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TENNIS

Sugiyama-Huber doubles team advances

Kyodo

Japan’s Ai Sugiyama and Liezel Huber of South Africa beat the American duo of Jessica Lehnhoff and Bethanie Mattek 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the third round of the women’s doubles at the Wimbledon Championships on Sunday.

The fifth-seeded pair of Sugiyama, who is out to defend the title she won with Belgian partner Kim Clijsters last year, and Huber dropped both of Huber’s service games in the first and second sets and failed to convert chances at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

But Sugiyama stood up to the pressure and came back strong with speedy ground strokes and volleys, leading the Australian Open semifinalists to a come-from-behind, straight-sets victory.

Asagoe, Obata picked

Shinobu Asagoe and Saori Obata are among four players selected to represent Japan in a World Group playoff against Bulgaria for the 2004 Fed Cup, the Japan Tennis Association said Monday.

Yuka Yoshida and Rika Fujiwara were also chosen to take part in the July 10-11 women’s competition while Ai Sugiyama, who played on the Japan squad against Argentina in April this year, has opted out of the competition as she prepares for this summer’s Athens Olympics.

Akiko Morigami, who is suffering from an injured wrist, will also sit out the two-day event on the outdoor clay surface at TC Locomotiv stadium in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city.

Asagoe and Obata are scheduled to play reverse-singles matches as Japan faces Bulgaria for the first time.