New York Her serve boomed past Mary Pierce Tuesday with the speed of the No. 7 train. Alexandra Stevenson was hot.
She hurled one past Pierce. Then another and another. It was Stevenson's easiest game of the day against the fourth-seeded player at the U.S. Open. Two games later, leading Pierce by 2-1 in the second set after losing the first, Stevenson netted an easy forehand, muffed a sure backhand volley winner and, on break point, double-faulted.
There are two distinct faces to Stevenson. One is alight with talent, the other dimmed by disappointment. So much talent, so little discipline, so many unforced errors.
"I think that was a key in the second set, because I could have been up," Stevenson said after she lost to Pierce, the reigning French Open champion, 6-3, 6-4. "I think I would have won that set if I would have held.
"But it's just some errors that I need to cut down. Now, when I go play my next match, I'll remember what happened in this match. Hopefully, I won't do it again. I'm going to make sure I don't do it again."
Stevenson is 19 years old, unseeded, and ranked No. 76 in the world. She is allowed to be imperfect.
A towering righthander at 6-foot-1, Stevenson cracks the ball with beautiful crispness on her forehand.
Her one-handed backhand is serviceable and her serve, often clocked over 100 m.p.h., formidable. A developing net player, she hits satisfactory volleys when she can reach the ball.
The mistakes are plenty, however. Against Pierce, Stevenson made 33 unforced errors to Pierce's 15. Four were double faults, including the first set point and match point. Pierce won only six more points than Stevenson, but she won the big points.
Last week, Stevenson started working with Eric Riley, a coach in Philadelphia and a 1983 Penn graduate. She asked Riley to coach her through the U.S. Open, but Tuesday she said she was "hopefully" going to stick with him.
"I will win the U.S. Open one day," Stevenson said. "Yes, definitely."
Cancer strikes family: After his first-round win over Alex Kim on Monday night, Andre Agassi told CBS tennis analyst Mary Carillo that his concentration has been lacking because his sister has breast cancer, and that his mother was diagnosed with it a month ago.
"It hasn't been easy, but in many ways it has gotten the family stronger and close," Agassi said.
"And it has given me the perspective that, unfortunately, sometimes only certain tragedies can bring."
Fashion statement: Serena Williams, who wore a flashy black-and-pink outfit during her first-round win over Tina Pisnik, said she had some designer control over her new mesh dress. "It was definitely sporty, new, very flowy, different," Williams said. "It shows how ... good I look, how well in shape I am."
Anna's back: In a late match, 12th-seeded Anna Kournikova beat Holly Parkinson, 6-2, 6-3. Yes there were lots of photographers around.
Match to watch today: With Agassi not playing until Thursday and Venus Williams annihilating all her opponents, the most interesting personality tete-a-tete will be between Pete Sampras and Justin Gimelstob, the late-late match tonight at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Sampras is the quiet type. Gimelstob is the fiery younger brother with a mouth John McEnroe would love.