French Open champion Mary Pierce pulled out of the U.S. Open on Monday, unable to overcome recurring pain from a shoulder injury that sidelined her most of the summer.
Pierce, seeded No. 4, asked for a medical timeout trailing 5-4 in the first set against No. 10 Anke Huber. After the trainer massaged her right shoulder, she returned to center court to serve. But she double-faulted on set point, giving Huber the set, 6-4.
Pierce immediately walked to the chair and retired from the match.
“The day before yesterday, after my match with Lisa Raymond, I was 100 percent,” Pierce said. “In doubles it got sore and it was sore today. Every serve I hit it got worse.”
Pierce won the French Open in June, beating Monica Seles, Martina Hingis and Conchita Martinez in the last three matches. Since then, she has played just two matches, losing in the second round at Wimbledon before taking the rest of the summer off because of an irritated rotator cuff.
“I saw it right in the first service game,” Huber said. “It’s hard to play when you see her not 100 percent.”
A Twi-Night Five-Setter
Play began today in hot, muggy conditions similar to Sunday when two rain delays stretched matches well into the night. The most compelling match came when No. 3 Magnus Norman finished on his knees, barely surviving a marathon in which he beat Max Mirnyi 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (9).
From the time the first ball was struck to the final point in the fifth-set tiebreaker, Mirnyi and Norman spent 4 hours, 6 minutes on the court throwing haymakers at one another, and another four hours waiting for the weather to clear.
It was compelling tennis, perhaps the first match that reached that level in this year’s final Grand Slam event.
“It was unbelievable. I have no words for it,” said an exhausted Norman, who lost the first two sets. “I got through, that’s the important thing. I’m just happy I won.”
Earlier in the evening, Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati faced off in a resumption of what many thought might have been one of the great rivalries in women’s tennis if off-court problems had not interrupted their careers.
So much has happened to them since their magical semifinal at the Open in 1991. But for one night, at least, Seles took Capriati back in time, defeating her 6-3, 6-4.
Nine years ago, they were kids—Capriati 15 and Seles 17—and viewed as the future of American women’s tennis. Seles captured a third-set tiebreaker that day and went on to win the championship, beating Martina Navratilova.
“I really don’t think about that much anymore,” Capriati said. “I think it’s kind of annoying a little bit, to tell you the truth.”
Seles recalls it more warmly.
“I think it’s the first time in women’s tennis you had such hard hitters,” she said. “It changed the face of women’s tennis.”
On an unpleasant night that left them both drenched, there were few reminders of the tennis they once played at center court.
“She came out really strong,” Capriati said, “just from the first ball. She was just hitting them full speed. She served really well. It was tough for me to break every time. That put a little more pressure on my serve.
“I think it was pretty close. We had a lot of close games there. It could have gone either way.”
A year ago, they played in the round of 16. After Capriati lost, she finished the day in tears, trying to bury her troubled past.