Defending champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario outlasted G
TOKYO (AP) _ Defending champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario outlasted Gabriela Sabatini and Australian Open champion Mary Pierce trounced South African Amanda Coetzer today, setting up a final between the top two seeds in the Nichirei International Ladies Tennis Championships.
Top-seed Sanchez-Vicario of Spain will meet second-seeded Pierce of France in the finals Sunday. Sanchez-Vicario is 4-2 lifetime against Pierce.
Sanchez-Vicario, who improved throughout her match today, beat fourth-seed Sabatini of Argentina, 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour, 36 minutes on the hard court of Ariake Colosseum.
Pierce, No. 5 in the world, was nearly flawless in dominating the unseeded Coetzer, 23rd in the world, 6-0, 6-2 in 57 minutes.
Pierce said she was ``surprised ... because I was expecting a really hard second set match. She is a very tough competitor, but the first set I was very focused and very concentrated. Everything was perfect for me.″
Sanchez-Vicario, ranked No. 2 in the world, said: ``I was much more aggressive than (Friday), and I won more foolish shots. I’m glad with the way I played today. It was a different game than yesterday.″
Pierce praised Sanchez-Vicario as a tough competitor.
``She is always a tough person to play because (she volleys). She’s ready for every point and fights for every point,″ Pierce said.
Sanchez-Vicario held the first game of the first set at love before breaking in the fourth and sixth games, while Sabatini broke back in the fifth game. Sanchez-Vicario held serve in the seventh game without losing a point.
Sabatini returned Sanchez-Vicario’s difficult lobs at the net as the two struggled through seven lengthy deuces in the eighth game before Sabatini hit a passing shot wide to let Sanchez-Vicario hold serve.
Pierce won the fifth game of the first set at love and needed just 22 minutes to take the set. In the second set, Coetzer broke in the third and fifth games, but Pierce broke in the second, fourth, sixth and eighth games.