Jan 19, 2009

Rendy Lu, Ai Sugiyama & Sania Mirza keep Asian hopes alive

Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama and India's Sania Mirza carried Asian hopes into the Australian Open second round on Monday.

However it was curtains down for comeback queen Kimiko Date Krumm.

In the men's singles, Taiwan's Rendy Lu Yen-Hsun also made it through to the second round with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci.

Rendy gets support from his fans at court 18.

With the strong crowd behind her, Sugiyama who is playing her 60th Grand Slam, battled past Canada's Stephanie Dubois 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) to continue her solid start to the season after making the semis in Sydney last week.

Some disturbing scenes from Sugiyama's court.

Thankfully Sugiyama doesn't dress like her supporters.

Ranked 26 here, the 33-year-old said she was encouraged by the start she has had to her 17th season on tour.

"I'm definitely very happy with the start I've had to the year," she said.

"My training has been good and I'm starting to play well.

"I started good today and won the first seven games in a row but then she got her rhythm and started hitting it deeper, and I struggled a bit."
Joining Sugiyama in round two is Sania who has suffered with injuries after a breakthrough 2005 when she reached the US Open fourth round.

Bad girl Sania sticks out her tongue.

Sania's signature move on court.

The 22-year-old went through a surgery on her right wrist in April ruining her 2008 season. She made brief comebacks before bowing out of the Beijing Olympics in tears.

Now she is back, hitting the ball harder than ever and hungry for success.
"It was a great way to begin after such a long break," Sania said after beating Poland's Marta Domachowska 6-1, 6-4.

"I've not played a match in almost six months now ... I'm just happy to have come through."
Aside from Sugiyama, Mirza and Lu, hopes for regional success lie with China's Zheng Jie and Thai Tamarine Tanasugarn.

Taiwan's Chan Yung-jan and Hsieh Su-Wei are also in the draw but have been drawn to face each other in the first round on Tuesday.

And of course there are also high expectations for Japan's Kei Nishikori who is scheduled to face Jurgen Melzer in the first round.

(Via; Images via Yahoo! Sports, Rendy Lu's photos by Zahirah)

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