MELBOURNE, Australia – Ai Sugiyama came from behind to book her place in the third round of the women’s singles with a hard-fought win over Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
No. 26 seed Sugiyama was all at sea in the first set but hit her stride in the second before digging deep to win 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the 1-hour, 52-minute contest at Melbourne Park.
“I was run around all over the place in the first set but was able to find my rhythm after keeping the first game of the second,” said Sugiyama.
“After that it was just a case of focusing on doing what I needed to get done.”
Sugiyama extended the all-time record for most consecutive Grand Slam appearances to 59 events on Monday and the 33-year-old says she has no plans to hang up her racket anytime soon.
“I feel comfortable on the tour and I don’t think there is any other place for me to be.”
Sugiyama, the only Japanese left in singles competition, faces a much sterner test in the next round when she comes up against Serbia’s world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.
In women’s doubles action Japan’s Ayumi Morita and German partner Martina Muller advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) win over Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova.