Seles beats local favorite Sugiyama

TOKYO (AP) – Top-seeded Monica Seles defeated Ai Sugiyama on Friday to earn a spot in the finals of the Japan Open tennis tournament.
Seles maintained her domination over the Japanese third seed with a 7-5, 6-4 semifinal victory at Tokyo’s Ariake Colosseum.

The 27-year-old Seles, ranked ninth in the world, won all six of her previous matches against Sugiyama, a two-time Japan Open singles champion.

In women’s quarterfinal action, seventh seed Joanette Kruger of South Africa rallied to get by unseeded Emmanuelle Gagliardi of Switzerland 0-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Kruger will meet the winner of a match later Friday between Japanese wild card Saori Obata and second seed Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand.

In the first match of the day on center court, unseeded American James Blake upset seventh seed Marcelo Rios of Chile 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 to secure a spot in the semis of the men’s singles.

In other men’s quarterfinal action Friday, top seed Lleyton Hewitt of Australia was scheduled to play Spain’s Francisco Clavet, and defending champion Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands was matched against Michel Kratochvil of Switzerland.

The fourth men’s quarterfinal is between wild card Takao Suzuki of Japan and unseeded Slovak Karol Kucera.