CARLSBAD (California): Former French and Australian Open champion Mary Pierce crushed fellow Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano 6-1, 6-3 on Monday to reach the second round of the US$1mil Acura Classic.
But world number one Serena Williams pulled out of the tournament because of an injury to her left knee.
WTA Tour official Darrell Fry said that, after Williams was examined in Los Angeles, her doctor told her that she needed to rest.
The Wimbledon champion also pulled out of last week's Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California with pain in her left knee.
Serena had an MRI taken in Los Angeles on Monday and it showed a left quadriceps strain that is causing her pain in the knee, said WTA Tour spokesman Darrell Fry.
Apparently on the advice of her doctor, she has been forced to withdraw.
Pierce was lethal against Razzano, controlling the centre of the court with her hard groundstrokes and dictating with her return of serve.
The injured-plagued Frenchwoman has not won a tournament since she triumphed at Roland Garros in 2000, but against Razzano she showed the form that once took her to number three in the world.
I tried to be aggressive, take the ball early and finish the points off at the net if I could, Pierce told reporters.
The 28-year-old, who now meets former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez of Spain, is ranked 73rd in the world and needed a wild card to get into this week's event.
Pierce, who also won the 1995 Australian Open, said she felt better than she had in three years. Last month, she reached the fourth round of Wimbledon.
I have everything in order and am on the right path to get my conditioning back, she said. My game is starting to come back and it's a great feeling.
I haven't achieved everything that is possible for me in tennis yet and the best is yet to come.
Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual beat Russia's Alina Jidkova 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 to earn a clash with second-seeded Belgian Kim Clijsters, who won the Bank of the West Classic title.
Greece's Eleni Daniilidou overcame Italy's Rita Grande 7-5, 6-3 and will face third seed Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium next. Reuters