(photo credit: AP)
Shahar Pe'er will face rising Czech star Lucie Safarova in the third round of the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, California, on Sunday after both players safely made it through their second-round matches on Friday.
The Israeli, who is ranked No. 16 in the world and seeded 11th at the $2.1 million tournament, defeated Tiantian Sun (85) of China 6-3, 6-0, in a mere 61 minutes. Safarova (26), on the other hand, needed two hours 51 minutes to oust Agnieszka Radwanska (52) of Poland 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-6 (4).
Pe'er and Safarova both received first-round byes at the tournament that, due to its importance, is widely regarded as "the fifth Grand Slam."
Sunday's match will be Pe'er's first ever meeting with Safarova in a main draw of a WTA tournament, while the Czech won their only previous match in a qualifier at Bastad, Sweden, in 2004.
Safarova has risen rapidly up the WTA rankings in the last couple of months, from No. 70 to her current position, No. 26. The 20-year-old Czech reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open after knocking out defending champion and then-world No. 2 Amelie Mauresmo. She also defeated three top-10 players, including Justin Henin, to advance to the final of the Paris indoors tournament last month.
Pe'er, who trained with coach Jose Higueres in Palm Springs, California, the last two weeks, struggled at the start of her second-round match against Sun and trailed 3-2 after her opponent broke in the fifth game of the first set.
However, that was the last game Sun won, and the Israeli reeled off 10 consecutive games to book her place in the third round.