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Pierce sets sights on French Open
Simon Cambers | April 09, 2005 11:32 IST
Mary Pierce believes she could still challenge for a third Grand Slam title despite losing to Serena Williams in the third round of the Amelia Island Championship in Amelia Island, Florida on Friday.
The 30-year-old has struggled with injuries since winning the French Open in 2000, reaching just one Grand Slam quarter-final since.
However she showed enough in her 7-6, 6-4 defeat by Williams to suggest that she could still challenge for major honours.
"I know I can lift my game when I need to because I've done it many times before," said the Frenchwoman. "If I could have one more run at a Grand Slam, that'd be really nice."
Pierce has teamed up again with her long-term coach Nick Bollettieri in Florida, and the hard work she has put in is already showing signs of fruition.
Seemingly over the shoulder injury that sidelined her at the Australian Open, Pierce looked rejuvenated and close to her best for long periods against Williams, and only a strong comeback from the American denied her victory.
"There's really no secret to it," Pierce said. "I've been working really really hard to get my fitness level up, and it's paying off.
"Physically I feel great. I've just been working really hard with my brother [David], and with Nick. Nick's really excited, I'm really excited about it and I'm really enjoying being on the court again.
"There's still room for improvement, but in general I think I'm playing great and I feel like I can compete with the top girls. It's good to have a taste of it."
Though Pierce made her Grand Slam breakthrough at the Australian Open in 1995, when she beat Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain in the final, clay has always been her favourite surface.
If she is to have one more Grand Slam run, therefore, logic says it will be at the French Open where she still enjoys outstanding support.
"This [Amelia Island] is my first claycourt tournament and Roland Garros is definitely my goal," she said.
"That's six weeks away so it's very exciting. I've had a lot of great moments on the court and that's what motivates me, keeps me going."