Fernandez too hot for Pierce

Tennis
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The Independent Online
Mary Joe Fernandez won the final of the German Open in Berlin in straight sets yesterday as Mary Pierce ran out of steam in her bid to add another title to last week's Italian Open victory.

The consistent Fernandez, ranked 14th in the world, rattled off eight games to go from 4-2 down in the first set to 4-0 up in the second. The 6-4 6-2 victory in the clay-court event secured her first title in two years.

The result had as much to do with Pierce's fatigue after an intense spell during which she has returned to the form that saw her win the 1995 Australian Open. "In the last two weeks I've played a lot of matches and I'm pleased I got this far," Pierce, the world No 11, said. She had considered pulling out of Berlin after her triumph in Rome.

In 40C heat, Pierce lost her way immediately after breaking Fernandez's service in the first set. Her service became an invitation for Fernandez to pass her on the baseline and her groundstrokes were mere shadows of the pinpoint drives which were too hot for Amanda Coetzer in the semi- final.

Fernandez, who beat world No 4 Jana Novotna in the other semi-final, kept Pierce under pressure with error-free tennis and clinched the title on her third match point.

Virginia Ruano-Pascual captured the pounds 10,500 first prize as she beat Alexia Dechaume-Balleret in a three-set final of the Welsh International Ladies Open in Cardiff yesterday.

The unseeded Spaniard claimed her first major triumph, one that looked unlikely when she was match point down to Annabel Ellwood in the first round. But since she fought back to win that match there has been no stopping the 24-year-old who was contesting her first WTA tour final.

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