Every morning during the U.S. Open, Richard Pagliaro will take a look back at a significant match that took place on that calendar day.
August 29, 2003: Mary Pierce d. Jelena Dokic, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5) (Second Round)
Facing a 1-5 deficit in the final set, Pierce was a few points from a second-round exit when she took unusual action—she took a shower on court.
Standing in front of her courtside seat, Pierce showered her entire body with water from an Evian bottle. Then Pierce poured herself into a memorable comeback, winning 20 of the next 24 points.
Asked if her immediate thoughts included a warm shower when she was down 1-5, Pierce quipped, "cold shower, actually", before adding, "I didn't realize it was 5-1. I knew it was 5-2. I just tried to stay calm and just told myself to just fight. Just kept repeating that one word to myself. You never know what can happen in tennis."
It was a remarkable rally from Pierce, who served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but squandered that chance to close. By the time she bottomed out in the decider, Pierce looked outclassed and out of breath in facing a huge hole to a player who had beaten her in three of their previous four matches. Summoning up the inner strength that made her a two-time Grand Slam champion, Pierce proceeded to produce some of the finest pressure tennis she’s played in years.
Holding at 15, the 28-year-old Pierce broke back quickly to close to 3-5. Dokic, who rose to a career-high No. 4 the prior year, relishes pace. But the former Wimbledon semifinalist was simply overpowered in the ninth game as Pierce slammed successive aces—her 10th and 11th of the match—and eventually held for 4-5.
In the tiebreaker, Piece won the final two points to seal an improbable fight back. Two years later, Pierce advanced to the U.S. Open final before bowing to Kim Clijsters.
This Date in U.S. Open History
August 27: The defending champion survives his opener (1985)
August 28: Jimmy Connors' legendary run begins (1991)
August 29: Pierce rises from the dead (2003)
August 30: Santoro, Blake put on a show (2007)
August 31: Agassi's final, epic victory (2006)
September 1: Sampras' win streak snapped (1997)
September 2: Doubles players announce lawsuit vs. ATP (2005)
September 3: Safin survives in breakthrough tournament (2000)
September 4: A bizarre Williams vs. Williams match (2005)
September 5: Unbreakable: Pete vs. Andre (2001)
September 6: A Seles-Capriati classic (1991)
September 7: The late show with Agassi and Blake (2005)
September 8: Venus' late comeback vs. Hingis (2000)
September 9: Sharapova feels pretty powerful (2006)