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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 January, 2004, 16:01 GMT
8 Ai Sugiyama
Ai Sugiyama
Born: 5/7/75
Nationality: Japanese
Seeded: 8
World ranking: 9
Australian Open best:
Quarter-final (2000)
Recent record:
2003: 2nd round
2002: 3rd round
2001: 1st round
Sugiyama enjoyed the best year of her career in 2003, finding a new level in singles that brought her some notable scalps.

After five years without a title the 28-year-old ended the drought in spectacular style at Scottsdale in February.

She saw off Lindsay Davenport on her way to the final, where her doubles partner and soon to be world number one Kim Clijsters was beaten in three sets.

That gave Sugiyama the confidence boost she needed and, despite being at her best on hardcourts, she went on to reach the semi-finals on clay in Rome and the last 16 at the French Open.

It was the same story at Wimbledon and the US Open, where Sugiyama improved on her past performances by making the fourth round.

A magnificent year finished with another title in Linz and a place in the end-of-season Tour Championships, and Sugiyama arrives in Australia more confident than ever.

Melbourne was the scene of her best Grand Slam effort - a quarter-final in 2000 - but she looks ready to improve on a relatively poor record.



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