The former French Open winner has rediscovered her self-belief at this year's event with the help of Nick Bollettieri
02 June 2005 If you want an advert for the power of positive thinking, look no further than the French Open semi-finals today, where Mary Pierce, aged 30, has blitzed the self-doubt that has often hurt her career to guarantee her best Grand Slam finish for five years.
Not since Mary won at Roland Garros in 2000 has she even been past the quarters at a Grand Slam event and now she stands one match away from the final here. As someone who knows Mary well, who was working with her when she won her first Grand Slam - the 1995 Australian Open - and who is back on her team again now, I know the contributing factors.
She feels very healthy, and she's fit, and that's a big deal. And it's made bigger because the clock is ticking and every tournament is extra precious. There was a period after her first Slam victory when Mary lost her way, preferred parties to practice, became distracted from her goals. Now, to prove her best tennis is still ahead of her, she knows every match matters.
There have also been technical changes, especially with her serve, where I've advised her to shorten the motion and shorten the toss. And we've also talked about strategy, particularly on drop shots.
But for health and fitness to be utilised, for opportunities to be seized, for technical improvements to matter, self-belief is all-important. That's why I was delighted when, three months ago, Mary said she'd be happy for us to work together again, and I'm even more delighted with what has happened in Paris.
Mary is coached by her brother, David, who does a helluva job, and I have been speaking to Mary three times a day on the phone during the tournament. We even changed her serve on the phone!
But I believe the crucial factor has been getting Mary to have faith in herself, have true faith in the simple fact that she is a big hitter who can beat the crap out of anyone. That's eloquence for you.
Whatever happens in today's semi, against a fellow tour veteran, Elena Likhovtseva, who's 29, Mary can build from here. As can the 15-year-old Sesil Karatancheva, another of my students, who reached the quarters.
As for Maria Sharapova, the third of the Bollettieri alumnae who made the last eight, we already know about her. She lost to an inspired Justine Henin-Hardenne, but her positive thinking has already made her No 2 in the world.