Match Report - Maggie Maleeva vs. Ai Sugiyama
Let me say this first. Maggie would have beaten pre much anyone today. She was that good. Yes, Ai was sick and couldn't play her best tennis but regardless, Maggie played flawless impeccapble tennis. I don't know exactly how many unforced errors Maggie made today but the number should be smaller than 10. I think it's wrong to attribute Ai's loss to her sickness. It was just wrong in the first place to consider her the favorite. Maggie is an accomplished indoor player and I got sick of hearing those Japanese commentators say "Maleeva is a player Sugiyama isn't suppose to lose to" and after the match, "the biggest factor today was Sugiyam being sick". Those comments just show their lack of knowledge and insight. In my opinion Maggie is the better player of the two when they play indoors even though Ai's ranked higher and had won their last three or four meetings.
Maggie did everything great. She hit a lot of unreturnable serves. Of course, Ai's sickness played a part but still the credit should go where it is due. Maggie was real strong from the baseline. She was controlling the ball very well and in one streak she won 10 straight points most of which were winners or near winners. It's not like Ai was unable to run but those shots were just too good and would have been winners against anyone. Her balls were so deep that Ai had few opporutnities to attack or come in. During the 10 straight games Maggie won, there were only one or two games that went to duece and those stats show how dominating Maggie was in this match. I was getting so sick of the commentators' excuse that Ai was sick that I put it on mute. Anyways, of course Ai would have played better hadn't she been sick. But you know, when Maggie is on, there isn't much you can do to stop her, especially on this surface. I'm interested to know what Ai had to say after the match. I'm sure she will admit that Maggie was just too good today. I feel bad for Ai. She would have liked to have played 100% in front of her home crowd and if anyone has to be disappointed, it should be her. She wanted to do well on her home soil so bad especially because this was her first tournament in Japan after she broke into the top 10. You know, bad luck. Better luck next time.
One of the things I realized from Maggie's play is that she knows how to play on this carpet well. She hits the ball very flat and deep and this surface helps players with flat strokes a lot. She still mixes up her shots well throwing in occasional slices and loopy balls to break Ai's rhythm. She played smart as well as powerful. This is the best Maggie I have ever seen. It's hard to compare this to her run in Moscow a year and a half ago cuz it's a totally different situation, but it looks she's playing just as well as she was then.
I even though from the way Maggie played today, she would have a decent shot at beating Venus again and was soooooooo looking forward to the match-up. Obviously it wasn't meant to be. It would have been a great match for us fans... I think Maggie herself would prefer playing Venus to Chanda.. well I'm not too sure but then she would feel less pressure as the underdog. Now, she's facing Chanda. I think Maggie will win if she plays as well as she did today.
Again, you guys, don't you think Maggie won because Ai was sick. Maggie played superb tennis and that's the only reason why she was victorious today and yes the scoreline wouldn't have been so one-sided if Ai hadn't been sick but I believe Maggie still would have won regardless.
Congratulations, Maggie. Bad luck and get well soon, Ai!