• Kyodo


Ai Sugiyama lost to her Swedish opponent in the day’s first Fed Cup singles match on Sunday, but Shinobu Asagoe prevailed for Japan’s third victory in the World Group playoff against Sweden.

Asagoe’s 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) win against Hanna Nooni at Gifu Memorial Center secured a berth in next year’s Fed Cup for Japan, where it will be making its first appearance in the World Group of the 16-nation women’s competition since 2001.

Earlier, Sugiyama, now ranked 11th in the world, fell to world No. 137 Sofia Arvidsson 7-5, 6-1.

Japan, managed by Takeshi Koura and representing the Asia-Oceania zone, concluded the two-day tournament with a 4-1 record after the tandem pair of Akiko Morigami and Saori Obata defeated Arvidsson and Nooni 6-3, 6-2 in the afternoon doubles match.

U.S. leads Italy 2-0

LONDON (AP) Meghann Shaughnessy and Chanda Rubin gave the star-depleted United States a 2-0 lead over Italy in the Fed Cup quarterfinals Saturday, while Belgium, France and Russia also won both of their singles matches.

Belgium got wins from Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters to take the first two matches over defending champion Slovakia; France leads last year’s finalist Spain on clay; and Russia took two against Slovenia.

In Washington, Shaughnessy overcame a near collapse in the second set, blowing a 5-1 lead and five match points before beating Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-4.

In the second match, Rubin topped Rita Grande 6-3, 6-3.

Rubin, ranked No. 8, and 18th-ranked Shaughnessy are the headline players on a United States team missing its top stars.

Venus and Serena Williams, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati are not playing in the tie.

Italy is without its top player, Silvia Farina Elia, who has a foot injury.

The winner plays the Belgium-Slovakia winner in the semifinals in November.

In Charleroi, Belgium, French Open champion Henin-Hardenne beat Janette Husarova 7-5, 6-4 before Clijsters defeated Lubomira Kurhajcova 6-3, 6-1.

The tie brought together the Fed Cup champions for the past two years. Belgium won its first title in 2001 with the Slovaks doing the same in 2002.

Slovakia was without its top-ranked player, world No. 9 Daniela Hantuchova, who has decided to limit her Fed Cup participation to concentrate on her individual career.

In Oviedo, Spain, Amelie Mauresmo staked France to a 2-0 lead over five-time Fed Cup champion Spain.

Spain, a finalist last year, was playing for only the second time in nearly a generation without either of its veterans, Conchita Martinez, who is sitting this tie out, and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who retired from tennis last November.

The mismatch was evident as Mauresmo dominated Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, beating her 6-3, 6-3.

Teammate Nathalie Dechy got off to a sluggish start against Magui Serna but eventually found her stride with a good offensive game. Dechy won 6-3, 6-4.

In Portoroz, Slovenia, Russia took the lead over Slovenia with wins by Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva.

Myskina beat Maja Matevzic 6-4, 6-1 on the outdoor clay. Dementieva defeated Katarina Srebotnik 6-1, 6-3.

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