Medina Garrigues tops Pe'er in marathon Canberra semifinal

Shahar Pe'er took part in a historic match, but came up a bit short.

By FRANKIE SACHS, AP
January 13, 2006 03:12
4 minute read.

 
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Shahar Pe'er took part in a historic match on Thursday in the semifinals at the Canberra International in Australia, but came up short in her bid to make personal history. Pe'er and Anabel Medina Garrigues squared off in one of the longest matches on record in WTA Tour history, but after three hours and 40 minutes it was the top seed that finished on top, preventing the Israeli teenager from reaching what would have been her first tournament final. The first set alone took 90 minutes in the 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4 thriller, played on sizzling courts as temperatures climbed into the 40s. Reuters reported that the match was the sixth-longest singles match between women. The record is six-and-a-half hours set back in 1984 between Vicki Nelson-Dunbar and Jene Hepner. Pe'er almost let the first set slip away, blowing four set points in the 12th game before bouncing back to win the tiebreaker. Medina Garrigues took a 3-0 lead in the second set before Peer drew even. At 4-4, Peer failed to take advantage of four break points on her opponent's serve. The set stayed on serve until the 12th game, when Medina Garrigues returned three consecutive smashes with backhand lobs, the last of which was netted by Peer. The Spaniard then took advantage of her first break point to wrap up the set. Medina Garrigues looked to have the match won at 5-1 in the third set, but Peer rallied again and cut the lead to 5-4. Medina Garrigues then broke Peer to win and clinch a spot in the final. "It was a very tough match and she played very well," Medina Garrigues told reporters. "It was difficult because it was very hot and there were many long points, but I am a Spanish player... All our matches are long. I am very pleased to win." Although disappointed with the result, Pe'er remained optimistic. "I am not unhappy with how I played. She is a very good player and she played well today. "I think I had my chances, perhaps next time I will take them." Pe'er earned 43 ranking points, which will help her move up a few rungs from her current spot, 46th in the world. Now she travels to Melbourne, where several of her countrymen are already in action seeking a spot in the Australian Open main draw via the qualifying rounds. Pe'er, Anna Smashnova and doubles team Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich all advanced automatically to the main draw, but five other Israeli players would need to survive three rounds of qualifying to join them. At the end of Day 1, only three remained as Noam Okun (197) and last-minute entry Yevgenia Savransky (241) lost in the first round, leaving Tzipi Obziler (117), seeded fourth in the women's qualifying, Dudi Sela (170), seeded 26th among men, and Harel Levy (218) as the last blue-and-white representatives. Okun went down 6-4, 6-0 to American Glenn Weiner (198), while Savransky, 21, trying to qualify for her first Grand Slam, lost 6-3, 6-1 to Maria Fernanda Alves (145) of Brazil. Obziler made quick work of Clarisa Fernandez (143) of Argentina, scoring a 6-1, 6-3 win. On Friday she faces Italian teenager Romina Oprandi (189) in the second round. Sela outlasted Yuri Schukin (307) of Russia 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 to advance, despite the fact that his opponent won more points (89-87) during the match. Next up is Japan's Norikazu Sugiyama (372). Levy got the best of Spain's Francisco Fogues (311), 7-5, 6-4. He next meets Sweden's Filip Prpic (269), who upset Frenchman Antony Dupuis (150) 6-4, 6-4. If both Sela and Levy win, they will be pitted against one another in the third and final qualifying draw for a shot at the main draw. Levy, 27, reached the second round at Melbourne in 2001, before injuries derailed his career. Sela, 20, has never qualified at the event.

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