Pe'er advances to quarterfinals

Israeli star beats Kuznetsova in two-and-a-half hour seesaw.

By
March 28, 2007 06:03
3 minute read.

 
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Shahar Pe'er will have an ideal opportunity to record yet another career first on Wednesday when she plays Tahiana Garbin of Italy in the quarterfinals of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Victory against Garbin, who is ranked 25th in the world, will put the Israeli through to her first ever Tier I semifinal and will likely propel her to a new career ranking high. Pe'er, who is No. 16 in the world - one place below her highest ever - and seeded 14th in the huge $3.45 million tournament, booked a meeting with the Italian after a gutsy 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over world No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday. After splitting the first two sets, Kuznetsova raced to a 3-0 lead in the decisive set. With the match seeming to slip away, Pe'er reeled off six straight games to reached the last eight of a Tier I tournament for a second consecutive week. "I always believed I had a chance," Pe'er said. "I never give up. "I was up a set and 4-2, but suddenly everything began going her way. I lost the second set and trailed 3-0 in the third set, but I was only down a single break and I fought until the end." After the first game of the match, which was won by the Russian, lasted 10 minutes, it was clear that this fourth round showdown would go all the way. The Israeli got the first break of the match in the fifth game, but Kuznetsova broke back immediately to tie the set. Pe'er broke once more in the seventh game, but this time held her serve in her next two games and wrapped up the set. The 21-year-old Russian, who won the Sony Ericsson Open last year, took the first two games of the second set, but Pe'er claimed the next four games and appeared to be on her way to a straight-set victory. Kuznetsova, however, had no intention of relinquishing her title so easily and the former US Open winner took the next seven games to tie the match at one set apiece and take a 3-0 lead in the decisive set. Pe'er, who defeated Kuznetsova in the fourth round of the Australian Open this year, mounted one of her characteristic comebacks and won the next six games to record yet another significant victory. "Garbin may seem like a relatively comfortable opponent, but the fact of the matter is that she is defeating very good players," Pe'er said after her two hour 25 minute, fourth round match. "Garbin has begun the season very well and I'll have to be ready for her. "I'm in good shape and I'm beating good players, I hope to advance to the semis." Pe'er's day did have a small blemish on it after the Israeli and American partner Vania King lost 6-0, 7-5 to third-seeded Zi Yan and Jie Zheng of China in the second round of the women's doubles. Also Monday, in a third-round match delayed a day by rain, Serena Williams beat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4. Nicole Vaidisova, the youngest player in the top 10 at 17, defeated Russian qualifier Vera Dushevina 6-2, 6-4. Sixth-seeded Nadia Petrova overcame Dinara Safina 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in an all-Russian matchup. Argentine qualifier Guillermo Canas, who ended Roger Federer's 41-match winning streak two weeks ago at Indian Wells, advanced to a rematch against the world No. 1 by beating Richard Gasquet of France 7-6(3), 6-3. Jarkko Nieminen of Finland ousted David Nalbandian, a semifinalist last year, 6-4, 7-6(3). Nieminen won a nine-deuce game at 5-5 to help oust the Argentine. Also advancing were sixth-seeded Tommy Robredo, seventh-seeded Ivan Ljubicic, Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, who needed four match points to put away Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, and another Czech, Radek Stepanek. AP contributed to this report.

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