 19-year-old from Chennai beat three qualifiers along the way before losing to the fourth seed and eventual winner in straight sets.

Nagaraj, ranked as high as 511 on the WTA Tour two years ago, will be hoping to get back into the Top 600 next week.

ITF $10,000 BADALONA, Spain
(12 - 18 May 2008)
CLAY COURT
Women's Singles Semifinal
Sandhya Nagaraj lost to (4)Eva Fernandez-Brugues(SPN) 3-6,3-6

LEANDER PAES

Looks like a break from regular partner Paul Hanley did Leander Paes a lot of good. After a string of inexplicable early losses this season, Paes teamed up with Spaniard Tommy Robredo to reach the semifinals of the Hamburg Masters.

The unseeded duo beat third seeds Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram in the second round but fell to second seeds and eventual winners Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zomonjic in the last four (See photo).

Paes later revealed that he will be teaming up with Lukas Dlouhy in the future.


ATP HAMBURG MASTERS
(11 - 18 May 2008)
CLAY COURT
Men's Doubles Semifinal
Leander Paes/Tommy Robredo(SPN) lost to (2)Daniel Nestor(CAN)/Nenad Zimonjic(SRB) 3-6,6-3,2-10

Interestingly, Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles lost their opening encounter for the second straight tournament in a row. Before their disappointments in Rome and Hamburg, Bhupathi and Knowles claimed back-to-back titles at Memphis and Dubai and were losing finalists at Miami and Monte Carlo this season.

SAIL OPEN CHALLENGER

There was also disappointment in store for those hoping for an Indian resurgence in the first of two challenger events in New Delhi. Apart from wildcard Ashutosh Singh, no other Indian (in a draw including the likes of Prakash Amritraj, Harsh Mankad and Yuki Bhambri) made it to the second round.

Ashutosh Singh jumped 38 places on the ATP rankings on Monday and is currently ranked 567.

In doubles, Prakash Amritraj and American Rajeev Ram reached the semifinals while Purav Raja and Rohan Gajjar lost in the other semifinal.

$50,000 SAIL OPEN CHALLENGER, New Delhi
(12 - 17 May 2008)
HARD COURT
Men's Singles Round 2
(WC)Ashutosh Singh lost to Colin Ebelthite(AUS) 4-6,4-6

Two of India's hopes Rohan Bopanna and Karan Rastogi withdrew from the challengers due to injury-related probems - Bopanna with a knee injury and Rastogi with a back problem.

Bopanna, who started a blog last week, achieved a career-high 50 in the ATP doubles rankings on Monday.

THIS WEEK

Tennis action continues at the second men's challenger in New Delhi but with several Indians losing in the first round on Monday, it looks as if this event will also be a no-show.

The Bhambri sisters - Ankita and Sanaa - lead a contingent of Indians at another $10,000 event in Thailand. Last week in Bangkok, Sanaa was the only Indian to reach the singles quarterfinals. The Bhambri sisters also lost in the doubles semifinals.

Navdeep Singh and Rohan Gajjar are trying their luck in the Kuwait F1 Futures in Meshref. Karan Rastogi told the Indian Tennis Blog he'll be hoping to join them at the Kuwait F2 Futures the following week.

The qualifiers at Roland Garros begin on Tuesday with no Indian representative in the men's singles. With Sania Mirza out of action till next month, Sunitha Rao will be the lone Indian hope in the singles events of the French Open.

[Update: Sunitha Rao lost in the first round of the French Open women's singles qualifying at Roland Garros on Wednesday, falling to Kristina Barrois of Canada in three sets -- 6-2,6-7(3),2-6 -- effectively ending India's interest in the singles events at this year's claycourt Grand Slam]

While Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes are serious contenders in the doubles draw with Rohan Bopanna making his Grand Slam debut, Yuki Bhambri is also one of the favourites in the junior events.

On Monday, Sunitha Rao was ranked a career-high 108 in the WTA doubles list while Isha Lakhani achieved a career-high position of 291 in the singles rankings.

ATP RANKINGS (19 May 2008)
(in brackets - positions lost/gained since last week)
SINGLES
252 (-3) Amritraj, Prakash
308 (-2) Bopanna, Rohan
436 (-8) Sipaeya, Sunil Kumar
441 (+2) Rastogi, Karan
567 (+38) Singh, Ashutosh

DOUBLES
11 (-1) Bhupathi, Mahesh
24 (+1) Paes, Leander
50 (+1) Bopanna, Rohan

WTA RANKINGS (19 May 2008)
(in brackets - positions lost/gained since last week)
SINGLES
32 (+1) Mirza, Sania
156 (+2) Rao, Sunitha
291 (+4) Lakhani, Isha
399 (-20) Iyer, Tara
485 (+14) Chakravarthi, Rushmi

DOUBLES
18 (+1) Mirza, Sania
108 (+2) Rao, Sunitha
319 (-1) Iyer, Tara

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