posted on Feb, 5 2005 @ 02:19 PM
Maria Sharapova ended Japan's challenge at the Pan Pacific Open today, downing local hope Shinobu Asagoe to set up a final with world No.1 Lindsay
Davenport. The Russian second seed, who captured her first WTA singles and doubles titles at the Japan Open two years ago here, faced a late challenge
from the 32nd-ranked player before scoring a 6-1 7-6 (7/3) win.
Davenport, seeking her third straight and fifth Tokyo title here, meanwhile avenged her loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova in last year's US Open semi-finals
by beating the Russian 6-1 7-6 (7/2).
"I'm still happy to be in the final, to be back to Tokyo again, it's where I won my first WTA tour titles, it brings back really good memories," said
"I'm just so happy to be in the final. I'll just play my best and give it all I have to win."
The 17-year-old Russian starlet got off to a flying start as Asagoe struggled to hold her serve, double-faulting twice on a break point in the second
and sixth games. But Asagoe came back into the match by breaking Sharapova to take a 3-1 lead in the second set, only to see herself again
double-faulting on Sharapova's advantage point in the following game to surrender the lead.
Although Sharapova often mis-fired her hard-hit strokes, she never gave Asagoe another chance for the remainder of the match, finishing off the
82-minute contest when Asagoe hit a return long.
"We had a really good match today. Both fought to the end. She (Asagoe) is a great fighter, points were so good. I think she has a great future ahead
of her," said Sharapova.