Tennis: Pierce punishes Navratilova

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The Independent Online
MARY PIERCE achieved the best win of her career when she beat the seven-times champion, Martina Navratilova, in the quarter-finals of the Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden, New York, yesterday.

The French teenager, ranked No 16 in the world, won 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 to record only her second success over a world top 10 player - the first was on Tuesday when she beat the Argentinian, Gabriela Sabatini.

'I'm so happy I just can't believe it,' said the unseeded 18-year-old, who repeatedly punished the former world No 1's vulnerable second serve.

Navratilova, 37, seeded No 3 and a finalist in the past two years, twice had a break point in the third set, but Pierce survived and won on her second match point.

In the semi-finals, Pierce will face the winner of the match between the second-seeded Spaniard, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, and Jana Novotna.

Steffi Graf assured herself of the most lucrative women's season in history after a 6-1, 6-2 win over the South African, Amanda Coetzer.

The German's victory took her tournament earnings to dollars 2,624,337 ( pounds 1.76m) and she can now add another dollars 97,000 by clinching her third Virginia Slims title. Graf now faces either Spain's Conchita Martinez, or her compatriot, Anke Huber.

(Photograph omitted)