Go Monica & Jelena
Hope this one's not posted. Fingers crossed.
TORAY PAN PACIFIC: Hingis in fine form but shouldn't expect cakewalk
By MELANIE LANG, Asahi Shimbun News Service
Monica Seles and Jelena Dokic will be tough for the Swiss star to beat in her quest for her 4th Tokyo title.
With two of the top three seeds at the all-women's 2002 Toray Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament withdrawing before they've even hit a ball, second seed Martina Hingis must be thanking her lucky stars.
Top seed and world No. 2 Lindsay Davenport of the United States pulled out with a niggling knee injury, while compatriot third seed Serena Williams has is still nursing a sprained ankle, clearing the way for world No. 4 Hingis to claim the $124,000 (150million yen) event for the fourth time in five years. Hingis has been in sparkling form since she returned to the court late last year following surgery for torn ankle ligaments, and she is looking forward to reclaiming the title she won in 1997, 1999 and 2000.
America's comeback queen, world No. 1 Jennifer Capriati, who ousted Hingis to retain her Australian Open title Saturday, and the other half of the dynamic Williams duo, world No. 3 Venus, did not enter the event, leaving seventh seed Yugoslav Jelena Dokic, Hingis' closest rival on paper for the title.
But while the departure of Davenport, who beat nemesis Hingis to claim the title in both 1998 and 2001, will certainly make things easier for the 21-year-old former world No.1, Hingis is unlikely to have it all her own way.
With the recent Australian Open, where the men's seeds dropped like flies, still fresh in everyone's mind, Hingis knows only too well she's no shoo-in.
Although on paper, Dokic, playing in the event for the first time, would seem Hingis' biggest threat, the 18-year-old hasn't beaten Hingis in a head-to-head confrontation since Wimbledon 1999.
World No. 10 American stalwart Monica Seles, a nine-time Grand Slam titlist and former world No. 1, however, won the last two of their three meetings in 2001, and could well go one better than her 1999 semifinal placing.
Russian No. 1 Elena Dementieva also has the advantage of beating Hingis in their last meeting last year and could pull off a surprise, while compatriot Anna Kournikova, a semifinalist in the event last year, will have the crowd behind her as usual.
Japan No. 1 Ai Sugiyama, whose third-round exit at the hands of Slovak Janette Husarova at the Australian Open earlier this week ended all hopes of besting her 2000 quarterfinal placing, will be looking to improve on last year's quarterfinal place, while Rika Fujiwara, world ranked No. 129, can only benefit from facing world-class players, but will have her work cut out to advance past the first round.
In the doubles event, world No. 1 pairing Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs will be tough to beat, although Australian Open doubles champions Hingis and Kournikova will likely benefit from the fans' backing.
Meanwhile, with four places in the main draw still available, 32 players battled through two of the three days of qualifying matches over the weekend.
In the first round Saturday, Japan's Chisayo Ito, Shinobu Asagoe, Akiko Morigami and Saori Obata all progressed to Round 2.
In Sunday's second round, Ito put up a good fight but couldn't ward off Irina Selyutina of Kazakhstan and went out 6-3, 2-6, 1-6. Asagoe is also out of the running, losing in straight sets (6-2, 7-6) to Australian Alicia Molik.
Morigami and Obata advanced to the third round, beating Italy's Tathiana 6-3, 6-1 and Jennifer Hopkins of the United States 6-1, 7-6 respectively.