Pierce rolling alone
By: Harold Gutmann
September 02, 2005
NEW YORK — Mary Pierce isn't generating the same amount of publicity as the other top contenders for the women's title, but she may be playing as well as anyone — and is one of the few who can say they are completely healthy.
Pierce beat Katarina Srebotnik of Slovakia, No. 50 in the latest WTA rankings, 6-3, 6-2 at the U.S. Open to advance to the third round.
Pierce, the No. 12 seed, won the Acura Classic a month ago in San Diego — her first WTA title since 2000 — en route to a second-place finish in the U.S. Open Series.
Pierce credits her work ethic and practice habits for getting her to the verge of the top 10 again.
"I've been working hard for over a year now and just getting fitter, and that's really made a big difference," Pierce said. "My game is a very physical game. I need to have my legs in order to play my game."
In the past year Pierce has jumped 16 spots in the rankings to No. 12, the biggest leap of any player in the top 15. Most impressive, the Frenchwoman is doing it at the age of 30.
While that may not seem like an advanced age, keep in mind that Justine Henin-Hardenne, 23, was asked by reporters yesterday if she felt old, and she responded in the affirmative. In fact, when Pierce reached the final of the French Open in June, she was the oldest Grand Slam finalist since Martina Navratilova in 1994.
"She is in the twilight of her career and is playing the best tennis of her life right now," said Tracy Austin, who is calling matches for the USA.