HOBART, Australia, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Defending champion and top-seeded Rita Grande of Italy advanced to the quarterfinals of the $110,000 ANZ Tasmanian International tennis event Wednesday but the comeback of former Australian Open champion Mary Pierce hit a snag.
Trying to get back in shape after missing seven months with back problems, Pierce suffered a 7-5, 6-4 loss to Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain.
Pierce clearly was hampered by a set of new ailments, including an injured hamstring suffered at an exhibition in Hong Kong last week and a right ankle sprain sustained during her first-round match against Kristina Brandi.
"It's tough when you have an injury in one leg from compensating from an injury on the other side," the unseeded Frenchwoman said. "It was actually tough to move around the courts when you have something wrong with both legs, and then I start
compensating and my back starts bothering me."
The loss comes just five days before the year's first Grand Slam gets under way in Melbourne.
Grande held off Austrian Barbara Schwartz, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, to advance to a quarterfinal encounter with Medina Garrigues. Grande, 26, is defending one of her two career titles -- both claimed last season. She defeated Jennifer Hopkins for last year's Tasmanian title and won the Slovak Indoor hardcourt event in October.
Hopkins will not be back to the final after losing to eighth seed Nicole Pratt of Australia, 6-1, 6-3. Pratt next takes on fifth seed Meilen Tu of the United States, a 7-5, 6-0 winner over French qualifier Stephanie Foretz.
Russia's Alina Jidkova ousted second seed Paola Suarez of Argentina, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, to reach just her second career WTA quarterfinal. She will face Martina Sucha after the Slovakian defeated German qualifier Martina Muller, 7-5, 6-4.
Seventh seed Amy Frazier of the United States will square off against Janette Husarova of Slovakia in the round of eight. Frazier topped Switzerland's Emmanuelle Gagliardi, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, and Husarova thrashed Marta Marrero of Spain, 6-2, 6-0.