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Jul 16th, 2006, 09:40 AM
Elena Dementieva will return to defend her championship at the 2007 Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, with fellow Russian star Maria Sharapova looking to regain the title she won in 2005, organizers announced Wednesday.
Dementieva and Sharapova are the early entries for the 1.34 million dollars WTA tournament to be held Jan. 30 to Feb. 4 at Tokyo Metropolitan Gym.
In this year's final in February, the sixth-ranked Dementieva defeated former world No. 1 Martina Hingis, who was returning from retirement, for the first Tier I title of her career.
"I will continue to work on my tennis in order to be able to perform my best in Tokyo next year," Dementieva said in a statement.
Sharapova, ranked fourth in the world, lost to Hingis in this year's semifinal, the first-ever meeting between the two. Since then, she has been a semifinalist at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

[Advance ticket sales for the Toray Pan Pacific Open will begin Sept. 23]