Pe’er on the brink of cracking top-10

Shahar sashays past Schiavone into Indian Wells quarterfinals; Ram, Erlich fall.

By
March 17, 2011 07:38
3 minute read.
SHAHAR PE’ER

SHAHAR PE’ER 311. (photo credit: FIBA website)

Shahar Pe’er is on the verge of entering the world’s top-10 for the first time in her career after edging No. 5 Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals of the prestigious WTA tournament in Indian Wells.

After splitting the first two sets, Pe’er (12) and Schiavone recorded one break apiece in the decisive set and the match had to be decided in a tiebreak.

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There was still nothing to separate the Israeli and Italian after the first six points of the breaker, but Pe’er was the more composed player when it mattered most, taking four points on the trot to clinch a place in the Indian Wells quarters for the second time in her career and the first since 2007.

The victory over Schiavone ensures Pe’er will leapfrog Agnieszka Radwanska and Serena Williams when the new rankings are released next Monday, but she has yet to secure a place in the top-10 as Marion Bartoli, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic, who are all currently ranked below Pe’er, can still overtake her depending on the eventual outcome of the $4,500,000 event in California.

Pe’er, however, has got her fate in her own hands and she will be confident of edging ever closer to an historic achievement when she faces Yanina Wickmayer (25) in the last eight early Thursday morning Israel time.

Pe’er has a 2-2 record in her career against the Belgian, but has beaten her in their past two meetings, including in the last 16 in Dubai last month.

In other action, Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich were sent packing in the second round of the doubles tournament in Indian Wells on Tuesday, losing 6-3, 6-4 to Mark Knowles and Michal Mertinak.

in the last 16.

Meanwhile, top seed Caroline Wozniacki battled her way into the last eight while twice champion Kim Clijsters retired hurt with a painful shoulder.

On a day of sudden twists and turns, Denmark’s Wozniacki recovered from a poor start to beat 22nd-seeded Alisa Kleybanova 2-6 6-3 6-1, breaking the Russian three times in the final set to seal victory in just under two hours.

However, world number two Clijsters conceded her fourth-round match to Bartoli 3-6 3-1, largely as a precaution with Fed Cup duties and the claycourt season fast approaching.

Bartoli, the 15th seed, advances to the quarter-finals where she will face 19thseeded Ivanovic, a 6-4 6-2 winner against fellow Serb and defending champion Jelena Jankovic earlier on Tuesday.

Although Clijsters had won the opening set on the hardcourt surface, she summoned her trainer for treatment on her shoulder when trailing 1-2 in the second and withdrew one game later.

“It’s not that I’m really, really worried about it, but it is something that I have to pay attention to and that I don’t want to risk,” the 27-year-old Belgian, champion here in 2003 and 2005, told reporters.

“Can I take painkillers for it and not feel it during a match? Yes, I think so but I don’t want to risk tearing it. I don’t want to be taking medication to cover the pain, not knowing if it’s getting worse during my match.”

In other matches, eighth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus scraped past ninth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska 4-6 6-3 7-6, with Sharapova crushing fellow Russian Dinara Safina 6-2 6- 0 in a duel between two former world number ones.

In the men’s event, world number two Roger Federer and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic each stormed into the fourth round with lopsided victories on Tuesday.

Ice-cool Federer, in pursuit of a record fourth title here, swept past Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela 6-0 6-2 while Serb Djokovic extended his perfect record this season to 14-0 by pulverizing Ernests Gulbis 6-0 6-1.

The Swiss, who claimed a hat-trick of titles at Indian Wells from 2004, will next meet American wildcard Ryan Harrison, the 18-year-old having clawed his way past Canadian prospect Milos Raonic 7-6 4-6 6-4.

In other matches, seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych crushed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-3 6-2 and 18th seed Richard Gasquet of France upset 10thseeded Austrian Juergen Melzer 6-1 6-3.

Eighth seed Andy Roddick, runner-up here last year, overpowered fellow American John Isner 7-5 6-2 in an evening match-up between two big servers.

Reuters contributed to this report


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