Mary Pierce’s first Wimbledon didn’t last long.
The fifth-seeded Pierce was beaten in the second round today by Nathalie Tauziat of France 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
The 20th-ranked Tauziat, coming off a victory in last week’s Wimbledon warmup at Eastbourne, outplayed Pierce from the baseline in the decisive third set.
It was the first match on Centre Court for Pierce, who was born in Canada, lives in Florida and plays for France. It was also the first meeting between the Fed Cup teammates.
Tauziat was supplanted as France’s No. 1 player when Pierce opted to play for France. While the two are considered uneasy rivals, Tauziat said she wasn’t trying to settle any scores.
“I just wanted to win,” she said. “I wasn’t playing Mary to say I can be No. 1. It’s important for me to beat Mary, that’s it. She’s a star everywhere in the world. To beat her gives you a lot of confidence. That was important for me.”
Tauziat appeared headed for an easy win when she broke for a 3-2 lead in the second set, but Pierce started connecting with her serve returns and won four straight games to take the set.
Tauziat regained command by winning the first four games of the final set. Pierce broke for 4-1, but Tauziat served out the match two games later.
It was a quick exit for Pierce, who had pulled out of Wimbledon at the last minute the past two years. Winner of the Australian Open this year, she had been considered a possible title contender here.
“I was a little bit nervous in the beginning,” Pierce said. “I never played or practiced on Centre Court before. It was very new for me, and it took a while to get used to.
“Nathalie is a great player on grass and she has more experience than I do. She played a really good match and I made too many mistakes.”
Meanwhile, two-time men’s defending champion Pete Sampras overcame a valiant test from Britain’s Tin Henman to move into the third round with a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) victory.
Sampras lost only three points on serve in the first set and two points in the second. But the 174th-ranked Henman, inspired by the support of the Court One crowd, battled Sampras evenly in the third set.
Henman broke for the only time in the first game of the third set, hitting a running cross-court forehand that sent Sampras diving in vain onto the grass.
Sampras saved two more break points at 5-5. The two were even at 3-3 in the tiebreaker before Sampras won the next four points to end the contest.
“In the third set, my level came down a little bit, and he played better,” Sampras said. “He fought pretty hard.”
Sampras complained several times in the third set over over-rules by chair umpire Carlos Ramos.
“All of a sudden, he decided he wanted to be part of the match, which I wasn’t too happy about,” Sampras said.
Sampras, seeded No. 2 behind Andre Agassi, said he was happy with his game and his chances of becoming the first player since Bjorn Borg to win three straight Wimbledon titles.
“I feel I can play better tennis,” he said. “I’ve won it twice, and there’s no reason why I can’t do it again.”
Earlier, two-time Wimbledon finalist Goran Ivanisevic served 28 aces in a straight-set victory over Jonathan Stark of the United States.
The fourth-seeded Ivanisevic, who had 21 aces in his opening match, moved into the third round with a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) victory.
While Wimbledon has introduced new balls this year to try to curb the power game, Ivanisevic said the move would not affect his huge serve.
“I’m still going to hit my 20 or 30 aces if I’m mentally OK,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what they do. You can’t slow the game here. This is Wimbledon. It’s grass, it’s always fast. If you want to see slow tennis, go to the French Open … or go watch women’s tennis.”
Sixth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia posted his second consecutive straight-set win by downing Bern Karbacher, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, while No. 14 Todd Martin beat Daniel Nestor 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. Unseeded Aaron Krickstein won 6-0, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6), over Karol Kucera.
In women’s play, defending champion Conchita Martinez eased into the third round with a 6-4, 6-3 triumph over Jana Kandarr, an 18-year-old German newcomer ranked No. 101.
Second-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario beat Mana Endo, 7-5, 6-2, but No. 12 Amy Frazier was ousted by Irina Spirlea, 6-1, 6-3.
Eighth-seeded Gabriela Sabatini beat Silvia Farina, 6-2, 6-2, avenging a first-round defeat to the Italian at last year’s French Open. Anke Huber, No. 9, was a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) winner over Beate Reinstadler
Zina Garrison Jackson, runner-up to Martina Navratilova in 1990 and making her 13th and final appearance at Wimbledon, rallied from 1-4 down in the first set to beat Elna Reinach, 6-4, 6-2.
Martina Navratilova entered the mixed doubles competition with Stark. That means Navratilova will be playing at Wimbledon for the 23rd straight year.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: DAY THREE Results: Men’s singles: No. 1 Pete Sampras, No. 4 Goran Ivanisevic, No. 6 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 14 Todd Martin advanced. Women’s singles: No. 2 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, No. 3 Conchita Martinez and No. 8 Gabriela Sabatini advanced. Upsets: Nathalie Tauziat defeated No. 5 Mary Pierce, Irina Spirlea beat No. 12 Amy Frazier and Greg Rusedski ousted No. 16 Guy Forget. Quote of the day: “We were both just really happy to sit down.” - HyBoulais after her marathon match with Chanda Rubin.