Shahar subdues Kleybanova, Sharapova awaits in 3rd round

Rafa survives scare in men's event of Italian Open in Rome.

By
May 12, 2011 04:44
2 minute read.
Shahar Peer

Peer 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Shahar Pe’er will look to claim her first ever victory over Maria Sharapova on Thursday when she faces the Russian in the third round of the Italian Open in Rome.

The 24-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 14 in the world, beat Alisa Kleybanova (26) 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the last 16 on Wednesday, avenging her first-round defeat to the Russian at the Madrid Open last week.

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Pe’er has lost all four of her previous meetings with Sharapova, ranked No. 8 in the world, but the two haven’t played since 2008.

Meanwhile in the men’s event, world No. 1 Rafa Nadal came within two games of a shock defeat on his favorite clay before overcoming Italian qualifier Paolo Lorenzi 6-7 6-4 6-0 in the second round of the Rome Masters on Wednesday.

After his 37-match winning streak on the red dirt was ended by Novak Djokovic last week in the final of the Madrid Open, the out-of-sorts Spaniard had to fight back from a set down before reeling off the last eight games to retain his record of never losing consecutive matches on clay.

Nadal’s nervy performance contrasted with the imperious Novak Djokovic, who crushed Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot 6-0 6-3 earlier to stretch his unbeaten run for the year to 33 matches.

Djokovic can overtake Nadal atop the rankings this week if he wins the title and Nadal fails to reach the semis.

Rome champion for five of the past six years with a 27-1 winloss record, Nadal broke Lorenzi in the sixth game, but the Italian, ranked 148 in the world, refused to be intimidated by a strangely expressionless Nadal and broke back immediately before taking the set to a tie-break.

In Rafa fashion, Lorenzi chased everything down, forcing the Nadal groundstrokes to splutter, most visibly on the forehand and overhead.

The carnival atmosphere subsided as Nadal broke serve in the very first game of the second set, but the gutsy Lorenzi was still mixing up his game well and after the Spaniard took a tumble to stain his canary yellow shirt, Lorenzi broke back in the sixth game to threaten a huge upset.

Lorenzi showed anxiety for the first time, though, at 4-4 and Nadal broke again before holding his serve to square the match, winning the final point with a smash and scream of “vamos.”

In the decider, Nadal rediscovered the timing that had eluded him in the previous two and raced to the finish line against a tiring opponent.

Reuters contributed to this report


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