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Sixth-seeded Silvia Farina Elia of Italy overpowered France’s Mary Pierce on Tuesday in the first round of the $1.3 million Toray Pan Pacific tennis tournament.

News photoAi Sugiyama returns a backhand to Italy’s Rita Grande during their first-round singles match at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Sugiyama won 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

Pierce, who entered the tournament as a wild card, took the opening set at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium but looked sluggish the rest of the way as Farina Elia came back for the 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory.

“In the past I’ve always lost to Mary very easily,” said Farina Elia. “But today I was focused and determined to win because she’s a former Grand Slam champion.”

Farina Elia broke Pierce to go up 4-0 in the second set and then never looked back, breaking the former World No. 3 three times in the final set to complete the match in 1 hour, 26 minutes.

“Today was just not my day,” said Pierce. “I played well in the first set but made too many unforced errors in the second and third sets and Silvia played very well.”

Earlier, eighth-seeded Elena Dementieva of Russia cruised to a 7-5, 6-2 victory over American Megan Shaugnessy.

In other first-round matches, Stephanie Cohen Aloro of France defeated Russia’s Tatiana Panova 6-0, 6-3; Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand downed Argentina’s Clarisa Fernandez 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia defeated South Africa’s Amanda Coetzer 6-4, 7-5.

American Monica Seles, the tournament’s top-seeded player, will face Japan’s Ai Sugiyama on Wednesday. Sugiyama defeated Italy’s Rita Grande 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 on Tuesday.

“I played well in the first set,” said Sugiyama. “It’s tough coming from mid-summer in Australia to mid-winter in Tokyo but that’s the same for all the players. Tomorrow will be a tough match but I’m looking forward to it.”

Lindsay Davenport, who lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open, is the tournament’s No. 3 seed and will be looking for her third title at the Toray Pan Pacific. She also won this tournament in 1998 and 2001.

Davenport will play her first singles match on Thursday.

The Toray is Asia’s only top-tier tournament but many big names have been forced to sit out due to injury.

Defending champion Martina Hingis pulled out due to a slow recovery from her injured left ankle, American Jennifer Capriati is recovering from eye surgery and Russia’s Anna Kournikova pulled out after suffering back spasms at the Australian Open.

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