First-Time Winner Spotlight: Yuichi Sugita
The wait is finally over for 28-year-old Yuichi Sugita, who lifted his first ATP World Tour trophy on Saturday at the Antalya Open. He defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 7-6(4), prevailing after one hour and 29 minutes.
"I'm really happy to be the first champion in Antalya," Sugita said during the trophy presentation. "This is the most emotional moment of my career. I've won many Futures and Challenger titles, but never at a big tournament like this. It's just amazing. I can't believe it."
Sugita is the fourth first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this year, joining Sydney winner Gilles Muller, Memphis champ Ryan Harrison and Marrakech titlist Borna Coric. He is also just the third Japanese player to ever win on the circuit, alongside Shuzo Matsuoka and Kei Nishikori.
ATPWorldTour.com spoke to Sugita after his victory:
You are the third Japanese player to win an ATP World Tour title. What does this accomplishment mean to you?
Before the final, I heard that if I win the tournament, I will be the third Japanese player to win on the ATP World Tour. This was amazing. I made my first semi-final here, then the final and the title. I just played my best tennis and I'm really proud of the way I played today.
You are now in the Top 50 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Do you have any new ranking goals for the rest of the year?
I'm going to try to be seeded for the Grand Slams (Top 32). I need to do a little bit more, but I feel I can do it now. I really want to try that.
Is there a player that you looked up to and admired when you were growing up?
Roger Federer. I played him last week (at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle) and it was a great experience. Maybe that's why I played so well this week.
Is grass your favourite surface?
Yes it is. My first time qualifying for a Grand Slam was at Wimbledon (in 2014) and now I won my first title on grass. I played really well the whole week.
How did you play through the hot conditions this week?
In Japan, it's very humid in the summer like it is here. I have an advantage for these conditions. I still had to play against very high level players, so I needed to be fit.