• Kyodo

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Japan’s Ai Sugiyama produced another gritty performance as she came from behind to beat Russian No. 2 seed Nadia Petrova in the final of the Australian Women’s Hardcourt Championship on Saturday.

News photoAi Sugiyama shows off her trophy Saturday after winning the
Australian Women’s Hardcourt Championship. Sugiyama beat
Russia’s Nadia Petrova 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the final.

Top-seeded Sugiyama, who made hard work of seeing off Australian wild card Samantha Stosur in Friday’s semifinals, dropped the first set 6-1 but regrouped to take the next two sets 6-1, 6-4 to claim her second victory at this event following her 1998 triumph.

“I just kept my concentration. I don’t know how it happened but I am so happy,” said Sugiyama who beat Petrova in her last victory on the WTA tour in Linz, Austria last October.

“My movement wasn’t there. It’s just a mental thing. I never gave up and I just played every single point and tried to be aggressive,” she added.

It was Sugiyama’s sixth singles title on the tour.

“There is still a week (before the Australian Open) and I want play even better tennis (in Melbourne),” said Sugiyama, who was knocked out of the Australian Open in the second round last year.

The 28-year-old, who broke into the world’s top 10 for the first time at the end of last year, needs one more win to equal the Japanese record of seven wins on the WTA tour set by Kimiko Date.

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