Japan’s Shinobu Asagoe crashed out of the women’s singles competition after being condemned to a first-round defeat by nemesis Tamarine Tanasugarn at the Japan Open on Tuesday.
With Japan’s top player Ai Sugiyama absent, world No. 43 and third-seed Asagoe came into the $860,000 tournament in Tokyo with an outside chance of the title after reaching the last eight of last month’s U.S. Open for the first time.
But it all went horribly wrong as her 76th-ranked Thai opponent quickly took control of the match and cruised into the second round in a little over an hour with a comfortable 6-0, 6-4 win on center court at Tokyo’s Ariake Colleseum.
A tearful Asagoe made no excuses after suffering her fifth straight defeat to Tamarine and admitted she was disappointed not to have been able to show home fans the form she produced at Flushing Meadows.
“I couldn’t take any of the chances that came my way,” shrugged Asagoe.
“I really wanted to show everyone how much I’ve come along. Many fans came to see how well the Asagoe who reached the last eight of the U.S. Open would play but I couldn’t respond,” she said.
It was not all bad news for the host nation though as Akiko Morigami had little trouble in overpowering Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik in straight sets 7-5, 6-0 to ensure her passage into the second round for the third year in a row.
“I attacked well today and am really pleased with my overall performance,” said Morigami, who will be aiming to make it into the third round for the first time since 2002.
“I think if I played the same way I did today in the next round I’ll be in with a chance,” she added.
Also in the women’s first round, up-and-coming Aiko Nakamura made an early exit in her first Japan Open appearance after a 6-3, 7-5 defeat at the hands of Samantha Stosur of Australia.
In the men’s singles first round, Japan’s Goichi Motomura ousted Glenn Weiner of the United States 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt.