Seeds advance in Tokyo

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The Independent Online

With an imperial princess watching, Japan's top player Ai Sugiyama pounded out a 6-3, 6-3 victory over American Alexandra Stevenson today, advancing to the second round of the dlrs 535,000 Toyota Princess Cup in Tokyo.

With an imperial princess watching, Japan's top player Ai Sugiyama pounded out a 6-3, 6-3 victory over American Alexandra Stevenson today, advancing to the second round of the dlrs 535,000 Toyota Princess Cup in Tokyo.

So did two other seeds, Kristina Brandi of the United States and Australian Jelena Dokic, who beat their respective opponents, Austrian Sylvia Plischke and American Meghann Shaughnessy.

Martina Navratilova, who competes in the doubles event, sat with the Prince and Princess Akishinonomiya during the Sugiyama-Stevenson match.

"They were both lovely. I enjoyed the afternoon and it was honor to meet them," said Navratilova. "Because I was sitting next to the Princess I spoke with her more. It appears that they are both avid tennis players and fans."

"The Princess and I talked about many topics, everything from children to Africa and player nutrition," she said.

Later in the afternoon, Navratilova won her first round doubles match with partner Monica Seles over Rita Grande of Italy and Shaughnessy, 6-1, 7-6 (4).

"We both played very well in the first set to win 6-1. I think that we were very lucky to win the second set. I wasn't returning well and we were lucky to get the break at 5-6," Navratilova said. "Monica played well throughout the match, she was great and came through like a champ."

All eight singles seeds of the tournament, including the top four who had first-round byes, will now advance to the round of 16 players that start on Wednesday.

Sugiyama, who paired with Julie Halard-Decugis of France to win the U.S. Open doubles, had little trouble cruising past Stevenson. Sugiyama, ranked 32nd in the world, is the No. 7 seed. Stevenson is 77th in the WTA rankings.

Sixth seed Brandi beat Plischke 6-3, 6-4, while No. 8 seed Dokic eliminated Shaughnessy 6-4, 6-2.

Two qualifiers defeated higher-ranked opponents, advancing to the second round.

No. 118-ranked Miroslava Vavrinec of Switzerland downed 56th-ranked Rita Kuti Kis of Hungary 6-4, 6-2. Another qualifier, Deja Bedranova of the Czech Republic, beat Anna Smashnova of Israel 6-4, 6-1. Bedanova is ranked 87th and Smashnova 43rd.

On Wednesday, top seed Seles meets Vavrinec, and second-seeded Serena Williams takes on Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand, a 6-3, 7-6 (8) winner Tuesday over Argentina's Paola Suarez.

Jalard-Decugis, seeded fourth, plays against Nicole Pratt of Australia.

Sugiyama, who made an early exit in the Sydney Olympics in both the singles and doubles events, found her range Tuesday and made her opponent run throughout.

"She is a good server, so I tried to return relentlessly and pressure her," said Sugiyama. "I played well today and I feel like I got back into rhythm."

Dokic, who and her doubles partner Amanda Coetzer barely failed to win a Toyota car each last year by losing in the final to Conchita Martinez and Patricia Tarabini, said she will concentrate on the singles this time. She competes in the doubles with new partner, American Corina Morariu.

"I'm focusing on the singles at the moment because we have a tough doubles draw," she said.

Dokic and Morariu will meet Navratilova and Seles in the quarterfinals.

"Today, I'm actually quite happy with the way I played. There's few things I could've done differently, but I feel like I was hitting the ball really well," Dokic said.

Singles 1st rd (prefix number denotes seeding);

Tamarine Tanasugarn, Thailand, def. Paola Suarez, Argentina, 6-3, 7-6 (8). Kristina Brandi, United States (6), def. Sylvia Plischke, Austria, 6-3, 6-4. Jelena Dokic, Australia (8), def. Meghann Shaughnessy, United States, 6-4, 6-2. Miroslava Vavrinec, Switzerland, def. Rita Kuti Kis, Hungary, 6-4, 6-2. Ai Sugiyama, Japan (7), def. Alexandra Stevenson, United States, 6-3, 6-3. Deja Bedanova, Czech Republic, def. Anna Smashnova, Israel, 6-4, 6-1. Corina Morariu, United States, def. Joannette Kruger, South Africa, 7-6, 2-6, 6-4.


Doubles First Round

Janet Lee, Taiwan, and Wynne Prakusya, Indonesia, def. Nannie de Villiers, South Africa, and Bryanne Stewart, Australia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 Tathiana Garbin, Italy, and Janette Husarova, Slovakia, def. Amy Frazier and Katie Schlukebir, United States, 6-4, 6-0 Nana Miyagi, Japan, and Paola Suarez, Argentina (2), def. Tara Snyder, United States, and Vanessa Webb, Canada, 6-1, 6-4 Yayuk Basuki, Indonesia, and Tamarine Tanasugarn, Thailand, def. Tina Krizan, and Katarina Srebotnik, Slovenia, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles, United States, def. Rita Grande, Italy, and Meghann Shaughnessy, United States, 6-1, 7-6 (4).