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Diva Pierce put on performance to rattle Dementieva

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New York (dpa) - Drama queen Mary Pierce milked the rules and rattled her opponent Friday to become the first French player to reach the women's final of the U.S. Open.

The 30-year-old took a regulation-stretching 12-minute injury timeout after losing the first set against authoritative 2004 finalist Elena Dementieva, a move when eventually led the way to Pierce's 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 semi-final victory.

She will face the winner from top seed Maria Sharapova and the form player over the hardcourt summer, Belgian Kim Clijsters.

Pierce glossed over her over-the-top marathon timeout, saying the drew inspiration from an unnamed sick friend. "She gave men the power to play," said the veteran, playing in a 13th Open. "I can't believe this, it's amazing.

"I'm happy to be here, I don't care whom I play in the final, I'll give 100 percent and fight to the end."

The disappointed Dementieva, clearly put off her game by Pierce's performance as an actress as well as a player, dropped in the final set as she fell to a quick double break.

With the fidgety Pierce pounding her heart with a fist after every winning point, the end came quickly for her sixth-seeded Russian opponent.

The 13th seed's laboured go-slow tactics, with serves which almost never seem to begin, only added to the tension.

But Dementieva did force Pierce to work, through three break points in the final game before Pierce ended the afternoon with an ace followed by a concluding Dementieva error.

In addition to her marathon timeout, Pierce also got additional treatment as she booked into her second Grand Slam final of the season after losing in Paris to Justine Henin-Hardenne.

The Canadian-born Frenchwoman owns titles from the 1995 Australian and 2000 French Opens. Dementieva had won both of the pair's previous matches.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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