Morita fights through pain to reach second round


A trio of local favorites advanced to the second round of the Pan Pacific Open on Monday with Ayumi Morita battling through an injury in a straight-sets victory over Britain’s Laura Robson.

Morita, who hurt her lower back on the eve of this summer’s U.S. Open, returned to action with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 victory. Ageless veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm and wildcard Misaki Doi also advanced to the second round.

Morita was uncertain until the last minute whether she would even be able to play.

“I was conflicted and didn’t know if I would make it until I finished my warm-ups,” the 23-year-old said. “It’s Japan, so I really want to play, but at the same time, I don’t want to go out there and not be competitive in front of the fans here.

“I couldn’t imagine I could win. I just tried to hit the shots I could and pass on the ones I had no chance to get. By simplifying things and being economical, somehow I could get through.”

The first set was a scrappy affair in which Morita broke her left-handed opponent in the first game. It became a battle of attrition from the sixth game, when Morita had to scrape and scrap to hold serve and remained that way until Robson handed the local favorite the tiebreak on two straight backhand errors.

The second set, however, held little drama. While Robson served, Morita’s constant shifting in anticipation appeared to throw the Briton off her service game. Morita broke easily to go up 2-0 and both players held serve the rest of the way with Robson ending the match by hitting a backhand long.

Her second-round opponent will be sixth-seeded Serb Jelena Jankovic, provided Morita is up to it.

“I started taking painkillers yesterday and was taped up, so I could serve today without worrying about it,” she said. “Right now, I’ve just played and I’m still on painkillers, so I don’t know how I’ll feel before my next match or my next tournament in China.”

Date-Krumm defeated Australian qualifier Anastasia Rodionova, who retired in the second set with Date-Krumm leading 6-2, 4-1.

“Today, my body felt as heavy as it’s been in a while,” said Date-Krumm, who reached the quarterfinals last week in Seoul, and felt sluggish with the cooler temperatures here.

“I caught a bit of a break and was able to conserve a little energy.”

Next up for the 42-year-old is 12th-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur.

Wildcard Doi rebounded from a set down to defeat Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 6-7 (3-7), 6-0, 7-5 to earn a second-round match with 15th seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

Risa Ozaki, the other Japanese player in action, fell to China’s Shuai Peng 6-2, 6-1.

In other first-round matches, 11th seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia dispatched Germany’s Annika Beck 6-1, 6-1, while American Madison Keys upset 10th-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.

Italy’s Roberta Vinci, a quarterfinalist at the past two U.S. Opens and the eighth seed here, was upset in her second-round debut by Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-4 as the top seeds began taking the court.

In other second-round matches, Angelique Kerber of Germany, the fifth seed, defeated qualifier Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor of Spain 6-0, 6-1, while seventh seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic also advanced to the third round with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Swiss wildcard Belinda Bencic.