Spain’s Gemma Mengual and Paola Tirados took the lead over Japanese duo Emiko Suzuki and Saho Harada in the duet Saturday at the opening of the synchronized swimming Japan Open, which is also the national championships.

Mengual and Tirados, who finished fourth at last summer’s Athens Olympics, outclassed the field in both technical elements and artistry and earned 47.750 points after the technical routine, 0.416 ahead of the Japanese pair at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center.

Suzuki and Harada are members of the Japanese team that won silver in the team event in Athens and are considered heir apparent to Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda, who announced their retirement after winning back-to-back Olympic silver medals in Sydney and Athens.

In the solo competition, 2003 world champion Virginie Dedieu of France led after the technical routine with a dominating performance that earned her 49.167 points, more than two points ahead of second-place Suzuki.

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