Pe'er beats Stosur in Prague final

By FRANKIE SACHS, AP
May 15, 2006 00:52

Ram and Erlich stumble as Nadal outlasts Federer in Rome; Petrova secures German Open title.

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Pe'er beats Stosur in Prague final

peer 298.88. (photo credit: AP)

Shahar Pe'er fought back after dropping the first set and never quit until she made history by sweeping the singles and doubles titles at the Prague Open on Sunday. The Israeli teenager defeated Australian Samantha Stosur 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the singles final and was aided by a rain delay early in the doubles final as she regained strength before teaming with Marion Bartoli of France to take down unseeded Americans Ashley Harkleroad and Bethanie Mattek 6-4, 6-4 for her first doubles crown. "It is my second final and second title, it was great week and I'm happy for that," an elated Pe'er told the WTA Web site. "In the second set, I started to play more aggressive, tried to win the first few points and not to let her move me around. My brother and sister are here, also my coach, so I'm really happy." Her first singles title came earlier this season at Pattaya City in Thailand. Pe'er dominated the second and third sets, giving Stosur, the top-ranked doubles player in the world, little hope. "I started really well the first set, but she definitely picked up her game, made me run, played to my backhand and started to be very aggressive afterwards," Stosur said. The wins will see Pe'er shoot up to personal bests when the new rankings are released on Monday. After coming into the week at 35th in the world, she will close in on the top 30 for the first time, while cracking the doubles top 50 as well. Pe'er became just the second player to win WTA singles and doubles titles at the same event this year, joining Germany's Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who achieved the feat in February at Acapulco. Pe'er is scheduled to continue on to Rome, where she will take part this week in the Internazionali d'Italia. Her first-round opponent will be Russian Vera Zvonareva (40), She is slated to team with Slovakia's Janette Husarova in the doubles. Anna Smashnova (49) is also at the event, where she is set to play Maret Ani (65) of Estonia in the first round on Monday. Ram, Erlich comeup short in Rome Israeli doubles stars Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich fell short of winning their first-ever tournament on clay Sunday, losing a match tiebreaker to Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor in the Internazionali d'Italia doubles final. After nearly two hours, Knowles and Nestor emerged victorious 6-4, 7-5, 13-11. Ram and Erlich, who had struggled throughout their careers on clay until this week, fended off two match points before giving in. Nadal beats Federer Rafael Nadal outlasted Roger Federer in five sets to defend his Internazionali d'Italia singles title and tie Guillermo Vilas's record 53-match winning streak on clay in the Open era. "It's something I don't think I'll ever do again," Nadal said of the record. "But it was more important to win the Rome title." The second-ranked Spaniard saved two match points at 5-6 in the fifth set when Federer missed two forehands, then closed out the 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) win on his first match point in the tiebreaker when the top-ranked Swiss player hit another forehand long. The match lasted five hours five minutes, and Nadal dropped down to the clay on his back in celebration after it was over. Nadal has now beaten Federer in four straight matches, including in the semifinals of last year's French Open. The Rome Masters is a clay-court warmup for Roland Garros, which begins in two weeks. The 19-year-old Nadal began his streak at the Monte Carlo Masters in April 2005 and has now won nine straight tournaments on clay. His 16th title also tied him with Bjorn Borg for most titles won as a teenager. Petrova secures German Open title Second-seeded Nadia Petrova won her third straight clay-court title, beating third-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the German Open final. The Russian, who ran her clay-court winning streak to 15 matches, fought back and leg injuries in a match lasting nearly three hours at the key women's tuneup for the French Open. Henin-Hardenne missed a backhand down the line on match point and Petrova ran to hug her coach. "It's a great feeling," Petrova said. "Hopefully, I can get to the top - that is a big dream of mine." Petrova also won at Charleston, South Carolina, and at Amelia Island, Florida, last month. She won only one event before this year.


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