She still wants an Olympic medal so that means she'll at least play a few years!!
Pierce Takes It Slow to Win
Playing her first match in six months, the defending champion at La Costa holds on to defeat No. 46 Bammer, 6-1, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (4).
By Diane Pucin
Times Staff Writer
August 3, 2006
CARLSBAD — Mary Pierce tied and retied her tennis shoes. She replayed her service toss one, two, three times before the ball caught the right puff of air and settled at the right height. So Pierce is still nervously twitchy and maddeningly deliberate on the tennis court.
But after beating Austria's Sybille Bammer, 6-1, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (4) Wednesday in the second round of the Acura Classic at La Costa — her first match in six months — Pierce, the sixth-seeded player and defending champion, clapped for herself and said, "This was fun. A lot of fun."
And she smiled. Easily.
Pierce had more fun than third-seeded Nadia Petrova. The Russian needed a trainer to tend to an injured knee in the second set, but it didn't matter. Petrova lost to fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2.
And Pierce had more fun than China's Shuai Peng, who was carried off Court 2 on a stretcher after being overcome by heat.
Peng won the first set against Vera Zvonareva, 6-3, and lost the second, 7-6 (5), before the sun and humidity brought a puddle of sweat under Peng's feet.
In the cool of the evening, top-seeded Kim Clijsters won her 21st straight U.S. summer hard court match with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Australian Samantha Stosur.
In the late match, fifth-seeded Patty Schnyder, who lost to Clijsters in the finals of the Bank of the West tournament at Stanford last Sunday, easily rolled past Argentina's Gisela Dulko, 6-4, 6-1.
Earlier, Sania Mirza of India produced the only other upset of the day by defeating 15th-seeded Katarina Srebotnik, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Pierce relished the steamy daytime conditions. She had played only six matches this year and none since last February when a torn tendon was discovered in her left foot.
A year ago, besides winning here, Pierce had played in the U.S. and French Open finals. Though she lost decisively to Justine Henin-Hardenne at the French and Clijsters at the U.S., it had been a season of rejuvenation for a woman who often seemed to find more trouble than joy on the court.
Pierce's uneasy relationship with her father Jim, a volatile man who had been barred from the grounds of some tournaments when he was Mary's coach, had imparted a sense of sadness around Pierce for many years.
Though she won the 1995 Australian Open and 2000 French Open, Pierce was considered a nervous underachiever until her renaissance a year ago. When her foot injury proved more serious than first thought, Pierce said she never considered retirement.
"The only things I haven't done are be No. 1, make the final of Wimbledon or win it and I don't have an Olympic medal," Pierce said.
"Those are three things I want. They are very lofty goals, but I've done everything else."
Pierce is still knocking rust off her game. She wasted three match points in the second set and she was down a service break in the third set to Bammer, who is ranked 46th in the world.
In fact the 26-year-old Austrian served for the match, up 5-3 in the third set. But with Pierce cracking groundstrokes on both lines, Bammer scored only one point on her service game and was easily broken.
"I feel like I competed really well," Pierce said. "I'm proud of that part of my game."
Petrova, too, is coming back from injury. She hurt her hip practicing for the French Open and hasn't played since losing her first-round match at Roland Garros.
Petrova dismissed her loss Wednesday as "the match of unforced errors."
Clijsters celebrated her continued summer success by saying, "I'd be lying if I said I didn't love it."
Pierce loves it too, aiming for those goals.