Sugiyama, super woman


  • Other Sport
  • Tuesday, 04 Mar 2003

SCOTTSDALE (Arizona): Japan's Ai Sugiyama produced one of the greatest one-day efforts in WTA history, capturing two three-set matches here on Sunday to claim the US$585,000 State Farm Classic title in epic fashion. 

Sugiyama defeated doubles partner and second seed Kim Clijsters of Belgium 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the final after having saved three match points in a 6-7 (2-7), 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) semi-final victory over American Alexandra Stevenson barely 90 minutes earlier. 

“I don't know how I pulled it out,” Sugiyama said. “I felt tired when I was playing that second match, but actually it worked good. I didn't feel any added pressure because I was too tired.” 

The 27-year-old from Tokyo withstood the endurance test to win the US$93,000 top prize and take her fourth and greatest WTA singles title, her first since the 1998 Japan Open. 

Clijsters and Sugiyama then joined forces to beat France's Marion Bartoli and Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 7-5, 6-0 in a rain-delayed doubles semi-final. 

After that, Sugiyama and Clijsters took a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Americans Lisa Raymond and Lindsay Davenport in the doubles final. 

When her marathon was done, Sugiyama had played 10 sets in six hours and 18 minutes, winning eight of them for four titles. It was an epic quadruple sweep for titles that made WTA history. 

With boyfriend and men's tennis world number one Lleyton Hewitt of Australia watching from the stands, 19-year-old Clijsters fell to 17-4 on the year, blowing a prime chance for her 12th career WTA title and fifth in her past eight starts. 

It was the third finals trip out of four 2003 starts for Clijsters, who won at Sydney to start the year and reached the final at Antwerp two weeks ago. 

n DUBAI: Top seed Roger Federer defeated Czech Jiri Novak 6-1, 7-6 on Sunday to win the Dubai Open and prove a point to the organisers. 

It was his 13th win in 14 matches and his second title in three events. 

The 75-minute victory was the best possible response from the Swiss number one to the criticism he received from the former tournament director last year, who accused him of not trying in his second round defeat by Rainer Schuettler. 

His prize money and appearance fee were withheld, and although he later received his prize money it was agreed that he would only receive the appearance fee if he returned this year. 

“I really try to forget last year and I don't think we should talk about it,” said Federer, preferring to explain how he managed to win another title to follow his Marseilles win two weeks ago. 

The third-seeded Czech conceded that he had been beaten by the better player on the day. 

“It was my first match under the lights and it was a huge difference. He had been playing all his matches under the lights and it was a little bit of an advantage for him. He was killing me all the time from all the spots on the court,” said Novak. – Agencies  

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