Sugiyama's Tokyo Blog
TOKYO, Japan - Although she has a large fan following across the globe, nowhere does Ai Sugiyama receive more love and support than in her home country of Japan. And she has answered their call on several occasions, capturing two of her six career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles titles at the Tokyo [Japan Open]; this week, she goes for her third title at the Tier III event. Come along for the ride with the Japanese superstar in the latest Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Player Blog.
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
I arrived in Tokyo on Sunday night around 11pm, after an 8:15pm flight from Seoul. I had just lost in the final there. It was pretty tough because I had three championship points and still lost, to Eleni Daniilidou. Maybe it was meant to be, but I will try not to make the same mistakes in the future. I just have to forget about it and do my best here!
My mom is with me as well as my massage therapist. I couldn't go to my house because it's about one and a half hours away from the site, so we're staying in the hotel. Even though I'm in Japan, it feels just like going to another tournament because I didn't get to go home! But my friends are coming into the city to cheer me up so that's good.
Monday, I started my day with a big American breakfast in the hotel. I like to eat a big breakfast - eggs, sausage, toast and a latte. It's really nice to stay in that hotel because it's so close to the tournament. The people working there are very nice to me. They don't get too close but they give me lots of support.
On Tuesday, I hit for about one and a half hours and then trained in the gym for another one and a half hours. I'm working on my core stability right now, so I'm not using the machines much.
We had the player party last night in hotel. There was a VIP reception I went to. Roger Federer, Tommy Robredo, Paradorn Srichaphan, Gisela Dulko and Maria Kirlilenko were there with me too. I know most of those guys but it was the first time I've talked to Roger. I had pictures with him. He's so cool and nice. I was asking him what kind of food he was eatng and told me he likes Japanese food and is eating sushi and Kobe beef. When I heard that, I didn't need to give him any advice! He's eating the best food we have in Japan.
Afterwards we went to the main party, and Roger, Tommy, Gisela and I took part in the 'kagami biraki' crashing or breaking of the saki drum with wooden hammers. I think it's a traditional ceremony for good luck for the beginning of an event. Those were the real saki drums. They make the saki in those drums and sometimes they're even bigger. I love saki. It's made from distilled rice. You can have sweet, dry, hot and cold. I like cold the best. With sushi, dry is nicest. There are so many kinds and they're all different. The taste of it depends on the soil where the rice grows.
We didn't really have time to eat at the party because I was so busy having photos taken with all the guests and sponsors. It was nice to feel so much support from them. After that, I went to the Italian restaurant in the hotel with my friends and my team. It was nice to finally relax with all my favorite people!
Today I had my usual American breakfast at the hotel. I came to the tournament site and did my normal warm-up routine. Matches started at 10am. It's early for me! I was lucky I played second on center court. I hit a little bit on center court to warm up. The match before mine went three sets so it was nice to have a little extra time to prepare.
At the beginning of my match against Emma Laine, I was a little bit nervous. It's my first match in Japan since the Toray Pan Pacific Open in February. Playing in my home country is not the same as if I was playing elsewhere. I have a higher expectation of myself. I want to perform well. The match started well. Emma is a tough player and she played well, but I was still able to win in straight sets.
After the match, there were four little kids from a local tennis club who came on court, each to play one point against me. It's not usual to do this but they were so cute and hit the the ball pretty good. I played a few points with them, then took four Polaroid pictures, one for each of them. The emcee then asked me to speak to the crowd. I thanked them for all the support they always give me and thanked everyone for coming out today. I hope they enjoy watching Federer for his first match in Japan. I'll go out to watch him too later.
It was only Wednesday today, but lots of people came to watch and I heard Saturday and Sunday are already sold out. Hopefully the weather will be okay but we always have the retractable roof in case of rain.
My sister and friends are here. It's especially nice because I don't get to see them too often. I play my next match tomorrow, against Vania King, so I'm just getting a massage now to cool off my muscles and get ready for it.
I'll talk you all tomorrow. Bye for now!
My 3 favorite players are: Patty Schnyder ~ Roger Federer ~ Martina Hingis
Other players: Belinda Bencic ~ Kim Clijsters ~ Timea Bacsinszky ~ Elena Dementieva ~ Stefanie Voegele ~ Anna Kournikova ~ Maria Sharapova ~ Vera Zvonareva ~ Daniela Hantuchova ~ Elena Bovina ~ Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova ~ Monica Seles ~ Jennifer Capriati ~ Serena and Venus Williams ~ Klara Koukalova