Pierce defeats Henin-Hardenne in 4th round
Mary Pierce's 6-3, 6-4 victory completed the women's quarter-final line-up at the year's final Grand Slam.india Updated: Sep 06, 2005 09:30 IST
France's Mary Pierce avenged her crushing French Open defeat by toppling seventh-seeded Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne here on Monday to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open tennis championships.
Pierce's 6-3, 6-4 victory, her first over Henin-Hardenne in five career meetings, completed the women's quarter-final line-up at the year's final Grand Slam.
The 30-year-old Canadian-born Frenchwoman will meet her third-seeded compatriot Amelie Mauresmo, who beat Russian Elena Likhovtseva 6-1, 6-4.
Pierce made a fantastic start to the match as the service struggles that have dogged Henin-Hardenne throughout the tournament finally caught up with her.
The Belgian, a former world No 1 who has surged back this season after a 2004 marred by injury and illness, committed 10 double faults to aid the cause of Pierce, who had fallen 6-1, 6-1 to Henin-Hardenne in the Roland Garros final in June.
Henin-Hardenne was tentative in the face of Pierce's early onslaught, allowing the 30-year-old Frenchwoman to race to a 5-0 lead.
"I was just playing unbelievable in the very beginning," Pierce said. "Even my shanks were going in."
Henin-Hardenne finally woke up, holding her serve with a love game to launch a run of three games in which she denied Pierce a chance to close out the set. But the former world No 1 could never get ahead.
"She was playing well, she put a lot of pressure on my serve in the first few games of the match," Henin-Hardenne said. "I was feeling a lot of pressure, and I wasn't aggressive enough and she played well."
Pierce kept Henin-Hardenne on the defensive with an early break in the second, dropped her own serve then immediately broke back to regain the advantage.
Henin-Hardenne did manage to stave off three match points against her serve in the ninth game, but Pierce put it away the first chance she got on her own serve.
Next up for Pierce is Mauresmo, who extended her dominance over Likhovtseva with her seventh victory in eight encounters.
She stretched her streak of quarter-final appearances at the US Open to five as she continues her quest for a first career Grand Slam title.
World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, a finalist at two Grand Slams already this year, kept her bid for a fourth career major going with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over France's Nathalie Dechy.
The 29-year-old American handled Dechy's serve with supreme ease and fired winners at will.
She faltered just once, as she served for the match at 5-2. She got the game off to a bad start with an ill-judged backhand volley that went wide and surrendered her serve as Dechy blasted a forehand past her.
Davenport responded by breaking Dechy for the match in 57 minutes.
"I want to win this again, and as long as I can keep going I have a chance," said Davenport, whose 1998 triumph here was the first of three Grand Slam titles but whose last major victory was at the 2000 Australian Open.
The unenviable task of trying to stop Davenport will fall to Elena Dementieva, the sixth-seeded Russian with the well-documented service woes who downed 11th-seeded Swiss Patty Schnyder 6-4, 6-3.
Dementieva, who finished runner-up here last year, has looked anything but assured in the opening week, reaching the fourth round despite coughing up 19 double faults against compatriot Anna Chakvetadze.
Schnyder helped her out with 37 unforced errors, but Dementieva said the long wait for a men's match to finish before them made it one of the toughest outings of her career.
"Actually, that was one of the most difficult matches I played in my life, after waiting four and a half hours," she said. "I did my warm-up. Had my lunch. Then I fell asleep. Then I started it all over again. When I started to play, I was completely out of my focus.
"It was up and down the whole match for both of us. I'm just very happy I could win this one."
The quarter-finals will get underway with a Ladies' Night on Arthur Ashe Stadium court on Tuesday.
That's when fourth-seeded Belgian Kim Clijsters will take on Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and top seed Maria Sharapova meets fellow Russian Nadia Petrova.
They booked their places in the final eight on Sunday.