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Monday, July 9, 2001

DAY 1

Musashimaru wins on opening day, 3 ozeki fall

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Musashimaru was all business on Sunday as the firm title favorite lifted komusubi Asashoryu out of the ring to secure his first victory. The ozeki continued their recent disappointments, however, as three tumbled to opening-day defeats in the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Musashimaru is the lone grand champion in the 15-day meet after summer tourney champion Takanohana pulled out because of a knee injury. He let his experience do the talking as he calmly disposed of the 20-year-old Mongolian rising star at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Asashoryu tried to grapple head-on after the face-off but was muscled out of the ring easily in the day's final bout, failing to repeat his upset win over the Samoan-born yokozuna on the first day of the summer tournament.

Ozeki Chiyotaikai, aiming to go better than his 12-3 finish in May, showed little resistance against Wakanosato as he backpedaled straight out of the ring to hand the komusubi returnee a comfortable win.

Sekiwake Tochiazuma gave the crowd another surprise when he pulled Musoyama out of the ring soon after the ozeki precariously came lunging out of the face-off, only to get himself off-balance against the upset-minded Tamanoi stable wrestler.

Also joining the list of upset victims was ozeki Miyabiyama, who got the better of top-ranked maegashira Hayateumi for much of their bout but lacked the finishing touch along the straw ridge in a force-out defeat.

In other feature bouts, Ozeki Kaio and Dejima both battled their way to victory against maegashira opponents as they try to avoid relegation from sumo's second-highest rank after suffering dismal records in May.

Kaio quickly shoved No. 2 Kotonowaka out of the ring while Dejima, who also requires a minimum of eight wins to avoid demotion, was in total command as he thrust and slapped top-ranked Takanonami before lifting him out with an arm maneuver.

Earlier, No. 2 maegashira Higonoumi twisted and tossed sekiwake Kotomitsuki backwards over the edge. Takanowaka backed out Mongolian Kyokushuzan for an easy win in a bout between No. 5 maegashira.



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