The Yomiuri Shimbun
WANTED: Female doubles partner. Expert level. Serious only need apply.
Ai Sugiyama confirmed Thursday
she was looking for a new doubles partner to replace Daniela Hantuchova, with whom she has played regularly since May 2006.
Sugiyama and Hantuchova have won two Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles since their permanent pairing--three overall--and reached the final at the French Open.
But the Japanese has been discouraged by recent outings--capped by a stunning first-round loss to Serbian Jelena Jankovic and American Bethanie Mattek 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 on Tuesday at the Toray Pan Pacific Open.
"I haven't told her
but since the U.S. Open, we've played good doubles but didn't make a really great success together," Sugiyama said. "Of course we are really good friends, but sometimes it's not working out and I'd like to look for something else."
Sugiyama's mother and coach, Fusako, told the Japanese media of the impending breakup Wednesday
. There were also reports that Sugiyama felt Hantuchova's focus on singles resulted in a lack of commitment to doubles.
The 31-year-old has distinguished herself as a top doubles player with four Grand Slam titles. She reached the world No. 1 ranking in October 2000. She has 33 career doubles titles to her credit, including the 2000 U.S. Open crown with France's Julie Halard-Decugis and the 2003 French Open and Wimbledon titles with Belgium's Kim Clijsters.
Sugiyama also won the U.S. Open mixed doubles title in 1999 with India's Mahesh Bhupati.
(Feb. 2, 2007)