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Pick of the day: Pierce-Fernandez
Sunday, May 25, 2003

Mary Pierce returns to Roland-Garros this year hoping to shake off the injury worries that have spoilt her game for too long. The 2000 champion will need to hit the ground running if she is to overcome last year's surprise semi-finalist Clarisa Fernandez in the first round. With a counter-attacking game made for clay, the 28 seed from Argentina will provide a stern test for the ex-champ in front of her home crowd.

Current form

After a forced four month absence through injury, Pierce only returned to the circuit last January in Auckland. Since then the French girl ranked 47 has struggled to find her game.

Pierce comes to Paris on the back of a disappointing season: 8 wins and 7 losses including two quarter-final finishes in Hyderabad (in Indonesia) and Charleston. After hurting her hip in Berlin, the ex- French N° 1 withdrew from the tournament in the first round rather than aggravate the injury two weeks before the French Open.

21 year-old Fernandez arrives in the French capital with 11 wins and 11 losses to her name in 2003. Like her opponent, the world N° 28 has reached two quarter-finals in 2003 (Sarasota and Madrid). The left-hander from Cordoba will need to step up her form if she is to reach the semis again in 2003.

Strengths / Weaknesses

Pierce is all drive: she looks to destroy her opponents with a sustained onslaught of power. Fernandez has a very complete game though lacks the one killer stroke that can often make the difference.

The French girl blows hot and cold but is usually pumped for Paris: witness her quarter-final finish last year when far from playing her best tennis it took Serena Williams to stop her.

After her giant-killing performances last year – defeating Kim Clijsters in the third round – Fernandez might let her nerves get the better of her.

A first

This is the first ever match between these two players.
 
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