August 29, 2007 / 7:43 PM / 12 years ago

Japanese veteran Sugiyama loses to Russian teenager

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Japan lost its final player in the women’s draw at the U.S. Open on Wednesday when veteran Ai Sugiyama was defeated in three sets by Russian teenager Ekaterina Makarova.

Ai Sugiyama of Japan wipes her face during her match against Ekaterina Makarova of Russia at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York August 29, 2007. Sugiyama lost the match. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Sugiyama, 30, landed only 56 percent of her first serves and came up short on many of the big points during a 6-4 4-6 6-2 loss at the National Tennis Center.

“I had never seen her play so it was hard to get into the match,” the 28th-seeded Sugiyama told reporters after the second-round contest.

“Instead of attacking, I was waiting for the ball to see what she was going to do. I should have focused on myself a little bit more.”

Makarova, a qualifier ranked 156th, won the first set by blasting four aces and landing 82 percent of her first serves. But Sugiyama recovered in the next by converting both of her second-set break-point opportunities.

Fourteen unforced errors in the final set doomed Sugiyama, who had previously reached the fourth round twice during her 13 years at Flushing Meadows.

“The third set didn’t go my way at all,” said a disconsolate Sugiyama. “She kept the ball in and I had a lot of mistakes. It was not a great match.”

Sugiyama said Makarova, despite her 44 unforced errors, “served good on the crucial points”.

“I had a lot of makable shots but I missed by just this much,” Sugiyama added, holding her thumb and forefinger fractionally apart. “Things just didn’t go my way and I never got my rhythm. I didn’t attack and I didn’t move her around.

“The score was pretty close but today was not my day for sure.”

Left-hander Makarova was delighted to reach the third round in her first grand slam appearance.

“I’m in a good form now,” the 18-year-old said. “We had really good points. But maybe I was just a little luckier.”

Sugiyama would not say if she planned to retire in the off-season.

“I can’t even think about it yet,” she said. “I’ll have to see how the season goes. Then I’ll think about next year.”

Japan’s two other women in the main draw, Aiko Nakamura and Akiko Morigami, both lost in the first round.

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