2002 Britannic Asset Management

Sugiyama pounces on Pierce’s problems

Pierce despairs after losing to Sugiyama

Mary Pierce’s hour under the spotlight at Eastbourne ended in a dismal defeat at the hands of Japan’s Ai Sugiyama 6-4 6-4.

The 27-year-old French wildcard, apportioned the blame on a combination of illness and a lack of grass court practice for her shock 1st Round reversal that lasted 60 minutes.

Pierce, a two-time Grand Slam champion who reached last month’s French Open quarter-finals, had pinned her hopes on tuning up for Wimbledon at the genteel south coast resort with no stars to compete against – unlike previous years.

But Pierce made a set of excuses and claimed: “I had a nose and throat virus, and I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning.

“I think I have a good game to do well on grass, not feeling well in the last couple of days did not help.

“And it’s weird playing three weeks a year on grass. If we played a longer season, I think I would be much better.”

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