Shahar Pe'er reached the semifinals of a WTA Tour event for the first time in her young career on Wednesday with a come-from-behind victory over Japan's Aiko Nakamura at the Canberra International in Australia.
However, Pe'er was the only Israeli winner on the day, as Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich lost their first-round match in Sydney and Anna Smashnova and partner Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan lost in the quarterfinals at Hobart.
Pe'er, ranked 46th in the world, benefited from a three-hour rain delay after dropping the first set in her 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 win. After play resumed, the Israeli teenager quickly gained the momentum and never let up, while Nakamura (62) had trouble adjusting to the cold.
"During the rain delay I just sat down with my coach and we said I should stop thinking about too many things, too many tactics," Pe'er told reporters. "I just went back outside and played my normal game - fighting every ball and just giving everything I have... That's what I did and it worked out for me today."
After losing in her first six quarterfinals appearances at this level, Pe'er was pleased with her victory. "In a tennis career there are always steps - you start in under-14s, then ITF, then WTA and you always have the first round, second round as your goals," she said. "I always started from the qualifiers and lost in the quarterfinals - this time I started from the main draw and now I am in the semis."
The fourth seed will not have much time to reflect on her win. On Thursday she'll take on top seed Anabel Medina Garrigues (29) for the first time in her career as she seeks a spot in the final.
Medina Garrigues defeated Ekaterina Bychkova (80) of Russia in straight sets in her quarterfinal match.
If Pe'er can continue winning, she'll join another Israeli to have started her season on the right foot at Canberra. Smashnova took the event in 2002.
On Thursday, four Israelis will begin the road for qualifying for the Australian Open. Tzipi Obziler (117), who has reached the second round of the main draw in each of the past two years, will start with the difficult task of overcoming Clarisa Fernandez (143) of Argentina, who was ranked 26th in the world in 2003 before injuries derailed her career.
Dudi Sela (170) will begin against Russian Yuri Schukin (307) and Harel Levy (218) against left-handed Francisco Fogues (311) of Spain. Noam Okun (197) meets American Glenn Weiner (198).
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