(photo credit: AP)
Shahar Pe'er's 2006 season officially came to a close on Thursday afternoon after the 19-year-old and her doubles partner, Marion Bartoli, lost 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, to Francesca Schiavone of Italy and Czech Kveta Peschke in the quarterfinals of the $600,000 Generali Linz tournament in Austria.
The marathon match, which lasted over two-and-a-half hours, was fiercely contested by both pairs and was riddled by numerous breaks of serve through all three sets.
Pe'er's interest in the singles tournament ended on Wednesday when she was knocked out by world No. 5 Nadia Petrova and she will now have a few weeks off before beginning her preparations for the 2007 season, which starts in January.
After Schiavone and Peschke won the first set on a tiebreaker and breaking in the seventh game of the second set, they seemed to be on the way to a straight-set victory. But the Israeli/French pair broke back immediately and soon after won the set.
Schiavone and Peschke broke twice at the start of the third set and took a commanding 3-0 lead.
Pe'er and Bartoli closed the gap to 3-2, but were never able to even the score.
The Italian/Czech team held on to its lead throughout the rest of the match and advanced to the semifinals.
Ram and Erlich move on in Lyon
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich advanced to the quarterfinals of the $800,000 Lyon ATP tournament late Wednesday, defeating German Christopher Kas and Austrian Oliver Marach 6-3, 7-5.
The Israelis, who are ranked seventh in the ATP doubles race, are still chasing a spot in the season-ending Masters Cup. The top eight teams qualify for the event in Shanghai. Ram and Erlich could secure their place with a good showing in France.
The Israeli duo broke in the fourth game of the match and held on to their lead to win the first set.
The second set went according to serve until the 11th game, when the Israelis broke their opponents and took a 6-5 lead. Ram and Erlich closed out the match in the next game and will now face the French pair of Julien Benneteau and Arnaud Clement in the quarterfinals.