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Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Sugiyama, Halard-Decugis fall in doubles final

LONDON (Kyodo) It was a case of double trouble for Japan's Ai Sugiyama and French partner Julie Halard-Decugis on Monday as the No. 4 seeds were pummeled 6-3, 6-2 by American sisters Venus and Serena Williams in the women's doubles final at Wimbledon.

The Williams duo, which entered the doubles as a wild card and were seeded No. 8, committed a number of unforced errors in the first set, with Venus -- the newly crowned singles champ -- dropping her first two service games in front of a capacity Centre Court crowd.

Despite some inspired play from Halard-Decugis, however, the Williams sisters had the edge in power and did just enough to take the first set before running away with the second. Serena duly closed out the match with an ace on their first championship point.

Sugiyama, who lost to Venus in the second round of the singles, made a shaky start in her debut on the All England Club's show court, but refused to back down at the net, even when the Americans blasted shots straight at the body.

Chasing her second grand slam title and first since last season's U.S. Open mixed, Sugiyama missed the chance to become the first Japanese player to win a women's grand slam doubles crown since Kazuko Sawamatsu won at Wimbledon with American Anne Kiyomura in 1975.

"It was great to play on center court -- the atmosphere was fabulous. After the break in the first game, I thought things would go our way, but they had too much power," Sugiyama said after the 70-minute match, pushed back 24 hours after heavy rain Sunday.

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