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Top seed Dokic ousted in Classic

By Associated Press
Published April 2, 2003

SARASOTA - Top-seeded and defending tournament champion Jelena Dokic was ousted by Paola Suarez in straight sets Tuesday in opening round of the Sarasota Clay Court Classic.

In what has become a tournament of upsets, Dokic was one of three seeded players to lose Tuesday. The others were No. 4 Ai Sugiyama and No. 8 Tatiana Panova. Third-seeded Patty Schnyder was ousted Monday from the season's first clay-court event.

Dokic, a 19-year-old who didn't lose a set last year in the tournament, never got her game going. Suarez, ranked 29th in the world, won 6-3, 6-3.

The ninth-ranked Dokic is the only top-10 player in the $140,000 event.

"I am very disappointed, but that's the way it goes sometimes," Dokic said. "I hit too many errors and gave her too many free points."

The 22-year-old Suarez, who grew up on clay courts, said playing on her favorite surface was a significant advantage and helped negate Dokic's speed and power. The only time she didn't appear in control was in the second set, when she led 4-0 and Dokic came back with three straight games.

"All my life I play on clay and I feel a lot more comfortable on it," Suarez said. "I'm glad I played Jelena in the first round rather than after she played a couple of matches on this surface.

"On clay, the ball doesn't come at you so hard and I try to hit more softer shots. It's difficult for hard players."

Panova, a finalist last year, was beaten 6-3, 7-5 by Iroda Tulyaganova. Conchita Martinez took Sugiyama 6-2, 7-5.

FRENCH OPEN: The winners of this year's tournament will earn more money than last year, but women still will make less than men.

Total prize money is increasing 6 percent to $14.2-million, the French Tennis Federation said. The men's champion will earn $915,180 and the women's champ will earn $892,300.

The French Open, like Wimbledon, pays more prize money to men. At the other two Grand Slams, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, the pay is equal.

This year is the third consecutive year prize money has increased at the French, which runs May 26-June 8. The overall men's increase is 7.7 percent; the increase for the women is 7.6 percent.

GRAND PRIX de SAR: Top-seeded Virginie Razzano was eliminated 6-3, 6-0 in the first round to Rossana Neffa-de los Rios in Casablanca, Morocco.

Neffa-de Los Rios entered the $110,000 WTA event after losing in the first round in three straight tourneys. She will meet Gala Leon Garcia, who defeated Martina Muller 6-1, 6-2.

Fifth-seeded Patricia Wartusch began the defense of her title by beating Mara Santangelo 6-4, 6-3, setting up a second-round match with Anastassia Rodionova.

Also, Lubomira Kurhajcova beat eighth-seeded Conchita Martinez Granados 6-2, 6-4, and Tatiana Poutchek beat Maria Emilia Salerni 6-1, 3-6, 7-5.

[Last modified April 2, 2003, 02:03:29]

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