Dementieva runs Pierce out of draw
Russian keeps ball deep, keeps Sarasotan on the run in second-round victory.
By MARK CARDON
SARASOTA -- Mary Pierce had no trouble seeing the tennis ball Thursday night, but she did have trouble running it down.
Fifth-seeded Elena Dementieva made Mary run and run and run en route to a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Pierce in the second round of the Sarasota Clay Court Classic at The Meadows Country Club.
With Monica Seles watching from the grandstand, Pierce, a hometown favorite, was sharp in the first set. She broke a 3-3 deadlock on her serve with a backhand winner after a drop volley. Two crisp volleys boosted Pierce's lead to 5-3, and she closed out the set with a crosscourt backhand overhead.
After that, it was all Dementieva, a tall Russian who has never won on the Women's Tennis Association Tour but defeated Pierce in their last meeting when the Sarasotan retired with an injury.
Dementieva turned it up a notch, attacking Pierce's backhand, and yelling in Russian "otlichna" after each forehand winner. She said it many times.
"It means 'perfect'," said Dementieva. "I had a good plan. She played really well in the first set. I felt like if I hit it deep I could get back in the match."
Pierce figured she could frustrate Dementieva with a drop shot.
It worked for one set.
"She started hitting the ball harder," said Pierce. "And my intensity level went down. I don't think I had enough to eat. I thought I would try the drop shot because it worked in my first-round match."
After missing more than a month of playing tournaments, Pierce has had her woes at The Meadows. In the first round, she complained about not seeing very well because of troubles with her contacts.
She strained her right leg in beating Marion Bartoli. She had it wrapped for the Dementieva match.
"It was very sore when I woke up this morning," she said.
Once Dementieva figured how to attack Pierce, she stuck to her plan -- hitting it deep and making Pierce run.
Although she wouldn't admit, Pierce looked tired in the third set, almost disinterested.
"It is no fun playing like this," said Pierce, who has two grand slam titles in her career.
"I am not very consistent, making too many mistakes."
Dementieva advances to meet second-seeded Anastasi Myskina this afternoon. Both are from Russia and have been playing against each since they were 7 years old.
Last modified: April 04. 2003 12:00AM