Hrbaty crashes out as Johansson struggles
Mahesh Bhupathi must for Davis Cup singles: Krishnan
Musah winner puts EB in contention for top spot
Arup makes another kill
Belgachia dismiss Bagan
Paikpara win
Mumbai Racing/ Starsky best on form
Mumbai Racing/ Royal Secret springs a surprise
Track Trials/ Calorescence impresses

Chennai, Jan. 2: 
A little Belgian with a big heart almost spoilt Thomas Johansson’s day at the Tata Open. In fact, Olivier Rochus did everything right but win the second-round duel at the sparsely-filled Nungambakkam Stadium. It won’t be any exaggeration to state that the second-seeded Swede escaped to the quarter finals with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 verdict in two hours and six minutes.

Johansson’s next outing could be just as tough, if red-hot Asian champion Paradorn Srichaphan’s form is anything to by. The 22-year-old Thai, who rolled past fifth seed Max Mirnyi yesterday, added another precious scalp in the form of Andrei Stoliarov tonight.

Measured aggression was the key to Srichaphan’s dominance as he packed off last year’s runner-up Stoliarov 6-2, 6-1 in just an hour. Just to refresh memories, it was Stoliarov who dismissed Leander Paes in 45 minutes Monday.

The biggest shock was reserved for late night. German-born Spaniard Alex Calatrava came back from the dead to surprise sixth seed Dominik Hrbaty 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Calatrava, down two match-points in the second set, won nine of the last 11 games to turn the second-round match on its head. Calatrava will now meet fourth seed Andrei Pavel who earlier advanced to the last eight with an unconvincing 6-3, 6-3 victory over Italian qualifier Stefano Galvani.

Up against a 20-year-old ranked No. 98 in the world, Johansson went into the match a trifle relaxed. Soon, the experienced Swede discovered he had a fight on his hands.

The younger of two tennis-playing brothers, Rochus was rock-solid from the back. Unarmed with any big weapon, Rochus didn’t concede a cheap point as he retrieved every ball with great energy and purpose. Johansson didn’t mind a slugfest and it led to some riveting rallies. The seventh game altered equations dramatically. Rochus, in control of a 10-shot point right through, came in at the right juncture to put away a forehand volley into the open court. That made it 15-40. A jittery Johansson then made a hash of a high backhand volley to drop serve.

The Swede was a different player from then on — questioning line-calls, throwing his racket in disgust and looking at coach Magnus Tideman for inspiration. Rochus rode that single service break to the first set.

Johansson struggled to get rhythm on his returns, missing several chances to drive home 0-30 situations on Rochus’ serve. The Swede’s serving was comparatively better, though he had a big scare in the third game of the second set. Two careless volleys pushed Johansson from 40-15 to deuce. Then, a deep Rochus return forced the Swede to hit long. Advantage Rochus. A false step from the Swede at that stage would have put Rochus a break up and, possibly, on path to a great upset.

Johansson gambled by coming in on a weak approach and placed a forehand volley out of Rochus’ reach. From deuce, the Swede held serve to wriggle out of a tight corner.

Rochus, at five-foot-five-inch the shortest player with an ATP title in the last 20 years, looked vulnerable in game 8. Thrice he came within a point of losing serve, but Johansson just couldn’t get his returns in place.

Then, the Swede got lucky. He set up break-point No. 4 with a net-cord that caught Rochus off guard. And Johansson was delighted to see a routine Rochus backhand lodge into the net on the next point. Johansson then held comfortably to even set scores.

The deciding set saw Rochus maintain his high-percentage, error-free game. A frustrated Johansson cracked in the fourth game. He first misjudged a deep Rochus top-spin drive and then mishit a forehand volley for a big six.

Up 3-1, the unfancied Belgian seemed to have the match sealed up. But, like a true top-20 player, world No. 18 Johansson pushed himself for an extra bit of effort to earn the breakback straightaway.

Johansson smelled blood and went for the kill. All of a sudden, it was Rochus who started missing the lines. A superb backhand pass by Johansson, followed by a backhand error from Rochus gave the Swede the vital break in game 7. That was enough for Johansson to seal the match.

The second match on centre court, a first-round doubles featuring three Indians and Vijay Amritraj’s son Prakash failed to enthuse the 2,000-odd fans too much. It needed a courtside elephant ride by Vijay and star guest Kapil Dev, and their peace-spreading speeches to lift spirits.

For the record, Prahlad Srinath and Ajay Ramaswami made the quarter finals with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 shutout of junior Amritraj and Mustafa Ghouse.

RESULTS: SINGLES, second round: T. Johansson (Swe, 2) bt O. Rochus (Bel) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; A. Pavel (Rom, 4) bt S. Galvani (Ita) 6-3, 6-3; P. Srichaphan (Tha) bt A. Stoliarov (Rus) 6-2, 6-1; A. Calatrava (Spa) bt D. Hrbaty (Svk, 6) 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.

DOUBLES, first round: Prahlad Srinath & Ajay Ramaswami (Ind) bt Mustafa Ghouse (Ind) & Prakash Amritraj (US) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2; Frantisek Cermak & Petr Lxa (Cze) bt Jeff Coetzee (SA) & Sander Groen (Ger) 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 6-1.

Quarter finals: Byron Black (Zim) & Fabrice Santoro (Fra), 2, bt Jaroslav Levinsky & David Skoch (Cze) 6-3, 6-1.


Chennai, Jan. 2: 
Chennai’s tennis-loving public may still be mourning the untimely ‘demise’ of their favourite sons, but one man couldn’t be bothered less. Ramesh Krishnan, in fact, is relieved to see both his Davis Cup trump cards give it a shot in singles.

“Last year they played very little singles on the Tour, especially Mahesh,” observed the Indian non-playing captain. “But we need him to play singles in Davis Cup. Mahesh realises that and it’s good to see him back in action. Even Leander wants to improve his singles ranking which can be achieved with more matches and that would help his performance in Davis Cup.”

Bhupathi’s decision to minimise singles activity in Davis Cup hurt the team. The Bangalorean, keen to protect his shoulder which needed surgery in November 1999, has played just one singles match — against Japan in Tokyo last April — in the last two years.

Syed Fazaluddin and Harsh Mankad were tried out as Bhupathi’s substitutes as the second singles player, but neither has quite fitted the bill. Fazal fizzled out after a promising start while Mankad has impressed in patches without looking a matchwinner yet.

With none else on the horizon ready to step into the big league, Ramesh has no alternative but to turn to Bhupathi for singles. “His main thrust is doubles, we all know that. But if he keeps himself match-fit for singles also by playing on the circuit from time to time, we can use his services.”

Having failed to qualify for the World Group, India are back in the zonals.

Their next assignment, from February 8-10, is in Lebanon — not an exciting place to visit considering its geopolitical conditions.

“I know Lebanon is not the best place to visit, but playing or not playing there is not in our hands,” Ramesh said. “They came and played here two years ago, so we have to travel this time.

“It was a similar kind of situation when we played in the US a month after the September 11 bombings. This is part and parcel of life now. We just have to accept it and do our job. After all, we also have a responsibility towards our sport.”

India struggled to beat Lebanon 3-2 in Lucknow nearly two years ago, with Paes and Syed Fazaluddin suffering an unexpected defeat in doubles. “We can’t take anything for granted, we’ll have to play well to beat Lebanon,” Ramesh remarked.

With Syed Fazaluddin retiring prematurely, one berth in the team is up for grabs. As of now, Bangalore boy Rohan Bopanna is the favourite to get the nod. Also in the running are national hardcourt champion Vijay Kannan, Asian junior champion Sunil Kumar and Ajay Ramaswami.

Mankad, the third member, will retain his place unless he makes himself unavailable. He didn’t come for the Tata Open to finish his college studies in the US.


Calcutta, Jan. 2: 
A poacher’s finish from Suley Musah handed defending champions East Bengal a 1-0 victory over Churchill Brothers in their National Football League match at the Salt Lake Stadium today.

The home team earned a 75th-minute free-kick in the middle third. Tushar Rakshit, who had replaced Bijen Singh just three minutes back, deftly floated one into the box. Musah, following the trajectory, timed his jump to perfection and headed home, beating advancing Churchill ‘keeper Edward Ansah in the air.

East Bengal are now on 10 points, but with HAL’s victory over JCT in Ludhiana today, the Bangalore team moves to top spot with 11 points. Churchill and Mohun Bagan are on eight points each.

The first half was nothing but a muddle in the middle with East Bengal looking intent on not conceding a goal and the Goa professional league champions largely aimless in the attacking third.

East Bengal coach Manoranjan Bhattacharya played a gamble, starting with Jo Paul Ancheri in the striking zone. But the Indian Player of the Year never really looked to have recovered fully from injuries received in the IFA Shield final versus SA Palmeiras and fumbled on quite a few occasions. His replacement (by Dipendu Biswas in the 10th minute) was expected.

The monotony, however, was broken in the second 45 minutes. East Bengal seemed to have felt the urge of going for the kill, reactivating the otherwise non-existent wing play. The result was immediate and impressive.

Dipendu shot straight to Edward in the 47th minute and the retort came soon through Churchill side back Rajesh Meetei’s 30-yard pile-driver, which just went over the woodwork.

Dipendu, who used his head with little help of what’s inside, emerged a poor finisher again in the 54th minute. He threw a spanner in a brilliant Bijen Singh effort from the left, making a feeble attempt to the latter’s pass.

Soon after, Musah forced a smothering save from Edward, followed by I.M. Vijayan’s weak attempt towards an open goal.

Indian defender Mahesh Gawli’s departure and Tushar Rakshit’s arrival in the span of 14 minutes in the second half, left a decisive impact on the match.

“It was good to see through one of the toughest hurdles,” Manoranjan later said. He, however, played down the significance of the win. “In a long league, it hardly matters after five matches,” he remarked.

The East Bengal defence continued to worry Manoranjan, being swept aside too often by the Churchill wingers’ runs down the flanks. Twice in the first half, the visitors came close to the target, thanks to the sluggish East Bengal side backs. But Yakubu Yusif and Roque Barreto were off target.

Then again, in the dying minutes of the match, Manoranjan’s rearguard nearly spoiled Musah’s class act. Yakubu entered the box without any resistance but his hastily-taken shot lacked power and precision.

In other times, such worries would not have snowballed into a major crisis for the title-holders because of two reasons: Anit Ghosh’ presence as a defensive screen and a flawless Sangram Mukherjee under the bar.


EAST BENGAL: Sangram Mukherjee, Falguni Dutta, Suley Musah, Jackson Egygpong, Kh. Ratan Singh, Amit Das (Chandan Das, 64m), I.M. Vijayan, Anit Ghosh, Bijen Singh (Tushar Rakshit, 72), Omolaja Olalekan, Jo Paul Ancheri (Dipendu Biswas, 30).

CHURCHILL BROTHERS: Edward Ansah, Francis Coelho, Mahesh Gawli (Denzil Ferrao, 58), Osumanu Hussaini, Rajesh Meetei, Roque Barreto, Noel Wilson, Aqeel Ansari (Francis Silveira, 87), Ratan Singh, Abdul Saley Ganiyu (Somatai Shaiza, 22), Yakubu Yusif.

Referee: F. Suresh (Tamil Nadu).


Calcutta, Jan. 2: 
Arup Mallick dumped another seed on the wayside as he beat sixth seed Karan Dhillon 6-3, 6-3 while Rupesh Roy blanked Nitish Raj 6-0, 6-0 in the under-16 boys singles of the West Coast Paper-sponsored AITA junior meet at South Club today.

Rupesh moved into the under-18 quarter finals, edging past Jitin Bishnoi 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. Two seeds in the girls’ under-16 — Devanshi Rajgarhia (fourth) and Varsha Datta (sixth) were shown the door by Sanjukta Barooah and Asha Nanda Kumar respectively.

Harinder in lead

Harinder Singh shot a three over par to retain the lead with a score of 147 in the Mayor all-India junior/sub-junior golf championships at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club today. Local lads Ranjit Singh and Sheikh Rafik were joint second at 156. Sri Lankan Amrit J. De, Amanjyot Singh and Nikhil Sanwal were the leaders in group B, C and D respectively.    

Calcutta, Jan. 2: 
Prashant Singh (six for 50) helped Belgachhia United bundle out fancied Mohun Bagan for 202 in 63 overs in their two-day CAB senior division league game today.

Apart from Siddhartha Mullick (71) and Moinak Sengupta (49), no other Bagan batsman fared well. In reply, Belgachhia were 69 for two at close.


Sporting Union 369/7 (Satrajit Lahiri 158 n.o., Rajib Sen 65) vs Rajasthan.

Barisha Sporting 320/9 (Soutam Mitra 128 n.o., Dibyendu Chakraborty 56; Aftab Hassan 3/92) vs ABP Sporting Club.

Wari AC 359/6 decl. (Aurijit Basu 118, Jaideep Ganguly 71). Calcutta Rangers 13/1.

Calcutta Customs 344/9 (Shankha Pal 124, Avik Chowdhury 77) vs Netaji Subhas Institute.

Mohun Bagan 202 (Moinak Sengupta 94, Siddhartha Mullick 71; Prasant Singh 6/50). Belgachia United 69/2.

Mohanlal Club 180 (Abdul Masood 4/50). Eastern Railway 41/0.

CPT 115 (Uttam Yash 6/38). Shibpur Inst. 116/5 (Subrata Ghosh 40 n.o.; Amitabha Debnath 4/48). Shibpur Inst. won by 5 wks.

YMCA (College) 307/9 (Vikas Mansatta 58). vs Town Club.

All matches to continue.


Calcutta, Jan. 2: 
Paikpara Hockey Academy and Entally Hockey Academy won their opening matches in the BHA President’s Cup today. Real SF and Marian Friends played out a goalless draw in the other match.

Under-16 football

Bidhannagar Municipality SA entered the semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Boalia Juba Sangha in the under-16 football meet at Rabindra Sarobar stadium. Prabhu Rahman scored a hattrick.    

Mumbai, Jan. 2: 
A runaway winner in his last start after lifting the 2,000m Deccan Derby, Starsky is strongly fancied to lift the Dawn Ramniwas Ramnarain Ruia Gold Cup in Mumbai on Thursday. B. Prakash partners the D. Todywalla-ward.


2 pm: C’Est Egal 1. Jodhpur Lad 2. Tactful 3.
2.30 pm: El Campeador 1. Reflecting 2. Pleasure Hunt 3.
3 pm: Forest Angel 1. Exploding Wonder 2. Ice Magic 3.
3.30 pm: Partner Perfect 1. Flirtatious 2. Betsy 3.
4 pm: Starsky 1. Kraft 2. The Pelican 3.
4.30 pm: Discover 1. Latest News 2. Smart Warrior 3.
5 pm: Roll of Dice 1. Blue Butterfly 2. Fire Girl 3.
5.30 pm: Scarlet Lake 1. Overtures 2. Silver Line 3.

Day’s Best: C’Est Egal

Double: Starsky & Discover

Mumbai, Jan. 2: 
Trained by Narendra Lagad Royal Secret, the rank-outsider, recorded a shocking victory in the Starfire Girl Trophy at the Mumbai races on Wednesday. Apprentice Yogender Singh partnered the five-year-old gelding to victory.


(With inter-state dividends)

1. Penpipes Plate 2,400m: (5-4-1) Resist (Prakash) 1; Safari Girl 2; Prince of Fashion 3. Won by: 3/4; 7 (2-39.9). Tote: Win Rs 20; Place: 15; 18; Quinella: 23; Tanala: 142. Fav: Resist (5).

2. Golden Morn Plate 1,200m: (1-3-7) Adolfito (Shroff) 1; The Avenger 2; Twin Star 3. Won by: 1-3/4; 1-3/4; (1-14.4). Tote: Win Rs 25; Place: 13; 22; 14; Quinella: 127; Tanala: 528. Fav: Adolfito (1).

3. Solar Maid Plate 1,600m: (7-4-8) Saphire Princess (Rupesh) 1; Ambition 2; Exhilarating 3. Not run: Colour of Joy (6). Won by: 1-3/4; Nk; (1-42.7). Tote: Win Rs 36; Place: 15; 22; 23; Quinella: 144; Tanala: 640. Fav: Grand Gesture (1).

4. Starfire Girl Trophy 1,200m: (13-4-1) Royal Secret (Yogender) 1; Aprilia 2; Special Happening 3. Won by: 2-1/4; 1-1/2; (1-12.8). Tote: Win Rs 1,751; Place: 173; 14; 20; Quinella: 744; Tanala: 19,002. Fav: Aprilia (4).

5. Rock Blade Plate 1,200m: (1-6-9) Auchinblae (McCullagh) 1; Prabhuti 2; Dark Side of The Moon 3. Won by: Nk; 5-1/2; (1-13.7). Tote: Win Rs 14; Place: 12; 21; 29; Quinella: 55; Tanala: 429. Fav: Auchinblae (1).

6. Ocean Park Plate 1,100m: (3-13-1) Spirited Move (R. Pandey) 1; High Voltage 2; Come Prima 3. Won by: 2-3/4; 1/2; (1-9.2). Tote: Win Rs 71; Place: 22; 44; 32; Quinella: 791; Tanala: 8,871. Fav: Newyearseve (11).

7. Play On Plate 1,600m: (8-1-9) Self Styled (Shroff) 1; L. A. Woman 2; Winnington 3. Won by: 1-1/4; 4-3/4; (1-40.1). Tote: Win Rs 22; Place: 14; 30; 40; Quinella: 149; Tanala; 1,754. Fav: Self Styled (8).

Jackpot: Rs 49,599; (C) Rs 11,022.

Treble: (i) Rs 8,121; (ii) Rs 200.

Calcutta, Jan.2: 
Calorescence and Yukon were impressive when the following horses worked today:

Outer sand track

2,200m: Mack The Knife (Rutherford) in 3-4s; (400m) 30s. Easy.

2,000m: Calorescence (C. Alford) in 2-27s; (400m) 30s. Good.

1,600m: Acklins (Domingo) in 1-54s; (400m) 31s. Moved well. Star Cavalier (Upadhya) in 2-0s; (400m) 30s. Easy. Yukon (Engineer) in 1-58s; (400m) 30s. Note.

1,400m: Sweet Paintedlady (Rb) and Phnney Phellow (K. Kumar) in 1-48s; (400m) 31s. The were level.

1,200m: Fame Star (Shanker) 1-30s; (400m) 30s. Easy. Annatto (C. Alford) 1-27s; (400m) 29s. Fit.

800m: Aflicker (Rb) and Abyssinia (Rabani) in 55s; (400m) 28s. They were level, later was pushed. Rescue Act (Rb) and Acute (Rabani) in 57s; (400m) 29s. They were level and were easy. Network (C. Alford), Assailer (Rb) and Aliquant (Domingo) in 1-3s;(400m) 31s. They were separated by a length and 2ls. Tajik (Tamang) in 1-0s; (400m) 30s. Touch of Silver (Yasin) and Amber Dancer (Connorton) in 1-3s; (400m) 32s. Former was a length better.

600m: Finders Keepers (I. Chisty) in 47s; (400m) 31s.

Sand track

1,600m: Sagittarian (Rutherford) in 2-3s; (400m) 30s.

1,400m: Gul (Upadhya) in 1-44s; (400m) 29s.

1,000m: F3ncai (Yacoob) in 1-11s; (400m) 29s. Easy.

800m: Lovely Prospect (Salam) in 1-0s; (400m) 30s. Odyssey (Rutherford) in 50s; (400m) 24s. Handy. Grecian Prince (Upadhya) in 57s; (400m) 29s. Easy.

On Tuesday, outer sand track

1,800m: Antequera (Rb) and Leading Conquest (Rb) in 2-28s; (400m) 31s. Easy. Former was far better.

1,400m: Actuate (Domingo) in 1-49s; (400m) 32s. Easy.

800m: Storm Centre (Dalpat S.) and Giorgio (Rb) in 1-0s; (400m) 28s. They were level. Both moved well.

Sand track

1,600m: Sagittarian (Rutherford) in 1-55s; (400m) 29s.

1,000m: Secret Adversary (Siddiqui) in 1-12; (400m) 41s.    


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