shahar peer 298.88.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The start of Shahar Pe'er's grass-court season was a bit underwhelming as the Israeli teen fell to France's Nathalie Dechy 6-1, 6-4 in the opening round at the International Championships in Eastbourne, England.
Despite moving up one spot to a career-best 23rd in the world in the WTA rankings earlier in the day, Pe'er never got it going in her first meeting against Dechy (25). Her best tennis came late in the second set with her back to the wall, as Pe'er saved multiple match points before finally losing in 73 minutes.
The defeat comes at the tail end of an 18-2 run on clay courts. Pe'er, who went 1-2 on grass last year, will play singles next week at Wimbledon.
In the meantime, she will settle for a strong showing in the doubles event, where she'll team with another Frenchwoman, Marion Bartoli. The duo, which won the Prague Open in their first tournament together last month, opens against Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic and Italy's Antonella Serra Zanetti.
Pe'er wasn't the only Israeli player to record a career-best ranking on Monday. Yevgenia Savransky's climb to 198 gave Israel four players in the top 200 for the first time. She joins Pe'er, Anna Smashnova (40) and Tzipi Obziler (149).
Obziler will begin her attempt to join Pe'er and Smashnova in the main draw at Wimbledon when she faces American Shikha Uberoi (179) in the first of three qualifying rounds on Tuesday. Obziler won their only previous encounter 6-1, 6-1 at a challenger event in 2000.
The men's qualifying began Monday with mixed results for the three active Israelis. Noam Okun (220) scored a 6-2, 6-4 win over Sweden's Bjorn Rehnquist (280), but he would be the only winner.
Dudi Sela (165) was ousted 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 by American Jesse Witten (193) while Amir Hadad (279) went out 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3 to Spain's Carlos Cuadrado-Quero (231).
Okun, who has reached the main draw at the All-England Club twice before (2002, '05), next meets Olivier Patience (121). The Frenchman defeated Okun 6-2, 6-2 in their only previous meeting three years ago.
Elsewhere, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich were drawn to face local wildcards Jamie Delgado and Martin Lee in the first round of the Red Letter Days Open in Nottingham, England. Their match is scheduled to open play Tuesday on Center Court.
The grass-court season takes on extra meaning for the top Israeli men this year since the Davis Cup squad has a date to face Great Britain in a Europe/Africa Zone Group I playoff tie next month at Eastbourne.
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