Sugiyama, Molik Win, Safarova Upset at WTA Tokyo

Posted on October 5, 2006

TOKYO, Japan -- After 14 years on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Ai Sugiyama now enjoys tennis more than ever. The 31-year-old Japanese, who won her first round match at the AIG Japan Open on Wednesday, is vying for a third title here in her home event at Ariake Coliseum.

"I really enjoyed the crowd today," Sugiyama said. "They were so enthusiastic and it makes me feel good to have such great support from my home fans. I've had some great years in tennis, but last year was not so great. My motivation was down a bit. Now I'm enjoying my tennis more than in my whole career. I really look forward to working hard, to training and practicing hard. I really enjoy each match."

Sugiyama eliminated Emma Laine, 64 63, to set up a second round meeting with Vania King. The Tokyo native holds an impressive 25-10 record at this $175,000, Tier III event. She claimed consecutive titles here in 1997 and 1998 and made the final in 1999.

No.4 Anabel Medina Garrigues also entered the second round here with a 76(3) 75 win over Klara Zakopalova. After a summer slump, the Spaniard revived her season last week by making a run to the Guangzhou final. Her next opponent here is Japanese wild card Aiko Nakamura, a 63 63 winner over Caroline Wozniacki.

Former Top 10 star Alicia Molik ousted Jelena Kostanic, 75 63, and is now up against Jamea Jackson. The Australian reached her first Tour quarterfinal of the year last week at Guangzhou.

"I came here ready to play," Molik said. "I never really felt threatened today and feel confident for my next match. I feel my best match all year was my match last week in Guangzhou against Jelena Jankovic. Measuring how I feel now against how I was before my illness, I think I will be able to tell better when I get to Europe and play against higher-ranked players. That will give me more of an indication of where I am."

Paola Suarez notched a 64 64 upset victory over No.7-seeded Lucie Safarova. The Argentine next faces Japanese qualifier Junri Namigata. Other Wednesday winners were Namigata, Camille Pin, Youlia Fedossova and Chan Yung-Jan.

On Thursday, Sugiyama faces King while top seed Marion Bartoli takes on Vera Dushevina.
-- WTA