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Tennis: It's over for sad 'Pova.

Byline: KEITH LANE

MARIA SHARAPOVA'S attempt to claim another Grand Slam title was dashed when the Wimbledon champion lost to Mary Pierce 4-6 6-2 6-3 in the third round of the US Open yesterday.

The 17-year-old Russian, who wore a black ribbon in memory of the hostages killed in her home country, lost the final five games, perhaps worn down by her third three-set match.

She hurt herself with 14 double-faults, including two in the game when Pierce broke her to take a 5-3 lead in the final set.

Seventh-seeded Sharapova knew that she needed to improve after the early rounds. Her superior firepower was too much for Pierce in the opening set but the 27th seed launched a devastating fight-back to leave Sharapova shocked.

Pierce broke serve twice in the second set, levelling the match with a series of blistering winners.

Sharapova appeared to have weathered the storm in the third and moved a break up but Pierce hit back and served out for victory.

"There are a lot more important things going on in the world than my loss," Sharapova said.

"It's just an example of what can happen in life and that my loss doesn't mean anything."

The 29-year-old Pierce, a former Australian Open and French Open champion, kneeled down near her changeover chair after it was over.

"Just a little prayer. Thanks for this opportunity," she said.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 5, 2004
Words:231
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