(photo credit: AP)
Shahar Pe'er's struggles against Serena Williams continued on Thursday evening at the Italian Open in Rome. The 20-year-old Israeli lost 6-3, 6-3 in the third round of the competition, her fourth defeat in four meetings against the former world No. 1.
Pe'er, who is ranked No. 15 in the world and was seeded 11th at the $1.34 million Tier I event, was overpowered by the 25-year-old Williams (11), who created 14 break points during the match, converting eight of them.
Thursday's match was the third encounter between the players this year, and in similar fashion to the first two, Pe'er fought the American for every point, but just couldn't counter Williams's brute force.
Williams broke Pe'er in the first game of the match, but the Israeli broke back immediately in the following game. Both players dropped their serve once more in the next two games, with the American breaking for a third time in the fifth game of the first set.
Williams was the first to finally hold serve in the subsequent game and opened what would prove to be a vital 4-2 lead. Pe'er saved two set points in the ninth game of the match, but the American finally wrapped up the set on her third attempt.
The first game of the second set could have been the turning point in the match, but Pe'er squandered three break points and Williams held serve. The Israeli failed to convert yet another break point in the third game of the second set and Williams reeled off four straight games to open a commanding 5-1 lead.
Pe'er managed to win two more games and save one match point, but the American completed the straight-set win with a stunning forehand on her second match point in the ninth game.
"It was definitely a good test," Williams said. "She plays a little like Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. She gets a lot of balls back. I knew she was going to be a tough opponent on clay. I thought I did pretty well."
Ram and Erlich progressto last eight in Hamburg
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich advanced to the quarterfinals of the Hamburg Masters on Thursday, defeating Russians Igor Andreev and Dmitry Tursunov 6-2, 6-2.
The Israelis, who are ranked No. 8 in the ATP Doubles Race and seeded sixth in the $2.45m. tournament, will face James Blake and Mardy Fish in the last eight after the Americans surprised fourth seeds Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.
On Thursday, Ram and Erlich, who received a first-round bye, ran away with the first set against their Russian opponents, winning four games in a row with the score at 2-2.
The Israelis won five of the first six games of the second set and clinched the victory in the eighth game.