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It was a mixed day for Japan’s top players at the Japan Open in Ariake, Tokyo on Wednesday. In the men’s draw, Takeo Suzuki advanced to the last 16, beating South Africa’s Wayne Moodie 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) on the back of 12 aces while Gouichi Motomura went down 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) to Dane Kenneth Carlesen.

News photoJapan’s Takao Suzuki serves to opponent Weslie Moodie of South Africa during second-round match at the Japan Open tennis tournament at Tokyo’s Ariake Tennis Forest Park.

There was a battle of epic proportions in the women’s event, when top seed Ai Sugiyama was taken to a third-set tiebreaker by unheralded compatriot Yuka Yoshida, ranked a lowly 152 in the world. Sugiyama eventually prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-0) but not before Yoshida had given her a few scares.

After racing away with the first set, Sugiyama suddenly found herself under pressure as Yoshida refused to be overawed and fought back to take the second set.

Sugiyama once again took control and led 4-2 and 5-3 before blowing three match points at 5-4. As the match entered a decisive tiebreaker, Sugiyama called for a trainer, apparently having hurt a finger on her left hand. The delay seemed to put Yoshida out of her stride and Sugiyama duly swept the tiebreaker 7-0 to advance to the next round.

Japan’s hope in the men’s event, Suzuki breezed through the first set, breaking his opponent twice to take it 6-1. The second set quickly developed into a serving contest with neither player able to string together any returns of significance and the set torpedoed toward an inevitable tiebreaker.

With the vocal home crowd urging him on, pint-sized Suzuki held his nerve scoring two mini-breaks on backhand errors by Moodie to take the set and the match and book a round-of-16 clash with Thai ace Paradorn Srichaphan who beat Belgian veteran Dick Norman 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2).

“The match went so quickly,” said Suzuki, who the day before announced that he was engaged to be married. “I didn’t have time to think about my game. I felt that my serve was crucial today. I served very well.”

There were no problems for second seed Sebastien Grosjean who disposed of Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 7-6 (10-8) and No. 3 Jiri Novak who downed Bjorn Phau 7-6 (7-2), 6-2.

Fifth-seeded Australian Mark Philippoussis played a night match against Federico Browne, advancing with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over the unseeded Argentine.

In other women’s results, fourth-seeded Shinobu Asagoe was upset by world No. 86 Arantxa Parra of Spain, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 and Reiko Fujiwara put up a fight but in the end was no match for defending champion Jill Craybus, losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

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