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Thursday February 28, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 17, 2013 MYT 1:18:43 AM
KUALA LUMPUR: She may be small but rising Japanese tennis star Ayumi Morita has big dreams of emulating the success of her friend — and men’s world No. 16 — Kei Nishikori.
The world No. 55 Ayumi is currently the highest rank Japanese in the top 100 and has set her sights on breaking into the top-50 and then the top-30.
The petite 23-year-old from Ota City has known Nishikori since their juniors tennis playing days in Japan.
“He’s my friend and we’re of the same age. We know each other very well since we were juniors,” said Ayumi.
“I’m very happy to see that he’s doing so well because men’s tennis is very tough and he just won a title in Memphis (US National Indoor Tennis Championships) and he’s now in the top 20.”
“So, of course, my goal is to be in the top 50. I hope to continue playing well to be in the top 30 as soon as possible.”
A good showing at the BMW Malaysian Open will definitely help propel her toward the target.
Ayumi, who has competed in every edition of the championship since its inception in 2010, has enjoyed a good showing at the BMW Malaysian Open. She made the semi-finals in 2010 and the quarter-finals in the last two years.
The soft-spoken player will earn herself a lot of fans in Malaysia after she admitted that the BMW Malaysian Open “is an automatic choice for me when deciding my tournament calendar”.
“I like this tournament ... I always play good here. Of course, this year I want to play more great matches and hopefully win it,” she said.
“I like to play in Asia because it’s easy to come from Japan. I have some Japanese fans here too. They supported me for four years here (at the championship) after I played in the Fed Cup here (in 2010). And they’ve been supporting me ever since. They’re here in the stands today.”
The fourth-seeded Ayumi advanced into the second round at the Royal Selangor Golf Club (RSGC) after defeating Turkey’s Calga Buyukakcay 6-1, 6-1 in their rain-hit first round match yesterday.
Ayumi was leading 5-1 in the first set on Tuesday when play was halted due to rain. She, however, picked up from where she left off to score an easy win in just 64 minutes.
“Well, the scoreline looks easy but no, the match was tough. I just tried to play my best. I’m just happy about the win,” said Ayumi.
Ayumi’s next opponent is 25-year-old Thai qualifier Nudnida Luangnam, who beat Zheng Saisai 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 6-2 yesterday.
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