MOSCOW, September 24 (RIA Novosti)
Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova was knocked out by former world No. 5 Daniela Hantuchova in the first round of the Japan Open on Monday.
A new career-high ranking of 22 failed to spur Makarova to victory, succumbing 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to Slovakia’s Hantuchova, ranked 11 places below her.
Hantuchova will now play former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who earlier survived a scare to beat Serbian qualifier Bojana Jovanovski 6-0, 3-6, 6-4.
Wozniacki was playing the day after winning the Korea Open in Seoul, where she beat Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 6-0 in the final.
Earlier, world No. 78 Heather Watson made up 48 ranking places to upset Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 7-6(3) on the hard court in Tokyo and set up a meeting with world No. 2 Maria Sharapova, whose status as second seed meant she received a first-round bye.
Watson’s win prevents a rematch between Sharapova and Lisicki, who have clashed memorably at Wimbledon on three occasions, the Russian winning last year’s semifinal and beating Lisicki at the Olympics in August, but losing to the German in the fourth round at SW19 this year.
Elsewhere, world No. 10 Marion Bartoli secured her place in the second round by beating local hero Kimiko Date-Krumm in straight sets.
France’s Bartoli, seeded ninth in Tokyo, beat the 41-year-old veteran Date-Krumm 6-1, 6-4.
Bartoli’s opponent in the second round will be German 17th seed Julia Goerges, who beat her Romanian first-round opponent Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-2.
Meanwhile, former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic was leading 6-3, 2-0 when her Czech opponent Andrea Hlavackova retired. She will now play Urszula Radwanska.
Former French open champion Francesca Schiavone knocked out Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-4. The Italian's reward is a second-round match with eighth seed Sam Stosur.
Russian No. 6 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat South Africa’s Chanelle Scheepers, winning a tight match 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, and will now face seventh seed Li Na.
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New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Both are secondary players in a region overshadowed by an increasingly assertive China, which has not hesitated to push against the boundaries of its neighbors.