Canas sails, Bhupathi out
I must start winning on clay: Johansson
Fazal retires, turns coach
Bengal keep winning streak
Depleted EB face Goan challenge
Three seeds eliminated
One-run win for Suburban
Calcutta Racing/ Alcalde downs Ancheta
Mumbai Racing/ Aprilia may be hard to toss

 
 
CANAS SAILS, BHUPATHI OUT 
 
 
FROM AMITAVA DAS GUPTA
 
Chennai, Jan. 1: 
Not many turned up to watch the new kid on the block make his debut at the Nungambakkam Stadium. Those who did, liked what they saw of Guillermo Canas.

The top seed at the Tata Open was in full bloom, ready with an answer for everything George Bastl threw at him. The Swiss played a good first set only to be blown away in the second as Canas wrapped up the first-round match 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 23 minutes.

Canas thus arrested the unhealthy trend here of the top seed getting bumped off in the first round itself. Magnus Norman last year and Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 2000 had suffered that ignominy.

It was just as well that the crowd of 1,000-odd didn’t swell much for Mahesh Bhupathi’s match against Jiri Vanek. The Bangalorean followed in senior partner Leander Paes’ footsteps, bowing out without a whiff of a fight. Yes, Bhupathi did last 13 minutes longer than Paes, but matched the Calcuttan’s ‘feat’ of winning four games in the whole match.

Vanek, a 22-year-old Czech with a designer goatee, dispatched the Indian wild card 6-2, 6-2 to set up a second-round clash with Israeli Noam Okun who had the distinction of pulling off the tournament’s maiden upset. Okun, ranked a lowly 178, blasted a dozen aces to see off eighth seed Kristian Pless 6-2, 6-4 on court 3.

Thai Paradorn Srichaphan caused an even bigger ripple a little later, outplaying high-flying Belarussian Max Mirnyi 6-3, 6-3. Srichaphan, who got into the main draw only after Sergi Bruguera withdrew on Saturday, volleyed like a man possessed to beat Mirnyi, who had scalped four Grand Slam champions (Gustavo Kuerten, Goran Ivanisevic, Pete Sampras and Yevgeny Kafelnikov) en route to the final of the Stuttgart Masters last October.

Completing a miserable day for top-ranked players was the ouster of defending champion Michal Tabara. Seeded seventh this year, the Czech was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 4-6 by Dutch Dennis van Scheppingen.

Third seed Fabrice Santoro battled strong winds and a hard-hitting opponent before coming through 7-6, 6-4 against Dutchman Peter Wessels.

Man in command

Canas, a solid baseliner with a whipping forehand, showed why he did well on all surfaces last season. Never in trouble on serve, he didn’t allow Bastl a single break-point.

Bastl used a flat forehand to keep the rallies long in the first set. The Swiss tried to put some pressure on Canas but most of his adventures to the net backfired. Of the five times Bastl tried the drop-volley, the ball obeyed his command just once as the quick-footed Argentine ran in easily to finish the points.

Bastl, a straight-set loser to Canas in the previous Australian Open, had trouble holding serve from the very first game. He survived three deuces in game 2 and two break-points in game 5 to barely stay alive in the first game. In the tenth game though, Bastl succumbed to Canas’ relentless pressure. An angled forehand volley brought up set-point for Canas. A Bastl double-fault did the trick for the Argentine.

In the second set, Canas was all over Bastl. The Swiss surrendered serve in the second game as Canas produced a superb stretch-volley at the end of a breathtaking rally. Bastl fought off a break-point in the sixth game before dropping his guard again in the eighth game to bow out unceremoniously.

“It was a perfect start to the year, I couldn’t have hoped for anything better,” Canas said at the post-match conference. “I was a bit nervous at the start but my self-confidence saw me through that period.”

Caught napping

In the same boat as Paes in terms of singles matchplay, Bhupathi was badly exposed by a rival who looked sharp and eager to win. With Vanek essaying winners at will on both flanks, the doubles specialist was reduced to a helpless spectator.

Bhupathi, who played no more than five singles matches last year, dropped serve in the very first game. Vanek got his second break in the fifth game and pocketed the first set in 25 minutes.

Bhupathi opened the second set just as dismally, getting broken in game 1. The Indian, though, managed to prolong the rallies thereafter, twice taking Vanek to deuce on his serve. But with his trademark returns failing to find the target, it was only a matter of time before Bhupathi was shown the door.

RESULTS (first round)

Singles: Guillermo Canas (Arg, 1) bt George Bastl (Swi) 6-4, 6-2; Ivo Karlovic (Cro) bt Byron Black (Zim) 7-6 (7-2), 6-3; Noam Okun (Isr) bt Kristian Pless (Den,8) 6-2, 6-4; Paradorn Srichaphan (Tha) bt Max Mirnyi (Blr, 5) 6-3, 6-3; Jiri Vanek (Cze) bt Mahesh Bhupathi (Ind) 6-2, 6-2; Stefano Galvani (Ita) bt Federico Luzzi (Ita) 6-1, 6-3; Karol Kucera (Svk) bt Juan Balcells (Spa) 6-4, 3-6, 7-5; Fabrice Santoro (Fra, 3) bt Peter Wessels (Hol) 7-6, 6-3; Denis van Scheppingen (Hol) bt Michal Tabara (Cze, 7) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

   

 
 
I MUST START WINNING ON CLAY: JOHANSSON 
 
 
FROM AMITAVA DAS GUPTA
 
Chennai, Jan. 1: 
It was in 1998 that Thomas Johansson first broke into the top 20 of the ATP rankings. After two ordinary years, the 26-year-old Swede is back in that elite group, finishing 2001 at No. 18 in the Champion’s Race. The latest effort has been a far more satisfying one for the man from Linkoping.

Besides winning back-to-back titles on grass in Halle and Nottingham, Johansson posted a career-high 46-25 win-loss record and guided Sweden to the Davis Cup semi-finals.

“I am very satisfied with my results in 2001,” said Johansson, taking time off to speak to The Telegraph after a one-hour workout this afternoon. “I played more solid than ever before and managed to win even on days when I was not at my very best.”

Exposure in Davis Cup, according to Johansson, sharpened his singles form. “Davis Cup helped me a lot. I got to play in all three ties Sweden were involved in last year (versus Czech Republic, Russia and Australia) and had some great results.” Johansson won four of his singles rubbers, including crucial ones against Jiri Novak and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. He even tamed Patrick Rafter on his own backyard, but that wasn’t enough to beat Australia in the semi-final tie in Sydney.

Even though there are no grasscourts back home, Swedes have always adapted well on the natural surface. “I think the fact that we grow up playing a lot on indoor carpets at home helps us develop our serve-and-volley game from a young age. You won’t get a faster surface than indoor carpets,” explained the articulate Johansson who is seeded No. 2 at the Tata Open here this week.

If there is one area of concern for the Swede, it’s his results on clay. He hasn’t got past the second round of French Open even once in six attempts, he has tripped at the first hurdle in the last five years at the Monte Carlo and Rome Masters Series. His only decent result on clay came at the Hamburg Masters last year when he made the quarter finals.

“I have the game to do well on clay, but I have been struggling every year. I must improve soon and start winning matches on clay to be counted as a big player,” observed Johansson in a candid self-assessment.

Cracking the top 10 is Johansson’s goal for 2002. And the key to it is better results on claycourts.

“It’s not easy to climb into the top 10 with so many talented players coming up from different countries. It’s important to win matches on all surfaces. One can’t afford to lose in the first round as consistently as I’ve been doing on clay the last few years,” Johansson said.

Having featured in the quarter finals of a Grand Slam twice (1998 and 2000 US Open), Johansson knows what it takes to go three steps further. “You have got to be very, very fit during the Grand Slam fortnight and be mentally prepared to play a lot of tough five-setters. I know I am capable of going the full distance, just a matter of taking my chances. In the ‘98 US Open quarter final against (Mark) Philippoussis, I had two match-points in the fifth set but blew them.”

He would love to star in a Swedish Davis Cup-winning team before he calls it quits, but knows it’s a job easier said than done. “Unlike five years ago, it’s not so easy to do well in Davis Cup these days,” Johansson remarked.

“There are about 10 countries which have at least two strong players, so there are no easy matches now in Davis Cup. For example, we are playing Britain next month and they have Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski. It will be really tough for us.”

An admirer of Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander, Johansson lamented the lack of interest in tennis back home. “No one cares about tennis. Soccer, ice hockey and skiing take up most of the space in newspapers. There could be a revival only if somebody wins a Grand Slam.”

Who knows, the genial Johansson could be the one to produce that breakthrough. For the record, the last Swede to win a Major was Edberg — way back in 1992.

   

 
 
FAZAL RETIRES, TURNS COACH 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Chennai, Jan. 1: 
Syed Fazaluddin is through with playing tennis. The elder son of football Dronacharya Nayeemuddin has shifted to coaching instead.

The surprising news was conveyed to Davis Cup captain Ramesh Krishnan by the 26-year-old Calcuttan a few days earlier. “I received a mail from Fazal saying he is quitting tennis and thanked me for everything I have done for him,” said Ramesh.

A regular member of the Indian team for the past four years, Fazal has taken up a coaching job in a country club in Philadelphia. That will ensure a decent pay packet on a regular basis for a man who struggled to make it big mainly due to lack of finance.

After an impressive Davis Cup debut at South Club in 1999 when he won both his singles against China, Fazal failed to maintain that momentum despite getting quite a few chances. On the ATP circuit, he did well on and off but failed to make the transition from the Satellite-Futures to the Challenger level. He desperately needed a traveling coach but couldn’t get a sponsor to finance him.

Finally, frustration got the better of him and forced him to take a decision which is not easy for any 26-year-old sportsperson.

   

 
 
BENGAL KEEP WINNING STREAK 
 
 
FROM A CORRESPONDENT
 
Jamshedpur, Jan. 1: 
It was apparent yesterday itself that Bihar were heading for a drubbing. The inevitable happened just over an hour before lunch as Bengal registered a 154-run victory on the final day of the East Zone Ranji Trophy tie at the Keenan Stadium today.

This was Bengal’s third outright win in as many matches. They play Orissa next from January 5, with Baripada as the likely venue. Bihar, who have completed their engagements are virtually out of the knock-out round.

Off-spinner Sourashish Lahiri compensated for his barren first innings performance by scalping five for 103 to hasten Bihar’s debacle. Veteran Utpal Chatterjee claimed three wickets for 37.

Resuming at 116 for five, Bihar were dismissed for 198. Sunil Kumar and Manish Kumar, overnight on 29 and 11, respectively showed no inclination to score and were content seeing off the overs. Both tackled the Lahiri-Utpal duo well.

Sunil was eventually dismissed trying to hit Lahiri over mid-on. He missed the line and was bowled for 47. Mahender Singh Dhoni left six balls later, bowled by Utpal for two as Bengal moved in for the kill.

Manish, who was playing the sheet anchor’s role was next to go. His uppish drive off Lahiri was taken by Nikhil Haldipur at gully. Manish scored 31. Allrounder Mihir Diwakar played a cameo knock of 36 off 34 balls.

The NCA-trainee entertained the motley crowd hitting three sixes and six boundaries.

With the Bengal spinners attacking from both ends and Diwakar living dangerously, it was a matter of time before his enterprising innings came to an end. Dancing down the tracks to Utpal, Diwakar was caught behind. Shahid Khan lasted only nine balls handing Rohan Gavaskar’s men a handsome New Year’s gift.

   

 
 
DEPLETED EB FACE GOAN CHALLENGE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 1: 
Early New Year blues seem to have set upon the East Bengal camp on the eve of their crucial home match against Churchill Brothers in the National League.

At least three players will be out of action tomorrow and another two appear to be doubtful starters. East Bengal’s defence — the sinew of their pride — also showing signs of committing errors. And then there is this elementary pressure of being the defending champions.

Coach Manoranjan Bhattacharya, however, has put a bold face on all this.

“In a long league, we have to accept these adversities. There’s no point to repent for players to be missed and one should look into the other positive sides,” he said after morning practice.

For the record, defender Dipak Mondal, medio Dipankar Roy and striker Isiaka Awoyemi will be watching the match sitting on the bench, the latter being out for two bookings. Playmaker Jo Paul Ancheri and goalkeeper Hemanta Dora have been included in the playing XVIII, but they are almost certain not to start.

But Manoranjan made no attempt to hide disappointment over his defence. “I’m little concerned about my defence. The defenders can’t regroup themselves and what is worrisome is that they look erroneous in marking the strikers, particularly inside the 18-yard box,” remarked the East Bengal coach.

“East Bengal are always dangerous at home and I’m not afraid of going for the kill,” said Churchill coach T. Chattuni. “My team is in good nick and the return of Mahesh Gawli will add strength,” a visibly relaxed coach added.

The Goan outfit has won two away matches and drawn another couple at home so far.

Chattuni hinted at using Osumani Hussaini and Sale Abdul Ganiyu upfront, perhaps giving a trying time to the out-of-form East Bengal defence.

Manoranjan’s bet is, therefore, certain to fall on the experienced I.M. Vijayan. “It’s wrong to expect something miraculous from Vijayan all the time, but he’s an opportunist, a very dangerous man in the attacking third,” said Manoranjan.

With Dipendu Biswas and Omolaja Olalekan likely to marshal the frontline, Anit Ghosh is set to take Dipankar’s place in the left and Ranjan Dey the right in the absence of Dipak.

   

 
 
THREE SEEDS ELIMINATED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 1: 
Three seeds fell by the wayside in the boys’ singles under-16 category on the second day of the West Coast Paper-sponsored AITA junior meet at the South Club today.

Local boy Abdesh Roy disposed of eighth seed Nirvick Mohinta 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, eleventh seed Samriddh Burman went down to Dharmaveer Biswakarma 5-7, 1-6 while Bapi Halder got the better of thirteenth seed Saif Iqbal 6-3, 6-3 in the boys’ under-16 clashes.

Top seed Rupesh Roy blanked out Puneet Kumar 6-0, 6-0 to move into the pre-quarter finals.

Junior volleyball

The state junior volleyball squads for men and women will leave the city Saturday to participate in the junior nationals, to be held at Renukoot (UP) from January 7 to 13.

THE SQUADS: MEN: Krishnendu Ghosh, Ashish Saha, Arnab Ghosh, Rajib Ghosh, Soumik Guha, Kazi Riaz Ahmed, Sourabh Dafaddar, Subhra Kanti Chatterjee, Subrata Ghosh, Sushovan Bose, Chhottu Parsi and Chittatosh Mukherjee. Coach: Dilip Ghosh. WOMEN: Thakurmoni Oraon, Mithu Pal, Kaberi Das, Priyanka Kundu, Aparna Chakraborty, Paramita Das, Pampa Chatterjee, Sulipa Bhattacharya, Meenakshi Santra, Pinny Das, Uma Dey. Coach: Maya Bairy.

Hockey season kicks off

The hockey season under the BHA for 2002-2003 starts tomorrow with the BHA President Cup, Kaivan Cup and Lakshmibilas Cup meets at BHA ground. The second and third division league engagements kick off from February 2.

Under-16 football

Central Calcutta DSA beat Southernshire 2-1 in the inter-coaching football meet (under-16) at the Rabindra Sarobar stadium today.

   

 
 
ONE-RUN WIN FOR SUBURBAN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 1: 
Suburban Club scraped past Barisha Sporting Club by one run while East Bengal notched up a 144-run victory over George Telegraph in the CAB first division knock-out meet today.

SUMMARISED SCORES

Suburban Club 214/8 (Saikat Seth 62, Vinod Sharma 61, Harbindar Singh 3/48). Barisha 213/7 (Kuntal Mallik 73 n.o, Dibyendu Chakroborty 51, Chanchal Sarkar 3/39). Suburban won by 1 run.

Md. Sporting 219/8 (Dilip Yadav 37 n.o.; Nayan Sur 3/31, Aranya Deb Sarkar 3/20). Netaji Subhas Institute 220/8 (Mayanko Chakroborty 64, Biswanath Bose 57). NIS won by 3 wkts.

Shyambazar Club 265/8 (Aditya Sengupta 69, Debdulal Majumdar 50). City AC 112 (Sourav Sarkar 3/29). Shyambazar won by 153 runs.

Customs 204/7 (Prosenjit Ganguly 63, Samrat Saha 52 n.o.). Tapan Memorial 205/4 (Debopam Sarkar 58, Samir Ghosh 52 n.o.). Tapan Memorial won by 6 wkts.

East Bengal 310/4 (including 15 penalty runs) (Alokendu 123 n.o., Wrichik Majumdar 78). George Telegraph 166 (Krishnendu Pal 49, Dharmender Singh 6/21). East Bengal won by 144 runs.

Town Club 202 (Suman Chatterjee 74; Birendra Pratap Singh 3/28). DKS 122 (Abhishek Banerjee 51). Town won by 80 runs.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA RACING/ ALCALDE DOWNS ANCHETA 
 
 
BY STAR RAC ER
 
Calcutta, Jan. 1: 
It was a festival of horseracing and a carnival of freebies at the Royal Calcutta Turf Club raceground, today, the New Year’s Day. The 19,000-odd milling crowd that was witness to some exciting horsemenship from top-flight jockeys, was also treated with gifts,free stuff and, of course, the musical notes of the renowned city pianist Sumit Roy, that added to the colourful atmosphere. The biggest hit with the fair sex was the free henna services offered by some sporting souls.

It was the main event, the 1,200m Eveready Alkaline Sprinters’ Trophy, that produced the finish of the day. With Aslam Kader on Ancheta trying to steal a march over his three rivals, including a better rated Alcalde, the race looked like an easy pick for the 3-10 hot-favourite. However Cristopher Alford brought the Bharath Singh-trainee with a late effort to seal the issue virtually at the wire.

RESULTS

1. Primrose Morn Handicap 1,200m: (5-6-1-2) Calamint (Gajender) 1; Abandoned (I. Chisty) 2; Declarationoflove (Rutherford) 3; Santa Monica (Dalapt S.) 4. Won by: 5-1/2; 3/4; 3/4; (1-14). Tote: Win Rs 19; Place: 16; 16; Quinella: 28; Tanala: 70. Fav: Calamint (5). Winner trained by Vijay S.

2. Harkirpal Handicap 1,400m: (5-6-1-4) Aberdan (C. Alford) 1; Lucifer (Domingo) 2; Flying Scot (Gowli) 3; Freedom Warrior (Shanker) 4. Won by: 3-1/4; 3/4; 3/4; (1-28.2). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 11; 14; 23; Quinella 32; Tanala: 192. Fav: Aberdan (5). Winner trained by Bharath S.

3. Nepal Gold Cup 2,200m: (2-3-4-1) Altenburg (Kader) 1; Colonial (Gowli) 2; Splendid King (Yasin) 3; Anolini (C. Alford) 4. Won by: 8-1/4; 2-1/4; 3-1/4; (2-21.6). Tote: Win Rs 12; Place: 10; 19; Quinella: 24; Tanala: 66. Fav: Altenburg (2). Winner trained by D. Byramji.

4. Eveready Alkaline Sprinters’ Trophy 1,200m: (1-4-3-2) Alcalde (C. Alford) 1; Ancheta (Kader) 2; Pearl Dragon (Connorton) 3; Anokato (A. P. Singh) 4. Won by: SH; 3; 6-3/4; (1-12.8). Tote: Win Rs 34; Place: 11; 11; Quinella: 12; Tanala: 59. Fav: Ancheta (4). Winner trained by Bharath S.

5. Sunray Handicap, Div-I 1,100m: (2-4-8-9) Dancing Dreams (Rutherford) 1; Automatic (C. Alford) 2; Common Spirit (Connorton) 3; Azurica (M. Reuben) 4. Won by: 3/4; Nk; 2-1/2; (1-6.6). Tote: Win Rs 41; Place: 16; 18; 14; Quinella: 85; Tanala: 299. Fav: Common Spirit (8). Winner trained by R. Alford.

6. Oakmead Cup 1,200m: (3-13-10-8) Soviet Ride (Connorton) 1; Regency Times (Yasin) 2; Comedy of Errors (Gowli) 3; Alicyclic (C. Alford) 4. Won by: Nk; 1-1/4; 1-1/4; (1-13.2). Tote: Win Rs 132; Place: 37; 23; 16; Quinella: 866; Tanala: 5,759. Fav: Alicyclic (8). Winner trained by Daniel D.

7. Eveready Indian Produce Stakes 1,200m: (1-5-4-3) Announcer (Shanker) 1; Romantic Notes (Kader) 2; Smart Ruler (Asghar) 3; Sea Royale (C. Alford) 4. Won by: 1/2; 3-1/4; 1-3/4; (1-13.7). Tote: Win Rs 156; Place: 36; 13; Quinella: 69; Tanala: 4,833. Fav: Romantic Notes (5). Winner trained by Vijay S.

8. Sunray Handicap, Div-II 1,100m: (8-4-5-7) Countach (I. Chisty) 1; Abashed (Islam) 2; Lawyer’s Love (Rutherford) 3; Wakamba Warrior (Shanker) 4. Won by: Hd; 2-3/4; 1/2; (1-6.9). Tote: Win Rs 76; Place: 21; 24; 18; Quinella: 285; Tanala: 1,685. Fav: Wakamba Warrior (7). Winner trained by Jaiswal.

9. Our Owen Handicap 1,200m: (6-4-10-3) Peppy Mistress (Gowli) 1; Calcuttan (C. Alford) 2; Jayaashva (I. Chisty) 3; Castle Moon (Amjad K.) 4. Not run: Aureate (9). Won by: 4-1/4; 2-1/4; 3/4; (1-15). Tote: Win Rs 26; Place: 13; 16; 26; Quinella: 39; Tanala: 312. Fav: Peppy Mistress (6). Winner trained by Javed K.

Jackpot: Rs 3,66,984; (C) Rs 1,10,095.

Treble: (i) Rs 34; (ii) Rs 3,867; (iii) Rs 2,674.

   

 
 
MUMBAI RACING/ APRILIA MAY BE HARD TO TOSS 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
Mumbai, Jan. 1: 
A runaway winner in the lower class, the Juggy Dhariwal-trained Aprilia may be hard to toss in the 1,200m Starfire Girl Trophy in Mumbai on Wednesday. Pesi Shroff partners the Don’t Forget Me-Passing Gull four-year-old filly.

SELECTIONS

2.30 pm: Resist 1. Perfect Storm 2. Safari Girl 3.

3 pm: Adolfito 1. Singita 2. Palentino 3.

3.30 pm: Grand Gesture 1. Ambition 2. Great Escape 3.

4 pm: Aprilia 1. Aspiring Star 2. Heartbreaker 3.

4.30 pm: Auchinblae 1.Infamous 2. The Gladiator 3.

5 pm: Newyearseve 1. Miss Trump 2. Come Prima 3.

5.30 pm: Cristina 1. Self Styled 2. Winnington 3.

Day’s Best: Aprilia

Double: Auchinblae & Newyearseve

   
 

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