Tennis: Pierce defeats Sabatini to gain her first top-10 scalp

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The Independent Online
MARY PIERCE gained her first victory against a player in the world top 10 when she beat Gabriela Sabatini 7-6, 6-3 in the Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Tuesday.

Pierce, who meets Martina Navratilova in the next round, said: 'It feels so good. I always said to myself I think I could beat them. Now I know I can. I've given myself that confidence every time I play now.'

For Sabatini, the world No 6, the defeat meant she has gone 26 tournaments without winning a title, and her frustration boiled over at the end of the match when she disputed Pierce's winning shot. 'I was very mad because I thought it was clearly out,' Sabatini said.

A hard-fought first set went to the tie-break after each player had twice broken the other's serve. Sabatini saved three set points before Pierce took it on the fourth. Pierce took control in the second set as the Argentine's game became increasingly error-ridden.

On her meeting with Navratilova, who has won this event seven times, Pierce said: 'I played Martina once before three years ago and it was a great experience. I think it's going to be a fun match because I like the way she plays. I like playing people who come to the net.'

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario defeated Helena Sukova 7-5, 6-2 to gain revenge for the defeat she suffered at the Czech player's hands in the semi-finals of the US Open. She now meets Jana Novotna, who gained her third consecutive win in four meetings against Zina Garrison Jackson with a 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 success.