• Kyodo


Japan’s Ai Sugiyama and Belgian partner Kim Clijsters beat top-seeded Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain and Paola Suarez of Argentina 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 9-7 to win the women’s doubles at the French Open on Sunday.

It was the 27-year-old Sugiyama’s second career Grand Slam victory since winning the doubles title at the U.S. Open in 2000 with Julie Halard-Decugis of France.

“It gives me a lot of confidence that we were able to beat the No. 1 doubles pair on a clay court where they excel. I think we were able to win since we were full of determination,” said Sugiyama, who also won a Grand Slam title in mixed doubles at the 1999 U.S. Open.

In the first set, Sugiyama and Clijsters staked a 4-1 lead but their veteran opponents rallied back to prevail in a tiebreaker. The second-seeded pair took a 5-3 advantage in the final set but needed a service break to close out the match in the 17th game.

Sugiyama and Clijsters advanced to the final by beating Zimbabwe’s Cara Black and Russia’s Elena Likhovtseva on Friday.

“I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my tennis career and right now I think I’m playing at the top of my game,” said Sugiyama, who made it as far as the fourth round in the women’s singles competition.

After the completion of the French Open, Sugiyama rose from 15th to 12th for a personal best in the WTA singles rankings and is now ranked third highest for doubles.

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