Ai Sugiyama crashes out at Pan Pacific Open

Associated Press

Tokyo, February 1:

Fifth-seeded Ai Sugiyama of Japan crashed out of the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament on Tuesday after an opening-day loss to Italy’s Roberta Vinci.

Unseeded Vinci dropped the first set at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium but then rallied on her way to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Japan’s top-ranked player.

Sugiyama has been hampered by a sore ankle of late but refused to use that as an excuse for Tuesday’s early exit. Sugiyama has been knocked out of all four tournaments she’s played in this year in the first round. Defending champion Lindsay Davenport, who has won this tourney four times, will take to the court on Thursday in her first singles match since losing to Serena Williams in the finals of the Australian Open on Saturday.

In other first-round matches, Japan’s Saori Obata downed compatriot Miho Saeki 6-0, 6-1; Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic defeated Serbia and Montenegro’s Jelena Jankovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-1; Maria Kirilenko of Russia posted a 6-3, 6-2 win over China’s Shuai Peng and Marie-Gayanay Mikaelian of Switzerland ousted Australian Nicole Pratt 6-4, 6-3.

Millennium Int’l

DELRAY BEACH: Top-seeded Vincent Spadea beat Hugo Armando 6-2, 6-3 to advance to the second round of the Millennium International Tennis Championships.

Also advancing was defending champion Ricardo Mello of Brazil. Fifth-seeded Mello defeated Tomas Zib of the Czech Republic 7-6, 6-3. The 21st-ranked Spadea eliminated Armando in an hour. In their only other meeting, Spadea needed three sets to defeat Armando in the quarter-finals of the 2004 ITC.

The 30-year-old Spadea, from nearby Boca Raton, would relish the opportunity to win his second title so close to home. No top seed has ever won the ITC in the event’s 13-year history. Spadea will face either James Blake ot qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili.

In another first-round match, third-seeded Xavier Malisse of Belgium outlasted American Jeff Morrison 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in a match that lasted just under two hours.

Morrison won the second set and was up 4-2 in the third before the 24-year-old Malisse took four of the next five games. Malisse’s strong finish included a break to take a 6-5 lead before winning every point in the decisive game.

Lombardia Indoor:

MILAN: Wild-card entry Gael Monfils beat fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau in straight sets to open the $3,75,750 Internazionali di Lombardia indoor tournament. Monfils, an 18-year-old who won three of the four junior majors last season, won 6-3, 6-3. In another match, seventh-seeded Karol Beck of Slovakia defeated Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-4, 6-4. No 2 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia downed Sweden’s Thomas Enqvist 7-5, 6-3, winning five straight games after Enqvist rallied to tie the first set 5-5.

Meanwhile, Italians Daniele Bracciali, Giorgio Galimberti and Uros Vico emerged from the qualifying rounds to increase the number of nationals in the 32-man main draw to six.