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(photo credit: AP)
Shahar Pe’er will look to end her seven-match losing streak against top 10 players when she faces world number three and top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the third round of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 22 in the world, continued her superb year on Tuesday, claiming an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 victory over 2009 Dubai finalist Virginie Razzano (24) of France.
Pe’er, who was famously denied entry into the tournament in the Emirates last year, has lost all three of her previous meetings with Wozniacki, including in the third round of the Australian Open less than four weeks ago when the Israeli took just four games in a straight sets loss.
Wozniacki came back from 5-1 down in the second set to beat Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-2, 7-6 (2) on Tuesday.
The Dane impressively rallied to 5-5 then shot through the tiebreaker.
Also advancing were second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 4 Victoria Azarenka, No. 6 Jelena Jankovic, and No. 8 Li Na.
Wozniacki said her focus relaxed after winning the first set against Cibulkova.
“Once I started to hit more freely and hit with better depth and a little more aggressively, I got the advantage,” she said. “I just kept fighting. Even though I was down 5-1, I kept playing for every point, and that paid off in the end.”
Kuznetsova moved into the third round when Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain withdrew with a lower back injury, and Azarenka was leading US Open quarterfinalist Kateryna Bondarenko 4-1 when the latter retired with a sprained left knee.
Jankovic, who lives in Dubai, took more than two hours to account for Aravane Rezai of France 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, and Li was pushed all the way by Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain to win 7-6 (7), 2-6, 6-4.
Also through were Flavia Pennetta of Italy, Marion Bartoli of France, Vera Zvonareva of Russia, Olga Govortsova of Belarus, who beat 14th-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-4, 6-4, Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.
Pe’er was knocked out in the second round of the doubles tournament later Tuesday. Pe’er and Galina Voskoboeva lost 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 to Alisa Kleybanova and Francesca Schiavone.
Meanwhile, Dudi Sela (44) was sent packing in the first round of the
Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis on Tuesday after
suffering a disappointing 6-2, 7-5 defeat to Jarkko Nieminen (126).
AP contributed to this report.