Fifth-seed Ai Sugiyama advanced to the women’s singles second round with a straight sets win over Alina Jidkova on a day of contrasting fortunes for Japanese players at the Japan Open on Tuesday.

News photoAiko Nakamura hits a backhand during her second-round victory over Mashona Washington of the
United States at the Japan Open on Tuesday at Ariake Tennis Forest Park in Tokyo’s Odaiba.
Nakamura won 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 6-1.

Two-time champion Sugiyama won 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) while 15-year-old Ayumi Morita put up a brave fight before going down 6-4, 6-4 to fourth-seeded Maria Kirilenko in her debut in the main draw of a WTA tour event.

Aiko Nakamura also joined Sugiyama in the second round with a 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 6-1 win over American Mashona Washington.

World No. 31 Sugiyama, who is seeking her first singles title of the season, won the first three games and never looked troubled in the first set at Ariake Tennis Forest Park.

But cruising at 5-1 in the second set the 30-year-old squandered point after point and allowed the 71st-ranked Jidkova to force a tie-break before finally closing out the 76-minute match with a well-placed volley.

“I completely lost my rhythm after missing that smash,” said Sugiyama, referring to a routine shot she hit into the net at match point in the eighth game of the second set.

“It wasn’t until I actually shook my opponent’s hand that I felt I had won the match.”

Morita produced an impressive display in an entertaining opening match on center court before succumbing to Kirilenko.

“I lost the match but gained the confidence to know that I can compete at this level,” said Morita, winner of last year’s All Japan Junior Under-18 tournament.

“I watched one of her (Kirilenko’s) matches at the U.S. Open and saw a little of what I could expect, so I wasn’t really surprised with how she played today.”

Kirilenko, who won her first WTA tour title two weeks ago in China, was impressed with the way Morita acquitted herself and predicted a bright future for the Gunma native.

Elsewhere, top-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva ousted Catalina Castano of Colombia 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), while eighth-seeded Indian Sania Mirza progressed with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Puerto Rican Vilmarie Castellvi 6-3, 6-1.

In the men’s draw, Takahiro Terachi won his first-round match 6-3, 7-6 (7-1) over German Philipp Kohlschreiber, but Go Soeda was overpowered by 2003 Japan Open winner Rainer Schuettler 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

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