Tennis: Shahar Peer advances to semifinal of Australia tournament
Israeli star vanquished Russia's Dinara Safina in three-set thriller 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (10-8).
Showing flashes of her repertoir which she displayed with frequency in 2007, Israeli tennis sensation Shahar Peer advanced Thursday morning to the semifinal round of the Gold Coast women singles tournament in Australia, defeating third-ranked Dinara Safina 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (10-8).
Peer made a ferocious comeback, rallying from three match points down in the dramatic third set to break serve and pull even at 5-5. The match was eventually decided in a tiebreak in which Peer prevailed, 10-8.
The victory serves as a sweet measure of revenge for the 17th ranked tennis player in the world. When Peer faced Safina in the semifinal last year, she took a lead over the Russian, but lost in the end.
Peer will face Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the next round. Azarenka, who partners with Peer in the doubles tournament, defeated Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, in their quarterfinal match.
On Wednesday, Peer barely broke a sweat in her second match of the new season and her first match in 2008.
In the second round of the tournament in Gold Coast, Australia, she faced Julia Schruff of Germany, winning the first set 6-0 before the WTA's 119th-ranked singles player announced that she was retiring from the match due to shortness of breath, handing Peer the victory after 19 minutes of action and three minutes of medical treatment.
Peer also advanced to the quarterfinals in the doubles after she and Victoria Azarenka defeated Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia and Ukraine's Tatiana Perebiynis 6-2, 6-2. The Israel-Belarus duo will face China's Zi Yan and Jie Zheng in the quarterfinal.
Also Wednesday, Noam Okun lost 6-4, 6-2 to Flavio Cipolla in the first round of the Challengers event in New Caledonia. Okun and his partner, Kevin Kim of the U.S., reached the quarterfinals in the doubles with a 7-6, 6-1 win over Kevin Anderson and K.J. Hippensteel.
Sharapova coming to town Shamil Tarpischev, the captain of Russia's Fed Cup team, has confirmed that Maria Sharapova will come to Israel for their World Group first-round tie early next month.
"Sharapova (No. 5 in the WTA singles rankings), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2) and Anna Chakvetadze (6) will fly to Israel," Tarpischev told a reporter for the Russian newspaper Sport. "I personally reached an agreement with Sharapova's manager regarding her trip to Israel, since the tennis player and her father do not make these decisions on their own."
Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina and Nadia Petrova will not be coming to Israel. "They need to accumulate the necessary rankings points in order to qualify for the Beijing Olympics," explained Tarpischev.
The fourth member of Russia's squad will likely be Elena Vasnina (54).
Tarpischev said he was pretty worried about the upcoming meeting with Israel. "The tie comes immediately after the Australian Open," he said. "Whoever goes farther in Melbourne will have less energy for the matches against an ambitious Israeli squad."