Ai Sugiyama of Japan, 34, is planning to retire after the Toray Pan Pacific Open, which will leave Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova without a doubles partner.
Hantuchova addresses the issue in her Seoul blog:
We’re playing our last tournament together in Tokyo. It’s really sad, but I’m really glad I’ll be a part of her last tournament. Ai has given me so many wonderful memories on the court, and we’re great friends, so it’s going to be tough to see her go. She’s such a great fighter and a great person. The tennis world will miss her, for sure I will. It won’t be easy to find another one like her. Next year I may play some doubles here and there but I’m really going to try focusing on my singles. One of the reasons I was playing doubles so much was because Ai was one of my best friends, and we were having so much fun.
The on-again, off-again partnership between Sugiyama and Hantuchova has brought them three Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles and two Grand Slam finals. Their pairing is interesting as Sugiyama is almost eight years older than Hantuchova and seven inches smaller. (source: Women Who Serve, photo: Ralf Reinecke)