Former world doubles number one Ai Sugiyama will lead Japan's bid for Fed Cup victory against France, as the teams vie for
a place in the elite World Group next season, officials said Wednesday.
Sugiyama, currently ranked 38 in singles, will join Akiko Morigami, Aiko Nakamura and Ayumi Morita for the tie on the hard courts of Tokyo's Ariake Coliseum, the Japan Tennis Assocation said.
Sugiyama skipped the World Group II first round tie against Croatia in February, saying she wanted to concentrate on winning enough points to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.
"We have the same feeling that we can beat France. We lost to France last year, so I really want to avenge that loss," Sugiyama was quoted by coach Minoru Ueda as saying.
Sugiyama, who reached a career-high of number eight in the world rankings in February 2004 and also reached the top women's doubles ranking in October 2000, lost two singles matches and a doubles clash in a 5-0 defeat for Japan in the World Group last year in Limoges, France.
Morigami, who won her first tour singles title in Prague last year, is currently ranked 51, Nakamura 81 and Morita 99.
"The pair of Sugiyama and Morita is the best choice. All the four players can play the singles. We still have time. I'm going to choose the singles players at the last moment," said Ueda.
France, two-time Fed Cup winners, on Tuesday named former world number one Amelie Mauresmo, up-and-coming Alize Cornet, Nathalie Dechy, and Virginie Razzano, who shocked Venus Williams in the final to win the Japan Open in October.
The match will take place on April 26 and 27.
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