Monday, June 9, 2008

No French luck for Indians, moving on to grass now

No luck at the 2008 French Open for India. Even Mahesh Bhupathi, the only player from the country to survive the first week, was forced to concede his mixed doubles semifinal after injuring his calf muscle.

Will this affect his chances at events in the run-up to Wimbledon?

"Hopefully not" was all that the doubles specialist told The Indian Tennis Blog.

Bhupathi, who turned 34 on Saturday, is partnering Rohan Bopanna at the Artois Championship in London this week.

Arch rival Leander Paes (that's still how the media describes the split halves of the Indian Express) continues his not-so-old partnership with Czech player Lukas Dlouhy at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.

Playing together for the first time, the duo put up a decent show at Roland Garros, losing to eventual champions Horna and Cuevas in the pre-quarterfinals.

Even tennis prodigy Yuki Bhambri stumbled in his opening encounter of the boys' singles. Was India's next tennis hope, so impressive in his run to the semifinals of the Australian Open in January, a no-show on clay courts?

The 15-year-old didn't think so and that's what he told the Indian Tennis Blog after his early ouster.

"I'm fit and fine. I think it was just lack of match practice cause I don't feel that there is anything wrong with my game right now but unfortunately I also ran into some very good clay court players. I played before in Europe on numerous occasions and I can definitely play on clay."
This week's tennis spotlight will be on Sania Mirza when she makes her long-awaited comeback after wrist surgery at the DFS Classic in Birmingham.

Sunitha Rao made it a double delight with a superb show in the qualifying rounds and a hard-fought main draw victory to join Mirza in the second round. The Indian number one enjoyed a bye in her first match.

Away from the media glare, Prakash Amritraj and Rohan Bopanna clashed in the final qualifier round at Surbiton. Bopanna emerged the winner - a sign that perhaps he is once again ready to don the mantle of being India's best men's player, an honour he lost to Amritraj earlier this year.

Harsh Mankad had another disappointment at the Yuba City Challenger, though his 0-6,1-6 loss in the opening round was at least understandable since he was playing the second seed. Also down on his luck is Stephen Amritraj, the lesser known of the two Amritraj cousins, who has been struggling with his doubles game for some time now.

Back problems are also becoming Karan Rastogi's bane and the 21-year-old might find it a challenge just to keep fit.

"I am scheduled to play in Iran in a couple of weeks. But will go only if I am a 100% fit," Rastogi told the Indian Tennis Blog.

On the domestic front, most of the country's second-rung women players are battling it out at a $10,000 tournament in Gurgaon this week.

ATP RANKINGS (9 June 2008)
(in brackets - positions lost/gained since last week)
282 (-22) Amritraj, Prakash
293 (+17) Bopanna, Rohan
468 (-18) Sipaeya, Sunil Kumar
481 (-22) Rastogi, Karan
540 (-4) Singh, Ashutosh

13 (-4) Bhupathi, Mahesh
23 (+1) Paes, Leander
52 (-1) Bopanna, Rohan

WTA RANKINGS (9 June 2008)
(in brackets - positions lost/gained since last week)
33 (-1) Mirza, Sania
160 (-5) Rao, Sunitha
310 (-4) Lakhani, Isha
441 (+5) Iyer, Tara
502 (-3) Bhambri, Ankita

20 (0) Mirza, Sania
120 (-9) Rao, Sunitha
326 (-4) Iyer, Tara

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