Pe'er seeks Prague pair; Ram, Erlich in Rome final

Shahar Pe'er will look to cap a successful week at the Prague Open with both the singles and doubles titles on Sunday.

May 14, 2006 04:52
2 minute read.
shahar peer 298.88

shahar peer 298.88. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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Shahar Pe'er will look to cap a successful week at the Prague Open with both the singles and doubles titles on Sunday. The rising Israeli star defeated Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-0 to book her spot in the singles final, where she'll meet Australian Samantha Stosur. On Friday, she teamed with France's Marion Bartoli to eliminate Maureen Drake of Canada and Venezualan Milagros Sequera 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 in the semifinals. They'll take on the American duo of Bethanie Mattek and Ashley Harkleroad, who previously ousted the sentimental favorites, Martina Navratilova and Barbora Strycova, in the final. "I was very happy with the way I was playing," Peer told the WTA Web site. "I'm waiting for the final. I hope to do well. We will see afterwards." Pe'er is - at least on paper - the favorite in both matches. Ranked 35th in the world and seeded third in the singles, Pe'er is ranked 20 spots ahead of Stosur, 22, who is seeking her first WTA Tour singles title. Pe'er and Bartoli, playing together for the first time, are seeded second in doubles. This is also Pe'er's first doubles final. She won her only previous WTA Tour singles final earlier this season in Pattaya City, Thailand. If Pe'er sweeps the finals, she would become just the second player to win WTA singles and doubles titles at the same event this year. Germany's Anna-Lena Groenefeld achieved the feat in February at Acapulco. The teenager has already earned 67 rankings points, which should see her climb another three spots in next week's rankings, which would match her career-high. A win would shoot her toward the top 30 for the first time. She will also rise to a career-high ranking in doubles. Pe'er, who is now at a best-ever 57th, will crack the top 50. Pe'er and Stosur have only met once before, with the Israeli coming out on top 6-1, 6-3 last year in the first round at Amelia Island in Florida. Ram, Erlich target Italian triumph Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich will seek their second title of the season when they meet Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor in the doubles final at the Internazionali D'Italia in Rome, an ATP Masters Series event. The Israeli stars defeated the Olympic gold-medal winning duo of Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu of Chile 6-3, 5-7, 10-5 in Saturday's semifinal, while Knowles and Nestor outlasted the second seeded team of Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Max Mirnyi of Belarus 6-3, 7-6(5). Ram and Erlich, who boast six previous ATP Tour doubles titles together, last won a final at the season-opening event at Adelaide. They have a 3-3 career mark against Knowles and Nestor, winning their last meeting 6-4, 6-4 in February at Rotterdam. Knowles and Nestor came out on top the last time they met in a final back in October 2005 at Vienna. Ram and Erlich have never won a Masters Series event, coming closest last year in Toronto when they lost the final to Zimbabwe's Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett. Perhaps most impressive about their run is the fact that it's on clay. Heading into the tourney, Ram and Erlich had lost seven straight matches on clay, dating back to the 2004 French Open.

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