Defending champ Pierce survives close call at Carlsbad

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

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).