Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce, two of France's greatest players, battled it out for the year-end title.
For the better part of 18 months, Frenchwomen Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce provided some of the more noteworthy moments on the WTA Tour: Mauresmo reached the top spot of the rankings toward the end of the 2004 season, while Pierce reclaimed a spot among the game’s elite with two Grand Slam finals in 2005.
Both players qualified for the WTA Tour Championships in Los Angeles and were drawn together in the same group. Pierce posted a perfect 3-0 record in round-robin play, which included a win over Mauresmo to level their head-to-head encounters at four victories apiece. Mauresmo went 2-1 in the group as both players advanced to the semifinals. In the last four, Mauresmo defeated defending champion Maria Sharapova while Pierce knocked out top seed Lindsay Davenport to set up the first final between the two.
Despite having risen to No. 1 in the world in her career, Mauresmo had yet to win one of the biggest prizes in the game, while Pierce was a two-time Grand Slam champion. Aming for her third win of the season over Mauresmo, Pierce took a tight first set, winning it 7-5.
In the second set, Mauresmo’s crafty all-court play and Pierce’s aggressive style, mixed in with some well-timed drop shots, kept the two on even ground. The set eventually went to a tiebreak, which Mauresmo won comfortably, 7-3, to level the match.
One of the knocks on Mauresmo at this point was that her nerves kept her back from becoming a Grand Slam champion. At the beginning of this decider, she struck first with a break, but Pierce came right back to go up 3-2. At 4-4, Pierce was broken to leave Mauresmo serving for the title. After going down triple break point, Mauresmo escaped danger after a run of errors by Pierce, and on match point, she clinched the title when Pierce hit a backhand wide, giving her the first major championship of her career.
This was the first all-French final in the history of the tournament. Mauresmo also became the first Frenchwoman to win the title.
For the second year in a row, Mauresmo won four or more titles, taking five in 2004.
Pierce started the year ranked No. 29 and finished at No. 5, the first time she’d ended a season ranked that high since 1999.
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