Tag Archives: Yuki Bhambri

Tennis – A perfect reunion and brilliant Roger

Leander and Mahesh won their 24th tour title and their 5th at Chennai this weekend

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi won the Chennai open for the fifth time as it marked a perfect reunion for the two great Indians. The pair prevailed over the young pair of Robin Haase and David Martin in a tense 3 setter. This was their 24th title together and something which all the Indian tennis fans have been waiting for. The Chennai open started disastrously for the Indian contingent as Somdev, Bopanna and Yuki all wild card entrants had lost in the first round in the singles. But the doubles title was really a sweet end to the tournament for the Chennai crowd.

The great news is that Leander and Mahesh or Lee-Hesh as they are lovingly called by their fans have decided to play in the Australian open together in an attempt to win their 4th Grand Slam title together. It was yet another special win for the Indian pair and I hope they get few more before the end of the year. Congrats to Leander and Mahesh for an excellent victory.

Elsewhere it was business as usual for the Champion Roger Federer as he defeated Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets to capture his 67th tour title at Doha this weekend. This was an ideal preparation for the champion for his defense of the Australian open later this month. Roger finished 2010 in style when he defeated Nadal in the London Masters final and has began the year 2011 brilliantly by capturing the Doha title. Robin Soderling was another winner this weekend at Brisbane, Australia as he defeated American Andy Roddick to claim his 7th tour title. This is a brilliant beginning for the Swede who ended the year 2010 at number 5 in the rankings. The win has enabled him to reach his career high ranking of No.4 again. He will try to put up a great show in the upcoming Australian open where he was ousted in the first round last year.

Indian tennis scene healthier than ever

Just few years back, India tennis was all about Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. They held the hopes of an entire nation for a long time until Sania Mirza arrived on the scene. She was probably the first tennis icon for the current generation to look up to. Sania broke into the top 30 and gave us the hopes that probably this time we will see a Indian player in the top 10. In the last couple of years though her carrier has taken a nose dive and she is nowhere near her best anymore. Her ranking over this time has had a free fall from the top 30 to 166 where she is currently perched.

While Leander and Mahesh still battle on, we have new players on the scene giving some hope to the tennis fans in India. Somdev Devvarman is one of them. He became the first Indian player to win an individual gold in Tennis for India in Commonwealth games and also broke into top 100 this year. Then there is the young Yuki Bhambri who has just started to wet his foot in the professional world. While Somdev Devvarman takes over from Leander as India’s flag bearer in the Davis Cup, Yuki Bhambri has the making of being the first top tennis player from India.

Even though the singles scene is still uncertain with how the careers of both Somdev and Yuki will pan out, the doubles though has been healthier as ever. Leander and Mahesh have always been in the top 10 pairs in the world with their respective partners, the sudden raise of Rohan Bopanna should give the Indians additional hope. His partnership with Qureshi from Pakistan has grown leaps and bounds this year. They are in fact in contention for the Masters event later this year in which the top 8 doubles team participates every year. With Leander already qualified for the masters event, the battle will be between Bhupathi and Bopanna for the 7th and 8th spot. It will be wonderful if both of them can make it.

If that happens I guess this will be the first time when 3 Indian players will be participating in the year end Masters event. The rise of Bopanna and Qureshi has been amazing as the pair made giant strides in the last couple of years to reach the top 10 in the rankings. Amidst the animosity between the two countries, it’s great to see a Indo-Pak pair do so well as a team in world tennis. If only the others can learn something from this pair and understand that in spite of all the differences we can still work together for a peaceful existence.

So with just couple of months to go the battle is on. Bhupathi/Mirnyi pair has now climbed up to the 6th spot, strengthening their hopes of qualifying for the Masters. It will be up to Bopanna and Qureshi to raise their game to grab one of the final two spots. It has been a great year for Indian tennis and it seems like once Leander and Mahesh hang up their boots, Indian fans will still have something to look forward to in Tennis.

Davis Cup – India in the World Group after 11 years

Somdev guides India to the World Group after 11 years

Somdev guides India to the World Group after 11 years

India’s brilliant young Davis cup team reached the World group after 11 years where they will play Russia next year. It was a fantastic achievement considering India played with a young team this year that lacks experience playing in the Davis Cup. Somdev, Yuki and Rohan Bopanna are youngsters who haven’t played too much for India.

Leander and Mahesh have carried India’s hopes for so long and it’s heartening to see these youngsters coming through. Somdev reaching the second round of the US Open was a brilliant achievement and Yuki winning the Australian open juniors was special too. Rohan Bopanna has been playing pretty decent tennis too over the past year. This augurs well for India for the years to come. Somdev, Bopanna and Yuki helped India to a convincing 4-1 victory over South Africa away from home which is always special.

Playing for your country is special and these youngsters have done us proud. Yuki is just 17 years old and is number 1 junior player in the world. I hope that he matures into a very good player for India in the future. Given a chance to debut in the final dead rubber of the Davis cup tie against the SA he managed to beat Izak Van Der Merve to make the score line 4-1 in India’s favor. But the toast of the tournament for India was Somdev, who won both his singles tie to hand victory to India.

After his brilliant run in the Chennai open last year Somdev has been a revelation and continues to move up the rankings. I hope that this starts a golden run for India in tennis and we see a top 10 player during our lifetime. I wish all success to the Indian Davis cup team and hope that we defeat Russia in the World Group tie next year.

Sports this week

Del Potro stunned Roger Federer to win the US Open

Del Potro stunned Roger Federer to win the US Open

Since there have been quite a few happenings in the sports world in the past week, I thought I can club all of those into one post.

Tennis – Del Porto stuns Federer, Leander does it again in doubles

The last grand slam of the year concluded yesterday when Juan Martin Del Potro stunned one and all by winning the championship. Del Potro made it to the finals after a strong win against Nadal in the semi-final but was not given too much of a chance against the world #1 Federer. The match began in the familiar fashion as Fed won the first set 6-3. But Del Potro was not the one to give up. The second set went into a tie break which the Argentinean took 7-5 to win the second set 7-6.

The third set went to Fed again with a break 6-4 and the fourth to Del Potro 7-6 (7-4) again in a tie break. This was a classic game and Del Potro for sure did not make it easy for the champion. Federer was chasing history again here at the US Open as he was trying to win his 6th consecutive title. The final set though was a bit of an anti-climax as Del Potro won it 6-2 to claim the title. This was his first grand slam victory and what a win it was beating both Federer and Nadal in consecutive games. For Federer though this was a great year, reaching four finals and winning two and losing two classic games in Australian and US. Congrats to Del Potro on winning his maiden title and hope he builds up on his win.

Kim Clijsters claimed the Women's crown on her comeback

Kim Clijsters claimed the Women's crown on her comeback

In the women’s section there was a surprise winner too. Kim Clijsters returning after two year hiatus from the game played brilliantly to win the US Open by beating C. Wozniacki who played her first finals. Clijsters who was a wild card in this year’s championship won the title after beating Serena Williams in the controversial semi-final game on Saturday. Congrats to Kim Clijsters on a brilliant return and also winning the title against all odds.

Leander and Doulghy won the Men's doubles title

Leander and Doulghy won the Men's doubles title

For India though this year’s open began very promisingly with Somdev and Sania reaching second round in singles. Even though they lost in the second round, it was a good performance from both of them in singles. Leander and Mahesh again carried the Indian hopes for a grand slam title and they did not disappoint. Leander reached the finals of both Mixed and Men’s doubles and Mahesh reached the Men’s doubles finals. Leander lost the mixed finals but played brilliantly with Dloughy to win the Men’s doubles finals beating the combination of Mahesh and Knowles. It was a fantastic game which went to the third set before Paes/Dloughy combination won 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to claim the title.

This was the second title of the year for the combination as they had won the French earlier this year. Yuki Bhambri the world number 1 junior player from India though suffered an upset losing in the quarters of the junior championship. He is just 17 and I hope that he becomes a good player for India in the future.

Cricket – India win the Compaq cup, England struggling in the ODI series

Victorious Indian team with the Compaq Cup

Victorious Indian team with the Compaq Cup

India finally won a title in SL after 12 years and this was a great performance from Dhoni’s men. India stuttered their way to the title as drop catches and misfields marked their efforts in the field. India was thrashed by SL in the previous game on the same ground so a quick turnaround was needed for the visitors. Dhoni started on the right note when he called right at the toss. India batted first with Dravid and Sachin opening the innings. Dinesh Karthik was replaced by Virat Kohli for this all important finals.

Sachin and Dravid laid the foundation with a solid 95 run partnership with Sachin looking in sublime touch. Sachin later shared important partnerships with Dhoni (56) and Yuvraj (56*) on his way to yet another brilliant hundred. When he departed after scoring 138 (133) India were already on 276. With some late hitting from Yuvraj India posted an imposing 319/5 in their 50 overs.

SL started their innings with their typical flourish with Jayasuriya and Dilshan helped by some mediocre bowling by Indian pacers. The fielding also was at an all time low as the Indians constantly misfielded and it became worse when Kohli dropped Jayasuriya of the bowling of RP Singh. Even though with the introduction of the spinners India pulled things back with 3 quick wickets, the fielding did not improve much. Raina and Yuvraj bowled brilliantly in the middle overs to keep the host batsmen in check picking up a wicket each for their efforts.

The pacers though were very inconsistent, leaking runs at will to keep the SL batsmen in the hunt. It was hard to believe that the Indian batsmen folded for 168 on the same ground just a day back. But eventually SL batsmen ran out of steam when Bajji returned for his final spell and lost the game by 46 runs. Overall it was a good performance by the team but could have been better with some tight fielding. This win should give them confidence for the upcoming champions trophy in SA. Hope they rectify their mistakes and do well in the CT. Congrats to Dhoni and his men on yet another series win.

England on the other hand have been struggling against a below par Aussie line up. After winning the Ashes 2-1, they are down 4-0 against the Aussies in the ODI series. Andrew Strauss would like to restore some pride by winning couple of games at least but in the current scenario it looks like a 7-0 whitewash to the Aussies which has never been achieved before.

Leander and Mahesh – The shining lights of Indian tennis

Leander and Mahesh a partnership which captured the imagination of Indian tennis lovers

Leander and Mahesh a partnership which captured the imagination of Indian tennis lovers

For more than a decade, Leander and Mahesh have carried the Indian hopes on their shoulder and have delivered time and again. How long can they go on? When will we see the next generation kick in? We have seen that the Indian young players have never been up to the challenge yet. Players like Bopanna, Prakash Amritraj, Harsh Mankad and quite a lot of young tennis players came on the scene and have disappeared.

Yeah they do play in the doubles scene in the Grand Slams once in a while but have never done anything of note. Sania Mirza too, India’s major hope for a top 10 player has been so inconsistent and injury prone. The dream of her reaching the top 10 seems far and distant. Tennis is a very expensive game and it’s not easy in India to take it up as a career.

It was about 8 years back when I saw an interview of Leander in Harsha Online in the ESPN where he spoke about the hardships he and Mahesh had to go through to come to this level. Eight years after they are the ones still carrying Indian dreams in the Grand slams. Recently the Indian tennis scene received an incredible boost with Yuki Bhambri who won the Australian open juniors and Somdev Devvarman who reached the business end of the Chennai open.

We will have to wait and see if these two take over the mantle from these two legends but the chances are bright. I had huge hopes for Prakash Amritraj as he was coached in the US and his father was the last Indian player to consistently challenge the top players during his time, but he has been disappointing.

India needs a top tennis player, need an idol to follow after Leander and Mahesh decide to call it a day. I just hope that these youngsters step up to the plate and deliver. Indian tennis scene has never looked so promising and I hope that these youngsters convert their good starts into something meaningful.

Till that happens the hope of an Indian tennis lover will continue to rest on Leander and Mahesh. It’s been an amazing 12-13 years since Mahesh became the first Indian to win a grand slam. They have more than 20 Grand Slam titles in doubles between them and it would have been fantastic if they had continued to play together. I salute the two legends of Indian tennis and their contribution towards the sport in India has been magnificent. Hope we find another Leander and Mahesh soon to carry on the mantle once they hang up their boots.

Collection of my thoughts

The Indian team with the trophy in SL

The Indian team with the trophy in SL

AR Rahman with the Golden Globe

AR Rahman with the Golden Globe

I have had a frustrating last few months which came to an end yesterday with the visa approval. For all of us here the extension process has been a real long and frustrating journey which controlled our thoughts for all these months. I have decided to put in a summary of the happenings in the last few months about which I was planning to write about.

Indian cricket team’s successful 2008 and the NewZealand tour

I would like to begin with the exceptional season the Indian cricket team has been having since they won the Perth test match last Jan. The only blip being the test series in Srilanka. The Indian team under Dhoni has performed really well and are in top 3 in both forms of the game. The recent series in SL where Dhoni’s men won 4-1 further emphasized their raise in the shorter format of the game. The Indian team has found great bunch of youngsters who are hungry for success and want to win every game. Having said all that Dhoni’s great test is just around the corner, the tour of  NZ. This will be his first full tour as a captain of the Indian team. India would be looking to win the test and the one-day series against the Kiwis which will not be an easy task.

The Kiwis have had a good series against the Australians recently where they drew the one-dayers 2-2 and lost the one-off Twenty20 by one run. They will be full of confidence and would be hoping to drive their home advantage to trouble the Indian team. The Indians on the other hand would want to erase the memory of their disastrous 2002/03 tour to the Kiwiland by turning in good performances in the both forms of the game. If India play to their potential they should win the series. The series gets underway with the first of the 2 Twenty20 games next wednesday. Lets hope that the series is competetive and may the best team win.

Slumdog Millionaire and A R Rahman

Musical genius A R Rahman made every Indian proud when he received the Golden Globe award for the best original score for his song “Jai Ho” in Danny Boyle’s award winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. There has been lots of speculation in the Indian media reagrding the movie as well as A R Rahman’s music claiming that both are over-rated. Few people in the media have slammed the movie and some also said that it has shown India in a poor light. As far as I am concerned the movie was just okay and was nothing great but thats my opinion. To be frank its a movie made by a British director in India and if Hollywood calls it as the best movie of the year then so be it. I dont think that this movie showed anything wrong about India.

At least the movie was made in India. How many bollywood directors make movies in the slums of Mumbai? How many Indian directors who commented on this movie can make a movie which will prove otherwise? Actually no one cares. Its just that this movie has become so big that people have decided to cash in on its popularity. The Johars and the chopras have stopped making movies in India and few more directors probably will follow suit. I guess we have to treat SM as a hollywood movie which has been made in India with Indian actors, thats about it.  We have made so many substandard movies in US and UK, they dont claim those as theirs and slam it in the their media when we give awards to those movies. So lets just be realistic, Hollywood thinks its the best movie of the year so thats where it ends.As far as the award to ARR is concerned I am really proud of him and his achievements. He has put Indian music on the world map.

Whether this is his best composition is open to speculation but there is no denying the fact that he deserves all the accolades he is receiving right now. Lets not unnecessarily dissect the music and enjoy the success of one of the finest composers in India. Congrats to ARR on his Golden Globe and hope he wins Oscars too.

Tennis in India

Tennis in India received a tremendous boost when Yuki Bhambri won the junior Australian Open title earlier this year. His victory along with the performance of Somdev in the Chennai open gives great hope to the Tennis scene in India. Mahesh won yet another mixed doubles championship, this time with our own Sania Mirza to make this the most memorable Australian Open for the Indians. Sania though continued her horror run in singles when she was beaten in the second round. Hopefully Somedev and Yuki can take the Indian Tennis forward and make a successful transition to the senior level.

Thats all for now from me. Lets hope that India continues to shine in 2009 and we have more awards and titles to add.