Defending champ Pierce survives close call at Carlsbad

Updated: August 3, 2006, 12:02 AM ET
Associated Press

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Defending champion Mary Pierce won her first match after a six-month layoff because of tendinitis in her right foot, holding off Sybille Bammer 6-1, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (4) on Wednesday in the second round of the Acura Classic.

The sixth-seeded French star squandered three match points in dropping the second-set tiebreaker before finally taking control late in the third-set tiebreaker.

Top-seeded Kim Clijsters had no trouble in advancing to the third round with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Samantha Stosur of Australia in the featured night match. Clijsters broke Stosur's serve all four times in the first set.

Clijsters has won 41 of her last 42 matches on North American hardcourts, including Sunday's victory at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif.

"You have to keep focused," Clijsters said. "From the minute that I won at Stanford, my head is already here."

Third-seeded Nadia Petrova was upset by fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2. Petrova, who has won four tournaments this season, is ranked No. 5.

No. 4 Elena Dementieva of Russia, 11th-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, No. 12 Flavia Pennetta of Italy and 14th-seeded Ana Ivanovic of from Serbia and Montenegro advanced with straight-set victories.

No American players advanced to the third round for the first time in the tournament's 23-year history.

Pierce, playing her initial match after a first-round bye, looked as if she hadn't missed any time when she easily won the first set.

But Bammer, ranked 46th, rallied to force a second-set tiebreaker. Pierce took a 6-4 lead in the tiebreaker and held two match points. But the Frenchwoman made two unforced errors with her forehand to tie the match at 6-all.

At 7-6, Pierce held her third match point, but Bammer hit a forehand winner before winning the set by taking the final two points on Pierce errors.

Bammer was ahead 5-3 in the final set before Pierce held serve and Bammer scored just one point on her next service game to tie the match at 5-all.

Bammer held serve to force the tiebreaker and took a 4-3 lead before Pierce hit two winners to go ahead 5-4. Bammer, from Austria, then made two straight errors, including a backhand into the net to give Pierce the victory.

Dementieva beat Ashley Harkleroad 6-2, 6-2; Hantuchova was a 6-2, 6-4 winner against Olga Savchuk of the Ukraine; Pennetta beat Jamea Jackson 6-2, 7-6 (1); and Ivanovic defeated qualifier Amy Frazier 6-3, 6-2. Sania Mirza of India beat 15th-seeded Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 6-3, 7-6 (4).


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press