Ups and downs for Asian women
PARIS: Asian veterans Ai Sugiyama and Tamarine Tanasugarn enjoyed contrasting fortunes at the French Open on Monday, with Thai star Tamarine winning but Sugiyama crashing out.
Tamarine, 32, dismayed the French fans by seeing off home favourite Camille Pin 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 in a 2hr 55min first-round tie, but 33-year-old Japanese Sugiyama went down 6-3, 6-2 to another Frenchwoman, Aravane Rezai.
Tamarine opened up a 4-1 first-set lead against 27-year-old Pin before being pegged back to 4-3, but a loose backhand into the net from Pin allowed the Thai a decisive break and she served out to take the opening set.
Pin fought back from a 3-0 deficit to win the second set 7-5, having survived a match point at 5-4 down, but Tamarine rallied to seal victory in the decider, booking her fifth appearance in the French Open second round and consigning Pin to her ninth straight first-round exit.
Sugiyama, the world number 37 and Japanese number one, exchanged breaks with Rezai in the early skirmishes before being broken again in game eight to give her 22-year-old opponent a 5-3 lead.
The nimble Rezai, who won her first career title at last week's Strasbourg Open, sealed the first set when Sugiyama netted a crosscourt backhand and she broke twice in the second set en route to a comfortable victory.
"I didn't play good today," Sugiyama said. "She won the tournament in Strasbourg and she's playing really good tennis and is in good shape. I didn't play aggressively at all and I wasn't sharp enough.
"I didn't feel good from the first set. She was always dominating the game and I was hitting the ball too short and always giving her a chance." Sugiyama's defeat ended her 15th appearance in the women's singles competition at the French Open, while it was her second loss to Rezai in the tournament, having previously been eliminated by her in the second round in 2006.
But Sugiyama is not pondering retirement.
"Will I be back next year? I hope so," she said.
Tamarine faces a taxing assignment in the form of Serbian defending champion Ana Ivanovic in the second round, while Rezai will face Slovenian qualifier Polona Hercog after she overcame Russian 23rd seed Alisa Kleybanova.
Chinese 15th seed Zheng Jie redressed the balance in Asia's favour when she breezed to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over France's Stephanie Cohen-Aloro, setting up a tie with either Britain's Melanie South or Portuguese qualifier Micaela Larcher de Brito.