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Israel's top-ranked tennis player Shahar Pe'er continued her career free-fall yesterday when she was eliminated from the U.S. Open in the first round by China's Na Li 2-6, 6-0, 6-1.

Pe'er, who has had her worst season since she turned professional, broke her opponent's serve twice in taking the first set, but Li came back in the second set and humiliated Pe'er by winning six games in a row.

Pe'er tried to fight back in the third set and seemed poised to win a game that would have tied the set at 2-2. However, she failed to convert her 40-0 lead and lost five consecutive points, conceding the game to Na.

The Israeli had two other opportunities to come back into the match, but missed them both.

In recent weeks, Pe'er lost in the second round of the singles tournament at the Olympics and the first round of the doubles tournament together with teammate Tzipi Obziler.

During her short career she has swapped coaches five times.

"Everyone is different. I once experienced a difficult journey when I was without a coach and I felt that I am the sort of person who cannot be alone," Pe'er told Haaretz recently. "I feel that I need someone next to me. I must have a coach with me at all times."

"On the one hand, changing coaches too often can be a symptom of the fact that something is wrong and it can lead to instability," says tennis analyst Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated.

"On the other hand - that's tennis. If the relationship between player and coach is tense - and it doesn't matter whether it's because of money, logistics or poor results - there is no reason in the world to put up with it.