WILLY Chan Lee's first encounter with world-class opposition, predictably, ended in defeat last night, but the Hong Kong youngster did enough to suggest that such meetings would become more frequent in the future. Chan was beaten 6-3, 6-1 by Frenchwoman Mary Pierce, who, at world number five, is ranked a dizzying 500-odd places above the local 17-year-old. But for many instances in the First Pacific Bank Challenge game at Victoria Park, the yawning gap was not apparent - a possible combination of Pierce in a relaxed mood within the exhibition atmosphere and Chan determined not to crumble against illustrious company. For Chan, who led 3-1 via two service breaks in the first set, it was a valuable lesson and she is hoping to apply the experience gained in the future. 'I'm happy with the way I played,' she said. 'I think I played really good, but Mary was just too good for me. 'She hits the ball very hard and I don't think I've ever played someone who hits it that hard before.' Pierce heaped praised on Chan, who she feels must add more power to her serve to be able to compete at a high level. 'I thought she played a really good match,' said Pierce. 'I was actually surprised at how she handled the pace. 'She needs to work on her serve and basically get more match experience.' Pierce now faces Martina Navratilova in tonight's semi-finals. A crowd of around 1,500 looked on in astonishment as Chan matched Pierce to lead 3-1 in the first set. But it was never meant to be for the Fujian-born Chan, who lost five games in a row to concede the match. Earlier, Japan's Naoko Sawamatsu swept aside American Mary Joe Fernandez 6-1, 6-1. Sawamatsu, who defeated Fernandez in the last 32 of Wimbledon last year, turned on the heat at a chilly Centre Court against Fernandez, who succumbed to a string of unforced errors. The 20-year-old from Nishinomiya now takes on world number two Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain in tonight's semi-final, hoping to continue her good form. 'This is the first time I'm playing a professional event in Hong Kong and I was quite excited about it,' said Sawamatsu. 'I think I played very well and did not make any mistakes and I am happy with the win.' Fernandez, who complained that it was 'freezing out there', said that her opponent's largely error-free game won the match. 'Naoko played very well and did not make a lot of mistakes,' said Fernandez. 'The first two games were pretty close, but she won the big points.'