Tag Archive | "Sugiyama"

Sharapova Obtains Tokyo Title As Jankovic Defaults

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Sharapova Obtains Tokyo Title As Jankovic Defaults


img_0803At the Toray Pan Pacific Open final, a premier tournament, fans were anticipating a battle of attrition between world number 8 Jelena Jankovic and former world number one Maria Sharapova. However, spectators were disappointed because seven games into the match, Jankovic was forced to forfeit due to right arm/ wrist injury. As such, Sharapova prevailed 5-2 to claim her first title since April 2008.

Jankovic got off to a great start by converting double break point as Sharapova sliced a backhand long. Subsequently, Jelena consolidated to take a 2-0 lead. Then, after securing a difficult service game, Sharapova crushed a forehand down the line for a winner to earn a break point. Maria converted to level the set at 2 all. After Jankovic was unable to bank on a few break chances, Sharapova broke and built a 5-2 edge. Despite considerable wrist pain post treatment, Jankovic tried to serve at 2-5 but had to retire mid-game, thereby, giving Sharapova the championship.

After the match, Jankovic said that upon awakening she had some aching in the arm but went on to practice. The injury progressed whereby swelling migrated from her shoulder down to her wrist. Thus, Jelena cited that she could not get any power on her stroke and could barely feel the racket. Most of all, it pained Jankovic that the spectators were cheated out of a potentially great final.

With Dinara Safina, Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva and many top 10 women exiting in the early rounds, Jankovic was the highest ranked opponent that Sharapova faced all tournament. Prior to her injury, Sharapova had a lifetime record of 4-1 versus Jankovic. With her fourth Tokyo trophy, Maria will move up from 25 to 15 in the rankings.

In the doubles final, Ai Sugiyama and Daniela Hantuchova took on Francesca Schiavone and Alisa Kleybanova. Playing in front of her home crowd, Sugiyama was attempting to close out her career in style. Unfortunately, Hantuchova and she were defeated 4-6, 2-6. Still, Sugiyama retires with plenty to boast about including six singles and thirty eight doubles titles. Sugiyama also holds the record for most consecutive main draw matches played at a major, male or female. The 2009 US Open was her 62nd straight. Sugiyama collected three different doubles majors, the only one missing, the Australian Open where she was a finalist this year with her current partner.

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A Breakdown Of Week 1 At Sony 2009

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A Breakdown Of Week 1 At Sony 2009


img_0942Fittingly, as the Sony Ericsson Open turns twenty-five this year, the first week of competition has already provided tons of fireworks on the courts. Here are just a few of the most memorable occurrences.

The initial two days were taken up by the qualifying rounds. Despite receiving wildcard entries, former major champions Swede Thomas Johansson and Argentine Gaston Gaudio did not move on to the main draw. In addition, the Americans teenager Donald Young and veteran Vincent Spadea failed to advance. On the other hand, Taylor Dent, whose career has had fits and starts due to niggling injuries, progressed into the primary field along with Michael Russell, Amer Delic and thirty-something Jill Craybas.

As the action got underway for real on Thursday, Dent’s hot hand continued.  The American beat two top twenty players in the second and third rounds, Spaniards Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Robredo respectively.  In the round of 16, Dent will face Roger Federer; this will be their first encounter. Albeit the world number two has had multiple kinks in his game, Dent will need to pull off the performance of a lifetime in order to vanquish Federer. Surprisingly, the 14th seed Argentine David Nalbandian made a second round exit while James Blake, the 13th seed, was halted in the third round by Czech Thomas Berdych.

The sole top ten male to scent any whiff of difficulties in the third round was Frenchman Gael Monfils. The 9th seed clawed back from a double break deficit and saved two match points against Marat Safin, the 22nd seed and former major champion, before prevailing in a third set tiebreaker. Top seed Rafael Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Juan Martin Del Potro, Gilles Simon, Fernando Verdasco and Jo- Wilfried Tsonga are also into the second week.

Much of the ruckus appeared to be on the women’s side. The rain was not the only nuisance at Crandon Park on Sunday as a ragging storm decimated through the elite ten. Actually, the turbulence commenced Saturday evening with the last match of the day featuring world number three, Serb Jelena Jankovic. The usually steady Serb was ushered out by Argentine Gisela Dulko.  Jankovic’s game has been stagnating; for the second consecutive tournament, she has made a second round exit. After the euphoria of the previous night and the quick turnaround, Dulko lost the next afternoon in straight sets to Czech Iveta Besenova. Another Serb Ana Ivanovic, the world number 7, was also excused in the third round by gifted Hungarian youngster Agnes Szavay in three sets.

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Double Trouble: Bryan Brothers and Williams Sisters Come Out On Top In Australia


KnowlesIn the men’s doubles in Melbourne, the second seed, Mike and Bob Bryan, beat Mark Knowles and Mahesh Bhupathi, the third seed, 2-6, 7-5, 6-0 to win their third Australian Open title.

Knowles and Bhupathi dominated the first set, breaking at love to take a double break lead. Throughout the second set, Mark and Mahesh had multiple break chances, but failed to seize any, as the Bryans held firm. As Knowles served to send the set into a tiebreak, he double faulted and missed an easy volley to give the Bryans double set point. When Bhupathi tracked down a spectacular lob from his opponent and dumped the next stroke into the net, the Bryans equalized the match.

In the third set, the Bryans shifted to a higher gear. After holding serve, Mike and Bob had double break point and converted with a lob for a winner. On cruise control, the Bryans broke at love to secure the ultimate set and the championship. World number one, Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic were upset in the second round by Oliver Marach and Lukasz Kubot. That team then fell in the quarterfinals, ousted by Bhupathi and Knowles.

A day earlier, Venus and Serena Williams took the women’s doubles title by defeating Ai Sugiyama and Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-3. After trailing in the first set 3-0, the Williams’ won six consecutive games to seal the first set. The second set was very competitive with the teams trading breaks back and forth. Finally, in the eight game, the Williams’ captured the lead and never relinquished it. A holder of the other three major titles in doubles, Sugiyama was denied the completion of the career doubles slam. Sugiyama and Hantuchova, seeded ninth, knocked out the number one seed, Liezel Huber and Cara Black, in the quarterfinals. In a reversal of last year’s Wimbledon, the siblings took both titles. However, this time, it was Serena holding up the singles trophy. Moreover, Venus deserves a great deal of praise for sticking around and playing so well after losing in the second round in singles.

The mixed doubles winner has yet to be decided as Sania Mirza and Bhupathi will play against Nathalie Dechy and Andy Ram.

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Sugiyama Extends Record for Consecutive Major Appearances


Ai SugiyamaWhen Japan’s Ai Sugiyama stepped on the court at the 2009 Australian Open for her opening round match against Canada’s Stephanie Dubois,  she extended her record for most consecutive appearances at majors to a total of 59.  

At the 2008 Wimbledon tournament, Ai Sugiyama surpassed South Africa’s Wayne Ferreira who was the previous record holder at 56 appearances.  To put Sugiyama’s feat into perspective, her 59 appearances equates to almost 15 years without missing an Australian, French, Wimbledon, or US Open.  

Sugiyama’s best result at a major is her quarterfinal appearances at the 2000 Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2004.     

Sugiyama was knocked out in the 3rd round of this year’s Australian open by Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 6-4.

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A Round Up of the First Week At Sony Ericsson Open 2008 (Part II)


Ai Sugiyama The third round of the Sony Ericsson Open,which began on Sunday, was memorable not just for the results but also for the intense heat. This forced the players to take advantage of an optional 10-minute interlude prior to the start of a third set. American Ashley Harkleroad had a tough time with Miami’s extreme temperature. During the match, she was constantly seeking the shade between points and went to the side of the court to bend. It is uncertain whether she was suffering from cramps. Nevertheless, Harkleroad was a trooper, pushing the match to a third set after being down a break in the second, but Elena Vesnina prevailed (4-6, 7-5, 4-6). For Amelie Mauresmo seeded 24, her greatest liability was not the heat, but rather her mental fragility. While serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, the 2006 Australian and Wimbledon champion was broken and went on to lose the set. Prolonging her agony into a third with a seesaw of breaks, Mauresmo was serving to level the set at 5 all. After being up 30-0, Mauresmo produced a combination of double faults and unforced errors handing her opponent, Jie Zheng of China, the past to the next round (7-5, 4-, 4-6). A duplicate story unfolded on the adjacent court with Ai Sugiyama of Japan and Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia with the variation being the latter having to push the match to a third set by winning a difficult second set tiebreak. After squandering a two break lead in the decisive set, in the 12th game, Hantuchova down 0-40 due to double faults and errors, inched back to 30-40 but hit the subsequent rally into the net to end the match.

An unforeseen occurrence was the ease with which multiple major holder, Lindsay Davenport seeded 32, disposed of the world’s second ranked player and last week Pacific Life Open champion Ana Ivanovic (6-4, 6-2). Also, Anna Chakvetadze, seeded 5, was pummeled by German wildcard Sabine Lisicki (5-7, 1-6). A third round marquee match on the men’s side featured James Blake against Fabrice Santoro who is always a tricky opponent. Santoro, the magician as he has been nicknamed, despite all his tricks, could not conjure up an illusion to conquer Blake’s powerful forehand. Although he required three sets, Blake was able to move on (6-3, 6-7,6-4). Rafael Nadal, Blake’s potential rival in the quarterfinals, waited out a rain delay mid match before finishing off Nicolas Keifer (6-2,6-4). Of note, although former French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten (Guga) was ousted in the first round, he and partner Nicolas Lapenti are in the second round of the men’s doubles. This may be the last chance to see Guga in action, he is retiring. The doubles number one seed on both the women’s and men’s side, respectively, Huber/Black and the Bryan Brothers, are through after their first round wins.

In the next few days, some exciting competition will be on tap with the projected clash between Henin and Serena in the quarterfinals and a semifinal collision between either Serena and Venus or Venus and Henin. Both Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova have had their share of rough patches, but they are still alive, therefore, contenders. With Davenport doing so well, she may be heading for a showdown with either Henin or the Williams sisters in the finals; that would be a treat indeed. On the men’s side, Roger Federer is on course to crash with Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals. Skipping a few days ahead, Nadal and Federer may possibly meet in the finals. With the latter two hungry for their first titles in 2008, the excitement is palpable. I can’t wait for next week to start.

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