Category Archives: ITF

Karan Rastogi back in action at Delhi Challenger

Karan Rastogi, India’s number three tennis player, is all set to make a comeback at an ATP Challenger tournament in New Delhi next month.

Karan RastogiRastogi, sidelined with a back injury during the ATP Mumbai Open in September, told the Indian Tennis blog that his back was better and he planned to play both the hardcourt challenger events in the Indian capital at the end of 2007.

The 21-year-old Mumbai resident, currently ranked 344 in the world, had won the Morocco F5 claycourt Futures in July this year.

News of Rastogi’s comeback should please fans of Indian tennis, which has seen many of its stars fall prey to injury this year.

Sania Mirza finished her season early while Prakash Amritraj, Harsh Mankad and Mahesh Bhupathi are also recovering from injuries. With Sunitha Rao withdrawing from two consecutive Challenger tournaments in the US this month, speculation about another injury scare were rife.

Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes have also not played since the Stockholm Open and the BA-CA Tennis Trophy in Vienna earlier this month.

With the country’s top players taking a break from tennis courts, the India F10 Futures in Gulbarga got more than its share of attention.

ITFBut India’s second-string players, with the exception of world number 605 Sunil Kumar Sipaeya, failed to make it beyond the second round in the singles. Eighth seed Sipaeya lost to eventual champion Ivan Cerovic of Croatia in the quarter-finals.

There was better luck for India in the doubles with the second-seeded pair of Vijay Kannan and Kazakhstan’s Alexey Kedryuk beating Tushar Liberhan and Rupesh Roy 6-4,3-6,10-3 in the final of the $15,000+ hardcourt tournament.

Across the border, sixth seed Ashwin Vijayragavan justified his seeding by making it to the singles quarterfinals of the Islamabad Futures. Pairing up with Korean Jeong-Han, Vijayragavan lost to home crowd favourites Aqeel Khan and Asim Shafik in a closely fought doubles semifinal 6-2,4-6,9-11.

Other Indians had little success abroad. Mustafa Ghouse lost in the singles qualifiers of the ATP Seoul Challenger before he and Israel’s Dudi Sela bowed out in the opening round of the doubles event.

World number 728 Prerana Appineni also lost her opening singles and doubles encounters at the ITF tournament in Valencia, Venezuela. Down under in Traralgon (Australia), world number 359 Tara Iyer lost her singles opener and then forfeited her doubles quarterfinal match.

The action now shifts to the Pakistan F2 Futures grasscourt tournament in Lahore starting on Monday where a host of Indian players, led by Sipaeya, are in the fray.

Stephen Amritraj, Ashutosh shine this week

The big names of Indian tennis couldn’t weave much magic in tournaments this week, leaving little known players Stephen Amritraj and Ashutosh Singh to impress with breakthrough performances.

ATPAmritraj, who grew up in the Californian city of Calabasas, partnered American Adam Davidson to reach the doubles semifinal at the ATP Calabasas Challenger.

The duo, who gained entry as lucky losers because of an injury default to Jan-Michael Gambill, stunned top seeds Bobby Reynolds and Rajeev Ram 6-3,6-4 in the opening round.

Amritraj, 23, and Davidson eventually lost 5-7,2-6 to fourth seeds Robert Kendrick(US) and Cecil Mamiit(PHI) in the semifinal.

Stephen, son of former tennis player Anand Amritraj, had partnered cousin Prakash to reach the semifinals of the Fergana Challenger earlier this year.

Back home in India, newly crowned National hard court champion Ashutosh Singh spearheaded the country’s challenge at the India F9 Futures in Bellary, Karnataka.

ITFSingh’s splendid run in the singles event, which began with ousting top seed Pavol Cervenak of Slovakia 6-3,6-4 in the opening round, came to an end in the semifinals.

Singh, ranked 659 on the ATP list, lost to third seeded Austrian Rainer Eitzinger 4-6,3-6.

But he gained revenge by partnering Vivek Shokeen to beat Eitzinger and Philipp Oswald 7-6(4),3-6,10-5 in the doubles final.

Wildcard Rupesh Roy, who lost in the quarterfinals to Singh, also impressed with a second round win over Romania’s Adrian Gavrila.

Elsewhere in Europe, Sania Mirza lost in her Zurich Open opener before retiring for the season while Leander Paes and Martin Damm lost in the second round of the Madrid Masters doubles.

Sunitha Rao, who reached the finals at the ITF San Francisco Tennis Classic last week, withdrew from the ITF Lawrenceville Challenger at the last minute.

Down under in Gympie(Australia), Tara Iyer couldn’t do much against fourth seeded home favourite Monique Adamczak and lost 1-6,6-7(5) in the first round.

Partnering Nungnudda Wannasuk of Thailand, Iyer also lost to Adamczak and Briton Jade Curtis 7-6(2),6-7(3),5-10 in the doubles quarterfinal.

Sunitha Rao falls at final hurdle in San Francisco

A brilliant run in the $50,000 ITF San Francisco Tennis Classic ended with defeat in the final for India’s Sunitha Rao. The eighth seed couldn’t keep the magic going against top seeded American Ashley Harkleroad and went down tamely 6-1, 6-2.

ITFThe loss was a disappointing one for Rao but it was still her best result for 2007 – gaining her $3,990 in prizemoney and 25 valuable WTA points. Her latest ranking shot ten places up to 175 and Rao is now within striking distance of her career-best ranking of 152 (achieved in July 2003).

The Florida-based player had started the year ranked 232 and had dipped as low as 278 in June before jumping 100 places in just four months. Rao had also been the losing finalist in a $25,000 ITF event at Tampa in July.

The San Francisco result had not been an unexpected one. Harkleroad, although now ranked just 92, is a former Top 40 player and not one to be taken lightly. Interestingly, Rao had won their previous encounter in the 2003 Australian Open qualifiers, albeit in three sets.

Rao, who will celebrate her 22nd birthday on October 27, also had luck on her side – she didn’t face anybody ranked higher than her in the four matches till the final.

Sony Ericsson WTA TourIn the latest WTA rankings (October 15), Rao led an army of Indian women moving up the list. Tara Iyer moved one place up to 358, Rushmi Chakravarthi gained two places to be ranked 368 and Isha Lakhani moved up three spots to 432.

But Indian number one Sania Mirza dropped one spot to 30, thanks to a first round exit at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

In the doubles, Mirza moved up one spot to 19, while Rao lost three places to be placed 141. The biggest loser of the week was Shikha Uberoi – who slid 43 places to 209.

Rohan Bopanna, the best Indian player in the men’s singles, was down nine places (260) while Prakash Amritraj slid two spots (270). The big gainer – no. 343 Karan Rastogi who moved up four places.

In the doubles rankings, Bopanna’s semifinal run at ATP Stockholm saw him jump seven places to 79 while Leander Paes(17) and Mahesh Bhupathi(21) retained their spots on the list.

Middle-level Indian players have a chance to earn valuable points at the men’s $15,000 India F9 Futures event at Bellary, Karnataka which kicked off on Monday.

Paes, Bopanna and Sunitha Rao impress this week

It’s been a reasonably good week for Indian tennis but not for Sania Mirza. India’s number one singles player floundered in the opening round of the Kremlin Cup – falling to nemesis Gisela Dulko in her third straight carrer defeat to the Argentine.

Kremlin Cup, MoscowHer luck in the doubles was only marginally better. Partnering Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder, Mirza was ousted by the world’s best doubles pair – Cara Black and Liezel Huber – in the quarterfinals.

Be that as it may, ATP Tour veteran Justin Gimelstob had this to say about the 20-year-old in his column this week.

“Mirza has ignited a continent with her success. She is a cult figure in her native India, and can’t walk down the street without a full security detail. She possesses one of the biggest forehands in the game, and is attractive and charming. She’s also integral to growing the game in the Far East.”

As such the flag for Indian tennis was held high by Leander Paes. Just weeks before he ends his partnership with Martin Damm, the dynamic duo reached the semifinals of the BA-CA Tennis Trophy tournament in Vienna.

BACA Tennis Trophy, ViennaPaes and Damm even had two matchpoints before the fourth seeded Polish pair of Marciusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski advanced to the final with a 2-6, 7-5, 12-10 win.

Paes would be partnering Paul Hanley of Australia in 2008 and his reasons for splitting with Damm are purely professional.

“We have different goals next year…Martin wants to cut down on his tennis, while I want to play a full year, so we decided to get new partners,” Paes told The Telegraph from Vienna.

Also impressive this week was Rohan Bopanna whose semifinal appearance with Belgium’s Olivier Rochus at the ATP Stockholm Open is further proof he’s going to make it big in doubles. His stint as lucky loser in the singles draw had ended after he squandered a 4-1 lead to lose in straight sets to Spain’s Albert Montanes in the first round. But Bopanna made good in the doubles with a win over South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee and Dutchman Rogier Wassen.

It was only in the semis that second seeds Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi got the better of the Indo-Belgian pair in straight sets – 6-3, 7-5.

ITFOn the ITF circuit, Sunitha Rao has made the quarterfinals of the $50,000 San Francisco event. Her match against Indonesia’s Romana Tedjakusuma wasn’t over when this report was filed but there’s a good chance the eighth seed will get through easily to the semis. Rao had routed Tedjakusuma in straight sets at a $25,000 tournament in Tampa, USA earlier this year.

Top seeds Rao and American Julie Ditty stumbled in their doubles opener – falling to an unseeded pair from South Africa.

Down Under in Rockhamption, eighth seed Tara Iyer made it to the second round before qualifier Robin Stephenson proved too strong for the Indian on the Australian hardcourts.

In domestic action, Bellary in Karnataka will play host to the $15,000 India F9 Futures event next week with most of India’s top singles players in attendance.

Some Tough Luck for Sunitha Rao

ITFHere’s some bad news in store for fans of Sunitha Rao. The Florida-based player was ousted in the second round of the USTA Tennis Classic at Troy, Alabama by her 296-ranked nemesis Alexa Glatch.

The 18-year-old American carved out a hardfought 7-6(4),7-6(3) victory over seventh-seeded Rao. It was Glatch’s third straight win over Rao, having also beaten her in 2004 and in the final of the $25,000 Southlake, Texas tournament in July this year.

In the doubles quarterfinals, Rao and her Australian partner Christina Wheeler(AUS) lost 6-4,6-7(4),8-10 to the American pair of Angela Haynes and Mashona Washington.

Sunitha Rao back to business at Troy

Back on US soil after an unsuccessful stint at Kolkata’s Sunfeast Open, Sunitha Rao easily advanced to the second round of the USTA Tennis Classic at Troy, Alabama beating 215-ranked German Carmen Klaschka 6-0, 7-6(1).

After blazing through the first set, the 195-ranked Rao faced tough resistance from the 20-year-old Klaschka in the second.

But it was Rao, India’s number two tennis player after Sania Mirza, who prevailed in the tiebreaker.

ITFThe Florida-based player, seeded seventh here, will now face American Alexa Glatch for a place in the quarterfinals of the $50,000 ITF event.

Although ranked only 296, the 18-year-old Glatch leads Rao 2-0 in career meetings, having beaten her in 2004 and in the final of the $25,000 Southlake, Texas tournament in July this year.

Rao had bowed out of last month’s Sunfeast Open in the second round with a 3-6, 2-6 loss to Britain’s Anne Keothavong.