Sat, Mar 10, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Elena Likhovtseva sees off Morigami in Indian Wells


Elena Likhovteva returns a shot to Akiko Morigami during first round play at the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, on Thursday.


Elena Likhovtseva continued her mastery over Japanese opponents by beating Akiko Morigami 6-3, 6-2 in a first round match at the ATP/WTA Pacific Life Open tournament on Thursday.

The 31-year-old Russian improved to 3-0 lifetime against Morigami by firing four aces in the one hour, 26 minutes match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden courts.

Likhovtseva also holds a 6-4 lifetime winning record over 15th seeded Ai Sugiyama, dating back to their first match in 1996.

The Russian and Sugiyama are in the same quarter of the 96-player women's draw but the odds of them meeting are remote as Likhovtseva would have to get past second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova first.

The only other Japanese player in the draw, Aiko Nakamura, has never faced Likhovtseva.

Likhovtseva, who is ranked 54th in the world, has won three career WTA singles titles but has had more success in mixed doubles.

Earlier this year she captured her second career mixed doubles Grand Slam crown, winning the Australian Open with partner Daniel Nestor, of Canada. She also won the 2002 Wimbledon mixed doubles championship.

In other women's first round matches on Thursday, Romina Oprandi, of Italy, booked a second round date with former US Open champion Kuznetsova by beating Lilia Osterloh of the US 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

American Vania King needed two and a half hours to defeat Kateryna Bondarenko of the Ukraine 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

King won the match despite having more double faults (6-4) and less aces (0-2) than Bondarenko.

In other matches on Thursday, China's Yuan Meng rallied to beat Virginie Razzano of France 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, Czech Iveta Benesova outlasted Russian Ekaterina Bychkova 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) and American Laura Granville rebounded to beat Camille Pin of France 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-1.

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