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  Topic Review (Newest First)
Mar 8th, 2003 04:32 AM
The Tennis Week Interview: Ai Sugiyama

The Tennis Week Interview: Ai Sugiyama

By Brad Falkner

Ai Sugiyama scripted a mesmerizing run to the biggest title of her career at Scottsdale on Sunday as she pulled off an unfathomable four score sweep of four consecutive matches to capture the State Farm Classic singles and doubles championships.
The 27-year-old from Tokyo played four matches, spending a total of six hours and 18 minutes on court on Sunday. The traditional day of rest saw Sugiyama work overtime as she saved three match points to beat Alexandra Stevenson in the semis before upsetting second-seeded Kim Clijsters 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the final to capture her fourth career tournament title. It was her first championship since 1998 when she won the Gold Coast and successfully defended her Japan Open title. It was an amazing achievement for Sugiyama and prompted a field day for headline writers who termed it the "Sugiyama Sweep", "Sugiyama Slam" and a "Super Sugiyama Sunday".

Call it whatever you like, but know that as a result of the remarkable effort that saw Sugiyama sweep semifinal and final victories in singles and doubles on the same day prompted her doubles partner, Clijsters, to coin a new nickname for Sugiyama: "Super Woman."
She wasn't clad in a cape when Tennis writer Brad Falkner caught up with her in Indian Wells where she is playing the Pacific Life Open, but clearly Sugiyama is still soaring from her Super Sunday.

Tennis Week: Let's talk about the Sugiyama Scottsdale sweep ? how did you do it?

Sugiyama: I still can't believe what I've done because it was an amazing day for me, really. I never beat Lindsay (Davenport) first of all, playing (Eleni) Daniilidou next, and (semifinal opponent Alexandra) Stevenson was playing really good that day too. She had the three match points against me and I came back from there and won the tie breaker 9-7. Wining that semifinal match was huge for me. Playing against Kim who is one of the best players in the world. I was so happy that I could play like that.

Tennis Week: How beat up did you feel the morning after?

Sugiyama: I've never felt that tired (laughs). Never, never, never (more laughter).

Tennis Week: Sounds like a bad tennis hangover. When did you finally start feeling up to par?

Sugiyama: Not until yesterday (Wednesday). Luckily my physical trainer arrived from Japan. We were planning to meet him in L.A. a long time ago. That's why I could give my all out-energy on Sunday. Mentally that helps because I know he was going to come, so it was easier for me to go all out.

Tennis Week: I bet he had his work cut out for him?

Sugiyama: (laughing) YES!

Tennis Week: You mentioned in Scottsdale that your mother is your coach. Was she a former tennis champion in Japan?

Sugiyama: No, she never played tennis as a professional, she just played for fun. She competed in skiing. She has been watching my tennis since I was 5. She followed my tennis, she knows my history, everything. She can see well what I am doing on court and can help me fix any problems with my game. I also have a hitting partner with me, who works at our academy back home.

Tennis Week: What do you like best about your job?

Sugiyama: I have lots of friends on the tour. All the good girls that are around me. I like spending time with them. I really have great friends on the tour.

Tennis Week: What would you do if you were not a professional tennis player?

Sugiyama: If I were not a professional tennis player, I would probably want to be a professional golfer (laughs).

Tennis Week: Interesting, tell me more?

Sugiyama: No, really I love golf. When I am not too busy sometimes I golf at tournaments. My sister is really good and wants to be a pro golfer. I felt bad in Scottsdale because she came there, so she could play a lot of golf and watch me play (it rained six out of the seven days of the tournament) She is my lucky charm. I always do well when she is there.

Tennis writer Brad Falkner is in Indian Wells covering the Pacific Life Open for this site. Please visit the site to read Brad's daily reports

copyright Tennis Week, 2003 A Sports Media Network Web Site
Mar 3rd, 2003 06:35 PM
ex hopman dubs winner!
Mar 3rd, 2003 05:50 PM
Mr. Man
Mar 3rd, 2003 03:26 PM
treufreund This is great for women's tennis. It highlights the hard work and athleticism of players maybe not as well known.
Mar 3rd, 2003 02:07 PM
gorecki another nice article - thanks Mase!
Mar 3rd, 2003 12:49 PM
King Aaron Thanks

Super Women Ai!
Mar 3rd, 2003 12:39 PM
ESPN Article

Sugiyama beats Stevenson, Clijsters to win

Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ai Sugiyama put in a full day of work and then some at the State Farm Women's Tennis Classic, and her reward was two titles.

Sugiyama played four matches at the rain-delayed tournament Sunday, winning her semifinal match and then beating Kim Clijsters 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Sugiyama and Clijsters then turned around and won their doubles semifinal before beating Lindsay Davenport and Lisa Raymond, 6-1, 6-4 to end the night.

''I don't know how I did it,'' Sugiyama said. ''Now I'm feeling good after winning all of my matches, but I don't know, maybe tomorrow I will be feeling really tired. But I just want to enjoy my winning today.''

Sugiyama, a 27-year-old Japanese player ranked 25th in the world, played a total of 10 sets Sunday. She could have elected to play the doubles final Monday, because WTA rules don't require players to participate in more than three matches in one day.

''After winning the first doubles we were feeling good, and we thought that tomorrow we might be feeling tired, so I wanted to play today,'' Sugiyama said. ''Kim was playing good and we both wanted to play, so we went back out on the court.''

Sugiyama's grueling day began with a 6-7 (2), 6-2, 7-6 (7) victory over Alexandra Stevenson in a semifinal that had been rained out Saturday. Sugiyama then advanced to play Clijsters, the Belgian who's ranked No. 3 in the world.

That match was delayed 45 minutes by rain and hail that arrived just before the start of the third set. Leading 2-1 in the third, Sugiyama broke service to take control.

''I felt tired when I was playing,'' she said. ''Actually, it worked good, because I didn't feel pressure because I was too tired. I just focused on every point.''

Sugiyama and Clijsters breezed through the doubles semifinal, which also had been held over because of bad weather. They beat Marion Bartoli and Stephanie Cohen-Aloro of France 7-5, 6-0, then dispatched the American team of Davenport and Raymond for the title.

Sugiyama last won a singles title in 1998, when she captured the Gold Coast in Australia and the Japan Open.

''Last time I won a tournament was Tier III,'' Sugiyama said. ''This is Tier II, a big tournament. I just couldn't believe it. Today's tennis was maybe my best match ever.''
Mar 3rd, 2003 11:17 AM
kfh_9118 Unbelievable Congrats Ai, you truly deserve it
Mar 3rd, 2003 10:29 AM
rfs1999 Awesome
Mar 3rd, 2003 08:51 AM
Wojtek Congrtas Ai !!!
Mar 3rd, 2003 08:27 AM
kimclijsters4ever Only one thing to say here

Congrats Ai, you are an amazing fighter
Mar 3rd, 2003 08:16 AM
Beat superwoman!
Mar 3rd, 2003 08:03 AM
Hagar AMAZING AI!!! Well done!
Mar 3rd, 2003 06:13 AM
1jackson2001 Congratulations Ai! I like you even more now!
Mar 3rd, 2003 05:28 AM
schris Congratulations Ai !!!
This thread has more than 15 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

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