Indian Wells Masters
Shreya Ujjaval crushed a qualifier in the first round, then got flattened by Iglar in the second round. This equaled his results last year here. Can't fault him for losing to the world no. 3 of course. The 19th and 20th seeds, Condon and Smitala, were early casualties and Agustin Herrera almost joined them. Mooljee had a credible opponent in Italian Silvio Boccasino(54th) but advanced easily.
Things started to get hairy in the third round. Quite a few of the higher-ranked seeds were dismissed. Anil Mehul was almost one of them, barely surviving Peter Sampras 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(3). 18 aces from the American were almost enough to win a tight match, but Mehul escapes. A. Herrera was upended by Zourab Andronikov, the lowest seed in the field. M. Herrera(third-set breaker against Tobia Alberti(ITA, 18th), Federer(straight sets to Max Benitez(ARG, 26th)), and Bourdet(shockingly one-sided loss to Milan Farkas(CZE, 22nd)) all left early. T. Herrera and Benda had surprisingly tough 3-set victories as well. Prakash Mooljee was set to exit at this point, going up against no. 7 Mugur Kinczllers who is a Top-5 player on hardcourts. Incredibly, he pulled off one of the biggest upsets I've ever seen, a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(9) classic. Kinczllers is every bit as good from the baseline and a much better server as well as more proficient on this surface. This match should not have been close, and is a huge victory for Mooljee.
In the fourth round, a couple of easy wins for Mehul & Girsh completed their first week. Alberti continued a strong tournament by knocking out Pierce Gaskell, the 6th seed. Perry Mockler sent Benda home early in a very tight match that ended in a tiebreaker. Trulsen surprisingly lost in three to T. Herrera as well. Mooljee had another long match, this one against Cestmir Marcek(CZE, 14th). Even at 31, Marcek is the favorite here but not by nearly as much as Kinczllers was. Still, Prakash started strong and blanked the veteran Czech in a first-set tiebreak. He fended off a number of break points in the second set and led 4-1 in another breaker, just three points from the match. And then the wheels came off. He lost six straight points to drop the set, then crumbled to an 0-3 deficit in the third. At that point he regained his focus to break back once, but wouldn't have a chance to get even and loses a match he had nearly won, 6-7(0), 7-6(4), 6-4. A mixture of celebration and disappointment here as it was highly improbable for him to even get to this point, but being three points away from the second week and losing is a hard pill.
Ritwik Dudwadkar had his second tier-4 juniors in Beijing. A harder-than-optimal practice week leading up to it caused fatigue problems, and he lost in the semis in singles, quarterfinals in doubles. He's running into the usual junior problem where often practice matches get played even at more than the 300 fatigue limit. Still got five matches in, which will allow him to take a few weeks off.
Mehul got past Alberti in his quarterfinal, but it was a tight one with a long 12-10 tiebreak in the second set. He seems to be doing just enough to advance right now. Gustavo Caratti had his first real resistance against Mockler but made it through in three sets, while Girsh(over T. Herrera) and Iglar(against Marcek) easily advanced.
Caratti had guaranteed himself the #4 ranking, surpassing Benda by making it this far. Mehul won a first-set tiebreak but then basically collapsed, falling 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-2. Overall it's been a disappointing tournament in terms of his level of play and it finally caught up to him. In the second match, Girsh's recent run of success against Iglar continued, 6-3, 7-6(4). That's four straight now, a clear trend. He won a similarly competitive final against Caratti, claiming his 4th Masters Shield without the loss of a set. He probably should have lost the final to be frank -- the Argentine played a more consistent match but had too many lapses.
We'll do it all over again now in Miami.