Tue, Oct 03, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Japan's Morigami sends Maria Kirilenko reeling

LOCAL HERO The 83rd-ranked Japanese player upset her third-seeded Russian opponent, while Taiwan's Wang Yeu-tzuoo defeated the US' Kevin Kim 6-3, 6-1

AFP , TOKYO

Simon Greul of Germany strikes a backhand to Takao Suzuki of Japan during their first-round match at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo yesterday.

PHOTO: EPA

Maria Kirilenko of Russia became the first seed to fall when she lost to local hope Akiko Morigami in a final-set tie-breaker at the Japan Open tennis tournament yesterday.

The third seed, who also crashed out of the Korean Open first round a week ago, lost 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) to the 83rd-ranked Japanese in the women's first round.

The 19-year-old Russian took a break to lead 5-4 in the final set, but she committed two double faults to give Morigami the chance to get back into the match before fading out in the tie-breaker.

"I rushed too much in the first set, trying to attack Maria's forehand. From the second set, I tried to wait for a chance by keeping a rally. I lost my service game first in the third set, but I just tried to hang in there," Morigami said.

"I was able to hit my first serves in and won important points. That's a proof that I've improved a lot this season," the 25-year-old Japanese added.

Earlier in the day, Morigami's compatriot Takao Suzuki made it a Japanese day by returning to the tour on a winning note after almost a year off due to a left shoulder injury.

The Japanese wild-card entrant, playing in a main draw for the first time this year, pulled off two breaks in both sets to score a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Simon Greul of Germany in the men's singles first round.

Suzuki has played only in the qualifying rounds in Adelaide and the Australian Open in January and as a challenger in Busan in May this year, seeing his ranking plummet to 1,069th.

The victory earned the Japanese No. 1 a place against Asia's No. 1, eighth seed Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, who received a first-round bye with other 15 seeds led by world number one Roger Federer of Switzerland.

Former Japan Open champions Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark and Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic both needed to work hard before clearing the first hurdle.

The 2002 champion Carlsen outclassed Japan's Goichi Motomura 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-2, while the 2004 champion Novak defeated his compatriot Robin Vik 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

In other first-round action, Taiwan's Wang Yeu-tzuoo (王宇佐) breezed past the US' Kevin Kim 6-3, 6-1, Edgardo Massa of Argentina downed Konstantinos Economidis of Greece 6-1, 6-3, and Kristian Pless of Denmark defeated Rik De Voest of South Africa 6-3, 6-4.

Russian teenager Anna Chakvetadze cruised past Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-1, 6-4 in the Guangzhou Open for her first WTA singles title on Sunday.

Third-seeded Chakvetadze improved her record against fourth-seeded Medina Garrigues to 4-0, all in straight sets.

"I knew I had to be really aggressive today, and it worked," 19-year-old Chakvetadze said.

Chakvetadze earned her first finals appearance after top-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia retired with heat illness in Saturday's semi-finals.

Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine claimed her first WTA Tour title when she swept past fifth-seeded Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-2 at the Fortis Championships on Sunday.

Unseeded Bondarenko broke the Italian five times.

On Saturday, she saved a match point against Czech Kveta Peschke in the semi-finals.

Her only other final was in February last year at Hyderabad.

"I didn't think about how it was a final, and that I could win or lose -- I just played, and concentrated on every point," the 62nd-ranked Bondarenko said.

Schiavone, coming off helping Italy win its first Fed Cup title, remained winless in eight tour finals.

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