Double trouble for Sugiyama as Daniela sends her packing

27 Jun 2009 by Hiland in Wimbledon 2009

daniela-hantuchovaDaniela Hantuchova set up a last-16 clash with Serena Williams by beating her doubles partner Ai Sugiyama 6-4 6-3 in the third round on Friday.

Hantuchova is ranked number 32 in the world but is a former top five player and looks to be on her way back up the WTA rankings as she dispatched her counterpart in just 1 hour 36 minutes on Court 18.

The Slovak’s reward is a difficult 4th round tie against two-time Wimbledon Queen Serena Williams who earlier in the day brushed aside Roberta Vinci in two untroubled straight sets.

Sugiyama and Hantuchova, who have won three doubles titles together, resume their partnership when the sixth seeds face Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova and Ekaterina Makarova in the second round of the women’s doubles tournament.

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The Japanese world number 38 will surely hold no hard feelings over the loss as she was well and truly outclassed by the rejuvenated Slovakian.

Despite the seemingly coasted victory, Hantuchova had her work cut out early in the first set as Sugiyama broke her serve in the very first game and led 40-0 in the eighth game as she looked to be edging towards the first set.

However, the 26-year-old Slovak showed just why she has caught the punter’s eyes again in this tournament as she overturned the 40-0 deficit to break back and even out the contest.

That break proved to be the turning point of the match as Hantuchova, galvanised by the four straight points which saved the set, upped her game to take full control by holding serve and then breaking her opponent to take the first set 6-4.

It only took until only the second game for the first break of the second set as The Slovak frustrated her opponent into gifting the breakthrough. However, the gift was short last as the 33-year-old Japanese number one bit back immediately with a break of her own before holding serve to take the second set score to 2-2.

Hantuchova then began to dominate proceedings as she edged two games in front once more by holding serve and following that up with another break, restoring her two-game advantage.

At 4-2 up, the Slovak held serve once more despite being pegged back to deuce which left Sugiyama serving to stay in the match, which she managed to her credit.

At 5-3 Hantuchova was the overwhelming favourite at this stage and although her Japanese opponent took her to deuce yet again, she was unable to cope with the Slovak’s improving serve and lost the match point with a wild return of serve.

The pair’s head to head record now reads 6-5 in favour of the 33-year-old Japanese veteran who had won the previous two meetings between the pair. Given Sugiyama’s unfavourable age, this may yet be the final meeting between the two.

Given Hantuchova’s next opponent is world number 2, yet self proclaimed number one, her odds of winning the tournament still give her little chance at around 100/1. She will no doubt prove to be Serena’s toughest opponent so far at Wimbledon, but whether the pretty Slovak has the power to overturn the American is a different matter.

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